Philippine Commentaries

Read Malaya's daily commentaries on economic and political developments that shape Philippine society. Veteran Filipino journalist Joy C. de los Reyes is the paper's editor-in-chief of Malaya, an independent daily newspaper in the Philippines. To visit Malaya's website, just click the Malaya link below.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Militarism in Bulacan

(This was published Satruday, June 24, 2006)

Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, chief of the 7th Infantry Division, has accused Bulacan Gov. Josie de la Cruz of being uncooperative in his "all-out" war against the communist rebels. It just shows once again how the militarist mind is incapable of grasping the multi-dimensional character of the rebellion.

Leaving aside the morality of killing non-combatants, and considering pragmatic considerations alone, we are sure Palparan, who we understand is retiring this year, will long be remembered as the general who single-handedly provided fuel to the insurgency in Bulacan that was already showing signs of simmering down.

Palparan’s attacks on De la Cruz apparently were triggered by a recent manifesto denouncing the extra-judicial killings of suspected rebels, the intimidation of suspected sympathizers and the food blockades on whole communities in areas where rebels operate.

Heading the list of signatories was De la Cruz. She was joined, moreover, by a virtual who’s who of Bulacan society – representatives to the House, mayors, bishops and civil society leaders. Probably not since the Spanish colonial period has the principalia of this prosperous province banded together to denounce the abuses of the armed organs of the state.

We do not have an intimate knowledge about this province north of Manila. But we have been hearing about De la Cruz and the stories uniformly tell of her single-minded focus on improving agriculture and promoting manufacturing in order to generate jobs and raise incomes.

The provincial government’s investments in physical and human infrastructure are paying off. Business, especially medium and small scale, is booming. Big projects are slower in coming, but this is mainly due to the delay in opening the eastern Central Luzon transport corridor.

De la Cruz and the Bulacan political leaders are by all accounts doing quite well in seeking to eliminate the root causes of insurgency. The efforts perhaps are not as dramatic as shooting suspected rebel leaders in broad daylight. But improving the lot of the people is the only viable way to ending the insurgency.

De la Cruz is an ally of Gloria Arroyo. The governor’s appeals to rein in Palparan, however, have fallen on deaf ears. One more proof the militarists have captured Malacañang.

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