CHICAGO (jGLi) – “I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period, I spent most of my time as a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers.
“In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in.
“I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912.
“I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903.
“In China in 1927, I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.”
This quote from the talk last Sunday, Oct. 21, at the public forum, “Living the Social Gospel Today” at the Philippine American Ecumenical Church in Chicago, Illinois at the 40th anniversary observance of Philippine martial law by Filipino American author and theologian, Dr. Eleazar Fernandez, was a direct quote from Major Gen. Smedley Darlington Butler, an outspoken critic of military adventurism and at the time of his death the most decorated Marine in U.S. history – for being one of 19 men to receive the Medal of Honor twice.
General Butler, who saw action in the Philippines during the Philippine-American War, appears to be the poster boy of trigger-happy Philippine military, among them soldiers of the 27th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army led by Lt. Col. Noel Alexis Bravo.
Karapatan, the Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights based in Quezon City, Philippines, said it was the soldiers of Colonel Bravo, who strafed the house of an indigenous B’laan tribal leader, Dagil Capion, on Oct. 18 at 6 a.m., killing Dagil’s wife, Juvy, who was two-month pregnant, and their two sons, Jorge “Pap,” 13, and Jan-Jan, 7, in Fayahlob, Sitio Datal-Alyong, Danlag Village, Tampakan, South Cotabato.
Both Dagil and his daughter, Vicky, 5, were wounded.
In order to lure Dagil to give up, the soldiers brought the bodies of Juvy and her sons outside the house. Juvy was a member of Kalgad, a local Lumad organization, which is opposing the Xstrata’s Sagittarius Mines, Inc. (SMI) in Tampakan. Dagil, as B’laan tribal leader, is likewise opposing SMI for exploiting the rich gold and copper deposits in Tampakan.
AQUINO SHOULD FORM INDEPENDENT FACT-FINDING PROBE TEAM
President Noynoy Aquino should immediately order the formation of an independent fact-finding and investigation team composed of human rights groups, the Church, local government, the Commission on Human Rights to look into the massacre.
The military should stop the labeling and targeting of human rights defenders as “members of front organizations of the communists” and “enemies of the state.” It seems the rebels could no longer match the firepower of the military and the military should just take defensive position.
The Philippine government should withdraw its counterinsurgency program, Oplan Bayanihan, which victimizes innocent and unarmed civilians.
As a signatory to the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other major Human Rights instruments, the Philippines should protect, not violate, the human rights of the Filipino people.
If the large-scale mining of Xstrata’s Sagittarius Mines, Inc. is straying into the tribal property, President Aquino should cancel the mining permit just as the American government has granted American Indian Natives their own reservations.
The massacre of the Capions does not appear to be isolated. In my home region of Bikol, elements of the 49th Infantry Battalion are also being accused in the killing of Barangay Captain Merlyn Bernas last Aug.7 at Barangay Malaya, Labo, Camarines Norte. Bernas was tagged as a member of the New People’s Army. Bernas, however, had the support of her constituents, who turned out in full force to denounce the military for the killing Bernas during Bernas’ funeral procession.
In Bulan, Sorsogon, soldiers from 8th Scout Ranger led by 2nd Lt. Jay Maravilla under the 31st Infantry Battalion also shot and killed on July 17, 2012 a coconut farmer they suspected as NPA member. The killing was announced on local radio by 31st IB Commander, Lt. Col. Judy Torribio.
DISBAND DEATH SQUADS
On the other hand, on April 30, 2012, soldiers from the 9th Infantry Battalion also shot and killed Jovic Estrellado in Gubat, Sorsogon. A PFC Jordan Enconada earlier approached Estrellado to withdraw his case against some members of 9th IB.
President Aquino should dismantle the Peace and Development Team (PDT) that is used as cover as the Army’s Death Squads.
These extra-judicial killings should be stopped and the killers should be punished. If these military men cannot stop the killings under their watch, they should be re-assigned and be re-trained to be sensitive to human rights procedures before they are given new assignments.
Aquino should never use the military to support what Dr. Fernandez calls “corporate greed” that was denounced by General Butler, who called the U.S. military as “gangster of capitalism.”
Dr. Fernandez said, “When your interest is not of the people, you need the military to protect yourself against the people.
“Protection of the interest of the few leads to repression of the many. This is what the predatory global market does. It goes against the interest of the people. It is anti-democratic and what is at stake here is our democratic life.”
President Aquino should justify reports that his government has informed the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland last May that “there is armed rebellion in the Philippines that gives him an excuse to use the military to fight the rebels.” He should also countermand the Executive Order No. 546 signed by his mother.
And he should go back to the stalled peace talk with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front and come up with agreement that will bring about lasting peace.
If he can pull off this agreement with the left, Mr. Aquino will be the first Philippine president to have entered two major peace agreements with rebels within his term of office following the framework agreement his government signed with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front two weeks ago. (firstname.lastname@example.org)