The United States has announced additional charges against Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s ally and controversial defense minister over $22 million in fraudulent contracts they forged to buy dozens of military vehicles.
The indictments announced Saturday by the U.S. Justice Department accuse retired Gen. Eduardo Año and Paojito Daguio, the national defence chief, of violating the laws on mail and wire fraud and conspiracy to defraud the government between 2009 and 2014.
“Año, Daguio and others entered into an agreement to engage in criminal activity by fraudulently obtaining money from a U.S. government program that provides defense equipment and services for the Filipino military,” prosecutors said in a statement.
Daguio, the main author of the contracts, authorized Año, a former general and supporter of Duterte, to approve the vehicle purchases to fuel the official’s self-promotion.
During the run-up to the Philippine president’s 2016 election, Año unveiled his “Hall of Fame” among retired generals with more than 10,000 kilometers of military combat experience.
Daguio is described in an indictment as representing “the tone and direction of a successful military administration,” noting the strategic importance of re-enforcing the country’s eastern military areas to “maintain territorial integrity, preventing foreign adventurism, and preventing China’s encroachments in the area.”
The statement said the scheme involved claims that the $20 million worth of tactical armored vehicles purchased between 2009 and 2011 were invalidly appropriated. Instead, the U.S. defense department learned that the vehicles Año approved were part of the larger sum ordered by Duterte and Daguio to buy over 130 infantry-and utility-configured vehicles.
The government of the Philippines has reportedly entered into criminal plea deals with three military officials.
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