Monday, November 16, 2009

Norberto Gonzales is a Risk in the Department of Defense

The appointment of Norberto Gonzales as Defense Secretary is not an assuring development in the defense sector. Rather, it is a backward step from all the gains brought about by previous leaderships in the department, from Sec. Avelino "Nonong" Cruz to Sec. Gilbert Teodoro.

The National Security Advsier has exhibited partisanship, actively espousing his own political ideology even among the ranks of the AFP, which is mandated by the constitution to be non-partisan, non-political. A few years ago, he conducted seminars among soldiers encouraging them to initiate political change contrary to the policies of the AFP and DND which prescribe soldiers to be insulated from politics. In those seminars, he advocated his personal political ideology and in a not-so-subtle approach, try to convince the soldiers that the current political system needs to be replaced and the ones to take the initiative should be the armed forces. On pressure from this representation, he was forced to stop the seminars which was deemed by the DND as unauthorized.

It is also troubling to note that Norberto Gonzales also recently proposed an extra constitutional transition government, which intended to prevent the conduct of the 2010 elections. With the national and local elections coming, there is great danger that Norberto Gonzales may use it as an opportunity to further his political agenda with the Department of Defense and the Armed Forces as his tools.

These are enough for us to see the appointment of Norberto Gonzales as risky not just to the professionalism and neutrality of the AFP, but also to the constitutional processes.

To top it off, he has exhibited a hostile attitude to the constitutionally mandated oversight institutions. He purposely avoided attending budget hearings of his agency, not giving respect to the House and Senate. As

A more acceptable person should be named as permanent replacement as soon as possible. Otherwise, the AFP will suffer in morale and may affect the professionalism of our soldiers.

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