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Jun 07th
Home Columns Reinventing the Philippines A Call to Arms? (Part4 of Reinventing the RP Military)
A Call to Arms? (Part4 of Reinventing the RP Military) PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - Reinventing the Philippines
Friday, 18 May 2007 03:48

Part Four of "Reinventing the Philippine Military" Series

Even in November 2000 at the height of the impeachment trial of then President Joseph Estrada, some Filipinos batted online for military leadership.

This was the euphemism for a military dictatorship (junta). Some readers advanced in the Forum (that was the forerunner of the not only the cause of a military-run state but also the suggestion that the Filipino youth should join the Philippine military.

At that time, as the editor of, I interviewed Overseas Filipinos and some of them thought that perhaps Filipino families should send many of their qualified children to the Philippine Military Academy (PMA). They thought that the PMA is still a bastion of decent, law-abiding military officers, who are all willing to die for their country.

I wrote in turn that perhaps the Overseas Filipinos should help the Philippines provide more funds to the PMA and the Flying School of the Philippine Air Force. I wrote also – as I have been writing since the early 1980s – for the need to help create a Philippine Naval Academy (PNA) that will produce excellent graduates for the maritime industry and the Philippine Navy.

Perhaps I said that a political rallying cry could be patterned after the American slogans. Remember the mottos, "A Ford in every garage" or "A chicken in every pot"? Can it be a PMAyer (also spelled as "Peemayer") or an air-force pilot or a naval officer in every Filipino family?

But even then at the height of President Estrada’s trial and tribulation, there was the criticism that the Political Establishment was corrupting the leaders of the Philippine military.

There were accusations that some top officers of the PNP were receiving payolas from gambling lords and vice operators. And worse, there were rumors that some police and military officers were actually protecting the illegal-drug distributors. In fact, some journalists suggested that some high-ranking men-in-uniform were the actual distributors of the “shabu” (amphetamine-based drug).

Then came the second people-powered revolution (EDSA Dos) that toppled Mr. Estrada from the Philippine presidency. EDSA Dos was in reality a coup d’etat, as without the support of the military top brass and the Department of Defense, then Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo would not and could not have occupied the presidential palace.

The junior officers, especially the PMA graduates, thought that reforms would also be done in the military. But nothing really changed for the better in the military and the police after EDSA Dos. The same accusations regarding the involvement of top men-in-uniform in illegal gambling, vice and prohibited drugs continued to surface. As if it was the same dog, only with a different collar – to use an idiomatic expression.

Scandals erupted that involved some generals who were accused of pocketing appropriations for the enlisted men. They were said to be making illegally lots of money in procuring military supplies from combat boots (that lasted only a month) to ammunition (that parts of which somehow got sold to Muslim and communist rebels).

Then came the now-dubbed “Oakwood Mutiny” that rocked the Arroyo Dispensation on July 27, 2003. Former Sen. Gregorio Honasan III and Antonio Trillanes IV supposedly led the uprising. The two alleged ring leaders are now part of the Magic 12 in the tabulations of votes for the Philippine Senate cast in the May 14, 2007, elections. It was the same Colonel Honasan who led six coup attempts against the Cojuangco-Aquino presidency, which was saved only because of American intervention – as there were then U.S. military bases in the Philippines.

The career military officers, especially the young PMA graduates, are literally and figuratively up in arms over the scandals and corruption happening in the military. The Young Turks (as Filipino journalists throughout the years labeled the junior officers) abhor the politicization of the top brass. They detest reports that the Office of the President supposedly gives every general – whether in the AFP or in the PNP – one-million pesos every quarter in “performance bonus” that is not subject to audit by the Commission on Audit.

Students of serious history note that most-successful coups were launched by junior or mid-level officers. Samuel Doe of Liberia was a mere first lieutenant when he toppled a corrupt civilian government. Muamar Khadafi of Libya was about to be promoted to colonel when he and his supporters decided to eliminate all the generals benefiting from a corrupt monarchy. The Libyan monarch was also purged. The rest is history.

We will discuss next in this series the “Anatomy of the Coming Coup,” as told by my supposed sources in the Philippine military. We will talk about also the alleged reasons why the “Oakwood Mutiny” failed.  # # #

(Click Here to Read Part 5) 

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 October 2008 00:38

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