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.


mdiadem said...

Thanks, Ruffy,
I've just read this...will ponder on it more. Thanks so far for this.I have so many questions to ask, but later maybe...mbsensei


Dear Congressman,

Former CSAFP Senga's 5-point stand would have made sense had he, the highest military officer, acted with due diligence and uprightness in tackling the two issues that were haunting the military and the supreme civilian authority:

1. Made an unequivocal statement and promptly adopted a determined stand on the issue of the Mayuga Report. As CSAFP, he had the political and military power to do so. He needen't have divulged the actual contents of the Report but he could have easily drawn from it a substantial outline which he could have presented to the Senate. Although he was gagged (let's be honest about it, he was gagged) from appearing before the Senate, he could have tried to convince his 'commander-in-chief', as is his duty, that the AFP, officers and soldiers alike needed certain clarification in the spirit unity.

2. He should have acted upon the the insubordination of (if there was any) Brig General Danilo Lim before he retired instead of passing the buck on to his successor, then Lt General Esperon. I find that by failing to address the issues surrounding Brig General Lim, General Senga failed miserably in the performance of his rank and office. He wittingly committed a blatant human right violation on the person of a star-ranking general by refusing to make a distinct order on the then army commanding general to either release the former Scout Rangers commander or to charge him duly in the a military court.

Senga walked off with a blemish. I cannot regard him highly. His past military achievements were shadowed by the his poor military leadership ability when courage and military leadership mattered most.

General Senga's tenure as CSAFP might have been as difficult as your father's given the similarities in both situations but I reckon, since I believe I know both men well enough that Senga's stature compares poorly to the leadership stature that your father's military legacy left the AFP.