Palparan gets a new job

My executive assistant, Ricci, told me that while on a weekend visit to our hometown of Hagonoy, Bulacan, his relatives asked him to make sure he has a cedula in his wallet at all times. One time, he was about to leave the house in casual gear that included cargo pants in military green, when his aunt called his attention and asked him to go back and wear something less “combat-looking.” The all-out war against insurgency has reaped psychological effects on our quiet coastal town. The trauma is indelibly written in every creased brow, and pursed lips of our townmates. This is after all the place where UP students, Sherlyn and Karen, disappeared.

Now, General Jovito Palparan has been offered a new job. As deputy for anti-insurgency operations at the National Security Council, he has the all powerful badge of a Palace ID, with a security contingent to rival that of any Cabinet secretary to boot. His acolytes in the military will no doubt rejoice at this bit of good news. The war against insurgency will no longer confine itself to military quarters. As deputy of the NSC, the outgoing general will have access to intelligence funds and the full fleet of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to bring this war to every Filipino’s doorstep and every bureaucrat’s desk.

I have no love lost for the New People’s Army. I wonder at how Ka Roger is able to get away while Karen and Sherlyn remain missing. But, I have a problem comprehending how killing unarmed, aboveground communists and activists would end the idea of communism. I also don’t see why Ricci and all my other townmates need to present “cedulas” to the military to confirm their existence as non-insurgents. I also lament that while thousands of government employees must undergo “rationalization”, a general about to retire is able to get a new position in government without even asking for it.

“Pwede na rin,” the general told the Inquirer when asked to react to his new job offer. This, when thousands of contractual employees in fastfood chains and department stores all over the country wait with bated breath for the renewal of their employment contracts. This, while hundreds and thousands of fresh and not-so-fresh graduates continue to pound the pavement in search for any kind of job. And yes, this, when hundreds of families continue to shed tears over the unexplained disappearance or worse, the cold-blooded assasinations of their loved ones.

There is a sensitivity chip missing in this government’s special hiring scheme. That our top leaders can’t even see this is troublesome. But even more worrisome is how this chess game is being played to make it seem that the queen is winning; but is she? The military must be spared of any other ideology except a firm adherence to the Constitution and the rule of law. When there is conflict between the Constitution and an all-out war against insurgency, then democracy is in grave danger because those conflicted are licensed and trained to bear arms.

I will always stand foursquare behind our soldiers in their duty to preserve the peace and uphold the law. But I cannot turn deaf and blind to pleas for justice from families with missing sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, friends, and neighbors. And I cannot countenance how General Palparan, soon to be Deputy-General of the NSC, continues to mock the Court of Appeals that have summoned him repeatedly to shed light on the disappearances of Karen and Sherlyn. At the very least, the General should appear before the Court. At the very least, government should recognize that appointing the General as a high-ranking security official will make him even more powerful and less accountable than ever before. EO 464, and its reincarnation, MC 108, will make sure of that. But why worry? He’s part of government, isn’t he? And isn’t government there to protect us all?

Author: Susan Ople

Susan "Toots" Ople is the President of the Blas F. Ople Policy and Training Institute. She's an OFW and labor advocate based in the Philippines.

Share This Post On