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Volume 3,  Number 26               August 3 - 9, 2003            Quezon City, Philippines


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AFP Officers Who Crossed the Bridge

Last July 27, nearly 300 soldiers, including 70 junior officers, staged a mutiny in Makati, declaring withdrawal of support from the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ chain of command and demanding the resignation of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, AFP chief Angelo Reyes and Intelligence chief Victor Corpus. The military rebels are not however the first officers of the AFP to do so. In fact, Corpus himself gained fame for defying the military establishment in the 1970s — just like the mutineers. He was among those who left the AFP and crossed over to the other side. Others were: AFP Inspector General Danilo Vizmanos, Lt. Crispin Tagamolila, and Gen. Raymundo Jarque.


Victor Corpus

Corpus was a cadet at the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) when he was first exposed to politics.

It was the late 1960s. Demonstrations were rocking the country, and their influence was seeping through the walls of even the PMA, a school that should expectedly be one of the last—if ever—to be influenced by any wave of protest politics.

At the PMA, Corpus led in forming a Social Studies Club, which devoted itself to discussions on social issues. Later on, he and his friends found a way to coordinate and cooperate with activists at the University of the Philippines, with whom he and other PMA cadets influenced by progressive politics participated in teach-ins and even demonstrations.

He graduated from the PMA with honors, and got himself assigned to the Philippine Constabulary.

Shortly before the declaration of martial law, Corpus joined the New People’s Army (NPA). He would return to the fold of the military in 1976 through a staged capture.

Corpus was granted amnesty by Corazon Aquino in 1986, after his release from prison. He was also reinstated into the AFP.

In the late 1980s, he blew the whistle on the destabilization attempts by the Honasan clique against the Aquino administration. Honasan and other military rebel leaders had tried to enlist him in their plots.

He also wrote a book called “Silent War,” which contains suggestions on how to defeat the revolutionary movement.

Aside from this, he was rarely heard of until 2001, when Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo appointed him chief of the Intelligence Service of the AFP or ISAFP.

Danilo Vizmanos

It is said that former navy captain Danilo Vizmanos is the first military official to go over to the other side of the political fence.

Vizmanos takes pride in having descended from fighters of the 1896 Revolution. According to him, these forebears of his influenced him in a progressive manner.

After the Second World War, he enrolled at the US Merchant Marine Academy, where National Security Adviser Roilo Golez also studied. He graduated in December 1950.

He took part in anti-insurgency operations of the AFP and was later assigned as aide-decamp to the flag officer in command of the navy. He was even sent to Vietnam to check on the Philippine Civic action group, the contribution of the Philippines to the Vietnam War. He became a navy captain in 1971.

As he went up the military ladder, Vizmanos saw the rampant corruption in the Philippine Navy—something which, incidentally, one of the leaders of the siege in Makati wrote about in two research papers as a masteral student of public administration in UP. Together with the intrigues among high-ranking officials, this brought him to disillusionment and led him to view the military establishment through an increasingly critical eye. He was also influenced by the views of nationalist statesman Claro M. Recto.

In 1971, as a student of the National Defense College, he wrote a thesis criticizing RP-US relations and proposing the establishment of diplomatic ties with China, then under the leadership of communist revolutionary Mao Zedong. A journalist friend published an article about his thesis in an afternoon newspaper. He was subsequently subjected to harassment by his superiors. This increased his disillusionment.

In the last months of his military career, Vizmanos frequently spoke in demonstrations, fora and teach-ins against RP-US relations and the Marcos regime. When martial law was declared, he immediately filed his retirement papers.

But martial law did not let him off the hook. He was arrested and heavily tortured.

He is now a main figure of the Samahan ng mga ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at para sa Amnestiya. He continues to be critical of RP-US relations, and is one of the fiercest critics of US-led wars against “terrorism.”

Crispin Tagamolila

A brother of Antonio Tagamolila, who was president of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines in the 1960s, Crispin Tagamolila is one of the martyrs and one of the most revered figures of the armed revolutionary movement.

He graduated from the PMA and was a lieutenant when he defected to the NPA on March 29, 1971. As an NPA guerilla, he became known by the nom de guerre Kumander Cely. He was based in Isabela.

The masses whom he was able to get in touch with remember him for his highly affectionate attitude toward them. He was ever ready to help them, always open to learning from their experiences.

People who got to be with both he and Corpus compared them to each other; in their eyes, Tagamolila stood infinitely taller because unlike Corpus, they say, he was never arrogant and dictatorial in his behavior toward comrades and the masses. He never imposed on comrades and the masses the extremely rigid military “discipline,” which they say Corpus was wont to do.

Tagamolila was killed in an ambush in Isabela on April 1, 1972.

Raymundo Jarque

Raymundo Jarque was at the center of the counter-insurgency operations in Negros in the 1980s.

In 1995, he defected to the NPA due to disenchantment with the government he had served for many years. He showed genuine sincerity and was welcomed into the fold of the underground Left. Jarque apologized to the masses whose lives and properties he destroyed during his years as chief implementor of Oplan Thunderbolt and other military operations that ravaged Negros in the 80s.

When his defection was announced, the military establishment and the public were, to say the least, astounded. He was then already a brigadier general—so far the highest military official to defect to the revolutionary movement.

Later, he would help in the peace negotiations between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and the government.

Commonalities, differences

Corpus, Vizmanos, Tagamolila, and Jarque were all military officials when they went over to the other side. There are commonalities and differences among them.

Corpus is now back in the military, actively fighting his former comrades who now revile him.

Tagamolila is hailed as a hero of the underground.

Vizmanos said he has never regretted leaving the Navy and joining the people’s movement.

Jarque, though back in mainstream society, appears to have no intention of ever going back to the military fold or that he regrets crossing the bridge. Bulatlat.com

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