Sunday, October 03, 2004

The Oakwood affair again

The Oakwood affair again

Updated 00:57am (Mla time) Oct 03, 2004
By Isagani Cruz
Inquirer News Service

Editor's Note: Published on page A14 of the October 3, 2004 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

IN APOLOGIZING for the Oakwood mutiny last year, its leaders who were so brave and even arrogant before have confessed to their crime of plotting to usurp the legitimate government of the Philippines and replace it with their own brand of military adventurism. After a few days of swagger, during which they impressed not a few sympathizers and malcontents dissatisfied with the present regime, they meekly surrendered to the lawful authorities and were placed under detention to face prosecution for their rebellion.

Many people praised them for their idealism in resisting the irregularities being committed in the Armed Forces of the Philippines to which they belonged, and the failure of their superior officers to cleanse the institution of its widespread venalities. They claimed they had even complained of their disenchantment to the President as their commander in chief but to no avail. Even the Feliciano Commission, which was later created to investigate their aborted uprising, recognized the reasons for their discontent while at the same time reproving them for their methods in trying to solve it.

The apology expressed by the junior officers elicited general approbation, particularly from the top officials of the country led by President Macapagal-Arroyo herself, who said she felt no rancor against them although it was her government they sought to destroy. Others said it was a good ending for the unfortunate affair. There was a discordant note from the counsel of the accused young men who asked why, if the apology had already been accepted, his clients were still under detention.

I for one am not impressed by the apology and do not share in the jubilation. To answer that confused counsel, his clients are still in the stockade because they have not yet been acquitted nor have the charges against them been withdrawn by the government.

And, of course, they cannot be pardoned at this time because a pardon can be extended by the President only after the conviction of the accused. That is what the Oakwood rebels are looking forward to, which is the real reason for their contrition at this time.

There is no question that they will be convicted of the court martial charges; their public and voluntary confession of being guilty of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman has seen to that beyond the whisper of a doubt. Such offense carries with it a heavy penalty in imprisonment as well as the end of the life career for which they have prepared themselves and the future they could reasonably expect if they had not allowed themselves to be misled by their advisers. These advisers have conveniently absented themselves from the sordid affair that has enmeshed their believing pupils even as they themselves are enjoying undeserved liberty.

The Oakwood mutineers are no longer the young idealists they were a year ago. Now they have become hard-nosed pragmatists, a little wounded and scarred, to be sure, but definitely much wiser and practical now, like those safer in the higher line of command. They have realized that there is not much point in holding fast to their principles when they can do this only in the confinement of their prison cells while the military superiors they have denounced continue to savor their ill-gotten gains and enjoy their still honored names.

An accompanying report in this paper described the financial difficulties of the rebels, who have not received their salaries for more than a year since they mounted their their armed challenge to the government. As military men, they should have known the basic rule that an army marches on its stomach. They had funds for their insignia and arm bands and their hotel accommodations and that caricature of a Philippine flag to identify their illicit group, but they did not have the foresight to provide for the needs of their families. Did they expect to seize the National Treasury and its empty coffers?

I am almost done with these reflections about this serio-comic exploit of the future generals of our country except to ask this remaining significant question: Who was their leader? The Philippine Revolution of 1896 was led by young and courageous activists, but none of the Oakwood mutineers had their vision and energy, not to mention courage. As for their general, he would remain secret until his hirelings will have succeeded, when he would then conveniently step forward as their Leader. Who was this clever segurista?

Former Secretary Joey Lina of the Department of Interior and Local Government was sure it was then Sen. Gregorio Honasan, but the experienced coup d'etat leader during the administration of President Aquino has not been touched so far. He questioned his investigation by the Department of Justice but was not sustained by the Supreme Court. That investigation, however, has produced no results so far. Perhaps Lina can testify against Honasan in that probe so we can determine what role, if any, the respondent former senator played in that unfortunate Oakwood affair. The public has a right to know who was the prime culprit of that pathetic exploit gone kaput.


Post a Comment

<< Home