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Mar 28th
Home Columns JGL Eye Widows of “Maguindanao-Massacre” Victims Oppose Promotion of General Cayton
Widows of “Maguindanao-Massacre” Victims Oppose Promotion of General Cayton PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - JGL Eye
Written by Joseph G. Lariosa   
Wednesday, 13 January 2010 06:30




(© 2009 Journal Group Link International)




C HICAGO, Illinois (JGLi) – French have a saying, “plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose (or plus ça change, plus c’est pareil),” which means, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”


The news item I read last Tuesday (Jan. 12) about the widows of slain journalists in Maguindanao only less than two months ago opposing the promotion of Maj. Gen. Alfredo Cayton to be the Army vice commander before the Commission on Appointment reminded me of an incident more than a hundred years ago, or 109, to be exact, when the people in what used to be an American colony were helplessly asking for the head of American Army Brig. Gen. Jacob H. Smith for issuing a “kill-and-burn” order to retake Samar province.


The order resulted in the disappearance of some 15,000 people in Samar, in the wake of the Balangiga Massacre.


The only problem was that General Smith issued his order of “I want no prisoners” to a U.S. Marine Major Littleton "Tony" Waller Tazewell Waller, who belonged to another service of the U.S. Armed Forces.


So, when Major Waller was court-martialed for murder in ordering the execution of eleven Filipino porters, the court martial board voted 11-2 for acquittal of Waller. Later, the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General dismissed the entire case, agreeing that a Marine Corps officer was not subject to an Army court.


As a result of evidence introduced at the Waller trial in Manila, General Smith was then court martialed, convicted, admonished, and forced to retire.


Waller, who was later called by American newspapers as the “Butcher of Samar,” went on to serve in the U.S. military in various campaigns in Cuba, Mexico and Haiti and was later promoted to Major General in 1918, two years before his retirement.




S o, even if General Cayton would say that he had nothing to do with the massacre, the fact that he failed to anticipate the tragic event of such magnitude speaks volumes of his incompetence and his intelligence apparatus.


If not one of his subordinates told him that a group of people filing a certificate of candidacy needed a police escort after it was aired over the radio repeatedly and relayed to his command, then, he ought to fire his entire command for negligence!


If the complaints of the widows of the journalists, led by Myrna Reblando, wife of the Manila Bulletin correspondent Bong Reblando, are true that “he failed to act on a request for security for the journalists last Nov. 23,” he should even be court-martialed for complicity in the massacre. If not, he should even be included as co-defendant in the multiple murder cases being instituted against Datu Unsay town Mayor Andal Ampatuan, Jr. of Maguindanao province and many others before a civilian court.


General Cayton commanded the 6th Infantry Brigade based in Maguindanao at the time of the massacre.


In principle, under the theory of command responsibility, the failure of his men, not only extends to him personally but all the way up to the chain command, including the Commander-in-Chief! The buck stops at the President.


So, if I were Mr. Cayton, he should give more competent and other upcoming young officers a chance to take over his position and any position he is aspiring for and file for retirement, instead of lobbying for his own promotion with the Commission on Appointment.




M asyado ka namang makapal (where is your sense of propriety), General?


If General Cayton were more proactive in his leadership, he should have fired his intelligence officers, down the chain of his command, right after the incident, and give up his post to mitigate his blunder.


Mr. Cayton should remember that the world is watching on the progress of the case.


Even the U.S. Congress had served notice that it is urging “for a thorough transparent, and independent investigation and prosecution of those who committed the killings and anyone who may have ordered them, and that the proceedings be conducted with the highest possible level of professionalism, impartiality, and regard for witness protection to assure the Filipino people that all the responsible persons are brought to justice.”


General Cayton should no longer depend on his lame duck Commander-in-Chief, who should by now avoid him like a plague. It would be another blunder if President Arroyo gives his promotion a stamp of approval.


Any presidential candidate, who will try to support him, is not going to get a red-carpet welcome in the U.S. Congress, which is bent on reviewing its “assistance programs to the Government of the Philippines” and had even offered “any technical assistance, such as forensics support, that the Philippine authorities may request.”


In short, nag-iisa ka na lang, General. (You are now by yourself, General).


But I don’t think the Commission on Appointment would even touch his promotions papers with a ten-foot pole.


Doing so would just remind the Filipino people that after more than 100 years, nothing has changed in the former American colony.


Promoting Mr. Cayton will give the impression that a blunder in the class of the cases of Generals Waller and Smith is still fashionable to this modern day and age.


A modern-day officer and gentleman, who can no longer handle the truth, should now stop being defensive, execute an about face, give up his command and face the music. (


© opyright 2009 The Journal Group Link International. The contents provided in the JGLi may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of the Journal Group Link International.


(Editor’s Note: Watch out for the upcoming outlet-oriented, subscription-based website of Journal Group Link International that guarantees originally sourced stories, features, photos, audios and videos and multi-media contents.)


Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 January 2010 06:34

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