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Cordero and Palparan

Jovito Palparan is supposed to be the “butcher,” “serial murderer” and “berdugo” accused of hunting, killing or making countless communists and New People’s Army (NPA) adherents “disappear” through the years. Nobody as yet epitomizes the notion of human rights violators in the Philippines more than the retired army general. In fact, a reward for information leading to his capture in connection with the reported torture and disappearance of UP students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño has now been raised to P1 million. But, as the courts have yet to try the case, howls of protests against his “conviction by publicity” and “demonization” have also been raised by certain quarters in the military.

Indeed, Palparan, with his beady eyes and sharply angled, bony mien, strikes many people with instinctive horror. And this has led to nothing short of a propaganda boon to the anti-military Left and human rights groups.

Meanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum, a fellow named Danilo “Danny” Cordero, a far lesser known historical figure in Philippine political and military history, is no less controversial — that is, if his supposed deeds were to be ventilated as much as Palparan’s alleged atrocities.

Danny, according to various accounts from many former leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the NPA that I have heard myself, was deceased — or should I say, killed — in the communist purges of the late 1980s. Some say this was done to silence the history of what really transpired at Plaza Miranda — a bombing that killed nine and injured 95 others, including many Liberal Party candidates except Ninoy Aquino.

Accounts that trace Danny’s liquidation to the highest leadership of the CPP-NPA have been found credible by the likes of former Sen. Jovito Salonga (who was one of the bombing victims in 1971), especially as these come from Cordero’s former comrades, Ruben Guevarra and Ariel Almendral.

As soldiers trained to fight those deemed by their higher political and military authorities as enemies, Palparan and Cordero certainly share many things in common. Both apparently carried out their duties with unquestioning zeal and dedication. Both risked their lives in the endeavors they chose and followed the dictum, “Theirs not to make reply / Theirs not to reason why / Theirs but to do and die,” from Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s The Charge of the Light Brigade (which won me in my youth a first prize in declamation at St. Stephen’s High School).

Yet, both of them share also one tragic commonality that highlights their shared dilemma: The masters they served later on turned out to be their tormentors and executioners after the need to cover up the indefensible evils, which they were ordered to commit, became greater. And this is a scenario that should make all combatants from all sides pause and think.

While the CPP-NPA and Jose Ma. Sison have persistently denied any responsibility for the Plaza Miranda bombing to gain a propaganda coup against Marcos, testimonies from former CPP-NPA members themselves (including some personal friends) provide the preponderance of proof.

We had to establish the basis for the charge against Cordero in order to draw another comparison: Did Danny Cordero’s killing of nine totally innocent individuals, including a five-year-old child, with the two grenades he lobbed at Plaza Miranda constitute less of a crime than the disappearance of two UP students, which investigators and activists attribute to Palparan and his men?

While the Commission on Human Rights and the Department of Justice have called Palparan to account, shouldn’t they also, even posthumously, formally investigate the Plaza Miranda-Cordero case?

Bringing justice to victims of human rights violations is good for as long as authorities remain fair and consistent. Thus, this demand for consistency brings us to so many cases that have not been taken up with any zeal, like the killings at Hacienda Luisita, where, in the most recent instance, 14 farm workers from the United Luisita Workers Union and Central Azucarera de Tarlac and their kin (including two children) were killed.

Yes, there is pressure to safeguard human rights via the West and the US’ support of many Left-leaning human rights groups in the Third World. But these Western human rights bodies should also look fairly at the charges from other countries, such as those coming from Russia’s Foreign Ministry that lambast Guantanamo abuses and innocent death row executions, or the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s civilian killings in Libya, ad nausea.

Cordero, once touted as one of the best of the CPP-NPA cadres, was sacrificed at the altar of a failed communist revolution. Palparan is on the run and may soon have to face an ignominious surrender to the government he served in the anti-communist cause.

Palparan’s life was never easy, I know. One of our family drivers, who once drove for the man, tells us of his elaborate daily security rigors — and it’s not a normal life that anyone would want. 

And yet, he is now being sacrificed at another altar — the altar of human rights, which every regular human being is required to uphold, except for those who are on top of the totem pole or the food chain. In the case of the Philippines, its chief violator is its so-called Big Brother, the US, which supplies arms to our Armed Forces while channeling various legal foundation and covert funds to the Left, the Right, as well as the Church, in tandem with the oligarchs who run our politics and government.

As I have said on my cable TV show with (ret.) Commodore Rex Robles, Filipinos should debate to the death but never kill each other (except maybe those nasty foreign interlopers). Until we learn this, there will be more “useful idiots” sacrificed at the altar of causes and crusades that serve only those who divide and rule.
The Daily Tribune


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