Philippine Daily Inquirer
‘Cleanup’ set for AFP financial institutions
AFP chief Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez says “people with integrity” will soon manage graft-ridden military financial institutions so that soldiers can get back all their contributions.
LUCENA CITY— A cleanup of the military’s financial institutions is under way, and the country’s top soldier wants the troops to know that their contributions, including interests, will be returned to them.
Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, on Saturday said “people with integrity” would soon be tapped to manage two graft-ridden military pension and savings funds.
In his speech at the military’s Southern Luzon Command headquarters in Camp Nakar here, Galvez said he was serious about ridding the AFP-Retirement and Separation Benefits System (AFP-RSBS) and the Armed Forces and Police Savings and Loan Association Inc. (AFPSLAI) of corruption.
President Duterte, he said, guarantees that the soldier’s contributions in AFP-RSBS plus their accumulated interest will be given back.
“The money will be given [back] immediately, so let us not worry that it might be lost,” Galvez said to soldiers’ applause.
The AFP-RSBS was established in 1976 as a pension fund for soldiers and was funded from their contributions.
But the pension fund has long been mired in corruption. Last year, several of the fund’s top officials were convicted of graft and corruption in cases involving hundreds of millions of pesos.
Galvez said they had already stopped the practice by 12 military-affiliated financial institutions of automatic salary deductions.
Troops better be frugal
Urging soldiers to live a frugal life, he noted that a great majority of them were deeply mired in debt. An estimate of their total borrowings, he said, is about P200 billion.
“In AFPSLAI, our (the soldiers’ total) monthly loan used to be P200 million. Now, it reaches P500 to P600 million. The AFPSLAI is running out of money because of the soldiers’ piling debt,” he disclosed.
He cited the story of a heavily indebted soldier who had to be contented with just eating the leftovers of his superior because he had already pawned his subsistence allowance.
“You cannot spend what you cannot earn,” he said. “For every salary, you save 20 percent and you become a millionaire when you retire.’’
He said the AFP had also stopped the controversial RTS—“return to sender”— practice involving military funds. RTS refers to portions of operational funds allocated to a military division which are allegedly withdrawn and divert- ed to accounts of senior officers.
The Office of the Deputy Staff for Personnel, he said, will soon issue a directive making the mandatory take-home pay of soldiers at not less than P15,000.
Vowing to be an honest chief of staff, Galvez said everything the government promised would be given to the soldiers. “My motivation is not about money. My motivation is to serve and make people happy, to work for others, to make the organization grow and to be professional.”
‘Duterte very serious’
The AFP, he said, will soon implement its “Integrity Development Program” to help sustain the President’s no corruption policy.
“I am reminding you that the President is very serious,” Galvez said, apparently addressing AFP logistic and financial personnel, the military men most susceptible, historically, to corrupt practices. “We all see how serious he is.”
Corruption still haunted even the AFP General Headquarters at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City, he added. “I will admit that at the headquarters there is still corruption.”
In AFPSLAI, our soldiers’ total monthly loan used to be P200 million. Now, it reaches P500 to P600 million Carlito Galvez AFP chief of staff