By Rolly Malinis
Mr. Alfred McCoy, a university professor at
the University of Wisconsin, published a book entitled "Closer Than
Brothers: Manhood at the Philippine Military Academy". He attempted
a new approach to the military history of the Philippines by comparing
Class 1940 and Class 1971. By comparing two generations of graduates
of the Philippine Military Academy, he asserted that it "uncovers
fundamental differences in their academic socialization and subsequent
ascent to power". Class '40 became a study of military professionalism
or military socialization where the military is considered subordinate
to that of civilian authority; while Class '71 is the anti-thesis
and an example of breakdown of military socialization.
While the arguments about the thesis and the anti-thesis might sound
relatively simple as the book suggests, explanation as to the causes
and effects of the behavior exhibited by both classes is a little
bit more complicated. The readers should not be carried by the volume
and length of research, theories, numerous personal interviews, and
newspaper accounts done by the author. While he should be credited
for bringing together voluminous details to his book, there are more
fitting questions that need to be asked. Did the details pass the
test of sufficiency and logic to allow him to draw valid conclusions?
Was he successful in weaving these details in a coherent and logical
manner? What are the author's motives for publishing this book? Apparently,
answering these questions requires a more methodical analysis and
deeper scrutiny of the different information presented.
Anyone who has read this book would agree that it was an attack to
Class '71 by Mr. McCoy who branded the Class as torturers, killers,
and murderers. The intended impact of this book, through careful scrutiny
and reading in-between-the-lines, is not to smear Class '71 and praise
Class'40 but it was a clear attempt to destroy and divide the alumni
of the Academy making one class hate and condemn the other. In effect,
it came as an assault to the Philippine Military Academy and to what
it all stands for.
The book failed. It failed to prove that basic differences between
Class '40 and Class '71 exist. More so, it failed to provide hard
and sufficient evidence that would malign Class '71. Through incoherent
writing and slip in logic, the author further revealed his ulterior
motive of maligning personalities opposed to some politicians.
The theoretical framework the book used to explain the difference
between Class '40 and Class '71 was excellent. It cited individual
personalities, political ideas at the time coming from the nations
capital, the ruling regime's political agenda, and external factors
such as global change and culture as the ones causing these differences.
Other theoretical frameworks were discussed to back up its effort.
Unfortunately, it failed to provide a logical connection between the
theories and the information he presented.
Changes in the curriculum, existing political ideas, and other factors
may have affected the training of Class '71, but only to a small degree.
Their perception as to who the enemies were and what kind of enemies
they were might have been affected. The more important thing, however,
which is the character value training, particularly the honor system,
has been kept intact in the class. The Academy, through the Honor,
Fourth Class, and Upper Class and Lower Class systems and its academic
training, had instilled the same idealism, patriotism, nationalism,
esprit de corps, and public service as embodied in the PMA motto of
courage, integrity, and loyalty. Class '71 actions and behavior are
consistent with the values that have been instilled to each graduate
of this institution. Like Class '40, the Academy had developed Class
'71 from plebe year to first class year so each one of them would
grow up as military professionals who would recognize that the civilian
authority is over and above that of the military.
The author had thought of a sociology model, which could have rationalized
why Class '71 broke down from military socialization, but ignored
its relevance. The book talked about the classic model from American
sociology by Morris Janowitz and Samuel Huntington. The model isolated
the factors that led Western officers away from an eighteenth-century
heroic ideal toward a modern professionalism where the military is
subordinated to civilian authority. According to the book, the model
states that modern military is transformed from "the heroic leader"
into the "military manager" where "a uniformed civil servant subordinated
to civilian authority". Furthermore, the book said that this study
could not be applied to the Philippines because it could not explain
the contrast of events in the Philippine case where the military was
transformed from the professionalism of Class '40 to the heroic vision
of Class '71. This is exactly the opposite relative to the model.
The breakdown in military socialization of Class '71 may be interpreted
consistent with the sociology model. The explanation can be implicitly
read from the books own statement saying the model "seems to works
best for societies, like the United States, where the change is complete".
At that time, the US was on its state of high economic development
and stable democratic government. As the book reported, the Philippine
government chose the Western ideal of military professionalism when
it opened PMA in 1936. President Quezon sought the support of American
advisors to make it operational. From then on, the idea of military
professionalism was ingrained in the mind of every graduate from the
pre-war classes to the post-war classes.
The truth is that the Philippine condition was not ripe for the final
and complete transition to military professionalism. The situation
was still very volatile. Once Class '71 was exposed to a high degree
of political corruption, coupled with the presence of radical political
ideas, global changes and given a strong leader, the spirit of idealism,
patriotism, and public service planted in the heart and mind of every
graduate would be aroused. Breakdown of military professionalism or
socialization was inevitable. Yes, the Philippine military development
is still in the "heroic" phase. There could be no short cut. As the
sociological model is saying the transition is from a "heroic" leader
to "military manager". For the Philippines, that change will only
be complete when the country shall have achieved that state of high
economic development and stable democratic government. In the mean
time, all that can be done is to continue to inject that spirit of
military professionalism to the military and lessen the impact of
factors causing them to break away from this fragile state of professionalism.
Using the theoretical framework, the book noted how the state leader
seating in Malacanang Palace would have an impact on the military
socialization of the PMA classes. For Class '40, President Manuel
Quezon endeavored to keep the military apolitical. He needed a military,
not for political purposes but to fight invasion. He said this influence
had kept Class '40 to retain that military socialization till their
retirement. For Class '71, Marcos politicized the military. Soon,
Class '71 broke down military socialization and rebelled against civilian
authority. Following his framework, one would say that Marcos, through
the politicization and corruption of the civilian government under
him, had influenced the breakdown of military socialization of the
class. The author's logic began to crumble from here. He deviated
from the framework he set. Instead of saying it was the political
agenda of Marcos that prompted Class '71 to break socialization and
rebel, he said that it was the class experience of being Marcos' "fist
of repression" and its systematic torture, intimidation, interrogation,
surveillance, penetration, and psychological warfare that did it.
From there, the book went on to build up its case that members of
the class are murderers, torturers, and killers. Tracing its root
from the Academy, it wanted to show that Class '71 were not subjected
to hazing when they were plebes but hazing revived when they became
upperclassmen. Those who were in the Academy during those times would
know that this report was baloney and misleading. Based on this erroneous
premise, the book arrived at its wrong and biased conclusion that
"Class '71 graduated with an experience of brutality that served as
emotional gateway to torture". In Chapter 6 of the book (Torture),
the book argued that evidence showed that only Class '71 exhibited
intriguing coincidence of torture experience and coup. The fact is
that Chapter 6 associated only one member of Class '71 to torture
properly supported with alleged specific details and events. Another
member was linked for murder but the book admitted it was based on
an unconfirmed report. Although it mentioned three other members of
the class as torturers yet it did not give any specific detail/event
to prove it. This accusation technique would defy any "Rules of Evidence".
Or another way of saying it using probability would be, the chance
that the book is correct in linking the class to torture is 4% while
the chance that the book is wrong is 96%. In short, the book has not
presented sufficient evidences to warrant the serious and unfair accusation
against Class '71. With its failure to correlate Class '71 to tortures,
the theme of the whole book would collapse since the book rested on
this basic premise.
To sustain its case and confuse the readers too, it constantly interchanged
RAM members, torturers, rebels, and other classes to refer to Class
'71. Clearly, the book also misrepresented some facts just to
support its case. First, it mentioned at least five times that the
Class is 85 strong (onetime he said it is 106). Class '71 is 109 strong.
He talked about Cavalier Reynaldo Acop'71 as facing charges for the
mass murder of Kuratong Baleleng in 1995. That was not true.
At any rate, one begins to doubt the historical accuracy that is supposed
to go with history books. The author said it took him 10 years to
do the book but reported later that he was working on it since 1985
or a total of 15 years. At one stage, it wrote that Cavalier Florendo
was the classmate of Cavalier Balbas '60.
The author was witch hunting when he talked about torture experiences
boosting the will of the coup leaders to launch a succession of coups
after the February Revolution. Once more, his logic was off. By the
book's framework, the leader in the seat of the government would influence
the state of socialization of the military. The national leader could
have repaired the breakdown of socialization once the reasons for
its existence would be removed. But at times, the leadership failed
to see, recognize, understand, and acknowledge the idealism, patriotism,
and reform-mindedness of the leaders of February revolution. The factors
that led them to break socialization must first be recognized and
removed before the restoration of military socialization may take
place. Hopefully, the restoration of military socialization will soon
be a reality. At this time when conditions are still not ripe for
final transition, its success will depend greatly on the actions by
the ones seated at the Malacanang Palace.
Now let us look at methodology. Part 1 of the book about Class '40
was produced from the story of their friends and from the class themselves
as collected from interviews, yearbook, letters and memoirs. Unlike
Part 1, Part 2's perception about Class 71, as admitted by the author,
was shaped mostly from statements and papers of the enemies of the
class most notably from a newspaper daily which is known for its biased
stand against the military, and also from purportedly victims of torture
of the class. As the author said it was a problem of "selection rather
than searching" and again it appeared that he preferred reports and
stories that would fit his yearning to besmirch the class and ignore
those which would not contribute to this end.
Here is the bombshell. In comparing Classes '40 and '71, the author
admits the limitation of this exercise. Unlike behavioral sciences,
he could not "eliminate all the ambit variables-ethos, era, culture,
and circumstances - that distinguish events a decade or a generation
apart, and thereby reduces our cases to their structural essentials"
which is desired in order to create a scientific distinction between
groups of people. He admitted that the comparative technique
he used was flawed as could be seen from the following quotation from
"If the individual who were Class'40
had somehow, graduated in March 1971, would they behaved just like
the real '71 becoming torturers and launching coups? Would circumstances
have overwhelmed their individual and collective moral will? The short
answer: maybe. One could make a case that Class '40 member Bartolome
Cabangbang, for example, could have emerged as a Honasan-like figure
under Marcos, or that Class '40, if plunged into the safe houses,
would have emerged, like '71, brutalized and politicized."
The author said it took him 10 years (or 15 years?) to publish this
book because he doubted if he had enough information to make this comparison.
Noticeably, he still did not have sufficient data yet he still persisted
on finalizing the book. Under the pretext of literary analysis (he said
he was writing history?), he still carried out the biased assessment
of Class '40 and Class '71. While acknowledging the limitations on the
comparative exercise, he reduced their importance by unfairly putting
them in the background and only after systematically painting "devil"
pictures of the class in the minds of the readers.
In short, the interesting conclusion is this --- the comparison exercise
between Class '40 and '71 found from page 1 to page 348 was invalidated
by the limitation found in page 349 (the fourth page from the last page of the main book). Quoting from that page - "No doubt Class '40 would have moved in the direction of Class '71". The quote continues - ", but they MIGHT not have gone all the way to become indestinguishable.(Capitazalition is mine)". His only basis as he admitted is his instinct. He has not presented any theory at all to prove his thesis. His hypothesis crambled. There was no basis for the contrast.
But let us see what the author really wants. It appears that the author
is bent on pursuing his own agenda even at the expense of truth, facts,
and coherence. Under the pretext of a historical approach to the history
of the military particularly the Academy, he tried to hide his real
purposes of vilifying Greg Honasan and Marcos, and criticizing the influence
of male gender on a distinctly gendered institution like the PMA. It
even cited the insignificant and unrelated portrayal of action star
Fernando Poe, Jr, in his term, " whose violent masculinity replaced
the chivalry of his father's era". According to him, the issue
of gender he presented relates to manhood in the Academy and the hazing
rituals and resulting bonding among its graduates. One of the hidden
agenda in this gender issue, however, was to use this as a background
on the feminist issue he was trying to inject. It was not a mere coincidence
that the coup events described in the book occurred during the time
when a female gender was in the hot seat in Malacanang Palace. He made
a remark that one of the reasons for the succession of coup was that
the plotters could not accept the fact that the President was a woman.
Now on Fernando Poe Jr. - who was his enemy?
The bulk of the attack on the book was aimed on Marcos whose name appeared
at least 363 times. Honasan's name was stated at least 232 times. In
many instances, the author always found time to focus on Greg Honasan
-his movement, his haircut, his life, his words, his pets and even more
meticulously on how his shoulder looks, his stance, his face, and his
smile to make sure it will add up to his depiction of an "evil Honasan"
and being careful too not to mention anything about his virtues, characters,
and idealism that would negate his thesis. Honasan won as a Senator
in 1995 with the big support of the people in recognition to his integrity
and sincerity on serving the people. But the author saw it differently.
In trying to explain the intensity of the response of the people during
his senatorial candidacy in May 1995 he said -" Though fit and handsome,
Honasan was approaching fifty and lacked the youthful glow that commands
box office in the Filipino film industry. Perhaps RAM's reputation for
torture, murder, kidnapping, and coups added an erotic element. With
looks and manner eluding with power and violence, Honasan seemed to
project a seductive aura of subtle threat".
The more fitting title for this book is "Bringing Down Honasan, Marcos,
Male Gender, and Fernando Poe, Jr".
Through the years, the Philippine Military Academy, with its Honor,
Fourth Class and UpperClass systems, have instilled in its graduates
values as Secretary Vicente Rivera (honorary member of Class '57) said,
--"unity, caring and concern for other, duty, patriotism, and what has
been so deeply ingrained in every cavalier: Courage, Integrity and loyalty."
These very values have been the primary weapons for the cavaliers to
withstand even the most horrible time. These were the very values that
allowed Cavaliers Alcaraz of Q-112 boats and Heracleo Alano of Q-111,
both of Class'40, to evade what could have been a fatal attack by nine
Japanese aircraft at Manila Bay in 1942. Cavalier Francisco Lumen, Class
'40, could not forget the loyalty displayed by Cavalier and classmate
Joe Mendoza in rousing his will to survive as he started to slip away
toward death in the death march. These were the very values that sounded
when Cavalier Toots Tolentino, Class '40, did not leave his mistahs
in the same death march, despite given the golden opportunity to escape
as planned by his relatives from Pampanga. These were the very values
that were exemplified when Cavaliers Gelvezon, Baban, Osias, Cabangbang,
and Alcaraz, all of Class '40, chose to tread the honorable path to
fight Marcos even at the expense of forced retirement and persecution.
These were the very values that allowed Cavaliers Velasco, Karingal,
and Baclagon to exit with grace despite the support they had given to
Marcos. The book did great in mentioning these heroism and idealism
of Class '40. Class '40 is worthy of a salute for all these heroic achievements
and any praises and recognitions for these actions, embodying the PMA
motto of courage, integrity, and loyalty, are all well deserved.
But what the author failed to see is that these are the very values
that allowed Class '71 to withstand the numerous combat field duties
in Mindanao to ensure that the people will leave in peace in their homes.
This love of country, idealism, patriotism and service to the nations
were paramount even if it meant death to some members of Class '71 and
tears to the members of the families they left behind. These values
have been the keys to the success of the Class in both the government
and the private sectors. These values, particularly patriotism and not
torture experiences, led them to react to Marcos betrayal to his sworn
duty of honorably looking for the welfare of the state. These were the
values too for other members of the class, who were supporting Marcos
and other governing leaders, to accept defeat honorably. These were
the very values in the vein of Honasan as he outstandingly served as
Senator in the Philippine Senate today. These are the very values that
Cavalier Ping Lacson '71 clings on to sustain his role as a catalyst
for change, to regain the honor and prestige of the Philippine National
Police. Several other members of Class '71, along with the prominent
members of other classes and the rest of the Armed Forces, had helped
shaped the destiny of the Armed Forces in the 20th Century.
And most importantly, these are also the very values that guided other
classes of the Academy, aside from Class '40 and '71, to unselfishly
serve with honor and gut the people and the Philippine nation. General
Angelo T Reyes '66, the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines,
in his paper "The Relevance of Cavaliers in the 21st Century", emphatically
states how the same value training in PMA sustained the effort of all
classes involved to fight Eastern Colonizer (Japan) in Bataan, Corregidor,
and other parts of the country. Cavaliers, with training in PMA deeply
ingrained in them, fought in Vietnam, Korea, and Congo. They fought
rebellions, insurgencies, and separatists. They "fought dictatorships
in both sides of the fence and practically invented and patented non-violent
warfare". "In the past century, the cavaliers have fought and lost,
they have fought and won, but they were never defeated in spirit", training
they owed to the Academy. There is a long list of cavaliers whose steadfast
display of the values of idealism and service has shaped the destiny
of the country. Cavaliers, even in the private sector, in the words
of Secretary Rivera, " have helped enhance professional expertise, creativity
and innovation, adding greater dynamism and vigor to the economy". But
they were not torturers or murderers. More so, they were not killers!
On the contrary, they were the ones who got killed. Look at the countless
number of alumni who died in the pursuance of the PMA's motto of courage,
integrity, and loyalty and in seeing to it that the very people, who
sometimes look upon them with disgrace, will live to savor the fruits
of democracy and freedom in their own comfortable homes and offices.
To reiterate, there is no basic difference between Class '40 and '71
and any other classes of the academy. The character values go with the
cavaliers as they left the portal of the Academy. "Courage, Integrity
and Loyalty" permeated in the minds and souls of the cavaliers. State
leaders and other outside factors may lead them to react in different
ways but still all in consonance with these values.
The author's perception about the current generation of graduates of
the Philippine Military Academy is wrong. The same spirit and values
that the Academy has deeply embedded to its alumni, since the beginning,
will be there forever. Imbued with this strength, its graduates will
remain steadfast in attaining its goal of serving our country and our
people despite the harsh realities of this world. As a parting word,
the academy song "Strong Hearts" quoted below illustrates these undying
and unfading ideals of the long gray line:
And when the taps shall sound for
Banners drape my last remains
Let singing comrades bury me
To the echo of these strains
For hearts will live and die for Thee
Forever live in Thee
Young blood shall come to carry on
When too old strong hearts are gone.