[This is the sixth and final part of the serialized “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.]
On the so-called Corregidor Massacre
Now, about the so-called Corregidor massacre, Mr. President. I would, if there were truth, be among the first to rise and articulate the indignation and revulsion of a nation sickened and shocked by such deliberate, purposeful and wanton killing of helpless and hapless men.
And I would, if there had been truth, be among those to voice my own nausea, my anger and my disgust.
I am afraid that many of us had been too quick to anger, too quick to deplore and denounce. For the truth, as I found it in Sulu, is: the probability of a mass massacre is dim.
I could make big political capital out of all of this. I could pillory, nail on the public cross and damn President MarcoS and the men who served under him in this operation. I could rouse the people against them, all of them.
But, Mr. President, I say: Let us pin blame only where the blame is. And, by my findings, a wanton massacre is not among the things that we must hang on Mr. Marcos’ conscience and Mr. Marcos’ soul.
For the fact is: There must have been or there could have been killings. Maybe, I will even submit, some of the companions of Arula could have been shot. Only a fair investigation will bring out the facts.
But of the asserted mass massacre of 60, we can now safely say that the figure has been reduced—by 24, who have shown up in Jolo; by 25, adding Jibin Arula; by 26, adding the leader who has shown up: by 29, adding the three who reportedly have reported.
So that, now, we are looking for 31 men—31 men of the Jabidahs who have resigned.
There have been some killings, yes. But these are killings that come under the heading of murder. And, for this, the guilty must be hauled before our justice and made to account and to pay.
Mr. President, yesterday I was in Simunul, in Sanga-Sanga, in Bongao and in Siasi, and I was met by crying and grieving mothers. Sweethearts and wives came to me, asking me if I knew if—indeed— their brothers, husbands and loved ones had been massacred on Corregidor as reported. I had no answer, Mr. President.
I merely told them that President Marcos had told me that some of the boys had been sent home. And so, I told them further, I had come to their island to find out if their menfolk had—indeed—returned.
There is unrest among the Tausugs in Sulu, Mr. President. They want to find out—to find out what had gone wrong with their men, what had become of their men. They want to know whether their men had really been massacred on Corregidor.
I believe a just, a quick investigation by this Chamber within the next 48 hours will at least alleviate the mass suffering now gripping our people in Sulu. This, we must do.
And lest we whip up this nation into a fit of disgust and hate, let us set the facts straight—quickly. And let us let the chips fall where they must.
But, Mr. President, Mr. Marcos is far from lily-white in all this.
Ploys and Plots
What I have gathered impels me to rise and denounce him, to call him to account—lest he be further emboldened into thinking the country sleeps and slumbers while he plots, schemes, and conspires.
And so, Mr. President, I charge President Marcos with building a secret strike force under his personal command—to form the shock troops of his cherished garrison state.
I charge President Marcos with picking men of dubious backgrounds, men with criminal records even, and the so-called Monkees, the killer ex-Huks, to form the core of this force —to insure they will do as he bids and wipe out the opposition, if needed.
I charge President Marcos with failure to instill secrecy and cynical use of the intelligence funds for this sinister operation—to advance himself, for personal gains—in violation of the Constitution.
I charge President Marcos with failure to instill secrecy and discipline in the armed forces, failure amounting to criminal neglect.
I charge President Marcos with failure to infuse our armed forces trainees with proper orientation, a failure that showed itself in the crack-up and breakdown of the Corregidor trainees, which the general staff itself admitted.
Why were they not subjected to psychological training? In the regular armies of the world, Special Forces men are picked from the regular forces. And they pick men who have proven themselves in combat.
But these men, the men of Camp Sophia and Corregidor, were raw recruits. They were young boys. They were boys out of the high schools and colleges of Sulu. And they were immediately pressed into the Special Forces. And, therefore, under the rigors of training, they could—as asserted—have cracked up.
I charge President Marcos, too, with failure to see to it that the defense funds are properly used. In other words, he is guilty of defense funds misuse.
And I also charge President Marcos with careless recruitment in the Tawi-Tawi islands group, a carelessness that opened us to infiltration by the counter-insurgency forces of a neighboring country.
And as a result of all the bunglings and muffings that have attended this so-called Corregidor Affair, President Marcos is as guilty as his Jabidah officers of jeopardizing and damaging Philippine foreign relations, which may take a long time in healing.