MANILA - Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Martin Diño may have fallen victim to a "fake" Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary (PCGA) group when he donned a Rear Admiral uniform.
The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said Sunday Diño is not a member of its volunteer arm group and may face usurpation of authority and even criminal raps for wearing the uniform.
"Records from the PCG Auxiliary membership disclosed that USEC Dino is not a legitimate member of the organization and hence not entitled to wear the PCGA uniform," the PCG statement read.
"The PCG has the right to file a formal complaint for usurpation of authority and other criminal laws that may be violated by the improper wearing of the organization's rank and uniform," it added.
The PCG also said they are verifying reports that Diño may have been "misled" by a certain "Admiral Villanueva" from the Manila Yacht Club, who is allegedly recruiting members for a "bogus" PCGA group.
"[Diño] may have been misled and recruited by bogus PCG Auxiliary organization known for collecting money from its recruits. PCG is also checking reports that a certain Admiral Villanueva from Manila Yacht Club is behind this scheme," the PCG said.
The PCG issued the statement after a photo of Diño wearing a Rear Admiral PCGA uniform, with 2 stars on the shoulder insignia, circulated in social media, triggering questions from netizens.
Admiral Villanueva: We are not 'bogus'
Asked for his side, Diño referred ABS-CBN News to "Admiral Villanueva," who introduced himself as Admiral Fred Villanueva of the 101st Manila Yacht Club Squadron of the PCGA.
"Kami (101st MYC Squadron) ang kauna-unahang PCGA sa buong Pilipinas. Na-organize kami March 10, 1973," Villanueva said in a phone interview Sunday, calling their group the "birthplace of the PCGA."
Villanueva said more or less 8 years ago, documents of the 101st MYC Squadron were "stolen" by the current PCGA National Diector, Valentin Prieto, who he said was a former member of their group.
"Ninakaw nila Prieto ang papeles namin at nagtayo sila sa Cultural Center ng 101. Personal na away 'yan... Because they were kicked out of the Manila Yacht Club as members," he said.
"Ito namang Coast Guard, tinanggap sila (Prieto) na sila ang 101. Kaya ang gagawin namin idedemanda namin ang Coast Guard pati ang 101 PCGA, sina Prieto, sa ginawa nila sa amin," he added.
Villanueva confirmed that he was the one who inducted Undersecretary Diño to the 101st Squadron on the evening of January 25 this year.
He said they only kept quiet for years because they did not want to "stoop down to the level" of Prieto's group. But now that the issue is publicized, they will file cases against the PCGA and the PCG.
"Huwag nila sasabihibn bogus kami. Kami ang kaunauan, sa amin nanggaling 'yan (PCGA)," he said. "We have hard evidence. Lahat ng dokumento hawak namin."