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Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Opinion: 23 PMA Alumni Retirees Submit 4 Suggestions to Pres. Marcos; A Fil. Brig. General (Ret.) Shares His Comments to 'OMW' By Manuel L. Caballero




Happy New Year, Folks! Welcome to "ON MY WATCH" first column in 2024. This is OMW's 35th year of publication. Just beginning to realize that I have spent the best years of my life writing "On My Watch." 

Thanks to the late Bert Pelayo who gave the title of this column way back in 1989.


On December 30, 2023, 23 retired PH military offficers submitted 4 big suggestions to President Bongbong Marcos "out of concern." This came on the heels of earlier stories that Ex-president Rodrigo Duterte had been supposedly talking to retired Filipino military officers to destabilize the Marcos administration. 

The following is their submission in full. I en- join the readers to read in full, both the initial letter and the reply from  Brig. Gen. (Retired) Virgilio Reyes Garcia.

December 30 2023

His Excellency Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.

Dear Mr. President,

With all due respect, we, the  undersigned and retired graduates of the Philippine Military Academy, suggest:

1. That the 2024 national expenditure program (NEP) match the projected ₱4,184.4 billion 2024 national revenues. This can be done by eliminating corruption that eats about 20% of the annual budget, eliminating pork barrel hidden in different names, eliminating the ₱450 billion unprogrammed fund, reducing the allowances of the different committees in Congress, eliminating unnecessary travel expenses, reducing intelligence and confidential funds, removing the overpaid and unnecessary positions in the government, selling the perennial losing GOCC (government-owned and -controlled corporations), having more PPP (Public-Private Partnership) projects to reduce to the minimum funds for constructions that are sources of kickbacks, and practicing austerity in all government offices. With a total ₱6,776.5 billion projected deficits, from 2023 to 2028, the unbelievable annual GDP growth rate of 7.3% for six years, and the 11.5% annual increase in our national budget for six years, our government will likely become bankrupt before the end of your term. Please be reminded that the Central Bank was bankrupt before your family left the Philippines in 1986.

2. That the implementation of the Maharlika Investment Corporation be totally stopped and the ₱50 billion and ₱25 billion of Landbank and DBP, respectively, be immediately returned to them. As earlier pointed out by economic experts, the MIC cannot be justified mainly because the government does not have excess funds and its investment portfolio is highly speculative. Please be reminded that the salaries and pensions of all government employees are deposited in Landbank. Any adverse development in Landbank will cause panic among us.

3. That Finance Secretary and Landbank Chairman Benjamin Diokno be fired immediately for investing ₱50 billion of Landbank’s equity in MIC. He violated the single investment ceiling and compromised the stability of Landbank. In addition, he insulted the MUP (military and uniformed personnel) and trivialized their roles as defenders of the country, consequently diminishing their trust and confidence in our government and in your leadership.

4. That all the 20 senators and 100 congressmen listed in the affidavit of Janet Lim Napoles in connection with the pork barrel scam be investigated and those who are incumbent senators and congressmen be made to go under preventive suspension, without pay and allowances, until the investigation is over. Napoles is now in prison. In the interest  of fairness and justice the erring senators and congressmen should not be treated above the law. Congress was called “the Philippines’ biggest criminal syndicate,” in the December 30, 2013 issue of BizNews Asia. Congress is the top obstacle to the progress of our country. 

Please be informed that we voted different presidential candidates in May 2022 elections, but now we are one in wishing you success because your success is our success and your failure is also our failure.

May God give you more wisdom and discernment as you lead us during these critical and challenging times.

Most respectfully,

1. Col Salvador B Calanoy IV ‘84

2. PLtGen Columbia Isidro S LapeƱa ‘73

3. LtCol Alexander Quirante ‘72

4. Capt (PN) Ephraim Rio ‘74

5. BGen Roberto Santiago ‘68

6. Commo Justo Manlongat ‘69

7. Col Hector Tarrazona ‘68

8. RAdm Rufino Lopez ‘74

9. BGen Carlito Gamit ‘74 

10. MGen Alphonsus Crucero '74

11. PBGen Errol T Pan  '74 

12. Col Ricky dela Paz ‘74

13. LtCol Oscar Mallabo '74

14. BGen Roland Rodriguez '74

15. Capt (PN) Winston G Arpon ‘64

16. Col Alfonso O Rivera ‘66

17. PBGen Aaron Fidel ‘79

18. PMGen Ramsey L Ocampo '70

19. Capt Rafael Enriquez ‘57

20. Commo Vicente Buenaventura ‘57

21. PMGen Gil Meneses ‘80

22. BGen Oscar Cabaron ‘68

23. Col Isidro P. Benitez ‘82


BGen Virgilio R Garcia JAGS (Ret) shared his thoughts to OMW about the above suggestions of his brothers in the military.

Atty. & Gen Garcia is a Law graduate of Ateneo Law School, Ateneo de Manila University. He also studied at the University of the Philippines as well as CGSC, Command and General Staff College, AFP (Honor graduate, Recipient, Dean of Academics Award) as well as graduate of National Defense College of the Philippines.

Because of his impressive credentials, I jokingly told Gen. Garcia that if I ever become a First Gentleman , i will lobby for him to get the Defense portfolio. 

Due to space, I used my editorial prerogative on his reply.

Here is the reply:

"First, This is my personal view, lest I be misunderstood to speak for, or even imply to represent, a certain group or groups within the AFP. 

"Please note that although the signatories were mostly from PMA Class '68 to 74, an '80, '82 & 84, one might say that it is not representative of the AFP retired Officers. Pwede yan. Pero, make no mistake about it, we are pretty much a cohesive group (Lalo na yun AGFO that is composed of retired star rank officers from the PMAAA and the NARAA. These are three civic organizations in the AFP). Cohesive kasi kahit na our views differ on certain issue madali kaming magkaisa.(For example, yun TSISMIS ng vlogger dyan na si Maharlika na meron daw dinuraan sa mukha si First Lady Liza Marcos na Heneral. But that's another story.) 

"Second, the first paragraph contains valid issues. This is a good opportunity for Pres Bong Bong to correct, when he sees it fit to do so. All of these occurred before his time except for the 2024 budget. 

"2. The Maharlika Investment Fund is the brainchild of President Bong Bong's Economic Team. Wala pa akong nadinig na opposition coming from the great mind of other economists. Kultura natin mga Pinoy is to oppose change. Hindi pa nasubukan, binabakbakan na agad. It's  also political, corruption na daw agad. For every solution presented, we create five new problems to the proposal. Dapat, we should all work together to see how to make it work. How to make it achieve the purposes for its creation. Pero hindi eh, talangka talaga. At PINUPULITIKA AGAD 

Pero pag nag-succeed naman, kasali sila (very much the same when I proposed the revival of Mandatory Basic ROTC way back in 2013. Lahat kalaban ko except my 2 friends who are also advocating it (Actually, boss ko sila pareho). After Pres Digong announced he wanted to revive ROTC, yun mga bench sitter at yun mga opposition na namin ang bida. Biglang kanila na ang idea) 

"3. In my view, Sec Diokno is doing a very good job. May tampo yun military retirees kasi pinakialaman niya yun pension plan ng MUP. Pero inuunawa at binibigyan siya ng pagkakataon na ayusin. Huwag lang MAWALA yun mga rights na already vested in accordance with law. All is not well that ended well. 

But to me, Sec Diokno is the only one who has the balls to say that the pension plan of the MUP is in the brink of collapse and should be addressed immediately.. Our Economic Managers are doing their best for our country. 

"4. I agree with no. 4. Hindi dapat sila Sec Enrile, Sen Jinggoy and Sen Bong Revilla lang ang nakulong. Dapat all. But it was actually POLITICALLY MOTIVATED - To eliminate them from the Presidential and Vice Presidential race against PNoy and Leni (Opppss!).  

"ADDITIONALLY, we should unmask all Senators and Congressmen who are NOT natural born Filipinos. Let's get them out of office. (Malaking away ito!  hehehe) because it is a blatant violation of our Constitution. Another thing we should do is amend our Constitution to implement drastic electoral reforms (Hindi pwedeng isa-batas lang kasi nga I said DRASTIC CHANGE). I believe - "Ang ugat ng KORAPSYON ay nagmumula sa eleksyon." 

"Remember I told you the three EVILS besetting our country? Corruption, Politics and Religion."


OMW reader, you be the judge.


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