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Monday, May 16, 2016

Review: The Boys From The Barracks: The Philippine Military After Edsa


This is one of my favorite books I read concerning the Philippine military in post-Martial Law era (1981-onwards). I was working on a research paper several years ago and my topic was about the rise of military adventurism and the series of military coup attempts that started on February 1986 all the way to 1990. It's a great source for those of you who are studying the history of the Philippine military.

The book presented both sides of the military (the pro-government and the anti-government factions). The book pointed out that the Reformed Armed Forces Movement (RAM) did not start at Camp Aguinaldo but actually started in Camp Crame. Fidel Ramos' influence in the military was and is far greater than what the media and historians gave him credit for. Cory Aquino and her traditional political allies owed El Tabako the current status quo. The bias 1987 Constitution that protects the elites interests and control of the economy wouldn’t have existed today if Honasan and his boys got their way. Ironically, Ramos wanted to get rid of that monopoly when he attempts to change the charter during his presidency.

Anyway, there's more to this book than what I wrote here. Especially about Gringo Honasan.

To conclude this review, I always remembered that bad-ass quote Ramos made to the shill-media that smeared his name and questioned his military combat record:

“I fought the communists as part of the battalion combat teams, I went up the ladder. Battalion staff officer. Company commander. Task Force commander. Special Forces group commander. Brigade commander. All in different periods in our country. Huk campaign. Korean War campaign. The Vietnam War, and I was the head of the advance party of the PHILCAG (Philippine Civil Action Group to Vietnam) that went to a tiny province at the Cambodian border – the so-called Alligator Jaw – War Zone Z where even Max Soliven said ‘The Viet-Cong will eat us up.’ Of course, we were physically there as non-combat troops. But you try to be a non-combat troop in a combat area – that is the toughest kind of assignment.

Korea – as a platoon leader. Recon leader. What is the job of a recon leader? To recon the front line – no man’s land. And what did we do? I had to assault a fortified position of the Chinese communists and wiped them out. And what is this Special Forces group that we commanded in the Army – '62–'65? That was the only remaining combat unit in the Philippine Army. The rest were training in a division set-up. We were in Luzon. We were in Sulu. And then, during the previous regime, Marawi incident. Who was sent there? Ramos. We defended the camp, being besieged by 400 rebels.

So next time, look at the man’s record, don't just write and write. You said, no combat experience, no combat experience. Look around you who comes from the platoon, who rose to battalion staff, company commander, group commander, which is like a battalion, brigade commander, here and abroad. Abroad, I never had an abroad assignment that was not combat. NO SOFT JOBS FOR RAMOS. Thirty-seven years in the Armed Forces. REMEMBER THAT. You’re only writing about the fringe, but do not allow yourself to destroy the armed forces by those guys. You write about the majority of the Armed Forces who are on the job.

That's why we're here enjoying our freedom, ladies and gentlemen. You are here. If the majority of the Armed Forces did not do their job, I doubt very much if you’d all be here.”


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