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Philippine Army

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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JOVITO S. PALPARAN Jr., “THE BUTCHER”: Contemptuous of Right to Life and Justice

in Countercurrent
by Angel Balen

He is gaunt and awkward in physical bearing, lisping in speech, unimpressive for a military officer.

Yet, on his 56th birthday on September 14, 2006, Jovito Palparan Jr. ended 34 years of service in the Philippine Army with the rank of Major General and a hoard of military medals (ranging from bronze to gold).

His shining moment came in July 2006, during President Gloria Arroyo’s state-of-the-nation address before the joint session of Congress: she called on him to stand up in the gallery and gushingly hailed him as her favorite general.

But in the hearts and minds of the informed public, Palparan has been a truly detestable public figure.

When Gloria Arroyo lavishly praised him, the human rights community—national and international—was outraged. Long before that inglorious day, human rights defenders had been roundly condemning him. They excoriated him for his brutal counterinsurgency methods: killing, abducting and torturing mass leaders and activists—noncombatants all—from 2001 to 2006.

A presidential investigating commission on the killings, created in 2006, noted in its report that “there was a rise in the extrajudicial killings of activists and militants between 2001 and 2006, as compared to a similar period prior thereto.” The killings followed a pattern, wherein “victims were generally unarmed, alone, or in small groups and were gunned down by two or more masked or hooded assailants oftentimes riding motorcycles.”

The commission’s head emphasized: “It is undisputed that the killings subject of the investigation of our Commission did not occur during military engagement or firefights. These were assassinations or ambush-type killings, professional hits carrying one out quickly and in the silence escaping with impunity.”

The killings were verified to have risen fast in the three regions of the country to which Palparan had been assigned (Southern Tagalog, Eastern Visayas, and Central Luzon).

The gory operations he started in the Southern Tagalog region, particularly in Mindoro, were topped by the brutal abduction and murder of human rights defender Eden Marcellana and peasant leader Eddie Gumanoy in April 2003. Investigations by the House of Representatives human rights committee resulted in the identification by witnesses of Palparan’s long-trusted executioner, MSgt. Donald Caigas, as the one who led the perpetrators.

It was in Southern Tagalog that Palparan earned the derisive monicker, “The Butcher.” And he seemed to have derived supreme pride for being called that, as the star performer in human rights violations under the Arroyo regime’s two-phased counterinsurgency program, Oplans Bantay Laya I and II.

Anti-communist viciousness

“Kagyat na panagutin sa iba’t ibang larangan ang mga may pananagutan sa taong-bayan at lansagin ang mga salik na nagbubunsod ng kawalang katarungan.”
Liga ng mga Manananggol para sa Bayan (LUMABAN)

But inevitably the time of reckoning for Palparan’s crimes had to come. And it came on September 17, 2018—12 years after he retired from military service.

On that date, the Malolos Regional Trial Court Branch 15, presided over by Judge Alexander Tamayo, convicted Palparan for just one of the numerous crimes attributed to him: kidnapping with serious illegal detention (with torture) and disappearance in June 2006 of former University of the Philippines students, Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño. He was sentenced (along with two other Philippine Army officers) to a prison term of 20 to 40 years.

Palparan’s behavior, before and after the reading of the verdict, starkly provided a peak into what sort of a person he is.

Apparently, he is basically a coward. But he covers up such weakness with arrogance and belligerence.

Take, for instance, how he was brought in and out of the courtroom on that day he was convicted, as he was in every hearing of the case over four years. From the Philippine Army headquarter’s detention area (where he presumably enjoyed a sense of security), he would put on a military helmet, surrounded by a phalanx of soldiers bodily shielding him upon arrival at the courthouse.

Inside the court, while waiting for the judge to come out, he feigned self-confidence as he told a news reporter who queried him, “After this, we walk as free men. We are not guilty.”

After the court verdict was read, however, Palparan instantly transformed himself into a boor. He yelled at the judge, “Duwag ka, judge! Duwag ka, tarantado! (You’re a coward, judge! You’re a coward, jerk!).“And when the judge warned he might be cited for contempt, he shot back, “It doesn’t matter anymore. We’re going to prison anyway.”

It took quite a time before “The Butcher” was finally charged in court and put on trial.

In 2007, under strong public pressure, President Arroyo formed a commission to investigate the more than 100 cases of extrajudicial killings that occurred under her watch. Retired Supreme Court Justice Jose A.R. Melo headed the body (thus, it was called the Melo Commission). In its 89-page report, the commission pointedly recommended Palparan’s prosecution. But nothing happened.

Meantime, the mothers of Sherlyn and Karen painstakingly sought recourse through petitions of habeas corpus filed with the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court. Their efforts paid off. Aided by human rights lawyers, the mothers—Erlinda T. Cadapan and Concepcion E. Empeño—filed a complaint against Palparan and his military cohorts in May 2011.

When the preliminary hearings on the case began, Palparan tried to slip out of the country but he was stopped at the airport. After he was indicted in December 2011 he went into hiding to evade arrest. Only after he was arrested in August 2014 did the trial proceed, with many interruptions at the instance of Palparan’s lawyers.

The Butcher is now confined at the National Penitentiary (Bilibid Prison) in Muntinlupa City, among other maximum-security convicted criminal inmates. His lawyers have filed an appeal for reconsideration of the court’s verdict.

The basis of the appeal is quintessentially Palparan’s vicious anti-communist line. It asks the court to review its “erroneous appreciation of the written statement and testimonies of the [key] witness, Raymond Manalo, who is under the protection and support of the Communist Party of the Philippines.”

It was during his deployment as Army unit commander against the New People’s Army (NPA), after an eight-year assignment in Sulu to fight against the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), that Palparan consistently built up and demonstrated his utter ideological, anti-communist viciousness.

As he was promoted to higher ranks, Palparan turned more arrogant, self-righteous, bigoted, and fascistic.

His viciousness was manifested in a stream of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and massacres mostly victimizing noncombatant activists and civilians—as affirmed in the report of the Melo Commission. Its investigation focused on 136 incidences of extrajudicial killings (EJKs) previously verified as true by the Philippine National Police’s Task Force Usig, another probe body created by Arroyo.

At the National Consultative Summit on Extrajudicial Killings and Enforced Disappearances, initiated by then Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno in July 2007, Justice Melo made a brief oral presentation of the commission’s report. He quoted some of Palparan’s statements to the media that more than tended to acknowledge or confirm his role in the spate of EJKs.
Among those statements are the following:

“I want communism totally erased—to wage the ongoing counterinsurgency by neutralizing not just the armed rebels but also a wealth of front organizations that include leftist political parties, human rights and women’s organizations, even lawyers, and members of the clergy.”

“My order to my soldiers is that if they are certain that there are armed rebels in the house or yard, ‘Shoot them!’ It will just be too bad if plain civilians are killed in the process. We are sorry if you are killed in the crossfire.”

“Would there be some collateral damage [once the soldiers shoot]… But it will be short and tolerable. They [referring to critics of his methods] blow it up as massive violations of human rights, but to me it would just be necessary incidents. Sori na lang kung may mapatay na sibilyan (it’s just too bad if civilians are killed). The death of civilians and local officials were small sacrifices brought about by the military anti-insurgency [campaign operations].”

On the extrajudicial killings in the areas he was assigned as field commander, Palparan was more voluble and cocky. Here are some of his statements that Melo cited:

“They [EJKs] cannot be completely stopped. I would say they are necessary incidents in a conflict because they [the targeted victims] are violent. It’s not necessary that the military alone should be blamed. We are armed, of course, and are trained to confront and control violence. But other people whose lives are affected in these areas are participating [in the armed conflict].”

“The killings are being attributed to me. But I did not kill them. I just inspired the triggerman.”

“I am responsible, relatively perhaps… But in the course of our campaign, I could have encouraged people to do that—so maaaring may responsibility ako doon (so maybe I am responsible). I don’t want that aspect, but how could I prevent it? We are engaged in this conflict. All of my actuations have been designed to defeat the enemy. And in doing so, others might have been encouraged by my actions.

“Whoever it is, who could have been encouraged by my actions and actuations in the course of my campaign [against] whoever they are. That is why I say relatively. If these are soldiers, maybe then I could have been remiss in that aspect. But we are doing our best to keep our soldiers within our mandate.”

As regards the progressive party-list organizations that had won seats in the House of Representatives, whose members had become EJK victims since 2001, Melo quoted Palparan as having said the following:

“A lot of the members are actually involved in atrocities and crimes… Even though they are in government as party-list representatives, no matter what appearance they take, they still are enemies of the state.

“The party-list members of Congress are doing peace to further the revolution of the communist movement. I wish they are not here.”

“We can draw our own conclusions from these statements,” Melo told the participants in the Supreme Court-initiated consultative summit.

He pointed out that all of the victims of the 136 EJK incidents were activists, were “generally unarmed, alone, or in small groups and were gunned down by two or more masked or hooded assailants oftentimes riding motorcycles.” The assailants, he added, “surprise the victims in public places or their homes and make quick getaways.”

Also, “it is of note that the military in general called the victims as enemies of the state who deserved to be neutralized, according to the testimony given to us,” Melo added.

(Significantly, the Malolos RTC Branch 15 decision convicting Palparan also states: “Clearly, General Palparan was one [with others] in the desire to stamp out the enemies of the state, like Karen and Sherlyn, who they believed deserved to be erased from the face of the earth at any cost.”)

The investigation also established that “the PNP had not made much headway in solving the killings,” Melo said. Only 37 cases had been forwarded to the proper prosecutor’s office.

Also speaking for the House of Representatives at the National Consultative Summit in July 2007, then Makati Rep. Teodoro Locsin Jr. commended the Melo Commission Report as “complete, comprehensive and fair… and forthright in its conclusions and recommendations.”

He noted that the Melo Report says, “the signs are abundant and cannot be ignored that General Palparan had actively encouraged the men under him, in at least three areas he was assigned as field commander, to ‘neutralize’ activists tagged as ‘enemies of the state.’ ” This is a category [“enemies of the state”] that “does not exist in law, conventions of warfare or articles of war,” said Locsin, who is a lawyer-journalist.

On this point, the Melo Report concluded: “By declaring persons enemies of the state, and in effect, adjudging them guilty of crimes, these persons have arrogated unto themselves the powers of the courts and of the Executive branch of government.”

“To be sure,” Locsin pointed out, (Palparan) denied ordering any killings but granted that he may have inspired the triggerman. Congress [through its Commission on Appointments] reacted swiftly confirming his promotion in time for his long-awaited retirement,” he added wryly.

“The Melo Commission pointedly recommends General Palparan’s prosecution on command responsibility: either for not stopping his men from carrying out the killings or for encouraging a climate conducive to the commission of these crimes by security agents,” the congressman noted, and he agreed with it.

And for good measure, Locsin shared that, through his questioning during a House of Representatives public hearing on the EJKs, “Palparan would not categorically deny that under his command there are special teams operating at night, wearing bonnets, or masks, with the apparent mission of extrajudicial elimination of so-called enemies of the state.”

By these accounts of Palparan’s offhand statements or replies to questions, both from the media or congressional investigations, he is totally capable of incriminating himself, whether unwittingly or wittingly—and braggingly at that! On the The Butcher’s “would-not-categorically-deny” stance, Locsin mischievously remarked, “Apparently, he feared the prospect of being charged with perjury rather than murder.”

In Duterte’s rein as the commander in chief of the AFP, Palparan would have been his perfect collaborator, joining the other Gloria Arroyo generals Hermogenes Esperon of the National Security Council and Eduardo Año of the Interior and Local Government.

Duterte is president and commander-in-chief and Palparan a mere pawn in the chain of command but, both feel they are gods in their own right, gods spawned by a debased system of class divisions.

Both Duterte and Palparan have intense abhorrence of communists and desperately dream of crushing the national democratic revolution. Both would dismiss the call for peace as a way to further the revolution. Palparan would readily smell blood (and be nourished by it) from Duterte’s order to neutralize not only armed rebels, but also activists, supporters, and “would-be rebels”. Both would arrogantly ramble of claiming full responsibility which inspire and spur killings and violence unmindful of innocent victims they dismiss as collateral damage.

Duterte may have outshone Palparan with his boorish, misogynistic remarks and acts against women as well as with his blasphemous tirades of God. But like Palparan, Duterte will suffer the same ignominious fate when the people’s wrath and justice catch up with him.

Coronacion “Waling-Waling” Chiva

in Cherish

Waling-waling is a beautiful orchid that blooms in the deep recesses of the forests of Panay contending for sunlight with intertwining vines and branches. In analogy, the Coronacion “Waling-waling” Chiva Regional Command of the New People’s Army in Panay continues its struggle amid class contradiction for liberation from the oppressive semi-feudal semi-colonial social order.

The Command was named after a woman, whose husband’s recognition of her valor and tenacity accorded her the nom de guerre Waling-waling.

Coronacion “Waling-waling” Chiva and her husband, Andres Togonon or Amang Ali, were members of the old Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the Hukbong Mapagpalaya ng Bayan (HMB) in Panay, which waged an armed struggle against the Japanese invaders and later against the ruling US-puppet government. Andres was the political officer of the HMB while Corning became a commander of an HMB unit. They gallantly fought the armed forces of the reactionary government until the incorrect political line and adventurist stance of the Lava leadership, in its frantic dash for power, permeated the HMB in Panay causing its decline and eventual collapse. Commander Waling-waling led the platoon that made the last stand against the enemy in Nalbugan, Bingawan, Iloilo. Eighteen of them were surrounded by 80 soldiers of the Expeditionary Force of the Philippine Army. Waling-waling’s will to fight to the end was doused by the sight of her men who were skeptical of the wisdom to continue the fight. She reluctantly ordered to put down their arms. For the first time in her guerrilla life, she cried. It was difficult to accept that the armed struggle of the HMB and the Party in Panay had ended.

Corning was arrested and joined her husband, Andres, in detention. Andres was earlier on arrested while teaching cadres and commanders of the old CPP and HMB at the Stalin University in the forested area of Taroytoy, Libacao, Aklan. Andres was among the five survivors of the Toroytoy massacre that took the lives of 36 leading HMB members. In collusion with Pablo Hipana, one of the students, the Battalion Combat Team of the enemy managed to encircle and attack the school.

Upon release from prison, Andres and Corning continued to organize workers in Davao. When they returned to Barangay Alibunan, Calinog in Panay, the national democratic revolution with a correct political line has advanced. A team of the New People’s Army (NPA) was deployed in Panay in 1971. The team, which got in touch with Corning and Andres, received a warm and cordial welcome. The resurgence of the revolution in Panay was a dream come-true for the couple. For despite the dismantling of the HMB, the revolutionary fire in their hearts was never extinguished and the hope and the will to see the struggling masses and the country free from oppression and exploitation never dwindled.

Corning, like a mother to her children on their first stride, guided the team. She was a leader who never lost the mien of Commander Waling-waling whose every command was firm, respected and obeyed. She helped the team take roots in Jalaud in Calinog, Tapaz and Libacao. She linked them to the families of former colleagues in the defunct HMB. The couple also let their eldest son, Dax, join the NPA. He was matyred in 1975. Despite the ferocity of Martial Law, Corning’s family relentlessly assisted the NPA.

Corning was an inspiration to the young batch of revolutionaries. When one of the ladies in the team was contemplating on a name to use in battle, Corning suggested her nom de guerre–Waling-waling. Humbled the young lady declined as she believed there was only one Waling-waling, there could never be any other. But like a true communist, who never rested on her laurels and who believed that the young generations should carry the torch of the continuing revolution, Corning insisted. Thus, the young warrior came to be known as her Junior.

Commander Waling-waling was killed in August 1977 by a military agent under the Central Command of the AFP in Cebu. Upon her death her husband, Andres, despite his advance age, joined the NPA. Together with his whole family, he continued the fight against the US-Marcos dictatorship.

In honor and memory of Coronacion “Waling-waling” Chiva, the Panay Regional Command was named after her. Her valuable contribution to the revolution – the best years of her life spent in the service to the revolutionary movement and the efforts to link the patriotic revolutionaries of the past to the new generation of revolutionaries – will remain an undying memento not just to look back to but to propel the continuing advance of the people’s revolution until the unjust social structures are put to rest.#

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