Duterte orders relief, court martial of top military officials over anomalous hospital transactions
President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the relief and court martial of top military officials who were allegedly involved in anomalous transactions at a state-run hospital in Quezon City.
In a press briefing on Monday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said there were some 20 officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and employees of V. Luna Medical Center, a military hospital, who were investigated for alleged corruption activities.
Those ordered relieved and to undergo court martial proceedings were Brig. Gen. Edwin Leo Torrelavega, Commander of the AFP Health Service Command; Col. Antonio Punzalan, Commander of the V. Luna Medical Center; Chief of Management and Physical Office; and the Logistics Office of the AFP-HSC, among others.
"Based on the report, several high ranking officials and employees of V. Luna Medical Center, health service command of the Armed Force of the Philippines, undertook anomalous purchases of equipment and engaged in fraudulent transactions including ghost purchasing, splitting of contracts to circumvent mandatory bidding processes and conceiving fictitious suppliers," Roque said.
He cited one of the "ghost deliveries" involved P1.49 million.
"But there are series of transactions involving almost hundreds of millions of pesos," Roque said, adding that a "larger report" would be released on Tuesday.
He said a whistle blower went to the proper channels, prompting Duterte to order the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission and AFP chief of staff General Carlito Galvez to investigate.
He said the result of the investigation came out Monday last week, "which explains why the president was very aggravated in talking about corruption in the last Cabinet meeting because there was the issue of both Nayong Pilipino and V. Luna, information which he had just received concerning fraudulent activities in both agencies."
Last week, Duterte also ordered the firing of the members of the Board of Trustee of Nayong Filipino Foundation over the alleged "flawed" $1.5-billion contract that it entered into with a Chinese company to develop and put up a casino in its property in Paranaque City.
Roque said the president was "ballistic" upon learning of the alleged anomalies as he ordered recently to release P50 million for V. Luna hospital to cover all medical requirements of the members of the AFP.
"And of course, only to find out that bulk of the funds or much of the funds may be going to pockets of corrupt officials of the Armed Forces," he said.
Roque said the alleged anomalous transactions in V. Luna hospital did not start under the present administration.
"It apparently has been ongoing for a very long period of time," he said. Celerina Monte/DMS