Method To Madness

The general

As told to Patricia Evangelista

I was a soldier, not by choice but by circumstances.


My father was a soldier. I really wanted to be a lawyer. When I was in Leyte, it was the lawyers who became politicians. Maybe at that time I already have a liking for leadership, because I appreciated this one powerful politician. He was campaigning in our barrio, and he had followers, and he was in charge, and people listened to him. So as a young, very young boy, Grade 1, Grade 2, I admired him. People listened to him.

You want to be listened to, you want to be heard. That’s why I admired him for that. And I thought that, yes, I want to be a lawyer. I didn’t really think of being a politician that did not easily come into my mind. As a young boy, you just appreciate, admire some people. Not necessarily the career, but the person. How they carry themselves. With him, you just knew.


My mother said that if you want to go into law, then you take another course which has a pre-law that you can make use of if you don’t finish law. I took up accounting. I took up ROTC in order to be a diversion from my studies, because I didn’t like my course. It was a very lonely course, you’re counting figures. So to have fun, I took up ROTC. For young people, you have to have some group.

I found out that I had some leadership skills. That was my inspiration to get through my studies. I could talk to a number of people and they would listen, you know, and do what I wanted, do what I desired. Initially I was a model cadet in the ROTC. I enjoyed that because you know, when you’re young, you like ceremonies also.

As a model cadet you have to follow orders very seriously. I was good at following orders. You have to, because in order to be a leader, you have to be a good follower. So I wanted to become an ROTC officer, so I had to be a good follower.

Maybe I was 18 at the time. My leadership was more of inspirational. I like to inspire people, instead of forcing people to do something. Because there were those who followed strict leadership, which is dictatorial, authoritative, I didn’t like that. I opted to be inspirational or persuasive. People seemed to like you with that. If you are good to them, you’ll have a lot of people volunteering to come into your company and leaving others. And so, upon finding that skill, I proceeded to become an officer.

First you establish your relationship with friendly gestures. And then you now lay down your policy. Then of course they would start behaving sometimes quite indifferent because when you set a policy, when you set rules, usually there are reactions. It’s normal, because people don’t want to be tied up, you know. They don’t want to be told, you know. So there will be reactions. So you remove the threat by your gesture of being friendly. And so, it is easy for them to follow you because they don’t want to break your relationship. In that way you are inspirational. They don’t want to offend you, because you are a friend.

When you side with the government, then the military is a very, let’s say, is a good option. I was already in the military when martial law was declared. I finished my training already in May, June, July, December, October, October, October – I think during martial law I was undergoing training.

We didn’t have much of an idea about martial law at that time, but we just thought that maybe it was necessary because, according to what we heard and read, the country was in peril by rebels both communist as well as Muslim, that it was an emergency that should be declared to avert destruction and the takeover of the government by illegal forces.


I was engaged in the Muslim rebellion in Sulu and Basilan, and I think I did a little better than others because I stayed longer than many of us. Before GMA (Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) I was already against – I was running after the NPA already.

Communism being already a discredited ideology and a violent ideology has got to vanish. It should not exist. It should not exist. Meaning it was wrong to conceptualize that ideology. Whether it’s socialist or Marxist or Mao’s, they’re all the same, you know. The difference is only in the people implementing the ideology.

I do not like mostly the, well, the whole of it. The violence as well as the government system.

It’s easy to distinguish a communist. They believe in a one-party rule, and then they follow a set of beliefs that cannot be questioned. So there’s no freedom, in other words. But the real communist according to Karl Marx as written, is that it will give us total freedom, total freedom and state of utopia, but that is impossible. But that’s what they are promoting you know, paradise. You are talking of an extreme situation where everything is free, then you can do just what you want and people do not resist you because they like it. It’s really impossible! There’s just got to be rule.

In this country, a left-wing politician is the same as a communist. I could really say that it’s just the same. There are some, some differences perhaps. You can tell by the body language. Moderate communism or what we call the leftist is just an introduction to the real communism, meaning, it is being developed. Maybe he believes that he cannot be involved. He doesn’t like communism, he’s just trying to be a catalyst. Just trying to have change, reform, but then, he could be eaten by the system he joins in.

Those who claim to be for labor, for press freedom, I would like to say that these are deceptions.

I personally think I succeeded in my military career. I contributed to the country. I was successful, but I feel that I ran out of time. If I had more time, I could have done more.

* * *

Tagged as “The Butcher,” retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan is blamed for the killings in Mindoro Island, Eastern Visayas and Central Luzon. He once said the tag has helped in his congressional campaign. Human rights organizations as well as the United Nations have demanded that he be investigated. Even the Arroyo-created Melo Commission also found Palparan liable for the killings in Central Luzon.

On July 7, after five years of campaigning by the mothers of Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño, the former congressman appeared before the Department of Justice to face accusations of rape, serious physical injuries, arbitrary detention, maltreatment of prisoners, grave threats, grave coercion, and torture, among other charges, against the University of the Philippines students.

Palparan calls the accusations an effort to embarrass the Armed Forces, the military and himself. He has done his duty, and the country is a better place for it.

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TAGS: communism, Communist rebels, Military, Patricia Evangelista, Soldier
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