Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A celebration of the struggle

July 27 is a day of significance and celebration in our nation’s history, not because it is Sona day in Congress. That is the least of things to celebrate and is even less of an occasion of significance as the Sona has become a meaningless drivel of half-truths and pompous delusions of an unelected politician, among others who are best at selling the virtues of their once august body. July 27 only becomes a day of celebration because, six years ago, a group of 321 young officers and men of the AFP courageously marched to Oakwood Premier at the Ayala Center to echo their call for the cleansing of the corruption in the Armed Forces and the investigation of high defense and AFP officials in “false flag” activities dubbed “Operation Greenbase.” The charges hurled by the group, correctly named by Wikipedia as the “Bagong Katipuneros,” have been proven true but continue to remain unsolved.

The Arroyo government created the Feliciano Commission with former Supreme Court Justice Florentino Feliciano as head; joined by Jesuit Joaquin Bernas, UP Prof. Carolina Hernandez, Capt. Roland Narciso and Commodore Rex Robles (ret.) as commissioners. Retired Supreme Court justices are regularly appointed to head such investigations to offer a veneer of impartiality and probity; but invariably, from the time of the Agrava Commission that investigated the Ninoy Aquino assassination down to the Melo Commission on the “extra-judicial killings,” they’ve never been impartial nor imbued with probity. Instead, the heads and some members of each one of those commissions reported regularly to the appointing power. In fact, one of the Feliciano Commission members was even said to have attested that Feliciano himself reported to Gloria Arroyo everyday.

Good thing the conscientious Oakwood protestors have been vindicated time and again by the corruption scandals that have rocked the AFP and the PNP since July 27, 2003, such as the “Gen. Carlos F. Garcia & Sons” graft case, the RSBS’ missing billions, and many others. While the Feliciano Commission did recommend some steps to stem the tide of AFP corruption, the problem has, except for a few years when it laid low, since reemerged with a vengeance, reaching new heights with every challenge to the corrupt regime, such as the military protests of Feb. 2006 and other such occasions. Now that the last election under Gloria Arroyo is about to transpire, AFP and PNP corruption is, as usual, on the rise again. But quite apart from the corruption issue, Chairman Feliciano also apparently skimmed over, with deliberate lack of interest, the investigation of “Operation Greenbase.”

Operation Greenbase is the title of a document outlining instructions and events that included the bombing of mosques to trigger a mass evacuation of Muslim populations from certain areas in Mindanao . The document proved to be very accurate as almost 100 percent of the incidents listed thereat eventually happened. It was in this connection that three young officers who joined the Oakwood protest executed an affidavit, claiming they were given instructions to bomb a mosque, purportedly intended to stir up or exacerbate Muslim-Christian tensions. That being the case, Justice Feliciano is squarely responsible for not having seriously investigated the allegations because Operation Greenbase implied not only mayhem and murder but more grievously, treason. And like the beheading of the ten Marines on July 2007 in Basilan and the recent Mindanao bombings, it seems many Operation Greenbases still abound.

The Oakwood soldiers and officers should be given accolades for their courageous exposés of these evils in the AFP and Philippine society; but instead of being offered “amnesty,” as the bloody Abu Sayyaf brigands even had occasion to be given, they’ve been kept under detention for the past six years, denied rightful bail even after already reverting to civilian status, with Senator Trillanes, elected by 11 million Filipinos, still blocked from attending Senate sessions to carry out his duties as a legitimate senator of the republic, having a mandate that even Gloria Arroyo and her minions cannot deny, much as they want to. Albeit often dramatic, the Oakwood soldiers have persistently used peaceful means of protest to capture the world’s attention, and have always been proven true. Yet they and their families are made to suffer while the corrupt and vile continue to ride high in Gloria’s government.

The July 27 Oakwood anniversary is an occasion to celebrate the struggle that began on May 1, 2001, when hundreds of thousands of poor Filipinos marched from the Edsa Shrine to Malacañang to protest the power grab of Gloria Arroyo and her cronies from big business (who’ve lost no time in accumulating hundreds of billions in profits and privatized state assets), the corrupt trapos, “civil society,” the corrupt clerics in the Catholic hierarchy (who seem to have increased in numbers), and the massively corrupt PNP and AFP top brass—all sponsored by discredited US corporate behemoths like AIG, Mirant et al. Oakwood is also a celebration of President Joseph Estrada’s struggle, the first protestor against the injustice of Edsa Dos, which unleashed Gloria Arroyo and company’s power- and wealth-grabbing frenzy.

Oakwood was a watershed in the anti-Gloria Arroyo movement that now, six years hence, it dominates every facet of the yearning for change and progress of the Filipino people. There should be no doubt that the Oakwood protest was in no small measure inspired by the struggle of President Estrada who has set the example of courage in the face of all odds. In late 2003, there were no apologies yet from Bishop Tobias or Corazon Aquino; no beeline of opposition wannabes toward Estrada’s home for any sort of mea culpa. It was lonely then and I was there.

But then, I was at Oakwood too, only blocked from getting close by a police phalanx. And in the years that followed, I visited the young officers consistently, as I did Estrada. Today, there are more visitors than I can recognize; and it’s good to remember those years when there were only a few of us in the struggle.

(Tune in to 1098AM, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m; Global News Network, Destiny Cable Channel 7, Tuesday, 8:15 p.m. to 9 p.m. and on the TVU Internet Channel 61713 with the FDC on “Sona: Financing Gloria’s Failures;” also visit

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