There is nothing so shocking about the revelation in the Mayuga report that army’s high ranking officers were involved in election cheating in 2004 which made GMA winner over her rival, movie king, Fernando Poe Jr. We are too numb of soldiers’ treachery to even care.
Election cheating involving the army and the PNP, is one of those nasty exploits our uniformed men routinely perform, aside from murder, kidnapping, car-napping and bank robbery, and “coup d’etat’s.”
During the American occupation of the island from 1898 up to 1946, it has put up a colonial army with the purpose of annihilating the resistance of the Filipinos and to frustrate their nationalist spirit. After the army, the Americans also put up the Philippine Constabulary. PC was widely known as the first “Federal Bureau” created by the U.S. overseas for the same purpose as the colonial army – douse any attempt of the Filipinos to assert their sovereignty under the guise of “pacification campaign” or under the broader umbrella of “benevolent assimilation”. (Translation: rounding up those who still oppose the colonial power, put them in jail or simply kill them).
The Philippine Constabulary was the precursor of the Philippine National Police. Both the Army and the PC during colonial times, served as security apparatus to quell resistance of the Filipinos which are oftentimes brutal, and police agents, corrupt! After the Americans left in 1946, these security apparatus were taken over by the Filipinos, who used these agencies for the same purpose, police the populace and instill in them fear for their leaders and their warlords and in the process the police officers become more powerful and corrupt.
Let me find some historical footnotes in support by summoning one of my favorite historians, Alfred W. McCoy:
“During its first three years in the Philippine Islands (1898-1901) the U.S. Army combined combat operations, innovative policing, and civil reform to crush the Filipino revolutionary army, creating an occupation government that it bequeathed to its civilian successor and thereby casting the new colonial state in its coercive mold”. ( Policing America’s Empire, p. 27).
“At the high tide of empire, the U.S. colonial police shaped the Philippine polity, creating an interlocking regime of vice prohibition and paramilitary policing whose effects is still evident more than a half century after independence. Since police were central to the colonial regime, the succeeding Philippine Republic inherited a state apparatus reliant on formal and informal police powers. Above all, the American colonial regime, by creating the constabulary as a political and paramilitary force, embedded a powerful security apparatus within the Philippine executive that has been employed by almost every Filipino president from Quezon in 1936 to Arroyo in 2006. Moreover, the covert doctrines developed under U.S. rule persisted inside the Philippines Constabulary and its successor, the Philippine National Police, allowing state control over a volatile society through clandestine methods such as surveillance, infiltration, disinformation and assassination.” (ibid, p. 36).
“The Philippines Constabulary (PC) was an almost accidental creation born of a brutal colonial pacification that could not succeed without an adapted force of Filipino soldiers under American leadership. As the fighting shifted from conventional combat to counterinsurgency, the U.S. Army discovered the utility of native troops and Filipinos to serve as guides and interpreters.”
x x x
“Of equal import, the state’s reliance on police repression has prompted periodic mass protests, from the nationalist demonstrations of 1911 through the student marches of 1971 and the two “people power” uprising of February 1986 and January 2001. As a direct result of the countries long colonial experience, police have played a defining role in shaping the character of Philippine polity and the conduct of its politicians.” (ibid, p. 37).
In the early days of the republic, police and army recruits were former guerillas and bandits and tragically, there is no difference between the two. After WW II, the guerillas who have not etched their niche in the new republic became cattle rustlers and hijackers of cargo buses in the highways. Later, when opportunity came, they were recruited as policemen and became uniformed “private armies” of the provincial warlords.
Newer police and army professionals fare no better than their earlier counterparts because under Mr. Marcos, these policemen and soldiers became the “muscle” of martial law to enforce obedience to his one-man rule and punish those who dissent. Thus, the country saw uniformed officers committing the very crimes they were supposed to prevent during Marcos and long after he was gone. We can rattle off statistics like the murder of Senator Benigno Aquino; the murder of Congressman Crisologo; the Lean Alejandro murder; Rolando Olalia murder, Dacer-Curbito murders; Kuratong-Baleleng rubout; and the various coup d’etat’s, bank robberies, kidnapping, car-napping, and “election rigging.”
In his other book, Closer Than Brother, Mr. McCoy wrote:
“The torture cell was a play which has a larger play. Inside the safe house, Filipino interrogators acted out their script before the victim, their audience of one. If the plot through twists and turns, ended with the victim’s death, then the interrogators discarded the mangled remains in a public place, a roadside or field, to be seen by passersby. Such displays, called “salvaging” in Filipino-English, became the larger play that made the road or plaza, indeed all of public space a proscenium of terror”. (p. 191).
Philippine politicians depend on uniformed officers to preserve their hold on power so they can continue exploiting their people and the resources of the country. Where politicians become more vulnerable because of thievery, the police or the army which by now are highly politicized, and also very corrupt, would mediate in the transition of power by coup or through a more subtle process of announcing their withdrawal of support to their politicians. EDSA I and EDSA II were the results of these uniformed men mediating the process of power shift. EDSA III did not materialize because GMA was able to neutralize these men in uniforms who could be recipients of a large cache of money from their commander in chief; or that the group that tried to oust her were seen purely as ERAP diehards and thus had failed to generate a political crisis that requires the “mediation” of these soldiers who flaunt that they are the “protector of the people.”
We must see our politicians and their uniformed cohorts from their true colors. Here is again Mr. McCoy, (Anarchy of Families):
“While profits from this smuggling racket—useful for meeting vote-buying and other election related expenses, or recyclable through real estate investments strengthened Montano’s political and economic position in Cavite, they also pitted him against the powerful forces in the national arena. By 1964, the volume of blue—seal cigarettes smuggled into the country was estimated by government sources to be averaging seventy thousand case a month. With fifty cartoons in a case, and each carton worth at least ten pesos, by conservative estimates, this racket comprised an economy of well over four hundred million pesos a year, an empire that no one provincial politico could hope to claim for himself. Moreover, a combination of the continued availability of foreign cigarettes and the low quality of locally grown leaf spelled the death of the heavily subsidized, Ilocos-based infant tobacco industry. By 1964, the Philippine Virginia Tobacco Administration (PVTA) – the government’s corrupt tobacco monopoly agency – was effectively bankrupt, having incurred well over three hundred million pesos in debts to the Central Bank, and millions of pesos worth of unmarketable low-quality tobacco were rotting away in PVTA bodegas. Parties with vested interest in the tobacco industry’s survival began to fight for the destruction of the Cavite-centered smuggling empire.
x x x
Marcos-inspired schemes to undermine Montano’s position in Cavite were soon under way, beginning with an effort to eliminate the veteran legislator’s role as “protector” of Lino Bocalan’s Tanza-based smuggling operations. In September 1966, Congressman Floro Crisologo of Ilocos Sur, a Nacionalista and member of the tobacco bloc, suddenly came forth on behalf of five enlisted men from the PC’s Civil Affairs Office (CAO) who had been caught escorting Bocalan’s sister through an anti-smuggling checkpoint in Cavite. Crisologo claimed that the CAO men were in fact military intelligence agents assisting him in his capacity as a member of the House Committee on National Defense. Later he unveiled documents purportedly compiled by these CAO “agents” including an alleged “blue book”, which listed the names of civilian and military officials involved in the smuggling operations. Congressman Montano and his son the governor appeared at the top of the list. Also named were congressmen and provincial of the neighboring Laguna and Batangas, as well as military officers up and members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines hierarchy, from the 137th PC Company in Cavite to the office of the secretary of national defense. The Montano’s countercharges that Crisologo and the CAO agents claiming to represent Marcos were blackmailing Bocalan to bypass the provincial kingpin and deal directly with Malacanang.
Marcos carrot-and-stick courtship of Bocalan proceeded, with Malacanang threatening then rewarding the notorious smuggling lord. A government suit against Bocalan for undeclared 1964-1965 income taxes dragged on in the courts with no apparent resolution. Then in July 1968, customs at Manila International Airport prevented Bocalan’s lawyer from leaving Manila for Hongkong when they discovered that he was carrying $100,000 in cash. After the attorney produced a special communication from the Central Bank stating that no restrictions on such carry-on currency schemes applied, Customs Commissioner Juan Ponce Enrile allowed him to leave. Thus Marcos made clear to Bocalan that “business as usual” depended on direct relations with Malacanang, rendering Montano’s services as broker redundant. (ibid, pp. 141-142).