JOVITO PALPARAN, JR.
I did not plan to be a soldier. I wanted to be a lawyer. I admired lawyers who became politicians. Maybe at that time I already had a liking of leadership, because I appreciated this one powerful politician when I was in Leyte with my grandmother. He was in his youth, I think, he was campaigning in our barrio, and he had followers. He was in charge, you know, and people listened to him. So as a young, very young boy, Grade 1, Grade 2, six, seven, I just thought that he was decent, and yet he was very friendly. People listened to him, you know.
That’s one thing. People listened to him. You want to be listened to; you want to be heard. That’s why I admired him. I thought that, yes, I think I want to be a lawyer. Maybe I thought of politics, but it did not come easily to my mind. As a young boy, you just appreciate, admire some people. Not necessarily the career. The person. How he carries himself. How you see him and you’re already impressed.
My mother said that if you want to go into law, then you take another course that you can make use of if you don’t finish law. I took up accounting. It was a very lonely course; you’re counting figures. I took up ROTC, joined the reserved officers training, to have a diversion from my studies. For young people, you have to have some group. Instead of fraternities, for me it was the ROTC.
Initially I was a model cadet in the ROTC. I enjoyed that because you know, when you’re young, you like ceremonies. As a model cadet you have to follow orders very seriously.
Initially I was a model cadet in the ROTC. I enjoyed that because you know, when you’re young, you like ceremonies. As a model cadet you have to follow orders very seriously. You have to, because in order to be a leader, you have to be a good follower. I wanted to become an ROTC officer so I knew I should be a good follower. Maybe I was eighteen.
I found out that I had some leadership skills, traits. And so I tried to be good at that. I could talk to a number of people and they would listen, you know, and do what I wanted, do what I desired. My leadership was more inspirational. I like to inspire people, instead of forcing people to do something. Because there were those whose leadership was strict, dictatorial, authoritative. I didn’t like that. I opted to be inspirational or persuasive. 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—and people seemed to like you with that—I proceeded to become an officer.
As a leader or a commander, you have a group of people that would be under your control somehow. On times that you have to get together, you have to have control of them. They have to follow you, listen to you, implement what you want. I found out that when you enforce something, they will do it because you have some sanction and you can punish them if they don’t follow. But if you do it that way, there will always be some reaction, and you can hear about that from others. They will say, “This is too hard,” maybe begin questioning things. The next time, they will avoid you already. If you are a commander of this unit, some of your men would just choose other units. But if you are good to them, you have a lot of people volunteering to come into your company, and then leaving others.
First you establish your relationship with friendly gestures. And then you lay down your policy. Then of course they would start behaving sometimes quite indifferently because when you set a policy, whenyou set rules, usually there is resistance. 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. It’s a pre-emptive move. Even if they don’t want what you’re saying, because you are a friend, they don’t want to oppose. But they will tell you anyway what is not good for them. And if they see that you are listening, if you are open to suggestion, then the more you’ll develop your leadership of them.
First you establish your relationship with friendly gestures. And then you lay down your policy.
That’s what I learned when I was still at ROTC. It is what I have applied, very much.
I will tell you what made me join the military. I was undergoing training for my commission as a reserve force. It was all I wanted. But because I was an ROTC graduate, I just needed to formalize my completion of a rank. The armed rebellion of Mindanao, I think, exploded in 1973. That was why I was recruited to join the regular force.
When you already side with the government, then the military is a very, let’s say, is a good option. I believed I needed to fight against the aggression of the rebels, especially in Mindanao because I’m from Mindanao. 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.
Even before Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo became president, I was already running after the New People’s Army.
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. It’s really a monstrous and bad idea. But you cannot blame those who created it also because they thought, at that time, that it was the best way to govern people. But it turned out into a really monstrous and bad ideology, killed a lot of people, destroyed a lot of institutions and properties.
All the variations, they’re all the same, you know. The difference is only in the people implementing the ideology. The ones who were very very serious—taking lives and promoting revolution was their method of implementing their ideology. And a revolution means killing and so that’s what I don’t like.
I do not like it. The whole of it. The violence as well as the government system.
For officers it is almost automatic. You are given your platoon command, people, a set of people that you can lead and do a mission. I believe I inspired them. I cannot order my soldiers to kill, it’s their judgment call, they can do it on their own.
I encourage people victimized by communist rebels to get even. The killings are being attributed to me. But I did not kill them, I just inspire the triggermen.
The killings are being attributed to me. But I did not kill them, I just inspire the triggermen.
It’s easy to distinguish a communist. You can tell by their body language. You have to be discriminating, you have to assess the individual. Maybe he believes that he cannot be involved, that he doesn’t like communism, he’s just trying to be a catalyst for change. But he could be eaten by the system he joins in. Meaning you really cannot be neutral, you cannot really be moderate.
All moderates will become communist. Once you’re there, you are, you can, you have to be, eventually you have to be involved. Your belief is not, but you are, you can be involved in all their activities already. Your pronouncement may not be that radical, may not be extreme but, if you are there, how can you fight the system if you are part of it already?
Even though they are in government as party list representatives, no matter what appearance they take, they are still enemies of the state. The party list members of congress are doing things to further the revolution, the communist movement. I don’t remember what they did, there are so many. They did many things. Like trying to cancel the ROTC.
I wish they were not there. I ran for the senate and still intend to run for government to act as a counter-force against these people. They are terrorists. It is my belief that these members of party list in Congress are providing the day-to-day policies of the rebel movement.
I want communism totally erased. To wage the ongoing counterinsurgency means neutralizing not just armed rebels, but also a web of alleged front organizations that include leftist political parties, human rights and women’s organizations, even lawyers and members of the clergy.
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.