GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/01 February) — While browsing the web to get the names of the members of Philippine Military Academy Class 1981, whose most controversial alumnus is retired Philippine Army Lt. Col. George Rabusa, I came across a Thai military officer named Maj. Gen. Thawip Netniyom.
Netniyom was the topnotcher of that PMA class which is also known as Dimalupig. In English, Dimalupig means indomitable or unconquerable.
Netniyom was among the Thai military generals who ousted then Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. He was later named spokesperson of the military junta that briefly took over the government before the election of the current Thai administration.
The Thai military intervened after massive protests over alleged corruption in the Thaksin administration virtually paralyzed the government. Thaksin, a businessman, was then on an official foreign trip when the coup plotters took over the government.
Rabusa, on the other hand, retired from the military service after the Armed Forces of the Philippines was rocked by a corruption scandal in 2005. Rabusa was then the budget officer of disgraced Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia who was then AFP comptroller.
Rabusa recently testified before the blue ribbon committee of the Philippine Senate detailing corruption in the military while serving under Garcia.
He accused at least three former chiefs of staff of the AFP of receiving hush and sendoff monies to the tune of at least US$5 million in Philippine currency. Rabusa himself admitted he kept more than US$400,000 to himself between 2002 and 2006 while acting as alleged ‘bagman’ of top military officials.
A member of the same PMA class who requested anonymity said they “will do our best to do our part” in response to queries on the connection between Netniyom and Rabusa.
He said the PMA 1981 class is yet to meet on how they would position themselves in the recent Rabusa episode, one of the more serious allegations of corruption in the military in recent years.
Members of PMA Class 1981 now occupy major field units and Army brigades in the Philippine military.
Strangely, there is no longer a listing of members of PMA Class 1981 in the web and the story and roster of its class is no longer accessible on its official website.
The leadership of the major service commands of the AFP is now occupied by PMA Class 1979. That means in two or three years, Rabusa’s and Netniyom’s mistahs (as graduates of the PMA call fellow members of their class) are poised to take over the AFP leadership.
How the Rabusa and Netniyom experience will influence them when they occupy the top AFP leadership will be an interesting development to watch. (Edwin G. Espejo writes for asiancorrespondent.com)