By LAYAD EKID
It was People Power Revolution 1986 in Baguio.
I remember this military officer who spoke at the Cathedral Ground. I do not remember what exactly he said. But he was apologetic of what has become of the military institution that he has faithfully served. He spoke softly and humbly – a rare image of a military officer. I remember he spoke of reforming the military.
News of military abuses was common. The assassination of Macliing Dulag; the Be-ew Massacre in Abra; the brutal beheading of three NPA guerillas in Bakun, Benguet which included Fr. Nilo Valerio even after they had been killed in a military raid were just few of recent high profile stories then.
As an activist, I knew people who had been illegally detained and who experienced first hand military brutality. I heard of communities suffering from a de-facto military government especially in remote communities where there were strong resistances against extractive government projects.
The revolution did not give me much hope. I was more worried that with Marcos out, Filipinos would relax their guard on what was going on in this country. Gen. Fidel Ramos, former chief of the notorious Philippine Constabulary and Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile becoming heroes of EDSA were ominous. They were through and through lapdogs of the dictator and an overnight conversion were unthinkable.
Right after the revolution, the military tried to package itself as New AFP to distinguish itself from the abusive and mercenary image it developed under the Marcos years. It got rid of the prefix later because the reform process supposedly has been completed or the word, it realized, will continue to remind the people of its old character – one of course does not like to be reminded of its negative characters especially if ridding them off is next to impossible.
Recently, two friends Pepe Manegdeg and Marcos Bangit, working with non-government organizations and people’s organizations were summarily killed. Indications pointed to the military as responsible. Another friend, James Balao was arrested in broad day light by agents of the military. He remains missing to this day.
In 2008, six officers of the Philippine National Police were caught in Russia in possession of 105,000 euros (P6.9 million). The case known as “euro generals” remain in the Office of the Ombudsman. One of them was even promoted to a one-star rank position equivalent to a brigadier general in the military.
Today we are again exposed to high-stake corruption in the military which started with the family of one general caught with a rather large volume of dollars in a foreign land. General Angelo Reyes had to kill himself in order to save the reputation of a military institution that was never new, never reformed after EDSA. Twenty-five years after EDSA.
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Joke: Gen. Angelo Reyes was made to believe that the P50 million “pabaon” he received was in line with his being the “best of the best of the generals.”
Few days before he shot himself, he felt betrayed by the military institution he served faithfully. He just found out – Generals Cimatu and Villanueva actually received bigger “pabaons.” # nordis.net