A “ballistic” President Duterte has sacked at least 20 corrupt officials at a military hospital struggling to treat troops injured in combat.
It is believed that hundreds of millions of pesos went into the pockets of senior staff at the Armed Forces of the Philippines’s V Luna Medical Center in Quezon City.
Today (Monday, August 13), presidential spokesman Harry Roque confirmed that high-ranking officials and employees of the military hospital undertook anomalous purchases of equipment and engaged in fraudulent transactions.
These included ‘ghost-purchasing’, splitting of contracts to circumvent mandatory bidding processes and inventing fictitious suppliers.
Roque said the president had also ordered court martial proceedings against the top military brass, including Brigadier General Edwin Leo Torrelavega and Colonel Antonio Punzalan.
An investigation has now been launched to discover the full scale of the theft. Roque said: “There are series of transactions involving almost hundreds of millions of pesos. So they will be releasing subsequent reports in due course.
“The total number of individuals, according to the Chief of Staff, who will be relieved is around 20. But I only have two names so far. But they will be around 20.”
He added that it was “highly possible” that the entire office involved with procurement would also be sacked.
The anomalies were brought to light by a whistleblower on the hospital’s staff. Roque said: “The reports came in last Monday, which explains why the president was very aggravated in talking about corruption in the last Cabinet meeting.”
He added that the president was “ballistic” when told the news. “He’s ballistic because it was only recently that he ordered that a sum of 50 million pesos be released to V Luna to make sure it will have sufficient funds to cover all medical requirements of members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
“He was personally aggravated when the information on corruption was confirmed. Personally aggravated and angered. That’s what angers the president. This is not an isolated transaction. It involves quite a number of anomalous transactions.
“Apparently it’s a conspiracy. It’s institutional corruption.”
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