That’s no way to treat a hero!
The medals won by a heroic military officer up for promotion mean nothing to the Commission on Appointments (CA). The most graphic example of this is the way the members of the CA humiliated Lt/Gen. Emmanuel Teodosio, one of the most bemedalled soldiers in modern Philippine military history.
Teodosio first gained prominence in 1989 when he led the First Marine Brigade in storming Camp Aguinaldo which was held by Col. Gringo Honasan and his rebel soldiers. The Marines liberated the camp and rescued six generals, including the chief of staff, Eduardo Ermita who later became defense secretary and later executive secretary. For his gallantry, Teodosio was promoted to full colonel.
He was the youngest general in the Armed Forces when the First Marine Brigade and soldiers of the 4th Army Infantry Division fought the Moro Islamic Liberation Front from Kauswagan to Baloi, both in Lanao del Norte, in 2000. Along the way, they captured all MILF camps including Camp Busra, the second biggest MILF camp. His men reinforced troopers pinned down by the rebels at the gateway to Camp Abubakar, the main MILF camp, which later fell to government hands.
Teodosio went on to become Marine commandant and commanding general of the Central Command. Lamentably, at the CA confirmation hearing on his promotion to lieutenant general shortly before the adjournment of the First Regular Session in June 2005, the CA ignored the medals and accolades he had earned. I wonder if any CA member had faced the risks that Teodosio had willingly encountered in service of the flag. Yet, these politicians were “brave” enough to bully and humiliate him.
In that confirmation hearing, Rep. Abdullah Dimaporo of Lanao del Norte questioned why several houses of Muslims in Kauswagan were burned while Teodosio was leading the campaign against the MILF in 2000 or five years earlier. Dimaporo also criticized why Teodosio’s men were cheering in front of a Muslim mosque and why beer and roasted pig were brought “inside a mosque” at a captured MILF camp.
Teodosio said that his men were jubilant after their victory and it did not matter to them that they were near a mosque. He also said that his tired and weary soldiers would gladly eat anything brought in by very important visitors which could have included wine and roasted pig but denied that the feast was done inside a mosque.
As regards the burning of houses of Muslims, Teodosio said his Marines were so tired that they immediately went to sleep. He added that keeping the peace was the responsibility of the local police.
The CA members yielded to Dimaporo’s demands against Teodosio, saying they understood the need for Dimaporo to speak up for his constituents. Thus, Teodisio’s confirmation was deferred until the Second Regular Session of the 13th Congress because of local politics.
“If I have to be punished for leading the fight against the enemies of the state, then I’ll gladly accept it,” Teodosio said when his promotion was bypassed.
Four months later, on Oct. 12, 2005, the CA committee on defense chaired by Rep. JJ Romualdo of Camiguin recommended the approval by the plenary of his promotion to three-star rank. However, in came Sen. Serge Osmena who sought another confirmation hearing. He wanted Teodosio to answer questions about the relief of Gen. Francisco Gudani during the 2004 presidential election. Osmena’s motion meant Teodosio’s promotion would again be bypassed.
Teodosio waxed indignant at this turn of events.
“This is no way to treat an officer and gentleman who has been fighting for our country!” he protested.
He contended that any CA decision was supposed to be based only on the fitness of a military officer. He also lamented that officers were being treated as pawns by politicians. (Osmena was then with the opposition.)
“If I say something that’s not favorable to the opposition, they will block our confirmation. If I say something that’s not favorable to the administration, then the administration may not renew my promotion. We are in a no-win situation,” he told me in an interview.
He had to wait for two more months before his promotion was heard anew by the CA committee on defense. He cleared all roadblocks on Dec. 13, 2005 by humbling himself. I felt pity for him and revulsion for the CA when he profusely apologized to the CA and to Osmena for questioning the inaction on his promotion.
On Dec. 14, 2005, Teodosio’s promotion was finally confirmed. It took the CA more than six months to do so despite his meritorious service. Incidentally, among those confirmed that day were Rigoberto Tiglao, now a Times columnist, as ambassador to Greece, and Maj/Gen. Jovito Palparan, who’s now wanted for kidnapping and illegal detention.