Rebels are made, not born
Peace is elusive as long as we have unconscient persons.
Rebels, likewise, want peace, but how?
In recent Wednesday’s Yahoo News titled “Colombia in ‘exploratory’ talks with FARC rebels” written by Guillermo Barros, states: “‘Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos confirmed that his government had begun ‘exploratory discussions’ with leftist FARC rebels to lay the groundwork for a full-fledged peace process.’” FARC is the acronym for Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia.
Newsman Barros quoted the Colonbian President thus: “‘Since the day my government took office, I have respected my constitutional obligation to seek peace, and we have undertaken exploratory talks with the FARC, to seek an end to the conflict.’
“‘The end of fighting in Colombia won’t be brought about with arms,’ he told W radio. ‘Putting this decades-old conflict behind us will be achieved with a peace process. We all deserve peace; it is a constitutional right.’”
Indeed, leaders worldwide are seeking for peace. Our era is a generation of violence. Criminality abounds because of the falling economy. Many become jobless. Added to the wickedness is the proliferation of prohibited drugs that makes millionaire to unscrupulous persons.
And then there are men like Lt. Col Edgardo Batenga who, instead of protecting and promoting peace, engage in acts which could result in the “making of rebels.”
Recently, he trespassed the property and threatened retired army Melchor P. Dicdican and his wife Juanita.
Melchor’s sworn affidavit states: “On or about 9:00 in the morning of August 20, 2012, at Purok Langka, Brgy. Camp Downes, Ormoc City, were we reside, I heard the barking of the dog and I opened the door of our house to find out why the dog was barking. I saw Lt. Col. Edgardo Batenga of 802nd Infantry Brigade, forcibly open the gate of our fence and enter our lot followed by Major Zane Fernandez.
“I saw them walked around the house. When they returned to the front of our house, I greeted Col. Batenga “good morning”. He did not answer. I asked him what is their purpose. He asked whose house is at the other side of the fence by the right side of our residence. I replied it is owned by Jaime Baloro. He shouted he will demolish it along with our house. I asked why he was going to demolish our house and he shouted they have to demolish because it is inside a military reservation. He pointed to a hut owned by Fe Pepito by the left side of our house and shouted that the same will be demolished. I felt frightened and agitated, but I managed to hold back my temper.
“Afterwards Col. Batenga left our lot, followed by Major Fernandez. Seeing them leave, I entered the house and told my wife that our house will be demolished. My wife said she was going to the Barangay Hall to have the trespassing and threat recorded in the blotter. I followed her, but stopped for a few moments at the back of our service van. I proceeded to follow my wife, I saw that Col. Batenga had raised his right arm and was about to strike my wife. My wife was able to defend herself with an umbrella. I saw my wife pick up some small stones which she started threw at Col. Batenga, who moved backwards with hands raised and shouting repeatedly “Hehe! Hindi nakatama!” (Hehe! Did not hit!) I was able to restrain my wife at this point telling her “Husto na! Husto na!” (Enough! Enough!). While Lt. Col. Batenga with Major Fernandez ran away.
“I returned to the house and got my .45 caliber pistol to protect my family, but decided to stay inside the house to wait for Col. Batenga to carry out his threats on his return. My wife proceeded to the Barangay Hall to report the incident.”
Juanita’s sworn affidavit, likewise asserted almost the same facts with the following additions: “That we have been occupying the lot, since year 2005 after my husband’s retirement from Headquarters Second Division, Philippine Army, Camp Capinpin, Tanay, Rizal. We were given permission by Col. Manuel Marcon, commanding officer of Regional Command Defense Group (RCDG), to construct our family home. RCDG was the previous unit that administers the military reservation. At present there are more than 50 retired military men with houses in the reservation, excluding retired Philippine Constabulary and policemen.
“Batenga has no right to enter our lot, much less to demolish our house without any court order. In fact the lot we are occupying is now under the authority of the National Housing Authority as provided in Republic Act No. 7279, Section 8: ‘Government-owned lands under paragraph (b) of the preceding section which have not been used for the purpose for which they have been reserved or set aside for the past ten (10) years from the effectivity of this Act and identified as suitable for socialized housing, shall immediately be transferred to the National Housing Authority subject to the approval of the President of the Philippines or by the local government unit concerned, as the case may be, for proper disposition in accordance with this Act.’
“That, Batenga and Fernandez committed the above-described offense of trespassing when they entered forcibly our fenced lot. In addition Batenga, in threatening to demolish our house, committed acts amounting to a criminal offense punishable under Republic Act No. 7279, specifically under Sections 28 and 45 thereof.”
His superiors may not have yet been informed of the actions of Batenga. His acts, which could end up of “making rebels” out of retired military men, is dangerous to the lives and property of the civilians living in the same area. Retired Army Colonels Oliver Ambray and Ricardo Colina, former RCDG commander and RCDG deputy commander, respectively, have their family homes in the portion of unused lot of the reservation. Will these two colonels merely sit and watch idly while they are oppressed?
It is not only the retired military men who have licensed firearms, also retired constabulary and policemen who have an axe to grind against Batenga. A single shot from a deranged mind could detonate this highly volatile situation. Will President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III allow this to happen? Only time can tell, but how long will that time come?
The mother of Brgy. Kagawad Fermin H. Labra Jr., died of a heart attack on August 17, a mere four days after she saw the demolition of their painting shop by the soldiers led by Batenga.
Kagawad Labra’s sworn affidavit states: “That as a result of the uncalled acts of Lt. Col. Batenga and his men, my mother was emotionally disturbed and succumbed to death of heart attack after a week on August 13. (Death Certificate attached marked as Annex “C”)”
I pity Batenga who may retire with the same situation as my friend, former Captain Francisco Sebastian Sr., of the defunct Philippine Constabulary, who retired without receiving benefits. The reason he had pending cases before the Commission on Human Rights.
While he was harsh against the enemies of the Republic, he was a good officer to his men and peaceful civilians. His true-to-life story was portrayed by Ramon Revilla Jr., in the movie entitled “Tenyente Pugot”.
He was a brave man. We became friends when I was a criminal investigator with the Los Baños, Laguna Police Department in years 1956-57. I often saw him going to Barrio Putho with bread soaked in “lambanog”, a coconut liquor to feed the dog. He moved alone at sunset on a mission to capture Commander Makiling, a relative of my classmate Simeon Parducho.
Unfortunately, Commander Makiling was killed in Calamba, Laguna, by another unit of the Philippine Constabulary. “Baste” as Captain Sebastian was commonly known to his friends, colleagues, and relatives, failed to capture Makiling, but his bravery is acknowledged in the community. He is loved by the residents near the municipal building where he lived. That is the kind of soldier we need in the government.
On the other hand, I hope Batenga will be awaken, enlightened and strive to reconcile with the community he is now with. If not, he may end up in the same situation as Baste who retired without receiving benefits. (Feedback welcome, firstname.lastname@example.org)
By: Fidel D. Banzon
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