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Out of the barracks and into the pits

Petty, big, routine graft
a lucrative trade at AFP

EIGHT YEARS ago in 2003, the PCIJ had exposed how the soldiers themselves were arming the enemy, by selling bullets and guns at fat discounts to rebels. To make matters worse, the transactions transpired at the very heart of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) command: the General Headquarters at Camp Aguinaldo.

That early, a New People’s Army (NPA) cadre code-named Ricky visited Aguinaldo on and off to purchase wares of war from soldiers. The bullets went for P5 a pop, even though the government at the time spent P14 to make or purchase each one.

The sale of guns and bullets by some soldiers to rebel groups and warlords is an old cottage industry, according to contacts from the NPA and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Then and now, government arsenals have become a dipping pond for rebel groups, thanks to soldiers given to making quick money.


A politicized military

IN A way, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s Cabinet toward the end of her regime could be described as “star-studded.” Arroyo, after all, had a habit of appointing retired star-rank generals to key positions in her official family.

Former Armed Forces of the Philippines AFP) vice chief of staff Eduardo Ermita served as executive secretary. Angelo Reyes and Hermogenes Esperon Jr., both former AFP chiefs of staff, handled several portfolios, while former Philippine National Police director generals Leandro Mendoza and Hermogenes Ebdane were appointed transportation secretary and public works secretary, respectively.


A 25-year rebellion

“SHOULD I fail, then remember me with pride and understanding. Please do not disown me or my memory. I have lived a good and full life. I have seen the world and experienced its pains and pleasures. My only regret is that I have not served you as much as I should have.”

Those words were penned 25 years ago by a young idealistic officer who was going off to a different kind of battle. Then Army Capt. Ricardo C. Morales thought it best to write his parents a final note before he jumped into the void.

War and peace in a Bohol barangay

MAGSAYSAY, SEVILLA, BOHOL — Our security escort holding the rusty M-16 rifle grunted as the old, rickety ambulance we were riding leaped a few inches from the road. But he quickly regained his composure, and resumed his hawk-like position, his eyes darting, regarding the trees as though they were enemies.

A stronger revolutionary movement

THE RULING system in the Philippines is semicolonial and semifeudal. It is dominated by foreign monopoly capitalist countries headed by the United States and Japan. It is ruled by the comprador big bourgeoisie and the landlord class and managed by their political representatives. The foreign and local exploiters collaborate against the national and democratic rights and interests of the Filipino people.

Ending the Communist insurgency

LAST JUNE, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo announced an all-out campaign to bring about in two years’ time the conditions that would result in putting an end to the 37-year-old insurgency waged by the Communist Party of the Philippines-Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought (CPP-MLMZT) and the New People’s Army (NPA), as well as the National Democratic Front (NDF), which the CPP-MLMZT controls. The attainment of these conditions is to be pursued through a total approach, consisting of a set of programs and measures-military, police, legal, political, information, diplomatic, and very importantly, the equitable delivery of basic social services, especially to disadvantaged sectors and communities. These programs and measures, taken together, are meant to comprehensively address the insurgency, both in terms of its politico-ideological-military aspect and its socio-economic “root causes.”

Ma. Cecilia Flores-Oebanda

SHE CROUCHED in the foxhole that she and loyal Berto had dug with their bare hands, breathing heavily as she tried to fit her eight-month pregnant body sideways into its shallow hold. Above the roar of gunfire, she could hear the invading soldiers shout out the name that had come to be identified with her.

Raymundo Jarque

WE OFTEN think of the lives of military men as nothing less than exciting, and the one led by retired Brig. Gen. Raymundo Jarque does not disappoint, although it had some unexpected and confusing twists. From a young lieutenant assigned to Mindanao to face the Muslim secessionists in the 1970s, he went on to become a military commander fighting a raging communist insurgency in his home province, then a fugitive from justice seeking sanctuary among the very rebels he fought, and later a consultant to them in their peace talks with the government. Had the local film industry not been in the doldrums, there would probably have been a movie based on his action-packed life by now.

Romeo J. Intengan

THE FIRST time Fr. Romeo J. Intengan, SJ, was summoned by a woman who lived in Malacañang, he had to flee the country to avoid her wrath. The woman was Imelda Marcos; the year was 1980. More recently, in November 2005, he came under fire for supposedly presenting exit scenarios to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. He admits she has sought his advice in the past regarding religious matters, but denies bringing up exit plans with her.

Bernabe ‘Kumander Dante’ Buscayno

HAPPINESS AND contentment radiate from Bernabe Buscayno these days, but there was a time when he would wake up thinking this day would be his last. In the mountains where he fought a guerrilla war, death was just always an illness or a bullet away. As a political detainee years later, a resigned Buscayno came to believing his isolation cell would be the very last place he would see in his life.

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