Army colonel slams AFP ‘mispriorities’
By Mario J. Mallari
Friday, 06 10, 2005
A reformist Army colonel has called on his fellow cavaliers from the elite Philippine Military Academy (PMA) to take action against “mispriorities” of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), among them the construction of a multimillion-peso military resort on Boracay island in Aklan.
In an e-mail message sent through a Yahoo group exclusively intended for PMA graduates, Army Col. Ricardo Morales, commander of the 404th Brigade based in Mawab, Davao del Norte, urged “all good men” to “rescue” society.
“The time has come for all good men to come to the aid of their society. The time for talking is over; the time for action is now,” Morales, a member of the PMA Class of 1977, said.
A member of the Rebolusyonaryong Alyansang Makabansa (RAM), a group of junior military officers disgruntled with then President Ferdinand Marcos, he was in on a plot to oust the strongman in the 1980s.
Morales was even arrested by Marcos forces for involvement in the plot and was presented by then president himself to the media, along with a number of other putschists.
In the e-mail, Morales questioned the construction of the P18-million, 60-room Sampaguita Family Resort on posh Boracay in the country's Central Visayas region.
“How can the 60-room resort in Boracay improve the AFP's capability to fight? Who determined this priority? We have hospitals without medicines and they spend money for this resort?,” he asked.
The AFP leadership, however, has explained that the project was a brainchild of Marine Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Teodosio, commander of the AFP Central Command, not of AFP chief Gen. Efren Abu, as earlier reported.
The construction began shortly after Abu assumed as AFP chief in October last year.
Teodosio said the military did not spend anything for the construction of the resort, where soldiers and their dependents could stay for rest and recreation, as it was funded by donations.
“That the top leaders in the AFP, especially the Marine officer (Teodosio) who commands two Army divisions, allowed this shows their insensitivity to the needs and suffering of the men in the field,” Morales said.
Teodosio was promoted to the three-star rank last year.
“The next 'coup' will be peaceful and open. Enough of leaders who talk about reforms but do not understand what they are saying. Enough of this organizational stupidity,” Morales said.
A military source also yesterday said Abu has ordered the relief of Morales because of his pronouncements.
“He (Abu) has asked (Army chief Lt. Gen. Generoso) Senga to relieve him because of the message,” the source said.
But AFP-Public Information Office chief Lt. Col. Buenaventura Pascual also yesterday said the AFP is still looking whether Morales committed any violation of military rules in making such statements.
According to Pascual, the office of the deputy chief of staff for personnel or J1 is conducting an investigation.
“We are studying what violation he (Morales) committed, if there is any,” he said.
Pascual described Morales as a reformist and theorized that such statements represented only Morales' personal views.
“I know Colonel Morales. He is kind, a reformist. We were together at RAM,” he said.
A ranking military officer, on condition of anonymity, echoed Morales' statements as he expressed doubts on the Boracay project's positive impact on the morale of the foot soldiers who could not even afford transport fare to go to the luxury island.
“And that the money was said to be 'donated' leaves a bad taste in the mouth,” the officer told the Tribune.