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A soldier’s journey

by Echo Park Community Coalition (EPCC) Sunday, Feb. 21, 2010 at 11:44 AM
epccla02@yahoo.com 818-749-0272 1740 W. Temple St. Los Angeles, Ca 90026

As we celebrate the 24th anniversary of the first people power revolution, a historical event which saw the collective power of the Filipino people, permit me to share with you the reflections of a military man, a member of the uniformed service whose institution has been seen more as the enemy of the people, a source of corruption and a protector of a privileged few instead of being the defender of the people. Let me share some of my thoughts on this significant event which inspired me and has led me to a journey of arduous yet just and necessary struggles; a journey marked by persecution and incarceration.

EPCC NEWS
February 20, 2010

A soldier’s journey
By Danilo 'Danny' Lim


Los Angeles —( Note: The EPCC NEWS posted an article of detained General Danilo Lim, Philippine Army who is currently detained in the Philippines.)

As we celebrate the 24th anniversary of the first people power revolution, a historical event which saw the collective power of the Filipino people, permit me to share with you the reflections of a military man, a member of the uniformed service whose institution has been seen more as the enemy of the people, a source of corruption and a protector of a privileged few instead of being the defender of the people.

Let me share some of my thoughts on this significant event which inspired me and has led me to a journey of arduous yet just and necessary struggles; a journey marked by persecution and incarceration.

There was a time when I was like the rest—free. Free to create one’s own meaningful life, free to pursue a respectable and decent career and free to commit to becoming a responsible citizen of this country.

Promises

These things, trivial to others, are some of the elementary promises of the first Edsa uprising, a people’s celebration of democracy to create more democracy and a collective deed to reclaim and realize our dreams, which were taken from us by decades of tyranny.

Yet, like many of my fellow Filipinos, my pursuit of these worthy aspirations has been impaired by patent transgressions that denigrate the human spirit to hope and aspire for necessary change.

Appalling

The pervasiveness of the corruption in the government where I served my whole professional life as its dutiful soldier is so appalling that even the most patient and uncomplaining of us will be moved to acts of revolt.

Certainly, I could have minded my own business even as the promises of Edsa were abandoned and its opportunities squandered. After all, I am part of an institution whose reputation has been tarnished because it rewards those who remain quiet and uncaring.

Partly to blame

However, I realize that if I did nothing to contribute in rectifying the injustice and the plunder, I am partly to blame for the unfulfilled promises of Edsa and for condoning, or worse, for being an accessory to their unlawful and immoral acts.

And so, I made this journey.

However, after four post-Edsa administrations, it seems my journey has led me not in the realization of our aspirations but here, back to a cell in Camp Crame, contemplating yet again, a future in which I will no longer be wearing the uniform of an officer belonging to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

I have often wondered why I wore the uniform and all its symbols. I have met, face-to-face, people who have disgraced their uniforms and yet profited from it.

I have met others who have forgotten the principles of duty and honor in the race to be promoted. I have stood shoulder to shoulder with men and women willing to use the people in AFP uniforms to further political gains.

Yet, I continued to be a soldier.

I saw cadets trained and taught with values expected in the military profession. I trained some of them myself. And it was with sorrow that I saw many of them flounder, wondering why the virtues ingrained in them at training could come to naught.

Unjust status quo

I saw the AFP used as an instrument to maintain an unjust status quo. I saw the various corners of my country, places where the only government that was felt or seen was the soldier. I saw the faces of poverty and neglect and I was compelled, as the only symbol of my country’s government, to help.

These experiences are not unique to me. My men and other people have seen it, too. They could be police officers, firemen, engineers, medics, financial advisers, mediators, bankers and yes, even midwives in places where there was no hope of institutional help.

Land grabbers

We are with the katutubo (indigenous people) when they are displaced by land grabbers. We are with the starving farmers, helpless in their quest for land. We are there, too, when the forest rangers try to stop illegal loggers.

I have seen the country I have sworn to defend ravaged. I continue to see it despoiled and my people ignored. I have seen the rise of warlords, aided and abetted by the hunger for power. I have seen all that and felt helpless.

The stories were unchanging—widespread poverty and ignorance, corrupt politicians, conscienceless oligarchs. And in the middle of all this was the AFP, keeping the stories alive and doing very little to change it.

Even the smallest hope of change was tainted and it all came to a head finally, with the elections of 2004.

Garci tapes, Crame

We are often told that as members of the uniformed service our only role during the electoral process is to cast our votes. I agree with this unquestioningly. But when the vote I cast is tampered with, especially by fellow members of the military as confirmed by the “Garci Tapes,” then that injunction no longer holds.

Those tapes led me back to Crame. Those tapes led me back to reflect on the promises of the first people power revolt and the subsequent Edsas. And so, together with the people, the journey for truth and justice continues.

I will not always be here [in the brig]. The gates will open soon and though I will no longer be a soldier, I will be back seeing things with the same eyes, still defending my country, but with a different rank.

The ethos of Edsa must not fail.

**************

Danilo “Danny” Lim, a brigadier general, is in his fourth year of detention for allegedly leading a military uprising against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in February 2006. He took part in the 1989 coup against the Aquino administration. He is running for senator in the May elections
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