JOSE M. CRISOL

(1917-1993)

World War II Fighter And Defense Official

 

 

The acknowledged expert on psychological warfare of his time, Jose M. Crisol was born to a working class couple in pandan, Catanduanes on November 15, 1917. His father, Avelino Crisol, worked as a highway inspector; his mother was, for a long time, a government clerk.

 

He obtained his higher education from the Mapua Institute of Technology and the University of the Philippines, and his military training from the Prestigious Philippine Military Academy. He was commissioned third lieutenant in the regular force of the Philippine Army on December 31, 1941.

 

During the Japanese Occupation, he was among the thousands who underwent the infamous Death March, at the end of which he suffered imprisonment in the concentration camp at Capas, Tarlac. He miraculously survived both ordeals.

 

Crisol served as a member of the Allied Intelligence Bureau and as battalion commander of the Bicol Guerrilla Brigade. For his gallantry in action in Bataan, he was decorated with the Gold Cross.

 

Upon the war’s end in 1945, he proceeded to the United States to further hone his military know-how at the Officers Training School in Fort Benning, Georgia. When he returned to the country, he served on the staff of the Philippine Ground Combat School and the Reserve Officers Service School, before joining that of his alma mater, the PMA.

 

In 1950, then Defense Secretary Ramon Magsaysay tapped him to lead the government’s anti-insurgency program aimed at breaking the Huk movement in Central Luzon through psychological warfare and civic action. He was designated chief of the civil affairs office of the Department of National Defense. For the success of the campaign, which resulted in the capture or surrender of Huk leaders, he was later awarded the Legion of Honor by President Magsaysay.

 

In 1953, Crisol resigned his regular commission in the Philippine Army to help Magsaysay in this presidential bid by serving as his political strategist.

 

His outstanding achievements in the field of intelligence as well as his personal sacrifices were rewarded in January 1954 when he was named director of the National Bureau of Investigation, the country’s premier intelligence body, and presidential adviser on national security. In a concurrent capacity, he served as government investigation coordinator and presidential performance officer.

 

In May 1954, he becomes the undersecretary of national defense-at 36, the youngest ever to be so named.

 

In 1957, under the administration of President Carlos P. Garcia, he was named acting secretary of defense. Eleven years later, he would serve in the government of President Ferdinand E. Marcos as presidential assistant on civil action, with the rank of undersecretary, as well as the President’s special personal representative in the Armed Forces’ civil action programs. In 1970, he was given the portfolio of undersecretary for home defense and, as such, directly supervised all AFP “home defense activities,” including the government’s campaign against the then newly formed New People’s Army.

 

Crisol also served as chairman of the Board of Liquidators; director of NASSCO; “back-pay” commissioner, chairman of the Leyte-Samar Development Coordinating Council; coordinator of the New Kabankalan Negrito Affairs, and member of the Board of Review for Motion Pictures. In June 1978, he was designated acting chairman of the National Police Commission. He was also made national adviser of the Philippine Veterans Legion. At the time he retired from government service, he held the rank of brigadier-general in the AFP’s reserved forces.

 

A much-decorated military officer, Crisol was the recipient of the Wounded Personnel Medal, Resistance Movement Medal, Philippine Defense Medal, American Defense Service Medal and Ribbon with one Bronze Service Star, World War II Victory Medal, Distinguished Unit Emblem, Anti-Dissidence Campaign Ribbon, Jolo Campaign Medal, Combat Infantry Badge, and the Purple Heart.

 

He was the author of several works, including The Red Lie, his most famous book; Men and Arms; Fundamentals of Village Defense; Marcos on the Armed Forces; The home Defense Officer in the Modernization Process; The Armed Forces in National Building; and Military Civil Action.

 

His life came to a tragic end on December 12, 1993 when he was killed at his home by disgruntled family employees.

 

He left behind his wife, the former, Carmen Borromeo, and their children.

 

 

 

Jennyvie R. Acosta

 

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