“We need hundreds of Heneral Lunas.”
By DEE AYROSO
MANILA – A Cordilleran indigenous peoples group is calling on future top military officials who will be graduating from the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) to take the side of the impoverished majority, and “to truly serve the people and country with courage, integrity and loyalty.”
“Ask yourselves, which side are you on? Should you defend the status quo, which breeds oppression, exploitation and poverty, or take a stand for system change that breaks the chains of oppression and exploitation which is the correct path in truly serving the people and country?” said Windel Bolinget, chairperson of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA).
The PMA, which is located in Baguio City in the Cordillera Autonomous Region, is the country’s “West Point,” the prime military school from where the future top brass of the military and police come. PMA graduates receive the rank of 2nd lieutenant, or its equivalent in other branches of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The PMA graduation is tomorrow, March 13.
In the CPA statement, Bolinget advised the young military officers to study the ills of society and the role of the military. The police and military have a long record of human rights violations, as well as corruption among top-ranking officials, he said.
“As the State armed machinery, the military is being used as investment defense forces for big mining and energy projects and to quell people’s resistance against these projects. The case of the SAF 44 with 14 Igorots who perished in Maguindanao is a clear example of negligence by the President, the Commander-in-Chief who truly serves the few ruling elite,” Bolinget said.
Bolinget said military men should learn from Filipino revolutionary heroes, such as Antonio Luna, a pharmacist by training who became a general in the Katipunan during the Filipino-American War. Luna’s military genius was cut short when he was brutally killed by other Katipuneros, reportedly upon orders from Emilio Aguinaldo, under whose leadership the revolutionary movement lost to the Americans.
“Be like Heneral Antonio Luna, a patriot and nationalist. His love for freedom is exemplary. He despised the local bureaucrats in their attempts to collaborate with the invading power just to maintain the status quo. He did not rely on foreign powers for the liberation of the Filipino people, instead he relied on the people to join the war against the Americans,” Bolinget said.
In contrast, he said the Philippine government had stayed dependent on the U.S. military power thru onerous defense agreements, the latest of which is the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca). Yet, the country remains defenseless in the face of Chinese occupation of Philippine territories in the West Philippine Sea.
“We need hundreds of Heneral Lunas,” Bolinget said.
In recent history, several PMA graduates “crossed the fence,” and joined the revolutionary New People’s Army (NPA). One of them, Lt. Crispin Tagamolila, became known as “Ka Cely” in the underground movement. He was killed in an encounter in Isabela in 1972. A secret society of enlightened officers and men of the AFP was named after him, the Lt. Crispin Tagamolila Movement.
“There are always two sides in society, the oppressed and the oppressor. We ask you to side with the oppressed and not be an instrument of the oppressors. Side with the tormented and not with the tormentors. Side with the people and not with the enemies of the people,” Bolinget said.