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More corruptions in the Philippines exposed

>> Monday, February 7, 2011

This story is guaranteed to make your stomach turn upside down. The revelation is increasing and growing but I'm more dying to know the ending. Will these corruptions ever stop? President Noynoy, we are watching you and your promises to stop corruption in the Philippines. I hope and pray that you are different from the others.

MANILA, Philippines - The wives of generals allegedly had their share in the largesse illegally drawn from military funds for their husbands, enabling them to travel in style, go on shopping sprees, and buy houses in the United States.

At a Senate hearing yesterday, Senate President Pro-Tempore Jinggoy Estrada presented photographs of two houses supposedly bought by Erlinda Yambao Ligot in California when her husband, Lt. Gen. Jacinto Ligot, was the military comptroller.

Ligot was the AFP comptroller when Angelo Reyes was Armed Forces chief of staff.

The hearing was on the plea bargain deal between former military comptroller Carlos Garcia and the Ombudsman.

There are eight houses in the US – mostly in California – in Mrs. Ligot’s name, Estrada said, citing records.

During the hearing, Estrada confronted General Ligot about the two houses in his wife’s name, which included a house at 7102 Stanton Avenue, Buena Park, California, purchased for $183,168 in 2002.

Prior to this, Estrada presented to Ligot some photos of a huge house at 1240 Cabernet Circle, South Anaheim, California, reportedly purchased by Mrs. Ligot on Dec. 23, 2003. The Anaheim property was worth $504,000.

Ligot said he was not familiar with the houses in the photos presented to him by the senator.

“You’re not familiar?” Estrada asked.

“This is the first time I saw this house,” Ligot replied.

Estrada said he had documents to show that Mrs. Ligot was the seventh owner of the house in South Cabernet Circle while the same Mrs. Ligot was the 22nd owner of the Stanton property.

Ligot claimed he was himself surprised when the properties mentioned were included in the complaint against him before the Ombudsman.

When Estrada asked Ligot whether he had ever discussed with his wife where she had gotten the money to buy the houses, Ligot invoked his right against self-incrimination.
He said the properties were subject of forfeiture cases against him before the Sandiganbayan.
“What did you do when you received the information coming from the Ombudsman that you have properties allegedly bought by your wife in the US?” Estrada asked.
Ligot said he asked his wife, “What happened? That was how I recalled saying. Because we really do not have anything about these houses.”
Ligot said he couldn’t recall how the conversation with his wife ended because she went hysterical on learning of the charges from the Ombudsman.
Dummy
Estrada said he had information that Mrs. Ligot may have been used as a dummy by the wife of Angelo Reyes – her usual travel companion – in the case of the Anaheim property.
“You weren’t aware about the properties as you said. Although, I do not wish to confirm this, I want to hear it from you. May nagsabi, ginawa lang dummy ang misis sa pagbili ng second property (Somebody claimed that your wife was used as dummy for the purchase of the second property). The first, in Buena Park in Stanton (street), that’s really yours,” Estrada said in Filipino. “Yung Anaheim, ay kay Mrs. Reyes daw ho iyon. Nilagay lang daw ho sa pangalan ng misis niyo (The one is Anaheim is Mrs. Reyes’ but it’s in your wife’s name). How true it that?”
Ligot again invoked his right against self-incrimination, prompting Estrada to threaten to invite his wife for questioning in the next hearing.
Travel buddies
Estrada said Mrs. Reyes and Mrs. Ligot traveled together at least 13 times from 1999 to 2004.
Estrada cited travel documents from the Bureau of Immigration that revealed that Reyes and Ligot were travel buddies during trips to San Francisco, California, Hong Kong, Singapore and Bandar Seri Begawan.
They traveled to Los Angeles, California at least seven times via Philippine Airlines.
Mrs. Reyes traveled 48 times to foreign countries from 1993 to 2004 while Mrs. Ligot traveled 42 times to the United States, Singapore, and Hong Kong from 1993-2004, documents also showed.
Estrada found it unbelievable that with Ligot’s meager salary as a military general, his wife could afford to travel so many times. “What is there in Los Angeles?” he asked.
Asked whether his wife and Reyes’ wife were close, Ligot said: “They are acquaintances, especially in the ladies’ club.”
Whistleblower former military budget officer George Rabusa said the AFP shouldered the airfare and hotel accommodations of Reyes’s wife and the expenses of her entourage were paid for by the executive assistant of the sitting military chief.
At one point, Rabusa revealed that he also had to meet Mrs. Reyes when both of them were in the United States on separate trips after she asked for more allowance.
“Sa America, nag-usap po kami sa LA (I spoke with Mrs. Reyes in LA). Kulang daw po yung ano (allowance) nagpadagdag pa ng allowance noon (She said her allowance wad not enough and she needed more)... I have to produce from a friend, ginawan po namin ng paraan (we found a way)... Not less than $5,000,” said Rabusa, who was in the US at that time to audit an attaché to Washington.
He said he also gave Reyes’ wife shopping money of up to $10,000 for foreign trips, depending on which place she was visiting and on the number of people in her entourage.
Reacting to Ligot’s denials, Estrada said he was puzzled as to how Mrs. Ligot was able to travel to the US when her husband received only a monthly salary of P35,000. Ligot said his wife sometimes got help from their relatives in the US.
Diversion of UN funds
Rabusa also detailed how they diverted funds from the UN allocation for the East Timor mission.
Rabusa presented documents which showed that the higher-ups charged P7.1 million for the inspection and repair as necessary (IRAN) of a Cessna aircraft intended for the Philippine Army.
Another item charged to the East Timor fund was the purchase of P6-million worth of firearms released to the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces.
About P1 million charged to the East Timor fund was also among the expenses used for the repair and rehabilitation of the AFP general headquarters hospital.
“This is valid because the hospital is used for medical processing of applicants,” Rabusa said.
He said that out of P14 million from the East Timor fund, P13 million was not related to the peacekeeping effort.
He said diversion of the UN funds caused their depletion from P102 million to P88 million by May 2002.
[source: Philstar]

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