[This is the fifth part of the “Jabidah! Special Forces of Evil?” privileged speech of the late Senator Benigno S. Aquino Jr. He delivered it on March 28, 1968 in the Senate session hall to expose what he called “a sinister design of then President Ferdinand E. Marcos to invade Sabah and recover it for the Philippines from Malaysia. In the course of his exposé, the late father of President B. S. Aquino 3rd revealed that the so-called “Jabidah Massacre” of Muslim Tausug soldier trainees never happened. Even so, local detractors, international commentators and human rights activists excoriated President Marcos and the Philippine military. The fictional “Jabidah Massacre” was a major element in the eruption of the Muslim insurgency in Mindanao.]
What brought me to this conclusion:
1. Massacre means, to my mind, the wanton killing of men —maybe premeditated, but definitely committed according to a previous plan. I submit that there was no plan to kill the Muslim recruits.
2. What would have been the motive for the “massacre”? Some quarters have advanced the theory that the trainees were liquidated in order to silence them. But then, 24 boys have already shown up in Jolo safe and healthy. To release 24 men who can spill the beans and liquidate the remaining 24 “to seal” their lips would defy logic.
3. Jibin Arula has been telling the truth all along. However, his fears, which in his place may be considered valid, may not be supported by the recent turn of events. Twenty-four recruits have turned up.
Crux of the Story
I went to Sulu with a sworn statement of Jibin Arula. I checked out everything Jibin Arula had told me—the description of the camp, the names of the boys—and everything that Jibin Arula had told me checked out.
It must be emphasized here that Jibin Arula never said that the four were murdered. All he said was that they were taken by Major Martelino and they never returned. Jibin Arula said that 24 were called and these never returned. He said that 12 were called and these, too, never returned. He said they were lined up on the airstrip and then they were mowed down.
Here is the crux of the story. Were they mowed down? Or was the firing made when Jibin Arula, thinking he was going to be killed, dashed for his life?
This, I believe, ought to be the center of the investigation.
And if the Army can produce the eleven people with Jibin Arula unharmed and alive, then the Army would escape the burden of being made to account for massacre.
When the armed forces produces the eleven companions of Arula and the other twelve recruits that left at 2 a.m., March 18, I am sure the whole “massacre” story can find its logical end.
But the story does not end here.
I submit that it is only here that the story begins.
President Marcos must render to the nation a better explanation why the organization has to remain secret and its objectives to be known only to himself and a handful of his confidants.
This we cannot—and must not —allow to pass.
And Monkees, Too
Some questions press, in fact:
Are the Jabidahs really intended for civic action work? They are under the Civil Affairs Office and directly under the Secretary of National Defense.
If they are to perform civic action work, why should they be trained like James Bond? Why should they be taught the art of silent killing, the techniques of insurgency, infiltration and sabotage?
Why were they never listed on the regular roster of the Armed Forces of the Philippines?
They were never inducted with the regular forces. Their rate of pay violates all established military rules. All forms in the Jabidah camp are mere mimeograph sheets.
How come some ex-convicts were included among their instructors?
There were among them, among the Jabidahs, many ex-Huks, otherwise known as “Monkees” in my part of the country and operating in Central Luzon. Some unexplained killings have been taking place regularly in Pampanga and Tarlac and the civilian authorities in the area attribute these killings not to the Huks but to a group of men called “Monkees”, reportedly members of an “irregular force” of the Philippine Constabulary.
How many “Monkees” have been trained by these Civil Affairs officers?
An Ilocano ex-convict was among the instructors. Why was this man allowed to join the Jabidahs?
If the Tausugs were recruited for purposes other than civic action, then for what?
Where did the funds for the Jabidahs come from? And who financed Major Abdullatif Martelino in his romantic escapades? He reportedly built a house worth P10,000.00 (still to be finished) for beautiful Sophia on Simunul.
Did the army sanction his behaviour which may aptly be described as “conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman” in the name of the Jabidah project? In effect, was he allowed to violate the laws of the country with the knowledge and consent of Mr. “M”?
What future is in store for the civic action centers? Is this the norm of conduct to be followed by our barrio officials under civic action?
Will barrio officials ever be able to stand up against these Jabidahs, these experts in the silent wars, these shock troops of Mr. “M”?
[End of part 5. The conclusion will come out in this space tomorrow.]