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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.
Personal Paper by Rolly Malinis
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
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
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
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-à-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
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
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.