Filtered By: News
(Updated 4:32 p.m.) Former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Angelo Reyes filed before the Office of the Ombudsman on Monday criminal and administrative charges against Senate Pro Tempore Jose "Jinggoy" Estrada and former Army lieutenant colonel George Rabusa, who made revelations about alleged corruption in the military in a Senate probe last week. Reyes, through his lawyer, Bonifacio Alentajan, accused Estrada and Rabusa of causing "undue injury... through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence" under Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. Reyes, who held various Cabinet posts under the Arroyo administration (defense, energy and interior and local government), said Estrada’s expose on the P50 million he allegedly received upon his retirement was "motivated by political vendetta" since he supported the ouster of the senator’s father, former President Joseph Estrada, in 2001. "I have taken this legal step to seek justice and redress of my grievances... I appeal to them to stop this demolition job," Reyes said in a statement issued on Monday. Back in January 2001, Reyes, then the AFP chief, led the military hierarchy in withdrawing its support from Estrada at the height of the EDSA Dos uprising. The move later resulted in Estrada leaving Malacañang and the assumption of then Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to the presidency. Jinggoy reacts In an interview with reporters on Monday, the younger Estrada said that Reyes and his lawyer have the right to file charges against him but that he also has the right to make such allegations. "They are trying to retaliate because of what happened during the hearing (but) I also have the right as your senator to expose the anomalies and the corruption which is happening within the military, that is my duty as your duly elected senator," Jinggoy said. Jinggoy also noted that he is covered by parliamentary immunity, so he cannot be sanctioned for revealing anything about Reyes. "Whatever i say in the plenary or committee hearings, I think I am covered by parliamentary immunity," he said. On claims that he had personal interest in pinning Reyes due to what the latter did during EDSA Dos, Jinggoy said: "I do not have anything against Sec. Reyes or any other general for that matter. The issue here is not personal vendetta. The issue here is corruption," he said. He added that his father was even the one who sought the help of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile when Reyes was not yet confirmed as secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government.
'False testimony' In his complaint, Reyes also charged Estrada and Rabusa with violations of Article 183 and 184 of the Revised Penal Code for supposedly offering "false testimony" during the Senate investigation. "I have done nothing wrong and I categorically deny all the accusations of wrongdoing leveled against me," he said. Also on Monday, Jinggoy said it was Rabusa's lawyer, who was also his lawyer when he was charged with plunder before the Sandiganbayan, who approached him about the revelations of the former military officer. "I never abused my power. I was just exposing the anomalies of the government. I am not using Col. Rabusa. All the allegations against him [Reyes] are totally true," he said. Estrada did not give any details but said that Rabusa has a lot more revelations up his sleeve. "I think he has a lot of goods left... he has a lot of ammunitions left," he said. Last Thursday, Estrada presented Rabusa as a "surprise witness" in the Senate blue ribbon committee’s inquiry on the controversial plea bargain deal entered by special prosecutors and former AFP comptroller Carlos Garcia. During the probe, Rabusa revealed the alleged practice in the AFP of paying off its top brass with huge amounts of money from pooled military funds. [See: Witness: Ex-AFP chief Angelo Reyes got P50-M 'pabaon'] Reyes said Rabusa only offered to become a state witness “in exchange for government prosecutors dropping the many charges he himself is facing." President Benigno Aquino III has ordered officials from the justice and national defense departments to conduct their own probes on Rabusa’s allegations and to prosecute officials liable for the supposed corruption in the military. — with a report from Kimberly Jane Tan/RSJ/VVP, GMANews.TV