Sunday, October 5, 2008

Greed and Avarice, Military Style

First posted in Amiel Aguilar Cabanlig's Victorina site as Andro: (This entry with corrections and additions.)

This is another classic example of the dangers of playing with other people’s money. Greed along with its twin, avarice.

Long before the news of Major General Carlos F. Garcia's plunder of the military funds came into focus, soldiers were already complaining, albeit silently, about failures of their military arsenal in the midst of battle along with the lack of or inferior military gear. This was proven when a report from a leading network, covering the war effort, made a broadcast on the conditions of soldiers in Mindanao as well as to cover the reported kidnapping of Italian priest Giancarlo Bossi. They were ambushed on the way back and they saw misfiring mortars, locking guns and outdated communication devices and almost no air support. The soldiers like "normal” Filipinos were laughing but alert at their sorry plight. We Filipinos do have that inherent trait amidst all adversity to laugh at ourselves. But the fear and shame that were in their eyes betray that flimsy facade they are trying to project. Fear that their equipment will fail them in their hour of need, shame in knowing their high ranking officers and dependents are living luxurious lifestyles somewhere else, far from the war zones. The scam of a scum pilfering tax payers’ money and treating it like it was his personal piggy bank was more than just shameful. He was dealing double jeopardy. One, pilfering military funding and two, he was putting the lives of deployed soldiers at risk. Fourteen marine soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice in that ambush, most were even beheaded.

I may not be a destitute or that fully padded, but what little I have, I worked my ass off honestly for. My former job had me exposed in handling millions of pesos, in cash, which I could make disappear in a flash and still appear accounted for, but I was never tempted to do so. Not even during the hardest of times. And I'm proud of that fact. There was even a running joke in the office when I bungled up making a check, they said: "Ayan kasi, ayaw sa intsik, gusto lagi encash." So, it is hard for me to be impressed or even jealous of sons or daughters of other military officers most especially if said sons or daughters are known bums and just living off their family's questionable assets. I may be startled a bit at first, but that's just about it. There are still lots of them here in Fort Boni acting like demigods and dropping of their father’s or even their mother's rank as if to inspire awe and intimidate anyone to submission. Some military spouses and paramours are likewise guilty of this fact. Ang sarap pagbabatukan! Sometimes I wonder whatever happened to that much publicized life-style check.

June of this year, another Major General and a Staff Sergeant faced a court marshal. Major General Jose T. Barbieto and his co-accused Staff Sergeant Roseller Echipare was charged and investigated for possible violations of Article of War 55 (Officer Making Unlawful Enlistment), Article of War 96 (Conduct Unbecoming an Officer and a Gentleman), and Article of War 97 (Conduct Prejudicial to Good Order and Military Discipline). MGen Barbieto was relieved as commander of the Army's 4th Infantry Division on March 6, 2008 following an order from the Ombudsman. To simplify, they are scamming money off recruits in the thousands of pesos per person just to be enlisted or re-enlisted in the military without the need of passing all the stringent tests required for enlistment and/or re-enlistment. Great! First, we had failure of equipment now we have failure of personnel. As of this writing, the case is still on going and both of the accused are confined to quarters.

A soldier is a formidable living, breathing and thinking machine. His ingrained skills are tools he can call upon in life or death situations, while his weaponry increases his chances of surviving or successfully completing his given mission. How can he be confident knowing his equipment or lack thereof, may fail him at any time? How can his morale be bolstered knowing that his supposed adversaries are carrying far modern equipment than what he has? And the fact that his family is living in near slum conditions while his generals, officers and their dependents are living la vida loca? All these and still, be expected to perform brilliantly and to ultimately make the greatest sacrifice, if he has to, for God, for country and freedom.

A soldier friend of mine, the son of a late Colonel, is on his second tour of duty in Mindanao. Both he and I come from a military lineage, although, mine extends longer and broader. Ironically, he is assigned again in my dad's province of Basilan. We have lost several buddies over the years to the war in Mindanao. And it is with respect, when we do get together, to dedicate our first bottle of beer to our fallen. I do hope and pray for his safe return.

"Kaya walang kukurap, baka malusutan ng corrupt."

-Pictures are from the web-


junerik said...

you are very brave to write such an article and even braver to have your photo published alongside your article! indeed, it is a very sad state that our soldiers are in. and this is because of the very example that our government officials have set --- corruption.

by: Genkuro said...

Dear junerik,

Being brave is not about the absence of fear but overcoming it.

Besides, what you have read in this article has already been out there for quite sometime. I just focused on the cause and effect it has on our brave men in uniform.

Thanks for your comment.