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Sat, Jan 07, 2006

Corruption Charges Fuel Filipino Firestorm

Air Force Colonel Alleges 30 Million Pesos Purloined

In some parts of the world serving in the military is a career, a profession, even a calling. In others, it's politics. Our case study for today is the Republic of the Phillipines, where Air Force Colonel Efren Daquil made public charges of deep-seated corruption in the institution, claiming that officers were receiving up to 45,000 Phillipine pesos monthly in unlawful allowances -- he himself admitted to getting P 8,500 -- and insinuating that 30 million pesos' savings from his tour as personnel office chief had been misused.

In a public press conference, Daquil, a former deputy wing commander of the 710th Special Operations Wing based at the former Clark Air Force Base, showed documents that he said proved his points, and called on PAF commander Lt. Gen. Jose Reyes, to publicly explain where the P30 million went.

The next day Daquil, accompanied by his lawyer Homobono Adaza, turned himself in at PAF headquarters on Villamor Air Force Base. Two officers accepted him into custody, his commander, Col. Oscar Calingasan, and the Provost Marshal, Col. Arthur Abadilla. Daquil told reporters that he had no regrets.

The Air Force's spokesman, Lt. Col. Restituto Padilla, charged that "Colonel Daquil could have been used wittingly or unwittingly by people behind destabilization moves." By this he referred to rumors that rebels in the military were seeking to recruit Air Force officers for a possible coup against president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

"The timing of [Daquil's] expose is suspect," Padilla also said, according to Filipino media reports. "We have to dig deeper into this."

Daquil may be charged with two catch-all offenses under the Filipino Articles of War, which are modeled on an earlier version of the US military law code. Article 96, Conduct Unbecoming an Officer and a Gentleman, and Article 97, Conduct Prejudicial to Good Order and Discipline, can be invoked in almost any case of military insubordination or misconduct. The charges will only be brought if an initial investigation by the Provost Marshal's office determines that there is sufficient evidence to bring charges. If so, Daquil would face court-martial.

The underlying grievance that the service has with Daquil is that, rather than trying to resolve his questions inside Air Force channels, he went directly to the media.

Daquil was not formally restricted, in the light of his voluntary surrender to Air Force authority -- "We are very grateful that he went back to our control in the Air Force," Padilla said -- but he has been asked to stay on the grounds of PAF HQ.

Padilla described Daquil as "promising," but said that personal "issues" had cost him a promotion, insinuating that the cause of Daquil's disaffection might have been his own career problems. Padilla suggested the personal "issues" involved Daquil's simultaneous maintenance of a wife and a girlfriend.

According to Padilla, Daquil declined a job as Deputy Commander of the 2nd Tactical Operations Wing, and then filed for retirement and terminal leave. (He was on terminal leave at the time of his press conference).

The 2nd Wing Deputy position was nominally a lateral transfer from Daquil's previous position at the 710th Special Operations Wing, but was certainly a less prestigious position.

Padilla also showed documents which seemed to indicate that the "missing" 30 million had been returned to the budget department and used to buy 19,652 sets of uniform athletic clothing for the service members. Examples of the clothing were on hand for the press to see. He defended the "allowances," as well.

In a television interview, Daquil said he wasn't convinced by Padilla's explanations, and would have to see the papers for himself. He said that when he had tried to follow the trail of the P 30 million into PAF logistics, "I never heard anything else despite my questions."

Senator Rodolfo Biazon called for a "transparent and credible investigation." Biazon is a former Armed Forces Chief of Staff (the highest ranking general in the Phillipines) and his voice carries weight on military matters. He warned the Air Force not to threaten Daquil until his charges were investigated. He was joined in his call for investigation by other politicians.

FMI: www.paf.mil.ph

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