Military welcomes relief, court martial of health services command head and officers
The head of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Health Services Command (AFPHSC) and 21 others were relieved and will face court martial for alleged involvement in the anomalous procurement of medicines and medical equipment.
“The AFP welcomes the pronouncement made by Presidential Spokesperson Sec. Harry Roque relieving from his post BGen Edwin Leo Torrelavega, the commander of the AFP Health Services Command (AFPHSC) and Colonel 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 told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo Monday.
“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 noted.
“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,” he added.
Galvez noted that Torrelavega was relieved because of his command responsibility.
“What we see from Gen Torelavega is what we call the command responsibility, as commander of the AFPHSC. He should be knowledgeable of what his command is doing and also the failure of the command will also be his failure,” he said.
Galvez explained that investigation of the alleged anomalies was made following complaints that the AFP received from the Office of the President sometime last May of this year.
“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 Malaca?ang by way of a Letter to the president sometime this month (August),” he said.
AFP Inspector General Rafael Valencia said there were a total of 17 transactions made based on the complaints reported to them, and five of which were investigated involving the procurement of P1.49 million worth of medicines and medical equipment.
Galvez said those who were involved will be charged with Violation of Articles of War 95 (fraud against the government).
“That is, however, 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,” he said.
Galvez said during last week’s command conference President Rodrigo Duterte was “disheartened” because of the reported corruption.
“As the AFP chief of staff and like our commander-in chief President Rodrigo Duterte, I am both saddened and offended by this report,” he said.
“He was really disheartened… I can see, I can feel it. I cannot look into his because the Armed Forces V Luna (Hospital) is involved. I told him I will fix this sir, give me more time to fix this,” he added as he vowed to fix the problem at the AFPHSC in one month.
Following the discovery of the alleged corruption, Galvez order reforms in the AFP Health Services Command.
“I will cause a major revamp in that unit to address the systemic corruption that previous AFP leaderships have been endeavoring to stamp out,” he said.
“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,” he noted.
“And as I said during my assumption of command as the 50th AFP Chief of Staff, I will have 'Zero tolerance' on corruption. I will only allow transparency, meritocracy, justice, judgment, and leadership by example to prevail in our ranks,” Galvez stated.
“We will never put in vain the patriotism, heroism, sacrifice, and selfless service of our soldiers, airmen, sailors, and marines both active and retired ? regular or reservists? and the ideals they all fought and died for,” he added.
In a statement, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana expressed support on “the anti-corruption measures set by the president and his campaign to rid government of erring officials.”
“The relief of the AFP officials involved in the highly questionable transactions at the AFP Health Service Command (AFPHSC) was a result of an internal investigation which was initiated by the Defense and military establishments. A parallel investigation was also conducted by the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission,” he said.
“It is unfortunate that this happened at a time when the DND and AFP enjoys the trust and confidence of the Filipino people. We will ensure that those responsible will be held fully accountable for their actions. The investigations of the other individuals who might possibly be involved are still on-going,” he noted.
“We assure the public that the DND and AFP are sensitive to irregularities such as these and vow to continue safeguarding our institution against similar incidents in the future,” he added. Robina Asido/DMS