Second of two parts: Ex-Navy whistleblower says she has evidence on AFP fund mess

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/22 February) — In her letter, which the PPTRP obtained, Ex-Navy Lt. Senior Grade Nancy Grace Gadian alleged that in
the 2002 and 2007 Balikatan exercises where she was involved, it was usual for AFP activities to be conducted without official funds because fund transfer is delayed. To address the problem, loans are made from “dealers” with connections to military officers, a scheme described by Gadian as “cost of money.”

This practice is endemic as practically every fund release from the AFP general headquarters to the units involves a corresponding “cost
of money,” according to Gadian, detailing that at the Western Mindanao Command, the “cost of money” includes 8% for the dealer, 6% for the
Bureau of Internal Revenue, 5% as commander’s contingency, and 3% as command contingency, or a total deduction of 22% of the allocated
fund.

The 6% for the BIR represents payment to the establishment that produces the receipts used to justify expenditures, she explained. On the other hand, the commander’s contingency is used for such purposes as the visits of the commanders’ paramours to the beauty parlor and their maintenance and the travel of their wives. The same is true for the command contingency.

Giving a particular example, Gadian said that in one of the releases to the CMO in the 2007 Balikatan exercises, an amount of P300,000 was
involved. But after the “cost of money” was deducted, the Unified Command Staff for Civil Military Operations or U7 got only P246,857.04.

In the 2007 Balikatan, she alleged that senior military officials at the Westmincom, then headed by retired Lt. General Eugenio Cedo, pocketed more than P40 million as only P2.3 million was actually released to the CMO in two tranches.

Cedo has denied the charges while Gadian was ordered arrested by the Philippine Navy for insubordination in what she claimed as harassment for blowing the corruption whistle. In turn also, she was accused of malversation of funds and living an extravagant lifestyle.

“I’ve complained about the fund anomalies and they want to prosecute me. That is so unfair,” said Gadian.

Gadian’s October 2009 letter reached the offices of many senators, aside from Enrile, but it was only Senator Antonio Trillanes IV’s office who replied to that communiqué. Trillanes was then in detention.

Rolando T. Averilla, Trillanes’ chief of staff, told Gadian on November 4, 2009 that “now pending before the committees on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations and the Oversight Committee on the Visiting Forces Agreement is SRN 1069 or “Resolution directing the proper Senate Committee to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the alleged misuse of 2007 Balikatan funds,” filed by Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago on May 19, 2009.

“Rest assured our office is aware of such similar corrupt practices existing in our government offices and agencies,” Averilla wrote.

Gadian said she never heard from the senators after that but she was pleased they’re now digging into the AFP fund mess.

Although she’s “protected” by a Writ of Amparo, the decorated former Navy officer is not taking chances, as much as possible eluding public
places.  A Writ of Amparo is a remedy available to any person whose right to life, liberty and security has been violated or is threatened with violation by an unlawful act or omission of a public official or employee, or of a private individual or entity.

Among the significant awards and medals that Gadian received were the  AFP Cadette of the Year 1989, Philippine Navy Midshipwoman of the Year 1989, Flag Officer in Command Certificate of Merit for graduating number 1 in the Naval Officers Qualification Course “B,” Certificate
of Merit for graduating number 1 in Political Warfare Course, Certificate of Merit for graduating number 2 in the Naval Intelligence Collection Course and Gawad sa Kaunlaran Award.

In 2009, she was recognized as a “Woman of Courage” by Gabriela, a militant women’s organization in the country.

The corruption scandal rocking the AFP anew should lead to reforms, and Gadian also suggested an intensive ethics course be taught in the
military school in a bid to minimize, if not stop, corruption within the organization.

“The system has to be changed. The culture of corruption in the military service has become a tradition,” she said.

The culture of corruption, according to Gadian, may have persisted in the military because of the “rule” which is to “Obey First Before You
Complain.”

But more than that, she added, “rule number one” really explains why corruption is rampant among the top officers, which is: “The commander
is always right.”

“If the commander is wrong, they would always refer to rule number one,” Gadian recalled.

As it is, the lady will not be cowed if ever she’s invited to the congressional hearings—she has loads of documents to back her claims—and that she will never cease advocating against corruption. After all the fight she started has not been given justice.  “The only time that I will stop with my crusade is if I’m already six feet below the ground,” concluded Gadian, feeling vindicated. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)

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