Junk VFA Movement calls for probe of Balikatan corruption mess, gives support to whistleblower
The advocacy group Junk VFA Movement today called on the Senate to conduct a thorough and impartial probe into allegations that funds intended for the RP-US Balikatan exercises were pocketed by some ranking officials of the AFP. The annual Balikatan exercises are the biggest among all the activities allowed by the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the United States and the Philippines.
“There should be no cover-ups. The allegation of corruption in the Balikatan, if true, is very alarming. This scandal again disproves the claim of so-called benefits arising from the Balikatan exercises. It seems that the real beneficiaries from Balikatan are the generals. That is why they continue to defend the Balikatan even if this has time and again failed to modernize the AFP,” said Junk VFA Convenor Roland Simbulan, Professor in Development Studies and Public Management at the University of the Philippines.
“We are also alarmed by the heavy-handed response the AFP is employing against whistleblower Lt/SG Nancy Gadian. Instead of providing her protection and encouraging her to tell the truth, she is being harassed, surveiled and threatened with court martial. This is a repeat of the AFP’s response to other military whistleblowers like T/Sgt. Vidal Doble and General Francisco Gudani,” Simbulan said.
Simbulan said that with this “culture of corruption” and with the Balikatan providing no real and useful military assistance, it is no wonder that the much vaunted modernization of the AFP under the VFA has not happened.
“We commend the courage of Lt./Sg. Gandia and we hope that she can be given protection by the Senate. We also hope that the AFP will not invoke executive privilege and evade Senate inquiries on the anomaly,” Simbulan said.
“This kind of investigation on the conduct and operationalization of the Balikatan exercises by the AFP is very timely considering that the VFA will be observing its 10th anniversary on May 27. We want to know what exactly the VFA and the Balikatan exercises have achieved for the AFP over the last 10 years. Has it really helped us or has it only benefitted the few who are defending it at the expense of the entire nation?” he added.
The date posted here is due to our website rebuild, it does not reflect the original date this article was posted. This article was originally posted in Yonip on Mar. 25th 2009