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Home Columns Reinventing the Philippines Reinventing the Philippine Military (Part Two)
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Columns - Reinventing the Philippines
Wednesday, 16 May 2007 11:04

 Part Two of "Reinventing the Philippine Military" Series

The national leadership must undertake more basic reforms needed in order to professionalize further the rank and file of the military and police. The politicians must realize that if they continue with the status quo and do not go for the mandated structural reforms, the men and women in uniform may just decide to do away with the present system (corrupt as it may be) and rule the country by themselves, with or without the participation of willing civilian leaders.

Suggested Basic Reforms

 

Here are some more suggested basic reforms:

 

1.0            Increase the pay of the enlisted men to livable scale. It is hard to be an honest cop or a soldier willing to lay down his life for the country if the basic pay amounts to only $100 to $200 per month. How and where to get the funds for the upgrading of the salary and fringe benefits of government employees? The government has only to reinvent its budget, so as to solve the country’s growing public indebtedness and budgetary deficits. The government can channel all the pork barrel being given to Congress and use the money to upgrade the salaries and fringe benefits of all government employees, especially the soldiers and the teachers.This writer has actually discussed as early as 2003 the mechanics of reinventing the budget of the government. An updated version will be posted in a coming installment of this series. 

           1.1            In order for the AFP and the PNP to earn additional funds for the welfare of their enlisted men, to bolster the military engineering brigades and medical corps. Let these military engineers bid for international contracts in reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan, Iraq, in the Middle East, Africa and South America. Let the medical corps operate hospital ships and operate inland hospitals within and outside the Philippines. 

           1.2            The engineering battalions and medical corps can be fielded also in the far-flung barrios to help build infrastructures. These development efforts can go a long way in winning the hearts and minds of the ordinary people. 

           1.3            As done in the People’s Republic of China, the navy can also operate profitably ocean-going cruise ships, cargo vessels and oil tankers that can also serve as floating petroleum reserves of the country. 

2.0            Organize as a priority impact project the long-proposed “Philippine Naval Academy (PNA)” and bolster the facilities, funding and enrollment for the PMA, the Flying School of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) and the Police Academy. As stated in the preceding sub-paragraph, new graduates of the PNA and naval retirees can be fielded in operating the proposed cruise and cargo vessels and oil tankers. 

           2.1             As early as 1982, I wrote about the need for the PNA. I obtained the support of several officers of the Philippine Navy. Among the supporters of the PNA idea were then Commodore Bert L. Lazo (now retired and based in Chicago, IL) and then Capt. Salvador G. Peran (now also retired). In May 1982 I visited Captain Peran who was then doing advanced studies at the Escuela de Guerra Naval in Madrid, Spain. He accompanied me in paying a visit to the superintendent of the SpanishNaval Academy. We obtained the superintendent’s promise for Spain to provide assistance if and when the PNA is organized. I lobbied for several years for the PNA but powers-that-be did not buy the idea.   

3.0           To increase further the morale of the military and police personnel, the national leadership must announce a long-term program to acquire new equipment for the AFP and the PNP. This means that the country will not accept hand-me-downs surplus and nearly-obsolete military equipment from the United States and other foreign donors. 

           3.1           The Philippine Navy for instance will have to be authorized to proceed with its nearly 20-year-old plan of acquiring brand-new frigates and/or destroyers, so as to protect the country’s fishing (economic) zones. How to pay for the brand-new equipment may involve innovative financing that may draw international support. The oil companies that want to tap the vast oil reserves in the Spratley Islands may help obtain credits for the Philippines to obtain these vessels and other state-of-the-art equipment. The tourism-oriented multinational firms that want to develop tourism potentials of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) may be persuaded to help the Philippines modernize its military. Because one use of these modern frigates and other brand-new military equipment is to combat international piracy in the China Sea. 

4.0            The military, including the Moro liberation armies and the NPA (under a grant of amnesty) should be allowed and encouraged to turn part of their military camps into enterprise zones. These proposed “military enterprise zones (MEZ)” might be used to raise livestock, produce dairy products and ultimately operate tanneries and leather factories. Perhaps the military can produce its own Filipino version of the combat boots. Yes, military-style shoes that would last more than the usual 30-day use as found in the present procurement system. Export versions of the combat boots, safety shoes and other leather craft and other cottage-industry products may be sold to foreign buyers and even to the Overseas Filipinos. 

           4.1           These military organizations may also be allowed to engage in reforestation by organizing tree-farming cooperatives, as described in Part Six of the series of articles about the “Filipino Version of ‘The Manhattan Project.’” To read the article, please click on this link http://www.mabuhayradio.com/content/view/134/90/ 

           4.2             Military units can also be the ideal operators of the thousands of hectares of abandoned fishponds in areas where peace-and-order situation is not ideal. This may be the best way to turn the proverbial swords into plowshares, sewing machines, canning equipment and fishing rods. In this age of international terrorism, the whole world needs beefed-up security systems and dependable infrastructures.

The AFP and the PNP may have to play bigger and more-responsible roles in securing the borders of the country and its thousands of inhabited islands. Professionalizing the Philippine military and keeping it economically viable will make the soldiers stay in the barracks and do their share in nation building.

It is ideal of course to continue civilian supremacy in the local and national governments. Civilian officials have to be strict followers of the rule of law and order because the military can easily turn it into a rule of men. Yes, a rule of armed men in military uniforms.  

(Click Here to Read Part 3)

 



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Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 November 2007 21:52
 

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