AFP assures no personnel involved in dirty money smuggling

Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo

THE Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) maintained on Wednesday, March 4, that no active personnel has taken part in the smuggling of dirty money into the country.

Brigadier General Edgard Arevalo, AFP spokesperson, said the Bureau of Customs (BOC) has informed them that those involved in the illegal activity are retired members of the military and the Philippine National Police who now work for private security agencies.

These retired officers escort the individuals who bring in dirty money through the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Arevalo said.

“Offhand, (based on their) their (BOC) raw information ‘yung sumasalubong na ito ay retired members of the PNP and AFP that are now under the employ of security agencies. So malinaw po ‘yan,” Arevalo said.

“What we can assure our people, wala pong miyembro ng Armed Forces of the Philippines na bahagi nito at magiging bahagi nito. Hindi po natin sasayangin lahat yan, ang tiwala ng ating taumbayan,” he added.

Arevalo said they were coordinating with the BOC and the Department of Finance in investigating this illegal scheme.

He warned that military personnel who will be proven to be involved in such illegal activities will undergo investigation and will face the “weight of all our books, our regulation, and the military justice system.”

Meanwhile, Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año has ordered the PNP to coordinate with the BOC to identify the policemen who are allegedly involved in the scheme.

For his part, PNP Civil Security Group (CSG) Director Roberto Fajardo said he has yet to get information about the matter.

“Actually wala akong idea na ang PNP ay ginagamit mag-escort nitong dirty money pero baka merong mga enterprising na siguro hindi naka-duty or may barkadang pulis ito ginagamit nila which is a violation about VIP security kasi di pwede mag VIP security ang sinumang pulis without authority,” he said.

“That is grave abuse of authority so dismissable yan,” he added.

Major General Fajardo said requests for police security escorts undergo threat assessment and verification and should be approved by the PNP chief.

Following the revelations, he said he initiated the crackdown against illegal or "colorum" security providers who serve foreign nationals, especially Chinese.

According to Fajardo, through a memorandum, he tasked the CSG units to coordinate with local PNP along with the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and Highway Patrol Group (HPG).

He said that with the rising number of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (Pogo) and influx of foreigners, the process to get escort and security should undergo a stringent process.

Earlier, Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero reported that two suspected syndicates brought into the Philippines about P18.7 billion in foreign dirty money.

Senator Richard Gordon, Senate Blue Ribbon committee chairman, said in a privilege speech Tuesday that the money is possibly being used in criminal activities in the country. (SunStar Philippines)