Appointment of ex-AFP general facing plunder charges as new BuCor chief raises questions
(SPOT.ph) President Noynoy Aquino on July 19 appointed retired Lt. Gen. Gaudencio Pangilinan as the new Bureau of Corrections chief, reports GMA News. The appointment, however, raised questions as Pangilinan is currently facing plunder raps filed last April by ex-military finance officer George Rabusa, who accused him of receiving P88.2 million in the alleged conversion of AFP funds for personal use of the military's top brass.
During his oath-taking as BuCor chief yesterday, July 28, Pangilinan told reporters that he sees this new post as a challenge, reports the Philippine Daily Inquirer. "I'll have a lot of catching up to do. This is a totally different (environment) from what I grew up with in the military. I know I'll have to adjust," he said. In a separate GMA report, Pangilinan added that his priority is to eliminate crimes inside Bilibid prison.
Not a lot of people, however, are happy with the appointment. Though Justice Secretary Leila De Lima respected the President's choice, an unnamed senior justice official told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that "Malacañang should have been more circumspect and discriminating in appointing people to sensitive positions like the BuCor." According to the official, Pangilinan should have declined the position "out of delicadeza," especially in light of the plunder charges. Rabusa was also surprised at the appointment.
"(Aquino) believes that with his (Pangilinan) experience and expertise in counter intelligence he would be able to initiate or make the necessary reforms at the Bureau of Corrections," said Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, defending the appointment. Regarding the plunder issue, Lacierda answered: "If it's a crime of plunder, it's elementary that you cannot sue someone for the crime of plunder when that crime did not exist at the time of the alleged commission of the acts... At that time, ’yong panahon ni Gen. Arturo Enrile, I don't know what year was that, wala pang crime of plunder noon. So you cannot sue someone of crime of plunder kung wala pa ’yon."