By BGen. Danny Lim
Before the Filipino people, the raison d’etre for its existence, the Armed Forces of the Philippines is currently in a state of disgrace. This alienation is the price soldiers pay for the Original Sin committed by their senior officers, Esperon and his rogue accomplices, who allowed themselves to be “used” and in the process unconscionably got the institution involved in the massive electoral fraud in 2004.
Like Adam and Eve who were unable to resist the crafty snake’s temptation and ate from the Tree of Knowledge, Esperon and his self-aggrandizement group succumbed to the offers of immoral political leaders and helped themselves to the “tree of Garci.” But unlike the Garden of Eden’s original sin, Esperon’s partakes of a mortal character, not merely venial. It was a grievous criminal offense when he and his gang knowingly and willfully violated our election laws and thwarted the people’s sovereign political mandate. And being mortal, such stain cannot be cleansed by Baptismal waters alone. The sin can only be forgiven and the soldier reconciled with his people through a sincere Act of Contrition and the corresponding Acts of Penance.
To be redeemed from its complete separation from the Filipino people, for a start, the military needs to be honest with itself and be truthful to the country it has sworn to serve. The AFP needs to come out of it with a clean breast by admitting the fault, dealing with it squarely and helping initiate moves that would task those responsible to account for their illegal acts. Unfortunately, it is like wishing for the moon at this time; even a watered down version of the Mayuga Report has yet to be made public.
Meantime, a chasm of sinfulness and damnation continue to define the military’s relationship with the Filipino people and its estranged sons and daughters continue to suffer from the stigma of Esperon’s shameless act. Innocent soldiers continue to suffer and pay for the original crime. Some who stood up to be counted for the side of truth and justice ended up in detention and continue to languish in their cells to this day. Add to this the cases of involuntary disappearances, tortures, abuses, etc and you multiply and magnify the gulf between soldiers and civilians.
From accounts in the book of Genesis, Adam and Eve were driven out of the Garden of Eden and condemned to perpetual harsh existence where they can only “eat bread from the sweat of their faces.” The serpent’s punishment, “on your belly you will go, and dust you will eat all the days of your life.” No such treatment for Esperon, his rotten crew and the big Anaconda, no matter how well they deserve it. The crooks in uniform were, to a man, amply rewarded for their “invaluable services” with promotions, incentives (including financial) and other perks. They’ve got it made! Their brows need no longer sweat. They were banished to paradise (juicy positions) after retirement. The political serpent is not crawling on its belly. It continues to lord it over the garden and abuse its hapless and downtrodden residents.
Only when the men in uniform and the Filipino people unite and act as one can the Biblical story rooted in crime and punishment come to full realization.