MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/20 July) – What is Senator Antonio Trillanes IV up to? I’m referring to the military mutiny leader turned senator’s statement that retired Major General Jovito Palparan was only following orders from his superiors and thus could not be held answerable for the charges filed against him.
Palparan, now a fugitive from law after his heyday as the law himself ended with the exit of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, is facing charges of kidnapping and serious illegal detention of two University of the Philippines students. With his reputation as “The Butcher,” one can only shudder at the thought of what he was capable of doing inside the muted cells of military camps during those times that he played God over the lives of several activists.
It’s not only that Trillanes, supposedly an intelligent man with a bias for decency, has sort of departed from the ideals which he articulated from behind the posh walls of Oakwood Hotel. It’s also that he has lost touch with reason, caused perhaps by the virus called opportunism that may have found a willing host in him. What a waste if he could not win the vote of his former comrades in arms and their families; they could be pivotal in a close contest.
But back to his statement, it’s a pity that Trillanes played dumb when he said that Palparan “only did his job.” If that’s the case, Himmler and the other Nazi war criminals should have been acquitted by the Nuremberg tribunal since they were just following Hitler’s order to prosecute the “Final Solution.” But no, the tribunal ruled that an immoral, illegal order need not be obeyed.
Trillanes played dumber when he asked: “If what he (Palparan) did was illegal, why wasn’t he reprimanded by his superiors?” What we have here is a lawmaker who seems to suggest that kidnapping and serious illegal detention – and God knows what else – may be allowed if done in the name of national security. He was saying in effect that these acts are part of the military’s job functions.
Just doing his job. The least that can be said about this flimsy excuse is that some military officers must have sworn to a different code of conduct, one that leads to coldblooded predisposition and an amoral outlook.
Just following orders. Himmler and his peers just followed Hitler’s orders, and six million Jews paid the ultimate price for their blind obedience (although I believe it was shared lunacy that led to the genocide). Palparan followed presumed orders, and the next thing we knew is that several deaths and “disappearances” were blamed on him.
But I doubt if Palparan was just a submissive subordinate kowtowing to a higher authority. It looked like he was cold Teflon when it comes to dealing with activists and suspected “enemies of the state.” Such tack produced results, no matter how embarrassing before the international community that his superiors either patted him on the back (like Arroyo did) or pretended to know nothing.
Meanwhile, as the Aquino administration enters its third year the killings and “disappearances” have remained unsolved. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. H. Marcos C. Mordeno can be reached at email@example.com)