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Ex-Military Bishop Affirms 'send-off' Money for AFP Chiefs

MANILA, Jan. 28, 2011—A former military bishop has affirmed that giving “pabaon” (send-off money) to retiring Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chiefs of staff has long been a practice.

Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles, former bishop of the Military Ordinariate of the Philippines, said that is the reason why military officials “aim to get those positions.”

“Rightly or wrongly, I think they do that to all AFP chiefs of staff. That’s true also for the lower levels at low rates,” Arguelles said. “It’s bad but it’s going on all the time.”

The prelate then called on the government to put a stop on such practice, which according to him becomes a source of corruption in the military.

“It must be stopped because it’s part of the corruption in the military,” said Arguelles who served as military bishop from 1995 to 2005.

In Thursday’s senate hearing, retired Lt. Col. George Rabusa, a former military budget officer, accused then AFP chief Angelo Reyes of receiving P50 million of send-off money upon his retirement from the military which the latter strongly denied.

AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Jose Mabanta, however, said that such illegal practice stopped with the abolition of the office of the AFP deputy chief of staff for comptrollership (J6) in 2004 due to the Garcia scandal.

Mabanta was referring to former AFP comptroller Gen. Carlos Garcia, who is facing a plunder case before an anti-graft court amid accusations of amassing over P300 million in ill-gotten wealth while he was in active service. (CBCPNews)