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Personal Paper by Rolly Malinis '71

We have heard several arguments against "heroic" attitude of some young cavaliers. Since 1986, in some way or another, military men who rebelled against government corruptions and inequalities are branded differently depending on who is talking. The government and their allies have called them "traitors/murderers/rogues". But a number of people, who wanted to see reforms, consciously or unconsciously have labeled them as "heroes". This paper will attempt to offer an alternative view regarding this matter.

This brief has three purposes: 1) to present a sociological model that can offer some explanation to the military minds of these young rebels and those before them; 2) to test the effectiveness of various proposals with the model as the criterion; and 3) to offer some useful insights as aid to finding the right approach to a more lasting solution to the problem.

Is the heroic attitude of our military people unique only to the Philippines? If it is, then by all means, let us resolve it with this basic assumption. But if it happened also in other countries, then we could take advantage from their experiences to help us understand them and the surrounding problems.

The fact is that American military history have undergone the same experience, as we are today where military people thought of themselves as heroes and hence could defy the government to advance their idealistic views.

How do social scientists explain these heroic military mind and attitude? An American author, Mr. Alfred McCoy in his book "Closer Than Brothers: Manhood at the Philippine Military Academy" thought of the classic model from American sociology by Morris Janowitz and Samuel Huntington. This model isolated the factors that led Western officers away from an eighteenth-century heroic ideal toward a modern professionalism where the military is subordinated to civilian authority. According to the book, the model states that modern military is transformed from the "the heroic leader" into the "military manager" where "a uniformed civil servant subordinated to civilian authority". 

Despite McCoy's reluctance to this effect, I believe that the rebellion by the young Filipino officers and those before them may be interpreted consistent with the sociology model. The explanation can be implicitly read from the books own statement saying the model "seems to work best for societies, like the United States, where the change is complete". At that time, the US was on its state of high economic development and stable democratic and efficient government. As the book reported, the Philippine government chose the Western ideal of military professionalism when it opened PMA in 1936. President Quezon sought the support of American advisors to make it operational. From then on, the idea of military professionalism was ingrained in the mind of every graduate from the pre-war classes to the post-war classes.

The truth of the matter is that the Philippine condition was not ripe for the final and complete transition to military professionalism. The situation was still very volatile. Once the young and idealistic military minds was exposed to a high degree of political corruption, coupled with the presence of radical political ideas, global changes and given a strong leader, the spirit of idealism, patriotism, and public service planted in the heart and mind of every graduate would be aroused. Breakdown of military professionalism or socialization was inevitable. Yes, the Philippine military development is still in the "heroic" phase. There could be no short cut. As the sociological model is saying the transition is from a "heroic" leader to "military manager". For the Philippines, that change will only be complete when the country shall have achieved that state of high economic development and stable and efficient government. In the mean time, the only thing to do is continue to inject that spirit of military professionalism to the military and lessen the impact of factors causing them to break away from this fragile state of professionalism.

In the light of the above model, let us review the different ideas that came out as a result of the Makati rebellion.

Will abolishing PMA solve the problem? Corollary to that, did the US decide to abolish West Point? The fact that West Point is still here seems to suggest that the military school is not the problem. Abolishing West Point to them would mean depriving the American nation of people with character and idealism.

Will changing the curriculum of PMA solve the problem? I am sure it will help. Now, you should know though that the solution is only a dot vis--vis the reforms needed.

Will diminishing the idealism or camaraderie or mistah system among PMA graduates solve the problem? Can we isolate mistah system from the total PMA culture? Is a minus or a plus?

Does the proposal to create separate academies help solve the problem? Will these not only create subset of PAF, PN, or PA heroics? No matter what you may call these heroes, the light to spark rebellion will still be there as long as the external factors are kept unchanged.

Will punishing the different officers and men responsible for the Makati rebellion prevent its occurrence in the future? - Maybe for a short time period. But remember, these people are human being who react to its environment. Give them a world where social and economics conditions are worst coupled with corruption, inequalities, and government and civilian sector's unresponsiveness for the need to reform, rebellion or anything of that sort will soon explode.

Will reforming the AFP alone help prevent the recurrence of rebellion? If you were dozing when reading this paper, I have to tell you again that the AFP is only part of the total solution. Reforming the AFP leaving the other areas constant may not be enough to create an atmosphere where the fully transformed "military managers" will persist.

Let us extend our journey outside of the military circle.

The Filipino people would be grateful for the efforts of PGMA and countless senators, congressmen, justices, businessmen, professors, media, students, and protestors to deal with the problems. Some of them have even overextended their enthusiasm. A lot of cavaliers and military soldiers have been mocked, humiliated, harassed, sued, branded as "spoiled brats, traitors, rogues, etc" as if getting rid of them will remedy the situation. The PMA once again is under heavy fire. I wish to issue this reminder to all of them - don't let their impassioned appeal blind them with the fact that theirs are not the absolute solution . because they are indeed part of the problem too!

Let us look at it in another way. These young people and all of us are the problems. The only difference is that they are impatient and willing to sacrifice their careers and reputations to make us realize the existence of the problems and the need to act on them; while we who are on the sidelines who see the rebels as the sole problem have refused to acknowledge that our failure to change, reform, and do our jobs are responsible for the rebel's behavior. Ironically, we are the ones that push them to commit mutiny.

Should we run after the rebels only? Should we not run also for the SND for his failure to curb corruption on the military? Should we not run after the different secretaries, the congressmen, the senators, the justices, other government officials for their failure to institute reforms, check corruption, and all those inequalities in their respective areas? Should we not run after the President for her failure in governance? Should we not run after the businessmen and the people for tolerating these corruption and inefficiencies in the government? We will end up with a very long list but there is one compelling conclusion. We, ourselves, are the ones that created the environment encouraging the Makati mutiny. The nightmare for the rebels will soon be a reality - they will be punished, jailed, and deprived of decent living for themselves and their families. The people who encouraged the act will remain scathe free. Very unPMA like, is it not?

Right now, what we need are strong leaders who have the courage to admit the truth that they failed. We need strong leaders who would not blame others for their failure to govern. We need strong leaders who would accept responsibility for failure of governance. We need strong leaders who would remain focus on the issues and not on attacking personalities.

Now more than ever, we need strong leaders who would rise up to rally the people/subordinates to get involved in the total approach solution to the problem.

As final parting words, I hope it would be easier for you to realize now that the actions we are seeing around are mere stopgap measures with a short-range impact. Yes, my dear cavaliers so far our experts are shooting the dancing "ballerina" and no permanent solution is yet in sight not unless we recognize that -- we are not the solution; we are the problem. Hence, the nation's focus should be less on scrutinizing the military men but more on creating an environment where: government efficiencies reign; the economy blooms; and moral values are high. Then and only then can we achieve a long lasting solution to the problem.

 

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