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1986 EDSA People Power Uprising

Marcoses’ political rehabilitation bodes more tragedy for the nation

in Editorial

Three decades have gone by since February 1986, when the Filipino people’s unified will and action ousted the Marcos dictatorship. Ignominously, the US imperialists plucked the tyrant and his family—along with their loot—out of Malacañang by helicopters, subsequently flying them to safe exile in Hawaii.

Yet today the Marcos heirs are back in the high circles of power. And the dictator’s embalmed remains—publicly displayed in Batac, Ilocos Norte for over two decades—was deceitfully ensconced in the Libingan ng mga Bayani in November 2016, courtesy of President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

Yet they haven’t returned much of the estimated $10-billion they had stolen during their corrupt, abusive and repressive reign. With such a huge war chest that can only grow bigger over time (even at conservative interest rates in what Imelda Marcos flaunts as over 100 secret bank accounts), they are being served/protected by a platoon of lawyers. They have allies and toadies at various levels of the reactionary government, besides a fleet of PR people, false historians, and keyboard warriors.

They thus feel secure moving freely within the same bureaucrat capitalist system that nurtured them in power.

The rotten system enabled them to amass wealth at the cost of thousands of Filipino lives and the stunting of Philippines’ agricultural and industrial development. It allowed them to spend five years of lavish and vulgar exile in Hawaii. Upon their return, towing the embalmed body of their dictator patriarch, this system welcomed them back into the fold as they gradually carved anew their fiefdom.

Twice did Imelda Marcos attempt to run for President: in 1992 when she lost and in 1998, when she withdrew her candidacy. In between her two presidential bids, Imelda won a seat in Congress where she served as Leyte representative for three years (1995-1998). In 2010, she again won a seat in Congress, this time representing Ilocos Norte, the late dictator’s home province and political base.

Starting from their Ilocos Norte base, the two elder Marcos siblings took turns being the province’s governor and congressional representative from 1992 to 1998. It was 24 years since dictator Marcos was ousted when Bongbong Marcos entered the Senate in 2010. Imee Marcos took longer entering the national scene. She came into the Senate in 2019.

It was in Bongbong Marcos’s first stab at the vice-presidency in 2016 that the family tasted their first defeat in what some accounts call their “spectacular comeback.” Unaccustomed to setback, Bongbong lodged an electoral protest he wouldn’t let go even after three years.

The family has now repositioned itself back as close as possible to Malacañang. But for Bongbong’s defeat at the 2016 national polls, he would have been just a heartbeat away from the presidency, a very real threat to the Filipino people considering Duterte’s multiple acknowledged illnesses. Had Marcos Jr “won” the vice-presidency, Duterte would have—as he has publicly expressed a number of times—opted to yield the presidency and thus pave the way to the Marcoses’ total political rehabilitation.

Undoubtedly, the Marcoses are a veritable example of bureaucrat capitalism. To this day articles are being written about how the dictator Marcos and his wife “smartly” looted the national coffers, put up opaque companies and seized stakes in strategic businesses, and how he “transformed” the military and the police into a unified armed forces to back up his fascist rule, rendering the armed services deeply partisan (for him) and more corruptible than ever.

Throughout that process, the US imperialists propped up his dictatorship. They armed, trained and guided the establishment of the armed forces for their own imperialist ends and those of their puppet tyrant. Marcos, “our ‘son-of-a-bitch’” (as then President George Bush referred to him) only became a “problem” to them when the people began protesting against the dictatorship in evergrowing number and frequency. The armed communist-led revolution was growing by leaps and bounds and had led the fight against the dictatorship and its imperialist master.

Marcos’ ouster will always be a historical triumph of the Filipino people’s collective power— both armed and unarmed, in the underground and in the open democratic arena of struggles. The ongoing turbo-charged rehabilitation of the Marcoses under Duterte, however, is as loud a reminder as we all can get that, no, the people cannot stop at merely ousting the current, abusive tyrant. The system that breeds such ilk needs also to be smashed. This system has proven to have merely continued the puppet presidency and imperialist domination of the country.

A corrupt system is bound to rehabilitate the Marcoses

The Communist Party of the Philippines, in a 2018 statement, sharply pointed out that the “successive reactionary regimes failed miserably to address the clamor of the Filipino people for swift justice.” “Every ruling regime allowed the Marcoses to return stage by stage,” it said. “None carried out a decisive act of justice, fearing this will rouse demands for the same measures to be meted against them over the same crimes they themselves commit while in power.”

At the outset, Cory Aquino, responding to insistent public demand, established the PCGG (Presidential Commission on Good Government) to go after the Marcoses’ ill-gotten wealth. But her administration emasculated the PCGG by ordering it to seize nothing directly and work instead through the courts. What the agency recovered, of course, was peanuts for the dirty-moneyed Marcoses.

The US imperialist’s rescue of their once serviceable puppet continued even after the Marcoses returned to the Philippines. The US government redacted transactions involving US organizations in their records. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) refused to disclose what they knew, reportedly prompting a veteran of PCGG to call the US and Marcoses “partners in theft.”

Most probably, the US possesses loads of damning information on the kleptocracy and rights abuses of the Marcoses. Not only does it exercise control of the Philippine state forces, it’s also been known to keep tabs on even its “allies,” according to a declassified report on the CIA’s eavesdropping on conversations of government leaders such as those of the Philippines.

With clues from the US and their latest puppet on how the Marcoses were to be cossetted since the late 1980s, Marcos died in Hawaii without being punished by the Filipino people, through their supposed government’s justice system. His widow, Imelda, returned to the Philippines with her three adult children in 1992. She was greeted by an avalanche of graft cases. But with their political allies regaining government posts, she never had to worry about jail time or threats of warrants of arrest.

Imelda was convicted at least twice for graft, once in 1993 for a fraudulent land deal and in 2018 for illicit financial dealings with Switzerland-based NGOs. But she remains free to this day. In her 2018 conviction, under Duterte’s watch, she was asked to put up bail of only P300,000, despite the gravity of the case and the amount of what’s been stolen. The conviction is turning out into a ploy to fast track the movement of the case.

After more than five administrations (including two Aquinos), more than 90 lawyers and personnel of PCGG placed at the increasingly frustrating trail of seeing signs of billions of hidden wealth — only for these to be whisked away before their eyes — and the precious length of time that’s gone by, the Marcoses still harbor much of the ill-gotten wealth. Some of it was divulged in the upheaval of disclosures regarding what are called the Panama papers, where the ultra-rich keep their money away from taxes and prying eyes.

By now it’s clear the graft cases against the Marcoses have been filed only to placate the angry masses.

Dictator’s final rehab under a Marcos clone

The impact of the people’s victory in ousting Marcos and the underlying desire for genuine democracy was such that it took the Marcoses more than three decades before bureaucrat capitalism could ease them back into Malacañang as “honored” guests. The Marcoses managed to do it under another imperialist puppet president they financially supported as candidate, who publicly claims he idolizes Marcos and looks back at his father’s political career as one that had benefited from the Marcoses.

And, yes, before we forget, a president who evidently wants to be another dictator and tyrant. He himself has already reprised many Marcosian tactics.

Despite his anti-corruption posturing, Duterte early into his term stunned the nation by allowing Marcos’ embalmed remains to be buried, after at least two postponements due to public protests, at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in November 2016. The most brazen of post-Edsa puppet presidents at helping the Marcoses, he nevertheless balked at personally witnessing the undeserved public pomp reserved only for a hero’s and former president’s burial. It took him a year before he set out again to glorify Marcos: commemorated him in postage stamps. The Duterte regime has timed its actions idolizing Marcos on the last quarter of the year.

Under Duterte the corruption cases against the Marcoses that dragged on for more than three decades are being thrown out one by one.

In August and October 2019 several ill-gotten wealth cases against the Marcoses, 27 to 31 years in court, were dismissed allegedly for lack of probative evidence (government lawyers only submitted photocopies of documents, whose originals are supposedly kept in the Bangko Sentral vaults), or for the lawyers’ failure to attend court hearings.

The bulk of their massive loot remains beyond reach of the government and the people from whom they stole it. Estimates of what the PCGG managed to recover ran from just one to two billion dollars. The precious works of arts bought with stolen money inadvertently would show in Imeldific photographs in her posh digs, but they always disappear whenever the investigators come knocking.

The billions they extorted from coconut farmers were partially recovered but each succeeding administration has made it difficult for the coconut farmers and real owners of the fund to fully recover it.

People must clip the Marcoses’ greed

Thus, looking at the Marcoses’ rehabilitation into power, it is not true that horror repeats itself. It gets more horrendous in Part 2.

Unapologetic, flushed with their success, the Marcoses are greedy for more. They’re spoiled believing they can get away with it, again and again. They’re coming back to do more of the same on a vehicle much bigger and ratcheted up by their original loot; oiled by the blood, sweat and tears of injustices of those they had oppressed; and covered by the same imperialist power that continues to lord over the country as long as their puppets dutifully run it to the ground for the benefit of their businesses and military interests.

More than three decades since the world applauded the Filipino people’s uprising that booted them out, the Marcoses have not been made to account for the thousands of human rights violations and humanitarian crimes they committed to maintain the dictatorship.

Now the maturing children, beneficiaries of the Marcos loot and their network of allies and cronies, are hovering about for another chance to take over Malacañang. They are intent as well in whitewashing their family’s crimes; Imee Marcos chose to head the Senate committee on culture. Like father like daughter, as he had faked his wartime medals, she faked her academic achievements (so did Bongbong, too). Whenever confronted about their family’s crimes, Imee perfunctority tells the Filipinos: “Move on.”

Against the Marcoses’ rehabilitation and whitewashing, against the current president’s desiring to be another Marcos, the CPP 2018 statement declares that theFilipino people “have no other recourse but to take revolutionary action and overthrow the ruling system and class rule of big bourgeois compradors, big landlords and bureaucrat capitalists.”

“Only by wielding revolutionary power—democratic people’s power—can they subject the biggest criminal and fascist oppressors to just punishment with full decisiveness and dispatch,” the CPP statement concludes. ###

#NeverAgain
#NeverForget

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Learning from the Masses

in Mainstream
by Alexander Dipasupil

The masses are the makers of history. Learn from the masses. Trust and rely on them.

I first encountered these lines when I was a budding activist in the late 1960s. Further readings and study sessions with fellow activists, especially on victorious revolutions, reiterated and highlighted these and impressed it indelibly on my mind. Novel, agitating, and even romantic, it overturned and demolished traditional beliefs and long-held notions on the role of heroes. History, we were taught from grade school to college, is shaped by the ideas of brilliant thinkers and the exploits of extraordinary brave men and women—by heroes as well as by accidents of circumstances, fate, and (in Catholic textbooks) by acts of God.

When we read Prof. Jose Maria Sison’s Struggle for National Democracy (1968) and Philippine Society and Revolution (1970-71) these revolutionary concepts came into sharper focus and assumed a more concrete and recognizable form in the context of Philippine history and the events unfolding around us. Philippine society was then widely described as a “social volcano about to erupt.” It was in deep crises and seething in ferment. The Philippine Revolution, I realized, was no longer “just around the corner.” It was here-and-now.

The revolutionary ‘mass line’ thereby struck closer to our hearts. Like many in my generation of activists, I readily embraced it. From a neat and attractive theoretical abstract, it became a concrete challenge, an urgent call and a fundamental guide to action.

Our first task was to arouse, organize and mobilize the students and other youth in the University and other schools for the national democratic revolution. The efficacy and correctness of the mass line was validated by and demonstrated in the rapid expansion of students’, teachers’ and other sectoral mass organizations, taking off from each one’s specific interests and welfare concerns, linking these to other sectoral and class issues, especially the workers’ and peasants’, and raising these to national issues such as the worsening economic crisis, foreign intervention and the growing fascist repression.

Students and other youth made up the bulk of demonstrators in mass mobilizations and protest actions. We heeded the calls to integrate with workers in the picket lines and strikes, reinforce and join transport strikes against oil price hikes, and support peasants’ and sectoral issues. To the extent we were able to integrate with and learn from the masses, we were able to articulate the people’s aspirations, problems and demands and serve as propagandists for the national democratic revolution.

These culminated in massive protest actions such as the 1970 First Quarter Storm and the February 1971 Diliman Commune. Both advanced the national democratic agenda to the forefront of national attention and discourse as they banned the calls to overthrow imperialism, feudalism, and bureaucrat capitalism in a militant and dramatic manner.

More than being a protest action, the Diliman Commune turned out for me and many youth, professionals and workers, to be an unintended “dry run” or “dress rehearsal” of an organized defensive confrontation with armed state security forces. We barricaded the main campus thoroughfares and buildings in response to an imminent assault by the Constabulary Metropolitan Command (MetroCom) at the height of the oil price hike strikes. We acted swiftly and in an organized manner in setting up a system of defenses (including “anti-aircraft” fireworks positions and self-igniting molotov “bombs”) and logistics. Each “communard” displayed full initiative and remarkable creativity, ingenuity and calmness under real pressure and threat, while acting in coordination with others, as though everything was pre-planned and rehearsed. Engineering and science students promptly commandeered the university radio station (DZUP) increased its transmitting power tenfold and continuously broadcast the national democratic program, the PSR, and appeals for all kinds of support for the Commune.

Significantly, the entire Diliman community—students, faculty, administrative and non-academic personnel and residents—spontaneously and unequivocally rose up as one to resist and condemn the fascist attack and continuing threat. With a couple of hours, our ranks were reinforced by students from other schools, youth from other communities, workers from factories, and transport workers.

We failed and repelled the MetroCom’s repeated attempts from various directions to penetrate and dismantle our barricades. For nine days, we were able to “hold the fort” so to speak, with massive moral, financial and other material support pouring in daily from the public, including from far-flung provinces.

The Diliman Commune experience provided us vivid lessons on the importance—nay, indispensability—of mass support and participation in confronting, frustrating and repelling armed fascist attacks.

The growth and advance of the urban mass movement despite, or especially because of fascist repression encouraged and primed us for waging bigger and higher forms of struggle. Meanwhile, reports of victorious NPA ambushes and raids in the countryside inspired and challenged us further. As the threat of full-blown dictatorship loomed larger, we chanted on the streets: “What is our response to martial law?” “People’s war! People’s war! People’s war!” Internally, within our mass organizations, our paramount slogan was: “All to the Front!”

It was no big surprise then that when Marcos declared martial law in September 1972, thousands of activists, including myself went underground or fled to the countryside to join our workers comrades and peasant masses in waging resistance and people’s war. We abandoned our studies and professional careers, gave up our safe and comfortable lives and future. For me, the heaviest sacrifice then was neither the fear of arrest and detention nor death. It was rather the pain of separating from one’s family and the dreadful prospect of never seeing them again.

The day martial rule was announced, it was through the quick thinking and prompt action of friends and colleagues that I barely escaped arrest and detention. Without regard for their own and their families’ safety, they secretly transported and gave me refuge, from one home or farm to another.

When I had reconnected to the fledging underground, I was assigned tasks that required me to remain for a while in the urban areas, rather than be deployed immediately to the countryside. Though I knew the comrades I would be working with, I was dismayed to learn that most of them believed our security and capacity to perform our assigned task depended primarily on secrecy, compartmentalization, prudence and strict discipline. They were averse to building, broadening, and deepening a support network through mass work. Under martial law conditions, this would be risky and counterproductive, they argued, since we would be unduly exposed to people we could not properly evaluate and screen out and may prove unreliable and untrustworthy.

Concrete practice and reality would soon resolve the question decisively. Successive strings of raids and arrests forced us to repeatedly and hastily abandon our “safe houses” and shift to temporary refuge houses. We had no choice but to meet with and totally entrust our safety to comrades, allies, sympathizers, and various contacts who were hitherto total strangers. Their only “credentials” were their being referred to us (and vise-versa) as part of the underground revolutionary machinery or network. They in turn unquestioningly and without hesitation brought us and welcomed us into their homes (mostly lower petty bourgeois and urban poor) and other facilities in their network. We were as much strangers to them as they were to us. Resistance to fascist rule was the minimum ground for establishing mutual trust and cooperation. While trust was reciprocal, the risks and consequences were not. We activists in the underground could move out or shift to a safe location at the first sign of imminent danger. Our trusting hosts could not and would have had to face and suffer the dire consequences.

Thus the question was settled. Martial law conditions in fact made move imperative the building, expansion, and deepening of an underground mass support network. As our forces and network grew and advanced steadily, so did our capacity to perform our tasks improve and with greater security.

My years in the urban underground impressed on me further the need to trust the masses, rely on them, and learn from them. Survival, and our capacity to perform our tasks, depended largely and primarily on them.

Stronger, the countryside beckoned. What lessons and truths are to be learned from and with the peasant masses, especially in waging the highest form of struggle? It was not without some romanticism that I yearned for and looked forward to life and struggle with the peasant masses in the countryside.

When at long last I stepped into a guerrilla zone in the mid 1970s, I was greeted by group of red fighters and peasants huddled together sitting on their haunches in a semi-circle. The peasants looked me over from head to foot with knowing smiles, some shaking their heads, some nodding slowly.

“We can tell from your smooth complexion you are either a student or a young professional. You have the feet of a prince,” one of the peasants said after I had shaken their hands and introductions made.

I figured they were exaggerating or speaking metaphorically, and merely smiled and nodded back to acknowledge.

“You have a lot to learn about life here in the countryside,” chimed in another peasant.

Indeed, that was an understatement, and I had to learn the hard way for the most part. Thus the romanticism quickly wore off as I experienced the rigors and hardships of a still small and poorly-armed NPA propaganda team. (I was issued a homemade or imitation .22 caliber revolver commonly called paltik with five bullets with dents on their primers, indicating these had misfired previously). We had to constantly avoid enemy patrols, be alert to enemy informers and bad elements, and occasionally had to seek temporary refuge in a “physical base” inside the forest. But for most part, we enjoyed the warm and enthusiastic support of the masses, who served as our “eyes and ears” and welcomed us in their homes while they sought our assistance and advice on practically all problems they had.

Throughout, our peasant comrades in the militia, the peasant organizations, and the red fighters were my constant mentors. Nearly every aspect—not the least survival—of guerrilla life depended on the support of the peasant masses and their direct practical know-how: from distinguishing between edible and toxic fruits, leaves and barks in the forest, building makeshift shelters, planting and growing rice and other crops, forecasting weather to gathering information on enemy movements and improving weapons.

But it would be a decade later when I would encounter first-hand the political sharpness of a peasant revolutionary.

February 1986. I was with an NPA undersized company on its way to rendezvous with two other platoons at a staging area for a major tactical offensive. Our excitement, anticipation, and morale grew with each step toward the objective. It was amplified further with news over our transistor radios on the “People Power” uprising unfolding at EDSA.

Then came the announcement that Marcos had fled Malacañang with his family and all the loot they could carry. The hated fascist dictatorship had fallen! The people were victorious!

Euphoria soon died down with subsequent news reports and commentaries that with the Cory Aquino government taking over, democracy would be restored and peace will soon reign over the country. A ceasefire is in the works, leading to the disbandment of the NPA and other armed groups fighting the Marcos regime.

Not a few red fighter asked if these reports were true. Before reaching the next sitio and barrio center, Ka Erning, the company CO (commanding officer) convened the entire company for a political meeting.

“News reports and commentaries that the revolution and civil war are over are false. The reactionary state is intact; the ruling class remains in power. There has only been a change in which faction of the ruling class holds the reins of power. The NPA, led by the Party, shall continue to wage people’s war until the victory of the national democratic revolution,” Ka Mando, the Political Officer, explained. “It is important that we also make this clear to the people in the next sitio and barrio center we are approaching,” he added.

True enough as we reached the outskirts of the sitio, we were met by the barrio people led by the local militia, waving at us with more than the usual eagerness and excitement. We greeted them back, shook their hands and unslung our rifles, signifying we would stop over a half hour or so. Before we could utter another word, Ka Elias, the head of the militia asked, “Comrade, is it true, what we heard over the radio, that the revolution is over and that you comrades will all be going down to the poblacion (town center) and then home to your families?”

“No, those reports are not true,” Ka Erning replied.

There was a collective sigh of relief from the militia and other peasants gathered around us.

“Absolutely not true,” Ka Mando added. “But why do you ask?”

“Because if it’s true,” Ka Elias replied, “our only request is that you leave your weapons with us so that we can continue to fight and carry on the revolution. Because we do not believe our lives will change and improve now that Marcos has been overthrown and Cory will be the new President. Does she not herself come from one of the biggest landlord families?”

At this, one of the red fighters shouted, “Mabuhay ang Rebolusyon! (Long live the revolution!)”

The peasants raised their clenched fists and we raised our rifles as we all responded, “Mabuhay ang Rebolusyon!”

There was no need for any further explanations.

Six years later, and in a different region, another incident impressed upon me how much we of petty bourgeois origin, especially intellectuals, tend to underestimate both the political wisdom and revolutionary tenacity of the peasant masses.

The Party leadership had launched the Second Great Rectification Movement (SGRM) to address serious ideological, political, organizational, and military errors that had resulted in the loss of up to 40% of the revolutionary mass base nationwide.

I was with an undersized NPA squad with a couple of Party cadres passing through what is called a “recovery area”—a cluster of barrios once part of a consolidated guerrilla zone. Intense enemy pressure, coupled with weaknesses in Party leadership and the People’s Army’s mass organizing work led to the dissolution of local Party committees and mass organizations. The Party leadership and the NPA unit were forced to shift their area of operation.

It was late afternoon in January 1993. As we approached a group of peasants, we could sense mixed feelings in their facial expressions and body language. It was the first time in two or three years they were seeing armed red fighters out in the open. There was pleasant surprise, a trace of eagerness, and a hint of apprehension. Certainly, no sign of hostility.

As we shook hands with them, Ka Caloy, our team leader explained, “The entire Party and People’s Army has been undertaking a rectification movement, more comprehensive and thoroughgoing than our usual criticism-self-criticism sessions you and I have been accustomed to.”

Ka Caloy gave a broad outline of the major errors summed up in the SGRM, and started to cite concrete examples that local Party, People’s Army, and mass organizations had experienced or were familiar with.

Before he could proceed to a lengthier discussion, Ka Ruel, one of the local peasant leaders interrupted, “You have nothing to worry in so far as our commitment to the revolution is concerned. The Party is like a blacksmith forging and shaping a plough blade or a bolo. We the peasants are the iron and steel—the raw materials for the revolution. If, sometimes, the blacksmith would lose his focus or aim, goes cross-eyed or has poor eyesight, he would hit the iron or steel improperly or miss it entirely. But if he realizes his error and corrects his aim and strike, then the iron and steel can still be forged properly into a sharp and sturdy tool or weapon. We the peasant masses will always be here with and for the revolution. It is only the in the revolution and through it that we and our succeeding generations shall have a bright future.”

Fifty years have passed since I first read the lines. The masses are the makers of history. Learn from the masses. Trust and rely on them. I look forward to learning more from the masses and making history with them. ###

#ServeThePeople

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RISE UP FOR COUNTRY AND DISSENT (Pt. 2 of 2)

in Mainstream

by Pat Gambao

Dissent in the military

The debased culture and unscrupulous practices in the military institution of the reactionary government have caused demoralization and dissent among its constituents. These have awakened their consciousness and revitalized their ideals.

Political patronage, an abomination passed on to the Filipinos by our Spanish and American colonizers, is an enduring feature of the AFP and PNP. The breaking away of then Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile and Constabulary Chief Fidel Ramos from the DND-AFP command was in resentment of the favor and privileges accorded to General Fabian Ver by Pres. Marcos. The fray ignited the 1986 EDSA People Power Uprising.

The defection of bemedalled Brig. General Raymundo Jarque, the highest-ranking AFP officer who joined the New People’s Army (NPA), was in extreme disgust of the corruption in the military and then President Ramos’s accommodation of his allies. Jarque displeased the well-connected Pena family in Negros over a land dispute. This put him in a bad light as the court favoured Pena and turned the table on Jarque who was falsely charged with stealing prawns from Pena’s farm and ambushing the judge.

Amidst the struggling masses, Jarque realized that his greatest mistake was to have rendered service to the greedy and powerful who exploits and oppresses the poor. Having led the implementation of the bloody Oplan Thunderbolt in Negros in 1989-1990, he manifested his sincere repentance by going to the people, crying as he asked for forgiveness. Weeks after Jarque’s defection, a number of CAFGU (Civilian Armed Force Geographical Unit) members from Northern Negros fled with their weapons and joined the NPA.

Corruption is deeply entrenched in the reactionary ruling system. It is endemic and at its worst in the military establishment because of the latter’s authoritarian nature and armed supremacy. Corruption in the military is manifested in the procurement process, in bribes extracted from foreign and local business and industrial corporations, through involvement in smuggling, in illegal drugs, and in the sale of arms and military materials to rebel groups.

Juggling and malversation of funds is just as common. Corruption plagues the top hierarchy of the institution and any dissent or exposé from below is met with drastic if not fatal repercussion.

Young Philippine Navy Ensign Philip Pestaño was found dead with a single bullet wound in the head inside his cabin after he discovered the loading of logs and drugs in the navy ship. Navy officials dismissed the case as suicide although autopsy results showed otherwise.

Lt. Jessica Chavez, platoon leader of the 191st Military Police Battalion stationed in Fort Bonifacio, was being used by her superiors in gunrunning and other criminal activities. She had planned to expose the corruption before leaving the service but she was summarily killed before she could do so. Again, the AFP declared her death as suicide.

The Oakwood mutiny in 2003 by 300 soldiers from the Philippine Army, Navy and Air Force, including 70 junior officers, was an expression of their grievance and dissent over the gross corruption in the military and the fascist regime of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, which she wanted to perpetuate. The mutineers declared withdrawal of support from the chain of command and demanded Arroyo’s resignation.

However, because it lacked strong support from a people’s movement as the mutineers relied on spent politicians, the Oakwood mutiny, as well as the succeeding Peninsula Siege, quickly dissipated.

The brazen corruption is incessant and sickening. Imagine allocating PhP50 million from AFP funds as send-off gifts to retiring generals, over and above their legal retirement pay. Imagine the PNP police director for comptrollership being questioned by Russian customs office for carrying excessive amount of cash (105,000 Euros or PhP6.9 million). The general was with an 8-member PNP delegation that attended the International Police (Interpol) Assembly in St. Petersburg in Moscow in 2008.

The most contemptuous scam committed by the military top brass was the diversion of the funds of the AFP Retirement and Separation Benefits System (AFP-RSBS) for their vested interest. The funds came from the compulsory collection of five percent of every soldier’s monthly salary. The government continued to pay the pension and separation benefits of soldiers.

Meantime, the RSBS funds and proceeds from its investments were pocketed by the AFP officials. Although most investments incurred losses, the officers still benefited from brokering the deals and from substantial allowances they received, charged to the funds.

The Mamasapano incident in Maguindanao, on January 25, 2015, claimed the lives of 44 members of the PNP’s elite Special Action Force (SAF). Without notifying or coordinating with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the SAF conducted Operation Exodus against a US-tagged “terrorist” adversary, the Malaysian bomb-maker Marwan or Zulkifli Abhir, (also known as Abdul Basit Ulman). Marwan was killed, but the MILF and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighter (BIFF) bivouacked in the area were alerted by the firefight. They ambushed the SAF members as they were withdrawing, resulting in the latter’s massacre.

Operation Exodus was a joint operation with the US Army. However, the SAF was left alone in the implementation, while US authorities and Filipino political leaders and generals monitored the incident from afar through telecast.

It was utterly bad that for the protection of foreign (US) interest and the local ruling class the lives of members of an expensively-trained elite police force were unnecessarily sacrificed. The Mamasapano incident was no different from how soldiers are sent to senseless violent battles and pitted against their own class.

This is a wakeup call for the military minions of the ruling class. ##

RISE UP FOR COUNTRY AND PEOPLE (Pt. 1 of 2)
Revolution strikes chords in the state military

#ServeThePeople
#CherishThePeoplesArmy

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