Marine officer bewails PDAF misuse
MANILA, Philippines - A Marine officer who exposed the alleged poll irregularities in 2004 has turned to Facebook to air his sentiments against the misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel.
In his Facebook page, Brig. Gen. Alexander Balutan, chief of the 1st Marine Brigade in Central Mindanao, said the PDAF issue was disheartening considering that many soldiers are risking their lives in the battlefield.
“That (money) should have been used to solve the lingering social issues leading to armed conflict. The deaths of these marine heroes are rendered useless. Nakapanlulumo (It’s disheartening),” Balutan said.
In the same post, Balutan recalled the bloody conflict in Central Mindanao 13 years ago and the dangers they had to face after seizing three main camps of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
“Everyday, we stare at death,” the Marine officer said.
“Many of us offered lives and sustained wounds while faithfully fulfilling our sworn duty to defend the motherland,” he added.
Balutan, one of the awardees of The Outstanding Philippine Soldiers 2011 for his peacekeeping efforts in Mindanao, believes corruption is to be blamed for the conflict.
“We are fighting a war in the (countryside) that these corrupt government officials have created against desperate, oppressed people who see no possibility of improving their lot,” Balutan said.
“They use the lingering social inequity/issues as convenient excuse and justification to rebel against the government and the AFP/PNP (Armed Forces of the Philippines / Philippine National Police) take the brunt of the people’s frustration.”
Balutan’s post was liked by 380 users as of yesterday afternoon. Those who commented on Balutan’s posts were generally supportive of his views.
Balutan said peace-loving and well-meaning Filipinos could do a lot in addressing a wide range of issues in their own capacity.
In 2005, Balutan, a graduate of Philippine Military Academy Class ’83, testified before a Senate probe on the supposed cheating in the 2004 election.
He attended the probe despite a Malacañang order barring soldiers from attending congressional hearings without clearance.
He was accused of disobeying his superiors for appearing before the Senate but his court-martial charges were dismissed because a two-year prescription period had lapsed before these were brought to trial.