The unnamed powerful man behind Maj.Gen. Carlos Garcia
By Ellen Tordesillas
The mysterious powerful man behind Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia is once again mentioned in the news following the outburst of retired Commodore Rex Robles after the suicide of former Armed Forces Chief Angelo Reyes.
Robles, who belongs to Philippine Military Class ’65 said his closeness to Reyes goes back to PMA days because he was the yearling, the academy lingo for mentor, of Reyes who was in Class ’66.
“Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV yesterday said investigations into alleged diversion and conversion of the military budget might lead to Malacañang during the administration of former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo.
“Masyadong malaki yung perang involved na imposibleng nasa level lang ni late General (Angelo) Reyes…sa Malacañang lang nagre-release ng ganung level,” Trillanes said.”
The following version of that controversy which has now involved Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV , PMA Class ’95, is the result of my interviews with Robles, Trillanes and talk with other sources even before the Ombudsman entered into a plea bargain agreement with Garcia, the subject of the congressional investigation which has led to more revelations of corruption in the military.
Last Jan. 12, Trillanes, a few weeks after his release from a 7-and- a- half- year detention was quoted in media to have said, “”I believe General Garcia is only a front for somebody powerful. At some point in late 2009, he was actually willing to talk and reveal the story behind his enormous wealth. But I don’t know, maybe he got afraid.”
Trillanes refused to identify the person he believed is protecting Garcia but he said he has told Malacañang about it.
Trillanes and Garcia were both detained at the Camp Crame Custodial Center. Garcia, who was accused of a non-bailable crime of plunder, was released on bail last Dec. 16 on the strength of the plea bargain agreement which the Ombudsman said has not yet been approved by the Sandiganbayan.
On Jan. 14, Reyes wrote Trillanes asking him to reveal who that “powerful person” behind Garcia. He said,”And knowing you to be a forthright and just person, I am confident that when you do name this powerful person, you would be able to substantiate the allegation.”
The letter was hand carried to Trillanes by a his PMA classmate on Jan. 18. This letter was a subject of Gloria Arroyo’s call to Reyes a few days before he killed himself.
Robles said that Trillanes told his mistah,””Mistah,hindi si Reyes.” That’s why Robles said he could not understand why Trillanes said it was Reyes in a media interview last Feb. 1, the day after Reyes published the letter through a paid advertisement in major newspapers.
Trillanes said Reyes was one of the “principals” behind Garcia based on the revelations of former military budget officer George Rabusa.
Take note that the delivery of the letter to Trillanes happened before Rabusa’s Senate appearance on Jan. 27. It was in that hearing that Rabusa revealed that he personally delivered to Reyes, together with then military comptroller Jacinto Ligot, P50 million send- off gift when AFP chief retired sometime in March 2001. Rabusa also said that Reyes was receiving P10 million monthly for his personal allowances when he was AFP chief.
Trillanes admitted that at the time he met his mistah, the “powerful man” he was referring to was not Reyes.
But Trillanes revealed that his mistah delivered a message from Reyes which indicated that he also knew who that powerful man that the senator was referring and he wanted him (Trillanes) to disclose it in public so he (Reyes) would be cleared.
Trillanes said his mistah told him that Reyes admitted “May dumadaan sa akin. Pero wala akong kinukuha. Wala ako diyan. (Some pass through me. But I don’t benefit from it. I didn’t get anything.”
Trillanes’ said his mistah relayed to him Reyes request “to absolve him.”
Trillanes said, “I couldn’t do that.” Instead he told his mistah that since the former AFP chief and also former defense secretary himself said the deal just passed through his desk and he knew there was a higher destination, “Ituro na niya.” Identify the ultimate beneficiary.
The mistah said it’s unlikely that Reyes would do that.
Presumably, Trillanes’ information who the powerful person behind Garcia came from the former military comptroller himself. The problem is, during that Jan. 27 hearing, Trillanes asked Garcia if he was willing to cooperate with the government in eradicating corruption in the military. Garcia firmly declared, “I am not applying to be a state witness.”
Trillanes said he was puzzled why Reyes even came out with a full page ad with his letter even after the Rabusa expose. He said he named Reyes based on the Rabusa testimony. He said that’s why he asked for procurement papers of military equipment because purchases for the armed forces pass through the office of the defense secretary.
Robles said in his last conversation with Reyes, which was the day before he killed himself, the latter confided to him that Arroyo called him up about his letter to Trillanes. Robles said Reyes sounded concerned about Arroyo’s probe about the letter telling him about it in conspiratorial way. “Pare, tinawagan ako ni GMA,” Reyes told him half-whisper over the phone.
Robles said one of the things that Arroyo wanted to know was the identity of Trillanes’ mistah who delivered the letter.
Does this mean now that Arroyo will grill that young officer? Was Arroyo worried that it was her former aide, nor LCDR Christopher Magdangal, who delivered the letter? Was she worried that Magdangal would talk? No, it was not Magdangal.
There is also there is also the question why Reyes was challenging Trillanes to name the “powerful person” behind Garcia, who apparently he also knew. He knew that coming up with proofs to pin down this powerful person would be difficult. Was he laying a trap for Trillanes?
With Reyes gone, that powerful person may think that as long as Garcia adheres to his code of omerta, he is safe. But we got information that Garcia has written a letter, copies of which were given to three persons he trusts, with the instruction that it be made public in case something unnatural happens to him.
Uneasy must be the head that sleeps on stolen comforts.