‘Emperor’ as AFP chief raises fears of poll fraud

‘Emperor’ as AFP chief raises fears of poll fraud
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—Members of both sides of the political spectrum are antsy over President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s appointment of the “Emperor” as Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff.

Retired Maj. Gen. Ramon Montaño Tuesday said ex-officers like himself who were “in touch with the still idealistic elements” of the military were apprehensive that the AFP under the leadership of Lt. Gen. Delfin Bangit would “again be used to frustrate the people’s will.”

In the 2004 presidential election, Ms Arroyo “skillfully used her cabal of blindly loyal military officers and political running dogs to destroy the political opposition,” according to Montaño.

It was a reference to the purported involvement of ranking military officers in ensuring Ms Arroyo’s victory over her then rival, actor Fernando Poe Jr., as revealed in the “Hello Garci” tapes.

The tapes contained supposed conversations between Ms Arroyo and then Election Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano during the counting of the votes, for which the President later apologized.

“We pray that this desperate plot of this administration to cling to power shall be stopped by the might of the Filipino people and the idealistic, honorable members of the AFP,” Montaño said in a statement.

Avid loyalty

Presidential candidates Benigno Aquino III (Liberal Party) and Joseph Estrada (Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino) also expressed dismay at Bangit’s appointment.

“We were hopeful that [Ms Arroyo] would be magnanimous in her exit from power by appointing someone who is beyond reproach. But she chose someone who is avidly loyal to her,” Aquino said in a phone interview.

Aquino said Bangit’s appointment had sent alarm bells ringing over the military’s role in the May elections considering that Ms Arroyo had not fully explained the “Hello Garci” scandal in 2004 and the 12-0 score in Maguindanao in favor of administration senatorial candidates in 2007.

He said that he expected the President, in another controversial move, to name the replacement of Chief Justice Reynato Puno with or without a nomination from the Judicial and Bar Council. (Puno retires on May 17.)

From Davao City, Estrada said Bangit was more loyal to Ms Arroyo than to the Constitution.

“The bottom line is that he’s a true-blooded man of GMA. He’ll risk his life for GMA,” Estrada said by phone, adding:

“There are rumors that General Bangit and his men would be used to manipulate the outcome of the elections. It’s a recipe for unrest. [But] let’s give Bangit a chance to disprove all the allegations against him.”

In case of power vacuum

Through its secretary general Renato Reyes, the militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said Bangit’s appointment as AFP chief of staff “creates greater uncertainties” for the May elections.

“The biggest question in Bangit’s appointment is his perceived closeness to the President, which, in the event of a failure of elections, may be useful in keeping Ms Arroyo in power indefinitely. He may be [Ms] Arroyo’s ace up her sleeve should there be a power vacuum,” Bayan said in a statement.

It said Bangit had yet to show whether his loyalties lay with the Constitution or with Ms Arroyo, “his adopted classmate” in the Philippine Military Academy (PMA).

Suspect appointments

Bangit is to take over from Gen. Victor Ibrado, who turns 56, the mandatory retirement age for the military, on Wednesday.

But activist priest Fr. Jose Dizon, a convenor of the election watchdog Kontra Daya, said Bangit’s appointment could bring about a reprise of the “Hello Garci” election fraud controversy.

Bayan said the uproar over Bangit’s appointment could have been avoided had Ms Arroyo let her successor choose the next AFP chief of staff.

“All of Ms Arroyo’s appointments at this point are suspect. No one trusts her. No one believes she will quietly step down when her term ends [in June]. Everything she is doing is for political survival beyond 2010,” it said.

Bayan said Bangit, who had variously headed the Intelligence Service of the AFP and the Presidential Security Group, should issue “a categorical statement” that in the event of a failure of elections, he would “not move to install Ms Arroyo in power indefinitely.”

“He should pledge to uphold civilian supremacy and he should not let the military stop peaceful mass protest actions,” it said.

Bayan also said that as AFP chief of staff, Bangit should uphold human rights, especially in relation to the 43 health workers detained at Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal, since early last month.

Professional soldier

Malacañang took pains to douse the uproar.

In his first news briefing at the Palace, Leandro Mendoza, the newly named executive secretary, said Bangit was a “very professional soldier” loyal only to the Constitution and the people.

Mendoza, a PMA graduate who once served as director general of the Philippine National Police, assured reporters that the military was “a professional organization.”

“Once you’re appointed, your focus is not personal anymore. [It’s] not on the appointing authority anymore but, particularly, on your institution,” he said.

Press Secretary Crispulo Icban went on RMN radio to dismiss fears that the administration would use Bangit to help its presidential candidate win in May.

“Those are just fears … And the President has shown that she is not active in the presidential election and is just focused on her candidacy [for representative of the second district of Pampanga],” the press secretary said.

According to Icban, Ms Arroyo chose Bangit over other candidates for AFP chief of staff because he met the criteria that included loyalty and trust.

“And he has shown that he is a good general,” Icban said.

No restless soldiers

The AFP itself, through its spokesperson Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner, downplayed rumors that Bangit’s appointment was intended to disrupt the elections.

“We want to tell the public that there is no need to worry about the designation of General Bangit as the next chief of staff,” Brawner told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo, the AFP’s general headquarters in Quezon City.

“The AFP is a professional organization,” Brawner said, adding that even Ibrado was confident of Bangit’s abilities as military officer.

Brawner said that during the Army’s testimonial parade for Ibrado at Fort Bonifacio on Monday, Bangit himself declared that he would be “nonpartisan.”

“He vowed that the AFP will not be used to protect the interest of some groups, or for any [kind of] cheating in the elections,” Brawner said.

Mendoza said he saw “no connection” between Bangit and speculation of rigging in the May elections.

But he pointed out that the military should play a “very important” role in elections, particularly in providing security in areas “where government is scarce,” to ensure the success of the polls.

He also said talk that Bangit’s assumption to the top AFP post would generate unrest among the soldiers was “not an issue.”

Arroyo’s prerogative

Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Manuel Villar acknowledged that it was Ms Arroyo’s prerogative to appoint the AFP chief of staff even in the waning days of her presidency.

“I really don’t know [Bangit] that well. But I understand that in our system of government, it’s the President that makes the appointment, and I understand that that is consistent with our laws,” Villar said in Filipino at a press conference in Davao City.

“So how can we [oppose Bangit’s appointment]? We can’t assume that it’s not proper [on the mere assumption] that he will create chaos,” Villar said.

He said he had his “personal choices” for the post, but did not name them.

“I always sleep soundly regardless of whoever is the AFP chief of staff,” he said.

Villar also said what was crucial for the nation was for the AFP chief of staff and all citizens to “safeguard the institutions of democracy at all times.” Reports from Fe Zamora, Alcuin Papa, Leila B. Salaverria, Gil C. Cabacungan Jr., Christine O. Avendaño, Norman Bordadora, Marlon Ramos, Michael Lim Ubac and TJ Burgonio

Karen Ang

A plebeian who is trying to make small changes in this world.

  • ATTENTION MANILA MAYOR ALFREDO LIM AND DND SEC VOLTAIRE GAZMIN

    One of your Manila Board of Regents, Mr. Jesus B. Trinos Jr., was alleged involved in a Fraud Complaint in a multibillion peso anomalous deals, the Capability Upgrade Program (CUP), AFP Modernization Program Fixed Communications System Projects SCAM as supplier/agent for Datatrail Corp., Ceragon Networks Israel and Alcatel.

    We need your help in the speedy investigation the one-million-peso-company Datatrail Corp. grossly defrauded the Philippine government, illegally bagging the Contracts in AFP DID NOT PASS the 1ST STAGE BIDDING THE ELIGIBILITY STAGE Datatrail Corporation DID N0T submit their Eligibility documents thereby grossly violating the RA9184 and IRR, this PhP 55,000 taxpaying company getting the multi-billion projects in AFP by fraud and influence peddling.

    We know you as Mr. Clean honest disciplinarian and well known as criminal fraud buster, you hate Cheaters (ayaw po ninyo sa mga sinungaling, mapaglinlang, manlalamang, magnanakaw at mandaraya) especially when they are taking advantage of your good image; even using you and your good name by photo ops. We just saw you recently with Mr. Trinos and Ms. Gemma Cruz-Araneta at PLM during the ceremony welcoming the two new Regents. This is quite disturbing knowing that your good reputation will be at stake here gladly endorsing Mr. Trinos as Manila Regent. Mr. Jesus Trinos is currently involved in various fraudulent illegal activities highly anomalous deals controversial biddings and kickback schemes seen to be raking millions of dollars in government deals that are tainted with graft and corruption issues, influence peddling, grave collusion, daylight robbery and treacherous conspiracy among suppliers and the AFP DND BAC.

    Jesus Trinos Jr. PLMAAI President (representative/agent for Ceragon Networks Israel, Datatrail Corp. and Alcatel) and Hermie Orbe PLM Foundation President (representative/agent for Alcatel) are both MAJOR PLAYERS here as telecommunications suppliers actively participating in the highly anomalous controversial AFP deals and they are on the way to transfer the AFP Modernization Program Funds thru PLM Foundations in which they elected themselves as officers to control the PLM Scholarship bank accounts they opened these bank accounts in Makati City (not in Manila) !?? These suppliers bagged Contracts the AFP Modernization Program Funds illegally, by massive fraud, collusion and these conspiring vendors have entered into JVA (c/o Ceragon Networks Israel and Datatrail Corp.) without Income Tax Return Stamped Receipt from BIR (EFS), etc., grossly violated the latest Government Procurement Act RA 9184 and IRR on JVA published early 2005. Like the Film Scam in 1994 (where the late Ms. Viveka Babajee the Miss Mauritius 1994, she announced the Winners by Fraud; likewise here, the suppliers in conspiracy with the AFP DND BAC 2005-2006 they announced the Winner thru a mere JVA declaration they exacted ‘switching of ballots/Winners’ i.e., thru a JVA, AN INSTANT Winner was declared by DND BAC, Winner without eligibility documents and BYPASSED THE 1ST STAGE BIDDING THE ELIGIBILITY STAGE ! )

    Government fraud is A VERY SERIOUS CRIME !

    This is a national interest and your local government interest as well especially that one of your Regents was deeply involved in these illegal acts that are tainted with GRAFT AND CORRUPTION and fraudulent transactions, the AFP DND BAC highly controversial anomalous deals.

    Sadya po nilang iniligaw yung mga Signatories na binabanggit nila. They DID NOT follow the rule of law the latest RA 9184 and IRR on JVA published early 2005. Datatrail Corporation DID NOT participate the 1ST STAGE BIDDING which is the MOST IMPORTANT STAGE BECAUSE IT IS THERE WHERE WE CAN SEE IF THIS COMPANY, DATATRAIL CORPORATION IS PAYING THE RIGHT TAXES and TO SEE THE QUALIFICATION HISTORY OF DATATRAIL CORPORATION, wala po silang pinakitang kahit anong ELIGIBILITY Documents. Again, Datatrail Corporation DID NOT participate the 1ST STAGE Bidding. This is highly illegal and criminal offense as a Contractor, obviously THIS BIDDING AND AWARDING OF CONTRACT WAS TAINTED WITH GRAFT AND CORRUPTION.

    And So, the public may know !

    SOLID EVIDENCE (THIS IS WELL DOCUMENTED)

    TO SHOW PROOF OF EVIDENCE THAT We have NOT seen Datatrail Corp. during the 1ST STAGE THE ELIGIBILITY STAGE Bidding, here’s an AFP document from their online archive:

    AFP Modernization Program Fixed Communications System Bid Bulletin (notice ONLY four bidders’ ELIGIBILITY DOCUMENTS WERE SCRUTINIZED, namely: Alcatel Phils., Inc., Lucent Technologies, Nera Phils., and Ceragon Networks)

    X X X X X X
    Fixed Communication System (stage/status: 1st stage of the 2-stage procurement mode was held last September 8, 2005; new invitation to apply for eligibility and to bid (ITAEB) will be issued on October 20, 2005)
    Procurement Stage: 1st Stage – Opening and Submission of Bids
    ABC: P447,360,000.00
    Length of Delivery: 240 calendar days upon issuance of Notice to Proceed
    Highlights : Through a Supplemental Bulletin, the deadline for submission and opening of bids for the 1st stage bidding for this project was changed from 25 August 2005 to 8 September 2005, 9:00 a.m. On the day of submission and opening of bids, 4 companies complied, namely Alcatel Phils., Inc., Lucent Technologies, Nera Phils., and Ceragon Networks. None of them failed when their eligibility envelopes were opened. During the initial evaluation of the technical proposals of the 4 bidders, the BAC declared that they all passed, yet subject to post qualification/evaluation. BAC shall formally announce in writing, through the Secretariat, the results of the evaluation. Schedule of the opening of the revised technical proposal and their financial proposals (i.e. 2nd phase of a two-stage bidding process) is scheduled on October 20, 2005 due to request of bidders for longer time to prepare revised technical proposals.

    http://www.hueybravo.net/Modernization%20Projects.htm

    X X X X X

    Based on the AFP BAC’s Bid Bulletin, it showed beyond doubt that there were ONLY 4 Bidders, not 5; the private Filipino company Datatrail Corp. was not in the list !

    WHERE’s DATATRAIL CORPORATION during the 1st STAGE Bidding ?? No docs ? Missing in action ? Datatrail Corporation totally ignored the 1ST STAGE ELIGIBILITY STAGE. THEY HAVEN’T EVEN SUBMITTED THEIR EFS BIR Certifications PAID Stamped Receipt equivalent to 50% of the ABC and Qualifications History, etc ? So now here’s the question, IS THIS the “level playing field” that AFP DND BAC were talking about ? Bakit napakalakas naman po yata ng Datatrail Corporation sa DND BAC. Kung kelan halos patapos na ang bidding, dun lang ididikit yung name nila sa Project na naka- “JVA” kuno ! Dahil po ba kasi masyadong malaki ang Kickbacks or “TONG-PATS” !??