Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The AFP Chief of Staff 's 5-Point Guidline

AFP Chief of Staff General Generoso Senga’s five-point guideline on the role of the military is directed not only to the men in uniform but also to all politicians, both from the administration and the opposition. His guidelines could not come at a more appropriate time, when those opposing the administration would like to see the AFP take a pivotal role in political change just as in EDSA 1 and 2 and those who defend the administration are still bristling with the pre-emption of a withdrawal of support by elements of the military.

The AFP is now caught in a tug of war between political power groups jostling for the support of the men in uniform. Both parties are guilty of politicizing the AFP, one side encouraging the soldiers to take part in regime change and the other using the military in defending itself against political issues requiring political solutions.

The guidelines of General Senga should be clear to all soldiers and politicians that the AFP is not to be used a political tool. They should remain a neutral force in terms of politics but biased towards defending the Constitution and democracy.

But while their mission is to defend democracy, at the same time, they are not afforded the same freedoms that ordinary citizens enjoy. Among their limitations are the prohibition to participate in partisan politics and the freedom of speech. On the other hand, they are bound by the principles of civilian supremacy over the military and the chain of command.

This means that AFP should recognize that all duly elected officials of the government, whether pro-administration or anti-administration, are part of the civilian authority that governs over the whole nation, including the military organization. The military should respond to these leaders in a manner consistent with the AFP’s mandate, limitations and Constitutional rights and privileges. The political differences among politicians should not affect how the AFP relates to all parties concerned. There should be no anti/pro-administration or anti/pro-opposition.

However, politicians should also realize that the principle of civilian supremacy over the military is not a license for any civilian official, much a more a politician, to short circuit the chain of command. It does not mean that any civilian official can give orders to any soldier and expect them to be obeyed. It also does not mean that any civilian official can go ahead and talk about matters of state to any officer or soldier and hold them accountable for any statement they may make. In fact, unless the subject mater is personal in nature, the soldier is not obligated to discuss with anyone unless authorized by his superior. Thus, any dialogue with the soldiers even by elected officials must be covered with appropriate authorization from the military hierarchy.

Starting at 37

Today I start my blog. Why today? Well, for one thing, now is the only time that I got myself to actually sit down and type, although I've been wanting to join the blog community for quite some time now. My busy schedule just got in the way. ...nope, to be honest about it, it's just procastination. Some wise person came up with a very good saying---"You only have time for things that you really want to do".

We often say that we want to do, or even need to do things (such as exercise) but because of busy schedules, we are unable to. But somehow, we have time to wake up late and lie around in bed till mid-morning, watch television for hours on end, or stroll in the mall. But the hard reality is that we can make time for things that we really want to do. If we don't put it in our schedules, then it only means we don't have it in our priority list.

Anyway, another good reason for me to start this is that I just had my birthday yesterday. One good practice to start something is to attach significance to it. Much like the new year's resolutions that people make at the start of the year. Many wait one full year to make a resolution, but the fact is that we can resolve to change or initiate something anytime of the year.

For me, my birthday is a good reason to start my blog. I've been on this earth for 37 years now. Another year has passed, subtracting from the time allocated to me by God to be significant on earth. Looking back to those 37 years, have I really been significant?

I guess so. I married the woman I love, I fathered three wonderful sons with a fourth due in a several months, and am able to provide for their needs. I believe that is the most significant thing that anyone is expected to do during his life on earth. Rear a family and provide for them. All else is just an option.