Thursday, September 29, 2016

Mental health and political leaders

Bigkis of the University of the Philippines Manila and other youth organizations launched last Monday the Semicolon Project, which aims to raise awareness on mental health and to push for the passage of legislation on mental health. The Semicolon Project, a global advocacy, also hopes to spread information on counseling services as well as the activities of groups espousing mental health.
Why “Semicolon”? The punctuation mark indicates that the sentence is not ended, that it will continue because there is more. Young people who are fighting depression and have thought of ending their lives need not feel they are alone. And to show that they will bravely forge on and be in solidarity with those who are facing the same challenge, some now sport the semicolon tattoo.
The proposed Mental Health Act is the initiative of the Philippine Psychiatric Association (PPA). It aims to protect the rights of people with mental disorders by establishing an official body that will oversee the policies and programs needed to prevent and treat mental illnesses, and to promote the mental health of Filipinos.
The PPA cites a World Health Organization report that says one in five people worldwide suffers from mental health problems. Sadly, in the Philippines, there are only 0.05 psychiatrists per 100,000 people. Most health insurance companies still do not cover mental-health-related issues, and those who suffer mental illness suffer a stigma as well.
Those with addled brains because of continuous substance abuse are definitely in the mental-disorder category. Although their getting there via drugs was their own decision, there could be other factors (genetic, emotional, psychological) at play. It must be stressed that these factors do not necessarily absolve them, especially if they committed crimes while under the influence.
The other day I watched a TV show with the intriguing title “My brain made me do it.” The question posed was: Can criminals simply attribute their heinous deeds to faulty wiring in the brain?
The Duterte administration’s three-month antidrug campaign is going haywire, if you ask me. Thousands have lost their lives amid cheering on one side and jeering on the other side. The circumstances that led to the deaths vary depending on who is telling the story—shoot-outs with law enforcers, buy-bust operations, extrajudicial killings, etc.
With the body count rising, it begins to look like sending drug users and pushers to the Great Beyond is better—that is, more swift and economical than investing in rehabilitation and reformation of what some refer to as the scum of society (latak, salot ng lipunan).
There are members of the population who are mentally ill through no fault of their own and who are in need of medical intervention. There are also drug addicts who chose the slippery slope that led to perdition and can’t, on their own, get back to where they once were. I know there is little or no sympathy for the latter, but if killing them is the convenient solution (with government approval, tacit or not), what kind of society are we?
But just as alarming is the state of mental health of some of our political leaders. They will not benefit from the semicolon that the Semicolon Project advocates. Maybe they ought to be given the period?
From what we see, hear, observe and read about daily, we can tell that something is going awry hereabouts. You know what I am getting at. Any psychologist, psychotherapist, or psychiatrist can have some idea, based on publicly displayed behavior (speech, body movements, etc.), of the state of a person’s mental health. One need not run a personality test to conclude that a person is out of whack.
Have you been observing anyone who’s regularly out of whack? National figures, celebrities, politicians?  Observe pa more. Do your own profiling.
In our classes on projective techniques and abnormal psychology under the late Fr. Jaime Bulatao, SJ, we were taught to be observant, to listen to what was not said. There is so much more to be gathered outside of the available psychological testing tools. The so-called Freudian slips, the body language, the eye contact, the hidden meanings, the ranting, the raving, the frothing in the mouth. My background in behavioral science has served me well in my writing career.
When Sen. Antonio Trillanes used the words “mass murderer” to refer to President Duterte, Sen. Richard Gordon who chairs the Senate justice committee reacted: “Harsh words such as ‘mass murderer’ are uncalled for. That is reserved for Hitler, … for Stalin, … for the president of Cambodia, Pol Pot.” Let’s just say that “kill” seems to be Mr. Duterte’s favorite word.
As for world leaders,  the progressive magazine Mother Jones came out last year with a report, “The CIA’s Secret Psychological Profiles of Dictators and World Leaders Are Amazing” by Dave Gilson, with the subtitle “Psychoanalyzing strongmen, from Castro to Saddam.” The subjects of “remote profiling” were Vladimir Putin, Adolf Hitler, Ho Chi Minh, Nikita Krushchev, Fidel Castro, Menachem Begin, Anwar Sadat, Moammar Qaddafi, Saddam Hussein and Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
In the case of Hitler, the Office of Strategic Services, the CIA’s predecessor, commissioned the Harvard Psychological Clinic to evaluate him. Mother Jones’ Gilson wrote that the 240-page assessment described Hitler as an insecure, impotent, masochistic and suicidal neurotic who saw himself as “the destroyer of an antiquated Hebraic Christian superego… Sexually he is a full-fledged masochist … his old acquaintances say that he is incapable of consummating the sexual act in a normal fashion.”
The profile gave eight possible ends for the Fuhrer, suicide among them.
Neurosis, sexual impotence, paranoia, depression—these were some conditions that bedeviled these world leaders and their hapless subjects.#

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Martial law massacres

Philippine Daily Inquirer/OPINION/by Ma. Ceres P. Doyo

The vigilance and defiance of a people against a despot won in the end. Those who fell in the night did not die in vain. Tyrannical rule, abuse of power and unprecedented plunder committed against a nation forced to its knees shall not see a repeat.

On the 44th anniversary of the declaration of martial law that threw the Philippines into darkness for 14 years (1972-1986), it behooves us to remember, remind and revisit, to vow to ourselves and shout to tyrants, NEVER AGAIN!

Not all of the victims of Ferdinand Marcos’ dictatorship were chosen individuals only, pursued, picked out and punished unjustly and severely. The despot’s iron hand had a grasp so big it could crush groups and communities in one bloody swoop.

Massacres they were called. In the 1980s, I was part of a book project that documented the excesses of the Marcos dictatorship. The book was “Pumipiglas: Political Detention and Military Atrocities in the Philippines, 1981-1982” initiated by the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines. This was the second of the Pumipiglas series.

Going over it conjured up places, faces and events. I saw a number of photographs I had taken myself, recognized words I had written myself. No bylines, no photo credits for us—it was better that way, at that time.

Here are excerpts from the chapter on massacres.

Guinayangan, Quezon. Feb. 1, 1981. While the government was fussing over the so-called “lifting” of martial law and the coming of Pope John Paul II, the peasants in five towns of Quezon province were astir. The coconut farmers’ grievances had piled and wanted to air them. They marched from different directions. As a group of farmers neared the Guinayangan plaza, the military opened fire. Two people died and 27 were wounded.

Pulilan, Bulacan. June 21, 1982. In a dimly lit house in barangay Balatong, Pulilan, Bulacan, a group of six sat huddled together. The six were peasant organizers discussing and assessing their work… Suddenly a window burst open to reveal 25 to 35 uniformed military men with firearms. Five of the peasants were taken by elements of the 175th PC Company. The sixth was able to slip away. The military men took their captives with them and drove off to Pulo in San Rafael town some 20 km away. By midnight, five corpses lay at the municipal hall of San Rafael. All were riddled with bullets.

Daet, Camarines Norte. June 14, 1982. People from several barrios marched with streamers denouncing the “fake elections” and Cocofed and to demand increase in copra prices. As the marchers moved forward, the soldiers opened fire. After the smoke cleared four marchers lay dead and at least 50 were injured. Two of the seriously wounded died two months later.

Las Navas, Samar. Sept. 18, 1981. Residents of Barrio Sag-od were awakened by gunfire. Armed security men of the San Jose Timber Corp. who were also members of the Civilian Home Defense Force (CHDF) ordered residents to come out of their homes. These men were allied with the so-called Lost Command, a paramilitary group pursuing insurgents. Suddenly, there was gunfire that lasted more than 15 minutes. When it was over, 45 men, women and children lay dead.

Culasi, Antique. Dec. 19, 1981. More than 400 residents of Culasi’s mountain barangays held a rally to raise two issues: their complaint against a new PC company in their place, and the reduction of taxes on farm products. Despite the warnings, the marchers pushed on. While on the bridge, the soldiers opened fire. Five farmers were instantly killed and several were injured.

Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur. May 25, 1982. Airplanes dropped bombs on Barangay Dimalinao. Three died and eight were injured. The bombing was seen as military reprisal against the community because communist rebels killed a soldier two days earlier. Two men from the community were picked up days later and killed. Some months later, the residence of Bayog’s parish priest, a Jesuit, was strafed with bullets. He had written letters protesting the torture and harassment of Subanon who were suspected to be supporters of armed communists.

Labo, Camarines Norte. June 23, 1982. Five men who had just finished constructing the 45th Infantry Battalion’s Mabilo detachment were gunned down by soldiers of this army unit. It was to avenge the death of a friend of one of the soldiers in the hands of unidentified gunmen.

Tudela, Misamis Occ. Aug. 24, 1981. The Gumapons, a Subanon family, were asleep in their house in Sitio Gitason, Barrio Lampasan, in Tudela when paramilitary members of the so-called Rock Christ, a fanatical pseudo-religious sect, strafed their houses. Of the 12 persons in the house, 10 were killed, an infant among them.

Hinunangan, Southern Leyte. March 23, 1982. Eight people were killed in Masaymon, a barrio in Hinunangan. Six of the eight victims were 3-18 years of age. The grieving mother identified the perpetrators as troopers of the 357th PC company.

Talugtog, Nueva Ecija. Jan. 3, 1982. Five men in their twenties were last seen being rounded up by military elements at around 7 p.m. Their corpses were found the next day. The military had suspected them to be communist supporters.

Dumingag, Zamboanga del Sur. Feb. 12, 1982. Members of the notorious Ilaga, a terrorist cult known for cannibalism and who also served as CHDF members, killed 12 persons to avenge the death of their leader who was reportedly killed by the New People’s Army. There is no more space for two more massacres in Roxas, Zamboanga del Norte, and Gapan, Nueva Ecija.

Not to be forgotten is the massacre in Escalante, Negros Occ., on Sept. 20, 1985. On the eve of the 13th anniversary of the imposition of martial law, hundreds of sugar workers, farmers, fishermen and students marched in protest. The Regional Special Defense Force and CHDF members fired on the crowd. Twenty marchers were killed and scores were injured. Read more: http://opinion.inquirer.net/97552/martial-law-massacres#ixzz4Kz7KVA5Y Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Nanlabán, patay

Philippine Daily Inquirer/OPINION/by Ma. Ceres P. Doyo

As soon as you switch on the television to watch the news in Filipino, the word you hear again and again and again is “patay” (dead). The word comes as different parts of speech (noun, verb, etc.) and in different tenses and conjugations-pinatay, pinapatay, pumatay, pumapatay, napatay. Drug-related, of course.

The other word of the season is “nanlabán” (fought back). Filipino grammarians should be able to explain why “lumaban” (also translated as “fought back”) is not as precise as nanlabán (accent on the last syllable, pronounced mabilis). If a diacritical mark (tuldik) were to be used, it would have a pahilis on the last syllable-thusnanlabán. (Remember malumay, malumi/paiwà, mabilis/pahilís and maragsa/pakupyâ in Balarila class.)

Nanlabán does not seem to have an exact equivalent in other Filipino languages and dialects. What they have is the simple equivalent of lumaban (pronounced malumay). In Hiligaynon or Ilonggo, it is nagbatò.

Nanlabán, if at all it was meant to sound more onomatopoeic than lumaban, means to fight back, and fight back with defiance. The mabilis/pahilís sound gives it a defiant streak. But Balarila aside, the word patay that should evoke solemn thoughts and feelings—for the dead that deserve respect no matter what they were before their souls left their bodies—now has a criminal connotation. That is, in the news.

The word patay that is being used nowadays especially in news reports, means “corpses”—lifeless bodies and cadavers strewn about on sidewalks, grassy fields, dark alleys, even inside homes and hovels. Some died while allegedly shooting back at their pursuers (nanlabán), others were summarily killed, their corpses wrapped in garbage bags, fastened with packing tape and completed with a warning scrawled on a piece of cardboard: “Pusher, huwag tularan.”

Didn’t PNP Chief Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa say something about allowing the pursued to fight back? “Kung ayaw lumaban, palabanin.” If the pursued does not fight back, make him fight back. Defiance justifies a bullet.

I used to get irritated when, with aplomb, newscasters would shout out loud the day’s headlines and (with imaginary drums rolling) exclaim: “PAT-AY!” As in “Batang nasagasaan ng tren, PAT-AY!” As if it were a cause for rejoicing. I’m not saying they should sound elegiac, but even with the volume lowered you can tell by the look on the newscasters’ faces and the tautness on their necks that they are shouting. Now there is really no need for them to shout “PAT-AY!” Because “patay” is the new normal.

President Duterte’s war on drugs has drawn strong reactions here and abroad because of the rising number of corpses since he took office two-and-a-half months ago. The number has hit the 3,000 mark. No need to describe here the gruesome details, only to say that the deaths have been classified according to how the 3,000 or so met their gruesome end. Drug bust, extrajudicial, shoot-out, vigilante-style—name it. What, no suicide?

Three days ago, Inquirer Opinion ran an open letter to President Duterte from three commissioners of the Global Commission on Drug Policy (http://www.globalcommissionondrugs.org/to-the-president-of-the-philippines/), Fernando Cardoso, former president of Brazil; Louise Arbour, former UN high commissioner for human rights, Canada; and Sir Richard Branson, entrepreneur, founder of the Virgin Group. The letter is now circulating on the internet.

The Global Commission on Drug Policy was established in 2010 by political leaders, cultural figures and globally influential personalities to contribute to the world debate on drug policy. It aims at bringing to the international level an informed, science-based discussion about humane and effective ways to reduce the harm caused by drugs to people and societies.

The commission has 23 members, including eight former heads of state. It advocates an open international dialogue on issues related to drugs, and on the negative impact of the current international control regime on health, human rights and development. It calls on broadening the debate on drugs and drug policy beyond just drug trafficking and organized crime. In their letter, the commissioners pointed out to the President that his strategy that had already been used in Thailand failed to reduce drug trafficking there. They pointed out the marked successes in harm and crime reduction in countries that employed alternative strategies.

“Mr. President, we believe that your current strategy also constitutes an unwinnable war, at a terrible cost to your population. It is not a question of choosing between human rights and the safety of your people, as you have claimed, but the means employed to address crime must not result in further crimes against individuals whose conduct often causes very little harm…

“An effective drug policy is far more complex than you portray it, and should include investments in drug prevention and treatment, harm reduction, public health, socioeconomic development, criminal justice reform, as well as security. “These measures will help address the root causes of drug use and drug trafficking, and not only respect the needs and rights of all individuals, but will also be far more effective long-term than the brutal approach which you currently favor.”

With Mr. Duterte’s let-it-be stance on drug convict Mary Jane Veloso, who is on death row in Indonesia, he could not—for the life of him—suddenly be a bleeding-heart President begging Indonesian President Widodo to spare her life. Mary Jane had been found guilty of smuggling 2.6 kilograms of heroin. The Velosos who, on cue, had rudely lambasted then President Benigno Aquino III—who, to be fair, did all he could to stay Mary Jane’s hanging—are now pleading for help from the new President who counts corpses at breakfast.

No, he did not plead for her, President Duterte announced, minus the usual expletives. #

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Q & A with Sr. Mary John Mananzan, documenting Philippine church history from the viewpoint of the 'vanquished'

Global Sisters Report/ Q & A/ by Ma. Ceres P. Doyo

There is no dearth of information on how colonial history unfolded in the Philippines and how Christianity was implanted, making the Philippines the only country in Asia with a majority Christian population for centuries until East Timor became independent from Indonesia more than a decade ago.

But these historical facts were written about by the conquistadores during the early years of conquest, and in Spanish at that. And because history is most often written from the point of view of the victors or the colonizers, the stories of and about the vanquished or the colonized are not included in official history. And if the stories are written at all, they remain in the archives, there to gather dust for centuries.

Approximately two decades ago, Benedictine Sr. Mary John Mananzan got a grant to do research on the history of the Roman Catholic church in the Philippines from the people's perspective. The grant enabled her to do archival research in the Archivo General de Indias, the Valladolid archives and the national library in Spain as well as the Archivo General de Nación in Mexico. The result is Mananzan's fifth book, Shadows of Light: Philippine Church History Under Spain, A People's Perspective, which was published in July.

Mananzan belongs to the Benedictine Missionary Sisters founded in Germany. She is a feminist theologian and the founder and executive director of the Institute of Women's Studies of St. Scholastica's College, where she served as president for six years. She is now co-chair of the Office of Women and Gender Concerns of the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines.

A much-sought-after speaker on issues related to women, gender, theology and history, Mananzan continues to be in the forefront of the feminist movement in the Philippines. But despite her busy schedule, she finds time to play Candy Crush, solve Sudoku puzzles and take in a movie or two.

GSR: You said you did research for this book decades ago. Why did it get published only now?

Mananzan: I wasn't sure of myself then because of the presence of big historians like Jesuit Frs. John Schumacher and Horacio de la Costa. Also, because it was typewritten, my only copy was lost for 10 years. We found it only last year.

What can this book contribute to our appreciation/understanding of our Catholic faith as introduced by the Spanish colonizers?

I think it will help us understand why we have what Jesuit Fr. Jaime Bulatao calls 'split-level Christianity.' It is also why we are steeped in the kumpare [patronage] system, the lusot [getting away with it] mentality, our colonial mentality, and our chronic failure in being a church of the poor. It will help us appreciate the efforts of the early missionaries in spite of the mistakes and abuses of both the secular and religious authorities at that time.
Left, cover artwork; Right, illustration of the babaylan (priestess-healer), who were suppressed when Christianity was introduced to the Philippines in 1521. (Illustration by Ziggy Perlas / photos by Ma. Ceres P. Doyo)

What can missionaries learn from this experience? Filipinos are now missionaries themselves in foreign lands.

First of all, we should have a profound respect for the culture of the people and not demonize it. These days, we should not use the direct conversion method, which amounts to proselytizing, but just share the person of Christ and his teachings without too much dogmatic and moralistic preaching.

Why the title? What do you mean by 'people's perspective'?

'Shadows of Light' — the light is Christianity and the shadows are the negative aspects of Christianity being introduced in the context of colonization. 'A people's perspective' means that I tried to see the events from the point of view of the people who were colonized rather than from the colonizer's perspective. So I included the resistance of the people to conversion in many parts of the islands. I discussed the oppressive policies like forced labor, discrimination of the native clergy, domestication of the mujer indigena [the native women]. I also discussed the injustice of the colonization itself and the abuses of the religious congregations, such as land-grabbing and persecution of the babaylans [the priestesses and healers].

Is the subject of history ever final or closed? Or does the retelling and interpretation change depending on who tells it at a certain juncture of history?

I think history is not a photo of a reality, but a choice of what one considers significant. So it will always be an interpretation according to the perspective of the author. Many things happen simultaneously at any given time in history, but one has to choose what one considers significant. Men, for example, most often focus on wars, conflicts, etc., so they write about these things more than other events, and their heroes are, of course, soldiers, warriors, etc. Women would include culture, daily lives of people, etc. Those in power, the victors and colonial masters, would focus on their victories and their successes. People will dwell on their oppression, their sufferings and the injustice they experience.

You saved the best for the last chapter: the topic of mujer indigena, the native woman, her status in society in the pre-Spanish era, during and after. As a feminist theologian and historian, are you hopeful that the negative imprints of history on Filipino women will dissipate?

I think it is already happening. We insist that our feminism is not a copy of the West's but is the recalling of our dangerous, subversive memory of our original equality. We have to acknowledge the gains that have been made by our women's movement: the awakening of gender consciousness as shown by our many laws favoring women, our government's Gender and Development budget, the recent Commission on Higher Education memo mandating all tertiary educational institutions to mainstream gender. We have to acknowledge the militancy and effectiveness of our women's organizations in championing the causes of women: victims of rape or human trafficking, etc. Of course, we still have a long way to go, but we have gone quite far, I think.

What is it about our indigenous pagan heritage as Filipino women that we must take back, own, appreciate and live out?

We have to take back our original gender equality, which stems from our foreparents' lack of the concept of a virginity cult, which therefore made them treat boys and girls equally and not overprotect the girls. Dignity cannot be equated with virginity. We have to take back our status as spiritual leaders of our community, like the babaylans who were the main religious practitioners mediating our relationship with the spirit world. We have to take back our foremothers' active role not only in the home, but in society and in commerce.

Should it worry the church if Filipino women try to go back to our roots? Don't the women, in fact, become richer for it?

No, the church should, in fact, work on getting rid of its patriarchal values and structures. It will then become a more compassionate, more Christ-like church. And maybe by reclaiming what we have lost, we will contribute to this endeavor of de-patriarchalizing our church. In the book, I noted with emphasis that the Filipina has somehow retained the subversive, dangerous memory of her original equality.

For religious women and men, especially those in charge of formation, how can this book help in understanding Filipino spirituality?

Well, I hope it will help them understand the lack of integration of faith and action and endeavor to arrive at a congruence of our faith and our life. I hope it will help in understanding the mistakes of the past and moving on to make our church a real church of the poor and, as Pope Francis expresses it, a church that heals wounds and warms the hearts of people.

Pope Francis is creating a commission that will study the role of women deacons (Phoebe, for example) in the early church. Does this augur well for church women? Does it matter what the findings will be?

I think it is Pope Francis' way of really trying to give women an equal status in the church, but since the whole of tradition is blocking him, this is the best he can do. It's like what we say: consuelo de bobo [small consolation]. Give him credit for trying.

[Ma. Ceres P. Doyo is a journalist in the Philippines. She writes features, special reports and a regular column, Human Face, for the Philippine Daily Inquirer.]

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Marcos 'war medals' exposed, questioned (conclusion)

Philippine Daily Inquirer/OPINION/Ma. Ceres P. Doyo

Because of the outcry of tens of thousands of victims of the Marcos dictatorship over Pres. Duterte’s plan to bury in the Libingan ng mga Bayani the corpse of president-dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. who died in Hawaii in 1989, I serialized here, in four parts, “The Other Version of FM’s War Exploits”  by Bonifacio Gillego published in WE Forum in November 1982.  The piece had caused the raid and closure of WE Forum and the arrest of editor Jose Burgos Jr. and staff. (Read footnote below.)

 The mayor of Natividad, Pangasinan, Alfredo Balingao, reported to the 14th Infantry that on or about November 18, 1944, a certain Hay Hunt of Lapham's guerilla unit questioned the presence of Marcos in the area and interrogated Marcos.

It was on the recommendation of Lino Patajo, Marcos' law classmate, that Marcos joined the 14th Infantry, not the 212st of Major Barnett, some of whose members were out to avenge the pre-war killing of Nalundasan who defeated Marcos’ father in the congressional election.

Marcos left Natividad, Pangasinan on December 7, 1944 and arrived at regimental headquarters of the 14th Infantry on December 20, 1944. He was accompanied by an aide and bodyguard by the name of Isidro Ventura.

At this point, Rivera confirmed Manriquez's statement that Marcos was confined to staff work as S-5 in charge of civil affairs. At no time was he ever given any patrol or combat assignment during his service with the 14th Infantry. Marcos sought transfer to USAFIP NL headquarters on April 28, 1945, he left for Camp Spencer on a Piper Cub with Helen McQuade, an American missionary who was ill at the time. Marcos took the seat of Mrs. Romulo A. Manriquez.

To the best of his knowledge, Rivera concluded, the 14th Infantry never cited Marcos for any award or decoration. He suspected that Marcos obtained those awards under false pretenses by affidavits executed after the war or forged statements. He would not at all be surprised, he said, because sometime in March 1947, Marcos approached him to sign an affidavit claiming that the 14th Infantry commandeered carabaos and cattle from the Marcos ranch, if ever there was one in Nueva Vizcaya. He turned down the request.

Even Col. R. W. Volckmann, in his “After Battle Report, USAFIP NIL” dated November 10, 1945, made no mention of Marcos at all.

Almost two years after the government shut down WE Forum, sequestered its printing plant and equipment and confiscated three new vehicles on Dec. 10, 1982, publisher Jose Burgos, Jr. was technically still under house arrest, along with columnists Armando Malay, Francisco Rodrigo, Salvador Roxas Gonzales, Ernesto Rodriguez, Jr., and staffers Crispin Martinez, Teddy Cecilio, Edward Burgos, Angel Tronqued and Teodoro Burgos. Still pending were the subversion case against Burgos and the WE Forum and a P4-million libel suit against Burgos filed by Jose Salindong, Venancio Duque and Brig. Gen. Sinforoso L. Duque in behalf of other war veterans who felt maligned by the newspaper's series questioning the authenticity of Pres. Marcos' war medals.

The subversion case was filed with the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City; the libel case with the Manila City Fiscal's office.

For the series on Marcos’ war medals, Burgos et al. were charged with plotting to overthrow the government. The charge stated:

“That on or about November 1982 and for sometime prior thereto, in Quezon City and elsewhere in the Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of the Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring together, confederating with and mutually helping each other, being then officers and/or ranking leaders of subversive organizations, did, then and there, knowingly wilfully and feloniously, and by overt acts and/or covert acts, continue and remain officers and/or ranking leaders of the Movement for a Free Philippines (MFP), April 6 Liberation Movement (U.S.-based), April 6 Movement (locally based), Light a Fire Movement (LFM) and the Communist Party of the Philippines until their arrest on December 7, 1982, save those who were newly included in this third Amended Information for the purpose of overthrowing the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and/or removing from the allegiance to said Government or its laws, the territory of the Philippines or any part thereof, with the open or covert assistance or support of a foreign power or the open or covert assistance or support from a foreign source of any association, organization, political party, group or person, public and private by force violence, terrorism, arson, assassination, deceit or any other illegal means as in fact the above-named accused, together with the other officers and leaders of said subversive organizations have taken up arms against the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and in furtherance thereof, did, then and there, feloniously, unlawfully and knowingly have in their possession voluminous subversive materials and publications which incite people to publicly rise up in arms in order to pave the way, for the destabilization and the eventual overthrow of the government by means of force, violence, deceit, arson and other illegal means through the WE Forum, a local publication stationed in Quezon City, print, publish and circulate false derogatory and libelous stories and articles designed to subvert and undermine the people's confidence in duly constituted authorities; and possess printing machines and other printing parapharnelia for the printing of subversive and the Communist Party of the Philippines’ propaganda materials.”

Included among the accused was Sen. Benigno S. Aquino, Jr., as shown in the Third Amended Information dated July 6, 1983, and former Manila Times publisher Joaquin “Chino” Roces.

The libel suit never prospered beyond the preliminary investigations, prompting lawyers to comment that the prosecution never seriously meant to pursue the defendants to a jail sentence. Instead, the lawyers opined, “This was a case of stopping the WE Forum from publishing, period.” The prescribed one-year period for a libel suit expired.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Marcos 'war medals' exposed, questioned (3)

Philippine Daily Inquirer/OPINION/by Ma. Ceres P. Doyo

Because of the outcry of tens of thousands of victims of the Marcos dictatorship over President Duterte’s plan to bury in the Libingan ng mga Bayani the corpse of former president-dictator Ferdinand Marcos who died in Hawaii in 1989, I am serializing the piece “The Other Version of FM’s War Exploits” by Bonifacio Gillego published in WE Forum in November 1982. It was written for a major US newspaper but publication was withheld because of Marcos’ state visit. The long piece caused the raid and closure of WE Forum and the arrest of editor Jose Burgos Jr. and staff. Gillego, a former soldier and member of the 1971 Constitutional Convention, was in exile in the United States and working with the Movement for a Free Philippines when he researched his piece. He became a congressman after 1986 People Power toppled the Marcos dictatorship. Gillego died in 2002. His name is etched on the Wall of Remembrance of the Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City.

Capt. Vicente L. Rivera, a lawyer who has also a master’s degree in psychology from the University of Michigan, is now a respected leader of the Filipino-American community in Detroit. He served the 14th Infantry in various positions as S-1, S-2 and S-4, and subsequently as Executive Officer of the 2nd Battalion. When the USAFIP NL incorporated itself as a veterans organization to assist the widows and orphans of the members of the unit, he served as its National Adjutant (1961-1964). As chairman of the Awards and Decorations Committee of the USAFIP NL Inc., he said he had not come across any item or citation recommending Marcos for awards. Captain Rivera, a recipient of American and Philippine awards truly deserved, has written his memoirs and from there he culled the events relevant to this writer’s request regarding the Marcos awards. ADVERTISEMENT On March 17, 1945, the day Marcos allegedly held at bay singlehandedly an enemy patrol that attacked the RCP for which he received a Distinguished Conduct Star (per G.O. No. 157, GHQ, AFP, December 20, 1963), Rivera was S-4 of the 14th Infantry. As S-4, he was also the commanding officer of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, hence he was in charge of the security of regimental headquarters. There was no attack against the RCP on that day. What happened on that day as recorded in his memoirs was this: Marcos was designated OD (Officer of the Day). Before he left for duty around the perimeter of the RCP, he asked for food. Sgt. Sofronio La Rosa killed a small chicken, roasted it and gave half to Marcos. At about three in the morning, they were awakened by bursts of fire obviously from a Thompson submachine gun. Personnel headquarters took cover in a nearby creek while Maj. Arturo Dingcong, Executive Officer of the 14th Infantry, was sent to investigate the firing. Upon his return, Dingcong reported that it was Marcos who did the firing. Marcos fired at the rustling leaves thinking that Japanese snipers were lurking behind them! The only other incident, Rivera recalled, when Marcos fired his gun was when he was issued his Thompson submachine gun to test it. As S-4, Rivera received 300 guns from the Americans (Dec. 28, 1944 to Jan. 4, 1945) in Toyak, Mountain Province. As to the Gold Cross Medal received by Marcos for allegedly sighting Japanese troops in well-camouflaged trucks a kilometer away from the RCP and engaging them in a firefight that forced them to withdraw, Rivera said that geography is the best evidence against this preposterous claim of Marcos. Panupdupan is very far from the road, he said. It takes half a day by foot to reach it. As to the Silver Star Marcos received for the Battle of Hapid, Rivera said that Marcos never participated in this battle nor in any battle for that matter in Kiangan. In the first place, he said, the 14th Infantry did not have an engineering company which Marcos allegedly commanded together with a combat company that reinforced the beleaguered 2nd Battalion at the Hapid airfield. Rivera said that he should know because at that time he was already the Executive Officer of the 2nd Battalion under the command of Maj. Zosimo Paredes. To his recollection, the Battle of Hapid lasted 11 days from March 25 to April 4, 1945. They had all together 268 officers and men who fought courageously against the Japanese forces driven from the Balite Pass by General Swift of the 25th Division of the US Army. The 2nd Battalion had to withdraw eventually for lack of food and ammunition after sustaining a number of casualties. Marcos was nowhere in the vicinity of Hapid all the days that he was supposed to have engaged the Japanese in hand-to-hand combat. Neither was Marcos in or near the vicinity of Bessang Pass as the battle there was fought from May 22 to June 15, 1945. At that time Marcos was already in the relative safety of USAFIP NL headquarters in Camp Spencer, Luna, La Union. The companies of the 14th Infantry that participated in the Battle of Bessang Pass with other units of the USAFIP NL were Company E under Lt. Benito Miranda, Company I under Lt. Panfilo P. Fernandez and Company M under Lt. Teofilo Allas. Rivera remembered some of their casualties, among others: Ismael Reyes, Felix Solon and a certain Francisco. On the circumstances that led to Marcos joining the 14th infantry, Rivera had this to say: They knew of the presence of Marcos in the vicinity of Burgos, Natividad, Pangasinan. With Narciso Ramos, who became Secretary of Foreign Affairs under Marcos, and former Congressman Cipriano S. Allas, Marcos organized his Maharlika unit with but a few members, not the 8,300 he claimed for backpay purposes. Marcos was on his way to La Union to inquire into circumstances surrounding the death of his father, Mariano Marcos. (Concluded next week)