Three Musketeers

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

OF THE Three Musketeers in the uniformed service, two of them are free, and one is in effective captivity.

Members of the military are watching how the government is treating former general Palparan in his detention. The crimes attributed to him are part of routine work and special operations by the military establishment.

Militant groups accused him of human rights violations and kidnapping. He is detained at the Bulacan provincial jail where he feared for his safety and security. A blood thirsty crowd nearly lynched him last Monday.


A sniper fire can easily kill the ex-musketeer while going to and fro the courthouse. If not, a determined squad of dissidents with high powered weapons can make a suicidal attack while overpowering his jail guards. President Noy’s advisers warned against the political consequences in exposing Palparan to clear and imminent danger at the Bulacan jail.

Neutralizing student activists, abducting and terminating enemies of the state so-called, as well as the kidnapping and torture of dissidents and suspect communist rebels were standard operating procedures in the past administration.

Palparan’s counterpart in the civilian government is Davao City Mayor Duterte. Like the former general Duterte has been accused of exterminating undesirable elements in his city including drug and human traffickers, thieves, kidnap for ransom gangs and rice hoarders. The mayor has reaped adulation for his extrajudicial record in swift and deadly justice on criminals. Why is Duterte applauded and admired for his handling of lawbreakers while Palparan was denounced and condemned for similar violations of human rights? his sympathizers asked.

Most high performing military generals whose assignment took them to NPA-influenced or controlled areas had their share of Palparan’s mission in a calibrated scale. He had the misfortune of being used as the living symbol – branded as the butcher- of the army’s special operations against the enemies of democracy. The disappearance – and presumed death- of two women UP students in Bulacan was the relentless fuel that kept the butcher’s issue alive. The students and the militant voices with their rallying cries against Palparan made him super notorious. An object of hatred by families of victims, soldiers look up to him as a hero.

Philippine Military Academy cadets and young soldiers who are studying the extraordinary exploits of Palparan in anti-insurgency work must be having an emotional moment in how the country’s judicial system and its penology will treat a bemedalled army officer in his captivity. There was a time when another former general turned senator Panfilo Lacson thrilled the PMA cadets and police officers with his ability to escape capture through military-style camouflage and dexterous subterfuge. He is still a cadet’s idol for his techniques in evasion. If Lacson serves as a role model in how to avoid capture by his dissembling, former colonel turned senator Gregoro Honasan is the cadets’ model as an escape artist and the master of camouflage.

Palparan was specially cited – and the Congress focused attention on him- for exemplary and remarkable performance in counter insurgency. He was the only army general that was bestowed honours by a President in a state of the nation address.

Critics of President Noy maliciously suggested that the general was already in government custody before his capture was “staged.”

His famished and ghostly appearance belies the false accusation. If he was under “custody” indeed, he would have enjoyed basic nourishment and personal hygiene. As he had appeared after his capture the malnourished ex-general must have suffered starvation. An “akyat bahay” who has not eaten in many days looks better and well fed than the famous “butcher” of the AFP.

According to their elders, PMA and PNPA students have lost a notorious model in drawing and executing an “order of battle” in the countryside. All are watching how P-Noy is treating their kind.

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on August 20, 2014.


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