June 30, 2018
Ex-Brig. Gen. Raymundo Jarque was sighted at the memorial meeting for Inday Jalandoni-de la Paz
LIBERATION, July-December, 1995
[Note: after 2 years with the NPA, Gen. Jarque joined the set of consultants to the NDFP negotiating panel for the peace talks called by President Ramos]
To The Mountains and The Revolution!
Ex-Brig. Gen. Raymundo Jarque Defects to the New People’s Army
“Welcome to the side of the exploited and oppressed people, kaupod (comrade),” said Negros revolutionary leader Frank Fernandez as he welcomed retired Brig. Gen. Raymundo Jarque who defected to the New People’s Army (NPA).
The former general broke the stunning news in a clandestine press conference held somewhere in the Visayas last October 1. In his statement entitled “The Only Way to Justice is Revolution”, (released to the media on October 9) Jarque said: “I have burned my bridges. There is no turning back…. As a former soldier, I call on my comrades… to support me, even join me, in this just cause I now embark on, for and among the broad masses of our oppressed people.” Jarque added that he had turned his back on “a system that is rotten to the core.”
Jarque chose to defect to the NPA and not to the Visayas-based faction led by Arturo Tabara because the latter, he said, was being used by the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) as a tool against the “mainstream” or genuine revolutionary forces. This he learned from Philippine Army intelligence sources.
Jarque also refused to join the military factionalist group Rebolusyonaryong Alyansang Makabansa (RAM) led by ex-Col. Gregorio Honasan. RAM, said Jarque, is already a “spent force” that may soon be absorbed by the (ruling) system.
One week after Jarque’s defection was reported by the media, the National Democratic Front (NDF) in Negros declared that it would grant sanctuary to the former general. Said the NDF-Negros: “General Jarque’s statement(s)… are not the words of a man obsessed with a personal crusade of vendetta, although it is true his decision to join the ranks of the struggling masses was triggered by his personal victimization at the hands of the oppressive and exploitative ruling system”.
“They are the words of an honorable man,” said NDF-Negros, “a man of strong beliefs, who faithfully served an ideal only to realize, even before the end of his service, that the ideal he held so dearly was nothing but an illusion propagated by the corrupt rulers of the land to disguise their evil”.
Red fighters provided security for Jarque, who spent about a month in a safehouse before receiving word this December that he had been “provisionally accepted” by the NDF in Negros. Jarque then trekked for four days escorted by Red fighters to reach a guerrilla zone where a welcome ceremony was held in his honor. During the ceremony, Fernandez explained that Jarque’s acceptance into the NDF was “provisional” because the final decision on the former general will have to come from the Front’s National Council as well as the CPP Central Committee and the NPA National Command.
This January, the NDF National Executive Committee appointed as a consultant in peace talks with the Ramos government. As such, said the NDF, Jarque should be covered by the Joint Agree¬ment of Safety and Immunity Guarantees.
Victim of injustice
The 57-year-old Jarque had what reactionaries would consider a brilliant military career. The son of a mechanic, he graduated from the Philippine Military Academy and rose through the ranks to become chief of the Negros and later the Panay Island Command in the late ’80s. He then led the National Capital Region Defense Command in 1993 and was chief of the Southern Luzon Command in 1994. Sources say he was also in line to become Philippine Army chief had fate not dealt him a cruel hand.
Jarque gained notoriety among the revolutionary forces and the masses in Negros when he implemented the repressive Oplan Thunderbolt from 1989 to 1990. The massive counter-insurgency operation involved frequent aerial bombardments to cover the movement of thousands of ground troops into the hinterlands of southern Negros, long believed by the AFP to be the “heartland” of the revolution in the island.
Oplan Thunderbolt led to the involuntary displacement of some 45,000 villagers who were herded to strategic hamlets in the town centers. Military forces also blocked the entry of food, medicines and other provisions donated to the refugees by church groups, relief agencies and human rights organizations, claiming that these were meant for the NPA. Forced to live in crowded and unsanitary conditions, the villagers fell victim to various ailments. More than 300 refugee children later died of gastro-intestinal and other diseases in the evacuation centers.
Jarque served the system well enough to earn 30 medals in the span of his 33-year career. Despite his record, however, Jarque was victimized by the very system he so loyally defended. His enforcement of a court order favoring one party in a land dispute that involved warring scions of the wealthy Peña family of Pulupandan, Negros Occidental wrote finis to his military career. Reason: he sided opposite Magdaleno Peña, who happened to be a close friend of Pres. Fidel Ramos and Defense Secretary Renato de Villa. For this, Jarque was charged with graft and robbery before the Sandiganbayan for allegedly stealing two tons of prawns worth P650,000 from Peña’s farm.
Prosecuting his case was Ombudsman and former Philippine Constabulary (PC) officer Aniano Desierto. Not coincidentally, Desierto was also a close friend of both Peña and Ramos. (Ramos and Desierto were in fact both implementors of martial rule — Ramos as PC chief and Desierto as a military lawyer who knowingly used evidence obtained through torture to prosecute political prisoners.)
Desierto sat on the general’s case for two years, during which time Jarque was passed over for the top post in the Philippine Army. The charges were later dismissed as a brother of Peña admitted that it was he who harvested the missing prawns.
In 1994, Desierto survived an ambush supposedly masterminded by Jarque. Then chief of the Southern Luzon Command, Jarque was stripped of his post. Later, the National Bureau of Investigation cleared him for lack of evidence.
When Desierto was appointed by Ramos as Sandiganbayan chief, however, he revived the murder and graft charges against Jarque (the graft charge springs from Jarque’s allegedly having used government facilities to place Desierto under surveillance).
Jarque appealed several times to Ramos through the chain of command for the just and speedy resolution of his case, but to no avail. He ended his military career in ignominy, and was unable to collect his retirement benefits because of the charges pending against him.
Said the NDF-Negros: “His story is no different from the countless comrades who, like him, sprang from the ranks of the masses and struggled to build decent and honorable lives only to realize that their hopes could never be realized while the greedy yet powerful few lorded it over the vast millions of the poor.”
Jarque’s defection is not without precedent. In the early ’70s, two young AFP officers, Lt. Crispin Tagamolila and Lt. Victor Corpus, defected to the NPA. Over the years, in fact, scores of non-commissioned officers, enlisted men and paramili¬tary forces have also alligned themselves with the revolutionary movement.
The Philippine Revolution of 1896 provides another example. Gen. Artemio Ricarte was a _____ in the ______ before changing allegiance and becoming a ______ in the revolutionary army (check!). Another famous defector was Chu Teh, a brilliant gener¬al in the Kuomintang who joined the Chinese revolutionary forces under Mao Zedong in 19__.
Since the beginning of the revolutionary movement, it has been its policy to welcome the officers and men of the AFP who change from the side of the enemy to that of the people.
Said Communist Party founding chairman Jose Ma. Sison in a statement: “Quite a number of these officers and men have over the years joined the revolutionary movement and made significant contributions.”
Sison explained that the victory of the national democratic revolution is facilitated “when officers and men of the armed forces of the big compradors, landlords and corrupt bureaucrats give their loyalty and service to the working class, peasantry and the rest of the people.”
(An alternative to actually joining the ranks of the revo¬lutionary forces is the formation of an alliance or the estab¬lishment of cooperative relations between the NPA and other armed organizations in fighting a common reactionary enemy and advanc¬ing a common program for revolutionary change.)
Like any other individual who joins the revolutionary move¬ment after years of being deeply entrenched in the reactionary AFP, however, Jarque needed to undergo a drastic reorientation.
Said Fernandez upon welcoming the former general: “Jarque needs painstaking education to fully understand the movement’s principles, directions and line” to offset his years in the military service. Only after he has voluntarily accepted and understood revolutionary principles,” said Fernandez, “would we submit our recommendation (to the leading organs of the CPP, the NPA and the NDF).”
Although Jarque’s defection was initially met with skepti¬cism by many quarters within the revolutionary movement, the CPP declared its willingness to consider his case with an open mind and with due consideration for the overall interest of advancing the revolution. In a statement last October, the CPP also said it would have to consider the sentiments of the masses especially those in the provinces and regions covered by General Jarque’s past operations.
Sison, on the other hand, said he was deeply pleased with Jarque’s “regrets over his past service to the ruling system, his condemnation of the system, his respect and praise for the revo¬lutionary forces, his initiative to go underground with the intention of waging revolution, and his desire to link up with the revolutionary movement”.
“If he is honest, resolute and earnest as he seems to be,” said Sison, “the responsible organs of the revolutionary forces will certainly recognize what he can contribute to the revolu¬tionary struggle.”
In the weeks since Jarque’s defection, feedback from the revolutionary forces in Negros was positive — so much so that before the end of the year, the Ramos regime ordered the arrest of the former general after giving up on its initial tack of winning him back.
In his integration with villagers (which was part of the reeducation process he underwent), Jarque humbly apologized for his leading role in Oplan Thunderbolt which, he admitted, trig¬gered the biggest evacuation in Philippine history since World War II and involved widespread violations of human rights. His direct exposure to the impoverished masses in the Negros country¬side also led him to strongly condemn the Ramos regime’s so-called development programs. Said Jarque: “The pathetic sight, the abject poverty of the masses betray the government vision of Philippines 2000 as a big lie.” He belittled the “indicators of progress” government officials raise as proof of economic devel¬opment, saying “maybe to their minds, the Philippines is only Subic Bay, Ortigas, Makati and Cubao.”
Jarque’s defection has already reverberated throughout the reactionary military establishment. Weeks after his defection was announced, three CAFGU members in northern Negros fled last November with their weapons to join the NPA. They brought with them an M60 machine gun, an M203 grenade launcher and an M14 rifle. In Bacolod City, some 200 former CAFGU members attended a Human Rights Day rally to protest the nonpayment of their separa¬tion pay.
Jarque is not the first military man to see the light. And for as long as the reactionary ruling system with its main pillar, the AFP continue with their reign of greed and terror, Jarque will not be the last.#