Dismissed AFP captain to appeal case to P-Noy

    CLARK FREEPORT – A Philippine Air Force (PAF) captain yesterday directed his appeal to Pres. Aquino for his reinstatement into the military from which he was dismissed after he filed a criminal case against a colonel for allegedly beating up his then pregnant wife here in 2003.

    Capt. Isabelito Sanchez decided to renew his appeal, which was dismissed thrice by the Arroyo administration, after his four children likened his fate to hostage taker Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza as they watched the live television coverage of the hostage tragedy that killed eight Hong Kong tourists in Manila last Aug. 23.

    “Papa, that policeman is just like you,” Sanchez quoted his children as saying. Mendoza was also eventually killed during the hostage incident.

    Sanchez said this “opened the wounds” of his “unjust dismissal” from the service. “Up to now, I am at a loss on how to explain my fate to my children,” he lamented.

    Sanchez said that like Mendoza who was described in media as a “decorated” police officer, his record in the Philippine Air Force (PAF) was above average. For most of his military career, Sanchez had been based at the 600th air base wing which occupies some 300 hectares of this freeport.

    A graduate of political science course at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Sanchez also took up law and even obtained a masteral degree in public management from UP branch here.

    His bio-data lists 52 awards and citations, including a United Nations service medal and ribbon for his “meritorious service rendered as peacekeeping force staff in the UN International Administration in East Timor” in 2001.

    “But unlike Mendoza, I never had any case filed in court against me. There were times, however, when I had been almost pushed to the brink of desperation because of what was done to me,” he said.

    Sanchez expressed fears that what he referred to as “a culture of endorsement” and “personalan syndrome” in the military that led to his fate remains in place and continues to victimize many other military personnel.

    The PAF honorably dismissed Sanchez in July, 2006. Sanchez said that the root of the problems that befell him was the controversy on a canteen that his wife Deborah operated within the PAF here.

    Apparently, a PAF official wanted another concessionaire for the establishment and this led to a confrontation between the colonel and Sanchez’s wife who was then six months pregnant.

    The Sanchezes later filed a case of grave threat and physical injuries against the officer who is now retired. The case has remained pending before a court in Angeles City.

    Sanchez claimed that in retaliation for the filing of the case, some PAF officials charged him before the PAF Efficiency and Separation Board (PAF-ESB) for “causing the publication” of the allegedly canteen incident, “for bypassing the chain of command” when the criminal case was filed, for “seeking redress of grievances from a politician” and “for failing to submit his Commandant’s Paper on time and for failing to defend the same.”

    In April, 2005, dismissed the charges and even cited Sanchez’s good performance and skills. Sanchez was then listed up for promotion to the rank of major.

    In his first letter of appeal for his reinstatement addressed to then PAF commander Lt. Gen. Horacio Tolentino on Feb. 12, 2007, Sanchez, however, said that “after the forcible closure of my canteen in February, 2003, my detractors whom I refer to as the Kuyog Force canalized by career.” 

    “They even wanted to transfer me to Tawi-Tawi, but eventually, I was moved to Cebu instead from July 2005 to January 2006,” he recalled in an interview.

    Sanchez also noted his promotion to the rank of major was also derailed after the PAF’s promotion board deferred this in 2006.

    While regulations permitted him to be reconsidered for promotion, Sanchez said he was not promoted as the selection board acting on this was also composed of the same members of the earlier board, allegedly contrary to law.

    The board, he said, acted upon the “dictates of a culture of endorsement” and “personalan syndrome” instead of merit.

    In another letter dated Nov. 26, 2009 to then Armed Forces chief of staff Gen. Victor Ibrado, Sanchez said that “the malicious and arbitrary deliberation” of the same board members finally cancelled his chances for promotion and led to the PAF’s recommendation to the President that he be separated from the service. 

    Already ousted from the service in 2006, Sanchez was compelled to take on odd jobs to support his wife and four children. “It was humiliated and made to suffer by some people in the institution I loved,” he said.

    “I kept my children in good school on promissory notes to school authorities,” he said.

    He added that for a time, he set up a “turo-turo” food stall in his home in Mabalacat, Pampanga.

    “There was a time I planned to drive passenger jeepneys, until I landed a job in a real estate firm that paid P100 per day,” he recalled. He eventually rose from the ranks to become one of the managers of the firm.

    Sanchez said he had already conditioned himself to his fate outside the military which he had considered his vocation, until the hostage incident that killed eight Hong Kong tourists and their captor Mendoza last Aug. 23.

    Expressing faith in the leadership of Pres. Aquino as commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, Sanchez reiterated his appeal for the President to “review, reconsider, amend, nullify and reverse any letter or orders pertinent to my separation from the service.”

    Sanchez also appealed to the President to reinstate him into active military service and restore the benefits he had been deprived of.

    While his family is now financially stable with his income from real estate, Sanchez stressed that he preferred spending the rest of his years in the military to which he had devoted almost 17 years of his life.

    Sanchez said he complied with the advice of military authorities to file his claims from the PAF’s finance department, but added that he could defer such claims should he be reinstated.


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