March 31, 2006

To rebel is justified

Now that GMA has declared she would deal with the rebellious military officers and men with an iron hand, the AFP and PNP commanders are caught in the horns of a dilemma. How to contain if not exterminate the eadly “virus” of rebellion before it spreads uncontrollably without having to sacrifice some of the brightest and the best among the young and middle-level officer corps and the elite units that appear to be

How to differentiate the hard core from those who were merely duped or got carried away. How to give vent to small, manageable, legitimate grievances that do not undermine the system. Where to draw the line?

Is the withdrawal of support from the Commander-in-chief, to the point of breaking the chain of command, an aberration in an otherwise sterling military record? Is this is still a case of misplaced idealism taken advantage of by the anti-GMA opposition and the communists or plain incorrigible recidivism encouraged by lenient treatment?

The propensity of outstanding officers to mutiny is simplistically being attributed to unprofessionalism when it is becoming more evident that the opposite is true.

Let us recall the Oakwood mutineers and other junior and middle level officers recently implicated many of whom have outstanding academic and service records and/or feats of bravery that have earned them medals and citations.

Recall the late Captain Rene Jarque, a brilliant army officer with a promising career, who was forced out of military service because he could not keep quiet about the rot in the military establishment and persisted in calling for wide-ranging reforms.

All this leads one to conclude that those who take their military oath seriously, if perhaps a bit naively, and do their jobs well and by the book, eventually start to question and protest the military’s role, if not end up in open mutiny or rebellion.

Why is this so? Many a young officer learns soon enough the yawning gap between the ideals that he learned in the military or police academy courage, integrity, loyalty ­ and the reality of military and police establishments that have succumbed to the rot of corruption, dishonesty, favoritism and organized criminal activity with the generals knowingly and firmly in command.

While patronage politics has always extended to the military and police with politicians from town mayors to governors and even legislators cultivating the loyalties of particular police and military officials, an advantage especially handy during elections, the Marcos dictatorship gave the generals a taste of unprecedented power and pelf during martial rule.

Unfortunately, the overthrow of the dictatorship by a popular uprising combined with the withdrawal of military support by the chain of command served to cover up the sins of the past. These included the sordid human rights record of the AFP and the then Philippine Constabulary and the involvement of military and police officialdom in the wholesale looting of the treasury and the lucrative criminal syndicates that were operating under their protection. No real reform took place within the AFP and

The return of the trappings of democracy failed to rein in the overweening role of the military and the police in the life of the nation, particularly in the survival of ruling regimes. One government after another since Marcos has barely been able to institute political stability, limping from one economic crisis to the next. Until the Estrada administration that saw the exacerbation of the country’s chronic woes that led to another people’s uprising that was again backed up the defection of the military chain of command.

Once more the corrupt and fascist generals were given their chance to bail out of a sinking ship and get into the bandwagon of a new regime with their loot intact, their crimes against the people whitewashed and with new positions of power from which to continue their nefarious ways.

So the lesson for Mrs. Arroyo and her clique is that the chain of command must be given the right amount of incentive to maintain loyalty to her as President. Including the right amount of rhetoric regarding professionalism and duty to the country.

The bad precedent set by the Marcos dictatorship that loyalty to the Republic, defense of the Constitution and protection of the people and the State means blind loyalty, defense and protection of those in power persists.

Today it is invoked by the Arroyo administration to justify the reduction of the military and police to being its tools for perpetrating massive electoral fraud, going after its political enemies and in short propping up its tottering regime in the face of its rejection by a majority of the people.

Mrs. Arroyo was recently quoted as telling the new graduates of the PNP Academy that theirs is “not to question why; theirs is but to do or die.” A bit trite but to the point.

Fortunately, the conformist ideas that have pervaded the military and the police about their proper role in society, as the maintainers of the unjust status quo and suppressers of legitimate dissent and the people’s resistance to oppression, have been eroded over time.

The remaining idealistic, reform-minded , basically honest and upright among the younger officer corps have begun to see through the thin veil of lies, deception and cooptation with which the Arroyo regime wishes to fool them and keep them as loyal praetorian guards.

They have learned that in the face of oppression to rebel is justified. No amount of suppression can suffice to keep these men and women in uniform from making the correct decision and the correct moves in due time.#


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