AFP welcomes relief of erring officials, personnel in health units

By Priam Nepomuceno

August 13, 2018, 6:13 pm

MANILA -- The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Monday said it welcomes President Rodrigo R. Duterte's relief and court martial order against the commanding officers of the AFP Health Services Command (HSC) and AFP Medical Center (also known as the V. Luna Hospital) and 20 others for their alleged involvement in anomalous transactions.

"The AFP welcomes the pronouncement made by Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque relieving from his post Brig. Gen. Edwin Leo Torrelavega, the Commander of the AFP Health Services Command and Col. Antonio Punzalan, the Commander of V. Luna Hospital, for them and around 20 others to face court martial proceedings," AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. said.

The relief of these officials stemmed from the outcome of two different but parallel investigations ordered by the AFP chief.

"The task to thoroughly collect material and relevant information regarding the case started sometime in the month of May 2018. The results of which I transmitted to Malacañang by way of a letter to the President sometime this month (August)," the AFP chief added.

The case will be tried under the military justice system and the accused will be proceeded against in court martial proceedings where they will be given the opportunity to be heard.

Galvez said these personnel will be charged with violation of Article of War 95 (Fraud Against the Government).

He, however, said this is without prejudice to other infractions of the Articles of War that may have also been violated; and the accused military personnel’s right to due process.

"As the AFP chief-of-staff and like our Commander-in Chief, President Rodrigo Duterte, I am both saddened and offended by this report. I am not prejudging the named Officers and Enlisted Personnel as the would-be recommendations of the courts martial will be submitted to me for approval and further submission to the Commander-in-Chief for final approval," he added.

"But I commit to the members of the AFP, to the Filipino People, and to our beloved President and Commander-in-Chief that I will render justice to all concerned without undue haste. As the President said during the last SONA (State-of-the-Nation Address) corruption is corrosive. And the warning that— 'I will get you!' And I am one with him in that desire. At ito na yun," Galvez said.

In line with this and based on the investigation, the AFP chief bared that he will order that reforms be instituted in the AFPHSC along with a major revamp in that unit to address the systemic corruption.

"I will cause the installation only of officers and staff with the necessary qualifications, competencies, integrity, and unquestionable reputation, to run this institution which is vital to the health and well-being of our personnel and their dependents," Galvez added. (PNA)