Changing the topic

Buencamino is a fellow of Action for Economic Reforms. This was published in the August 25, 2010 edition of the Business Mirror, page A6.

Where there’s smoke, there’s mirrors.

On July 30, 2010 President Aquino signed Executive Order No. 1 creating the Truth Commission. Marines commandant Maj. Gen. Juancho Sabban immediately declared that his men would testify about cheating in the 2004 election.

Col. Angel Querubin, the highly decorated soldier charged with trying to overthrow Gloria Arroyo, welcomed the good news. “The statement of General Sabban, that the Marines will cooperate, will snowball…”

All of a sudden Rear Adm. Feliciano Angue, former head of the National Capital Region Command, came out of the cold to reveal that a “group of politicians” offered him money and rank to cheat for them in the 2004 election.

“That’s millions and this has a corresponding statement that you will be given an assignment that you want. That is not a laughing matter,” he said.

Nobody laughed. Instead, media pressed Angue for details. And Angue obliged.

“They wanted me and my command to just let them do their machinations to attain the election results they want. They wanted to assign soldiers as board of election inspectors, assign soldiers and policemen of their choice to specific polling places to carry out their instructions, control the provincial and municipal election officials to submit to their wishes, control the distribution and retrieval of election paraphernalia and electoral personnel, and control the canvassing processes at precincts, municipalities and province wide.”

Angue said he refused and thus paid the price. He was relieved of his command.

“Why is it that one is punished for doing what is right?” he lamented.

And so media asked Angue to identify the crooked politicians. Angue did not oblige.

“Let’s not make any assumptions especially on personalities involved. I have named those involved in my testimony (before the Mayuga board). It may be unfair to others who may be unjustly assumed to be behind the attempt,” he said.

However, he revealed that a certain “Captain Ball” was behind the cheating.

“He was a very influential person. He personally went around totalk to people. He went to see me. He came to see me to give me a dressing down.” He added, “He (Captain Ball) said, ‘If you do not do as I say, then look for the farthest place where you will be banished.’ After the elections there was a threat of physical elimination.”

Media asked Angue to identify Captain Ball. Again Angue did not oblige.

“For now I don’t want to talk about personalities. When I testify (before the Truth Commission) I will reveal who this person is.”

And then it happened, after Angue had media and the public eating out of his hand.

Angue the incorruptible soldier who was going to tell all suddenly changed the topic from cheating to finding fault with the new administration’s goal of righting past wrongs. He alleged that soldiers who supported Aquino shafted him, that he was being punished for maintaining neutrality.

“It’s a reduction from three-star position to two-star. What do you call that? Is it a promotion? Is it a demotion? Is it lateral? They would reduce me to a two-star position so that I cannot claim the third star, that is the case.” He was furious.

He warned that the promotions and assignments system in the military was being ignored and that it could lead to demoralization in the ranks. As expected, a congressman immediately called for a probe “into the sufficiency of rules and regulations for the selection of the Armed Forces of the Philippines for promotion or assignment to major positions.”

Congress will now focus on the alleged injustice done to Angue. Never mind that he was a midnight appointee chosen for a command that would have had him holding the nation’s capital if the plan to “fail” the election succeeded. Gloria Arroyo’s House allies will proceed on the assumption that Gloria appointed Angue NCR commander because of his professionalism and sterling service record. They will feast on the AFP brass, Defense secretary Voltaire Gazmin, and Pres. Aquino. Putting closure to the cheating in 2004 will be left out in the cold. Say bye-bye to Querubin’s snowball.

Well done, Mister Angue.

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