SSSH. NOTES FROM THE UNDERGROUND: So a few days ago, I got some inquiries on www.twitter.com from Venice Film Festival award-winning film-maker and I believe, a relative of both my wife and sister-in-law, Pepe Diokno (Yes, my brother and I married cousins). Pepe questioned Gilbert Teodoro's AFP record, Gibo's request for more funding for the AFP, and his involvement in AFP Human rights abuses. So I sent a message out to my network and asked for some answers to Pepe's very valid questions:
MY MESSAGE: Hey guys, I got a message today on twitter from @pepediokno, He brings up some very interesting issues:
"@carlosceldran (...) I thnk 1 of d biggest probs is d politicization of AFP. Gibo wants more funding 4 AFP. So he shd address human rights."
"@carlosceldran Alleged or not, directly linkd or not, as DND Sec, GIbo has respnsiblty. I wnt 2 knw wht he did abt these HR violations (...)"
Also, some people want to have answers about Gibo and his term at DND and how did he address the Melissa Roxas abduction and killings by Jovito Palparan.
Would you have an answer to this? It's from Pepe Diokno. It's his make or break issue with Gibo, he says. Can you give him a good answer?
And I got a reply today. A VERY interesting reply from a really swell media guy who has for now asked me to keep him anonymous. So instead of paraphrasing his answer and using my voice, I will just print it here verbatim, directly from the underground. I personally think it's clear. I really couldn't have said it better.
The theme that runs through the questions is whether Gibo is guilty by association or command responsibility. That's like blaming the US Defense Department for every act of torture or atrocity committed on the ground in Iraq or Afghanistan. Still, was Gibo aware and tacitly involved?
1. On Gibo's plan to increase military spending and the size of the AFP.
This issue sits well with the AFP and businessmen. Clearly, the Philippines has one of the smallest and least equipped armed forces in Southeast Asia. A troubling reality for a country that faces serious internal security threats from the NPA, MILF, rogue MNLF, Abu Sayyaf, bandit groups, kidnap syndicates, Magdalo rebels, etc. The AFP is miniscule in size and equipment in comparison to countries with no such threats like Singapore and Malaysia (never mind militarist states like Vietnam). The problem in the Philippines is even more pronounced because its an archipelago - and moving troops around is a major logistical problem.
Without the presence of a larger army to hold areas - and not merely to troubleshoot and then leave - security and economic development in the remotest places (and often the richest in resources) is impossible as rebel groups (and armed syndicates) simply return to the area.
Expanding the military has always been a politically controversial issue as the shadow of Marcos continues to haunt the current political discourse. The left has been successful in equating the expansion and upgrading of the military with the return of fascism and militarization. They have been successful getting media, NGOs and liberal politicians to buy this line. Without US aid and training the current budget allocation is terribly inadequate to finance all the war and peace keeping efforts of the AFP (wars are very expensive and we're only talking about internal conflicts not external defense which requires battle ships, fighter planes, etc).
The agenda of the left is to impoverish the army so that guerilla fronts can expand unimpeded. As for bleeding heart liberals in government and civil society, they simply cannot accommodate war as a policy against rebellion. The "why can't we all just get along" worldview of theirs simply blocks out the truth that rebels and terrorists simply want power and that violent overthrow is their way to achieve it.
They should listen to Obama's Nobel Prize speech and see how this most liberal American politician defends war as an instrument of peace. For liberals, poverty is the issue. They don't realize that poverty exists because investments (and basic governance) are impossible in areas where terrorists, bandits and rebels control the countryside.
For non-ideological pragmatists, the problem is the politicalization and corruption of the top brass. They believe that so long as generals are corrupt and allow themselves to be manipulated by their political patrons, expanding the size of the military is useless.
Gibo has mentioned a holistic, but non-ideological approach to the problem: expand and professionalize the AFP. By expanding the army you can hold areas longer and eliminate the role of potentially abusive private armies as proxies of the military and police in the process.
But high numbers alone are irrelevant if morale is low. The military must be armed and trained properly. This is where both the budget and the continuation of security relationships with the US play a role. The left, the pseudo nationalists and liberals cry imperialism but this is more a pragmatic geo-political policy (and in our case also a funding thing) rather than a sell-out of national dignity. (Singapore continues its security ties with the US as a counter to Malaysia and China even if they continue to finance the US treasury!).
Professionalizing the AFP and neutralizing corruption is also critical. Under Gibo, no financial scandal has been reported in the AFP and DND. His critics are trying to trace the cache of arms unearthed in Maguindanao to the DND under Gibo but Teodoro himself has confidently called for an investigation. Insiders know that the ammunition (which is just at 10 percent of the cache found) got there through rogue elements in the local military.
Another fact: under Gibo, the military has been least restive since Arroyo took over the presdiency in 2001. Not just becasue he is a civilian, but because he has earned the respect of the top brass, junior officers and enlisted soldiers. Under Gibo there has been no chatter about coups and mutinies - in fact, we haven't seen a military this quiet in a very long time.
So is human rights training the end all and be all of our problems with the military as suggested by some? Hardly. Human rights is currently in the curriculum of the PMA and training of enlisted troops but that hasn't stopped abuses here and there (though clearly military-led abuses are no longer in the scale of atrocities committed during Marcos and Aquino's time as president). The solution is a pragmatic one: expand the army to eliminate the role of non-professional and private armed groups and professionalize the army so that loyalties are to the State and not to local padrinos and mafia bosses.
2. On whether Gibo is linked to HR abuses himself like the Roxas case and if he allowed killings by ret. Gen Palparan.
Counter-insurgency is a very complex affair as by its very nature there is no transparency in any such campaign to fight forces in the underground. Why? The armed Left (or even terrorists) do not identify themselves as such. The revolution is waged via an intricate network of legal fronts and underground cells where there is no distinction between combatant and political organizer just like there is no disticntion between soldier in battle and unarmed military intelligence operative. Both are part of an armed group whether they carry guns or not.
This explains why no President of the Republic has his or her hands clean. In fact, no head of state of any country dealing with insurgency and separatists has his or her hands clean. Be it the UK government's campaign against the IRA, the US govt and the Taliban, Spain and the ETA - counter insurgency is a dirty war because there are no open rules in waging it. For all the petitions for Cory Aquino's sainthood and Time magazine's own canonization of Cory as the saint of Philippine democracy - she left a stream of bloody incidents involving suspected members of the left - cases where justice was never realized: the Mendiola massacre of farmers, the murder and torture of KMU leader Rolano Olalia, the ambush of former NPA leader Dante Buscayno, the killing of Bayan leader Lean Alejandro - and many more lesser known activists and organizers who were massacred, found salvaged or have disappeared.This was during Cory's time, the arch-liberal and human rights advocate, remember?
Still, torture today should not be tolerated and more so should killings. Wouldn't it be better if arrests could just be made and due process followed? Sure, even if rebellion is close to impossible to prove in court. Most of us are liberals and that's what we believe anyway.
So did Gibo willingly tolerate abuses as DND chief? He can easily answer that for himself.
As for encouraging Jovito Palparan's notorious witchunt - at least that can be answered easily with the facts. Palparan retired in 2006 while Teodoro was appointed DND chief in 2007. So that would have been impossible.
And there you have it Pepe. I hope this is good enough? Cheers man.
It was quite surprising to hear staunch GMA hater Manuel Buencamino try to convince his "daughter" to vote for Gilbert Teodoro in this article. Being pro Gibo myself, I thought it was nice for him to try and explain to his daughter that there is more behind the man than what is expected. Unfortunately, his brilliant daughter seems to be smarter than him (or so he portrayed), so perhaps we need a mother's point of view to iron things out here with such a cynical daughter. Hay nako.
Once you've read the original, read this new version with Mommy CARLOS butting in...
CARLOS PLAYS MOMMY TO MANUEL BUENCAMINO'S DAUGHTER...
I (Manuel Buencamino) tried to sell Gilbert Teodoro to my daughter.
“I am impressed by Gibo Teodoro’s quick and decisive reaction to the Maguindanao massacre. He displayed courageous leadership,” I said.
“Why, what did he do?”
“Plenty. He visited Vice Mayor Ismael Mangudadatu right after the massacre, went with him when he filed his certificate of candidacy for governor, and appointed him new provincial chairman of Lakas-Kampi after the Ampatuans were expelled.”
“You’re impressed that a presidential candidate took sides in a power struggle between warlords?”
OH, BUT WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE DONE HIJA? I KNOW YOU ARE SCHOOLED. I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW SINCE YOU HAVE SUCH EXTENSIVE KNOWLEDGE ON AN ISSUE THAT HAS BEEN KEPT DORMANT FOR DECADES IN THE RP.
HIJA. A SIDE HAD TO BE TAKEN. ONE SIDE WAS OBVIOUSLY HIDEOUSLY ABUSED AND TO WAIT LONGER AND NOT HELP A PERSON (THAT YOU KNEW BEFORE THE MASSACRE) WOULD ALSO BE A TERRIBLE SITUATION, DON'T YOU THINK? TIME IS OF THE ELEMENT.
“Why, what did the other candidates do?” I challenged her.
“The other candidates immediately called for justice for the victims and the immediate arrest of suspects. Isn’t that better than taking sides in a clan war?”
BUT HIJA, THE SUSPECTS WERE ARRESTED (PERHAPS THIS CONVERSATION BETWEEN MARTIAL LAW) AND THE OPPOSING CAMP HAD TO BE PROTECTED. MR. TEODORO IS FAMILIAR WITH THE ISSUE, HE TRIED TO MEDIATE BETWEEN THE TWO FAMILIES BEFORE THE MASSACRE HAPPENED. HIJA, IT'S NOT AS SIMPLE AS YOU THINK. IT REALLY... REALLY... IS NOT. AND I REALLY DON'T SEE HOW CALLING FOR JUSTICE WOULD BE EFFECTIVE EXCEPT FOR WELL, CALLING FOR JUSTICE. ACTIONS ARE BETTER THAN WORDS NO? LOOK AT THE BIGGER PICTURE.
“But isn’t it admirable that Gibo expelled the Ampatuans from Lakas-Kampi?” I asked.
“That was just a facial!”
A FACIAL? A TREATMENT TO EXFOLIATE?
I was outraged by her cynicism. I decided to set the record straight.
“Lakas-Kampi said the expulsion of the Ampatuans was part of the coalition party’s cleansing process,” I said.
“Ayun, eh di facial nga!” she exclaimed.
THAT IS CALLED A COLONIC, HIJA. AND IT HAS BEEN HAPPENING WAY BEFORE THE MASSACRE. LOOK AT ALL THE OPPORTUNISTS FROM LAKAS THAT DITCHED KNOWING THAT THEY CAN'T GET THE SAME FAVORS UNDER GIBO AS THEY DID WITH GLORIA.
“He expelled the Ampatuans but kept Gloria Arroyo, her children and in-laws as party members of good standing along with other well-known crooks, warlords and human-rights violators. They are not included in the cleansing process, why?” she asked.
AH. SO GLORIA ALSO MASSACRED 56 PEOPLE? IS THE CRIME DIRECTLY RELATED TO HER NOW, HIJA? TRUE. SHE DID KEEP THEM IN POWER. BUT THEIR CODDLING CAN BE TRACED ALL THE WAY BACK TO CORY, NO? GLORIA WAS THE PRESIDENT OF THE PARTY. GIBO RESPECTS THE INSTITUTION AND PARTY RULES. HE IS STRENGTHENING THE LAKAS PARTY. NOT BLOATING IT, LIKE WELL, A FEW OTHER OPPOSING CAMPS.
“Don’t draw conclusions too quickly, maybe he will expel them all.”
“And who’s going to be left in the coalition if he does that?” She laughed.
“Ramos said Gibo’s decision to expel the Ampatuans ‘seemed like withdrawal of support’ for Gloria,” I said.
“Gibo, the man who said, ‘For me now to say I will turn my back and bite the person who gave me a break will be the height of ingratitude,’ has gone rogue? C’mon….”
GRATITUDE IS A BETTER VALUE IN MY EYES, THAN BEING BALIMBING, HIJA. AND MANY MANY PEOPLE HAVE SERVED WELL UNDER QUESTIONABLE CIRCUMSTANCES. LIKE HOW NINOY'S DAD WAS VICE PRESIDENT UNDER THE JAPANESE. DID YOU KNOW THAT? NOW, I WOULD NOT LIKE TO BLAME ALL THE ABUSES WE EXPERIENCED IN WW2 ON HIM EVEN IF HE DID KNOW IT WAS HAPPENING. WOULD YOU? WOULD YOU?
“He did it on his own,” I insisted.
“What was his position on Proclamation 1959?”
“He said he would wait for the justifications and reasons for it,” I replied.
“He was waiting for instructions,” she said.
“That’s not fair.”
“Well, Gloria already lifted martial law and he still has not told the country whether he was for or against it.”
WHAT DOES IT MATTER WHAT HIS STATEMENTS ARE ABOUT A SITUATION THAT HE HAS NO RIGHT TO CONTROL? HE IS NO LONGER DND SECRETARY. WHY ARE WORDS ONCE AGAIN MORE IMPORTANT THAN ACTIONS, HIJA?
“He has a mind of his own,” I repeated.
“Huh? What is his platform?”
GIBO.PH. CLICK ON HIS PLAN FOR EACH REGION OF THE PHILIPPINES
She recited his platform from memory, “Ang policy ko ay ituloy ang mga programa ng administrasyon at ang pinakamalaking policy ko ay, oras na manalo ako, hihikayatin ko ang Kongreso mag-Charter change tayo—sa con-con [My policy is to continue the administration’s programs and, as soon as I win, my biggest policy will be to ask Congress for Charter change through a constitutional convention].”
BUT HIJA THE CHARTER NEEDS TO BE CHANGED. NOT JUST THE PRESIDENTIAL VIS A VIS FEDERAL BUT ALSO IN MANY OF THE OTHER ASPECTS LIKE IT'S ECONOMIC PARTS. IT IS WELL KNOWN THAT CORY'S CONSTITUTION IS FLAWED AND SET THE FRAMEWORK FOR WHY WE ARE IN THE MESS WE ARE IN TODAY. AND ONCE GLORIA STEPS DOWN, YOU THINK SHE WILL GET THE NUMBERS IN HER PARTY TO MAKE HER PRIME MINISTER, ESPECIALLY SINCE A LOT OF LAKAS FOLK HAVE GRAVITATED TOWARDS OTHER PARTIES. SHE IS TOXIC EVEN WITHIN HER OWN PARTY. A LOT OF THE PEOPLE WHO SUPPORTED GLORIA HAVE NOW FLED TO OTHER PARTIES TOO, WHAT DOES THAT SAY ABOUT THEM AND THE PARTY THAT ACCEPTED THEM? HMM? HIJA?
“So are you saying Gibo is Gloria’s stunt double?”
“He said it, I didn’t.”
“I’m sure he meant that he would continue the good programs of Gloria but not her shenanigans,” I explained.
“He’s going to fight corruption and hold crooks accountable?”
“He is the standard-bearer of the party of corruption and impunity, doesn’t that tell you anything?”
“But he’s a nice guy,” I said.
“Yes, he’s a nice guy. Unfortunately, he fell in with a bad crowd,” she lamented. “He should have resigned from the coalition instead of expelling the Ampatuans.”
UM BAD CROWD?? MORE LIKE WHAT CROWD?? IF YOU WANT SCARY, LOOK AT ALL THE OTHER BLOATED POLITICAL PARTIES OUT THERE, HIJA. RESIGNING ONLY WOULD HAVE CREATED USELESS DRAMA AND NOT HELPED ANY SITUATION. IT'S SAD THAT YOU CAN'T SEE THAT CHANGES CAN HAPPEN FROM WITHIN. WHAT WOULD RESIGNING HAVE DONE? WOULD THAT ONE DRAMATIC MOVE MAKE YOU VOTE FOR HIM? HIJA. LOOK AT THE BIGGER PICTURE. IF AN ACTION NEEDS TO BE DONE, IT HAS TO BE MORE THAN SYMBOLIC, HIJA.
“Because expelling the Ampatuans is a ruse if no action is taken against the little girl who created, armed and coddled them. If he does not leave the party, then he is an accomplice to the machinations to clear Gloria of any responsibility for the Ampatuans….”
THE ACTION TAKEN AGAINST HER SHOULD BE DONE BY THE JUDICIAL SYSTEM NOT MALACANANG. THE PRESIDENCY SHOULD NEVER BE USED AS A TOOL FOR REVENGE. HIJA, I'D BE MORE AFRAID OF ANY PARTY THAT PROMISES REVENGE OUTSIDE OF THE JUDICIAL SYSTEM BECAUSE THAT WAY, NOBODY WOULD BE SAFE.
ONCE AGAIN, HIJA. SEE THE BIGGER PICTURE.
“I’m not done yet….”
“Sorry, go on.”
“As I was about to say…if he sticks with Gloria, then he validates nine years of impunity, corruption, human-rights violations and the destruction of institutions.”
“That’s harsh,” I said
“No,” she replied. “He has to be clear about Gloria. He’s either with her or against her.”
“But she is not a candidate for president.”
“All the more reason he has to prove he is not her stunt double.”
“Is there no a middle ground for him?” I asked.
“Sure, there is one. And he’s already there. It’s called limbo.”
AND LIMBO STILL HAS A CHANCE. BETTER THAN BEING IN A PARTY THAT LOOKS LIKE IT'S GOING TO HELL, HIJA.