DND defends appointment of justice as acting VFP president
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana defended the appointment of retired Sandiganbayan Justice Manuel Pamaran as the acting Veterans Federation of the Philippines (VFP) president.
“Mr. Jerry Adevoso ( adviser to the president of the VFP) is correct in saying that under Republic Act 2640, the Veterans Federation of the Philippines (VFP) is under the control and supervision of the Secretary of National Defense but he erred when he said I do not have the authority to designate somebody else to exercise my supervision and control power of the VFP,” Lorenzana said in a statement issued Saturday.
“As veterans welfare is one of the DND’s key mission areas, the Department has an Undersecretary for Civil, Veterans and Retiree Affairs (USCVRA) in the person of former general and now veteran Reynaldo Mapagu, who has functional supervision of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) ? one of DND’s five bureaus; and the VFP ? a public corporation attached to the DND. On the other hand, the PVAO Administrator whose mandate is to look after the welfare of Filipino veterans has administrative and operational supervision over the Federation,” he noted.
“My decision on the VFP has nothing to do with military tradition. Leave the Philippine Military Academy out of this, as dragging it in this issue is a dishonor to your late father's reputation as a son of PMA. Give Justice Pamaran his rightful chance to prove his worth as a leader, the way he proved his worth as a war hero in World War II, fighting alongside with your father as a Hunters ROTC guerrilla,” he added.
Lorenzana was referring to Adevoso's father, who founded the Hunters ROTC group to fight the Japanese in World War II. Jerry Adevoso had hinted last week in a speech that Lorenzana was following his PMA classmate, Defense Undersecretary Ernesto Carolina, in deciding to nullify the VFP election naming Bonifacio de Gracia as president.
Pamaran , appointed by Lorenzana as acting VFP, president took his oath at DND Building in Camp Aguinaldo last May 28.
“In the Department Oder No. 184 I signed last May 15, 2018, I took to task PVAO Administrator Ernesto Carolina to implement this Department Order, and see to it that the newly designated / appointed Acting VFP President, 92-year old Justice Manuel Pamaran, is duly installed,” said Lorenzana.
“I also ordered him to safeguard and protect VFP financial and property records. I delegated tasks to the Administrator, not my authority over the Federation,” he added.
Lorenzana said the appointment of Pamaran was made to address issues of corruption and irregularities at the VFP.
“Created by Republic Act No. 2640, the VFP serves as an umbrella organization of all organizations of Filipino veterans and their dependents. It is mandated by law to uphold the interest and general welfare of all Filipino veterans, spouses and orphans, and not just a small portion of the veterans sector,” he said.
“We cannot feign ignorance that the VFP has been riddled with issues of corruption, mismanagement and irregularities, and mired by allegations that only the immediate circles close to whoever runs the Federation enjoy benefits which are supposed to be distributed to all veterans,” he noted.
“State and internal audits have established this painful truth, and I cannot, in my conscience as a veteran and former head of office Veterans Affairs? in Washington DC?, let this vicious cycle to go on,” he added.
It can be recalled that during the transition last May 31, the VFP headquarters was gripped with tension as De Gracia and his appointed personnel blocked DND officials from entering VFP headquarters in Ermita, Manila.
“What happened during the supposed peaceful transition ceremony at the VFP Headquarters was precipitated by the stiff resistance of Mr. De Gracia and the people he appointed to various positions? who ?refuse to vacate,” said Lorenzana.
“The DND Team led by Usec. (Reynaldo) Mapagu lawfully entered the PVAO Compound in Ermita, Manila where the VFP HQ is located, peacefully negotiated, and patiently waited for more than half a day for the new management team to enter? and take over,” he said.
“As evidenced by video footage, our people exerted maximum tolerance despite the provocation and the bodily harm inflicted on them,” he added.
In his statement, Lorenzana also emphasized the reform agenda he has for the VFP.
“The reform agenda I have for VFP is based on my two-fold vision for it as a GOCC and as a federation. I envision transforming VFP into a viable public corporation managed by veterans with competence, professionalism, integrity and patriotism,” he said.
“It should be able to generate tax-free income and revenues from the VFP Industrial Complex and other properties granted to it by the government, in order to augment the benefits being provided by the government through PVAO,” he said. Robina Asido/DMS