The President's confirmation of a looming cabinet revamp will give her the opportunity to refresh and revitalize her governance. Change is always good, provided that good decisions are made.
Although the President has not categorically identified which agencies will be revamped, talks are rife about certain agencies which will undergo leadership change. One of those being touted for a change in leadership is the Department of National Defense.
With particular interest in defense establishment being the Vice Chairman of the House Committee on National Defense, I am urging the President to consider maintaining the Nonong Cruz/Gibo Teodoro formula in the leadership of the Department of Defense.
Both gentlemen have shown that a civilian Secretary of National Defense is an acceptable and effective formula for leadership of the country's defense establishment. Although an SND with military background has its advantages, the performance of former Sec. Cruz and present Sec. Teodoro has shown that a true-blue civilian with the appropriate qualities and qualifications is not only effective but also preferred.
The two gentlemen have proven that what the defense establishment needs is not a military strategist and tactician nor a commanding presence and bravado but a leader with management skills, balanced and adjustable personality, independent thought and most of all, political savvy. Importantly, the Secretary of National Defense must also be insulated from the seniority and “mistah” system that is prevailing within the military, enabling him or her, to make objective decisions as secretary. It also prevents the possibility of an SND micromanaging the organization and interfering in the job or even bypassing the AFP Chief of Staff.
The post of Secretary of National Defense is not military in nature but more of policy and management. Therefore, it is ideal that the SND knows how to relate to a wide spectrum of personalities, especially policy makers, stakeholders in the defense and security sector and politicians. While occupying such a powerful post, an SND must also know how to adjust to different levels of the different sectors he or she will be dealing with, unlike in the military establishment where rank and seniority is an established and strictly observed system.
Under these principles, I filed House Bill No. 1120 which proposes to prohibit a person from being appointed as Secretary of the Department of National Defense within three years after relief from active duty as a commissioned officer of a regular component of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
This also prevents officers in the active service, especially those in the top levels of leadership, from being politicized with the prospect of being appointed as SND after retirement. Active officers should concentrate on their jobs and remain professional until they retire from the service. The possibility of being given an appointed position such as SND is too much a prize to resist being politicized even while in active service.