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Duterte fires military officials over anomalous transactions at V. Luna Medical Center

President Rodrigo Duterte’s crackdown on corruption continues as he ordered the dismissal of military officials over supposed anomalous transactions at the V. Luna Medical Center, Malacañang said Monday.

The 20 officials included Armed Forces of the Philippines Health Service Command (AFPHSC) Commander Brigadier General Edwin Leo Torrelavega, V. Luna Medical Center Commander Colonel Antonio Punzalan, chiefs of Management and Fiscal Office (MFO) and the Logistics Office (OHC) of the AFPHSC and several others, according to presidential spokesperson Harry Roque.

Roque said the officials will also undergo court martial proceedings "without prejudice" to the investigation to be conducted by the Deputy Ombudsman for the Military and Other Law Enforcement Offices.

The Palace official said the military officials took part in fraudulent transactions, including ghost purchasing, splitting of contracts to circumvent mandatory bidding processes, and conceiving fictitious suppliers.

One ghost delivery, Roque said, amounted to P1.491 million.

"That's just one case. According to the chief of staff [General Carlito Galvez] and I had a conversation with him, [the amount could go as high as] hundreds of millions of pesos," he said.

Roque said the "institutional corruption" in the Quezon City-based military hospital did not start during the Duterte administration as "apparently it has been going on for a very long period of time."

"He (Duterte) is ballistic because only recently he ordered that the sum of P50 million a month be released to V. Luna to make sure that V. Luna will have sufficient funds to cover all medical requirements of all members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines only to find out much of the funds may be going to pockets of corrupt officials of the Armed Forces," Roque said at a news conference.

He said the anomalies were disclosed by a whistle-blower and subsequently investigated by the AFP and Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission.

"The reports came in last Monday (August 6) which explains why he 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 just received concerning fraudulent activities in both agencies," Roque said.

Roque told ANC that Duterte was “aggrieved and mad” by the particular instance of corruption as it involves the military, an institution the Palace official said is close to the heart of the President.

Last week, the President axed the board members and the management of Nayong Pilipino Foundation for entering into a supposedly disadvantageous lease deal with a Hong Kong-based developer for an integrated casino resort project.

He also reiterated that no new casinos will be put up during his term.

Duterte had vowed to reduce corruption to the barest minimum under his watch. —KG/KBK, GMA News