PMAers speak up
9:15 pm | Sunday, October 27th, 2013
5 481 471
For many years, the Philippine Military Academy Alumni Association Inc. was largely a social club attending to homecoming affairs held annually during the month of February. Parades, class gatherings, picnics and donations for Fort Del Pilar were the order of the day insofar as homecoming activities were concerned. The association honored silver and golden jubilarians, as well as prominent alumni who distinguished themselves in various fields of endeavor, particularly those that rose to high positions in the military organization. There were programs that aimed to promote professionalism in the service but these were few and far between.
When it came to crucial issues of national concern, the association remained silent as though it had nothing to contribute to the exchange of ideas and views in our society. This state of affairs was the result of an association dominated by officers on active duty who are not allowed to publicly express their views on political matters, especially when they contradict official government policy. Neither are they allowed to air their grievances except through the established chain of command. Any violation of this principle could result in disciplinary action, including a possible court martial.
A good example of this reticence to speak up has to do with the “revolving door” policy of the government as it concerns the term of office of the AFP chief of staff. For more than a decade now we have had AFP chiefs serving, on the average, for 12 months at a time. Because of the rapid turnover at the top, appointments in many key positions below such as the head of the Western Mindanao Command, Eastern Mindanao Command, Central Command in the Visayas, the superintendent of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) and other major commands are basically short-term assignments. The commander has very little time to engage in meaningful planning of long-term projects that could very well bear fruit in the future.
Incidentally, our barangay chiefs, who will be elected today, will serve for a fixed term of three years.
One glaring anomaly that I have raised a number of times concerns the appointment of the head of the PMA. This premier military institution of the land, an institution that produces most of the key leaders of our armed forces, is headed by officials on the verge of retirement. The current superintendent retires in February after less than a year in office. He leaves without seeing any class graduate. His predecessor had even less time, staying at his post for only five months before retirement.
What was on the minds of our military leaders when these appointments were made? Certainly it was not the best interests of the institution. Just what can one expect from officers who are marking time prior to starting a new chapter in their lives?
And so, it is left to retired PMA graduates no longer in the active service, or in government, to speak up for their fellow alumni who share similar sentiments.
This is their voice.
A CALL FOR GOOD GOVERNANCE
Cognizant of the maxim that PUBLIC OFFICE IS A PUBLIC TRUST;
Conscious of the desire of the Filipino people for reform, transparency, and accountability in government operations;
Mindful of the negative long-term implication to peace and order and national security of the improper use of public funds and the non-adherence to accountability of public officials;
Aware of the current issues against the Congressional Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and the off-budget Presidential special funds, consisting of the Malampaya Fund, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) Fund, the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) Fund and the Road Users Tax Fund;
Knowing that the current issues are a result of a systems failure in governance, exacerbated by a breach of ethical standards by some public officials; and
Believing that national progress and the upliftment of the quality of life of all Filipinos, especially the less fortunate in society, can be better achieved if public funds are properly used;
We, the PMA Alumni Advocacy Group, composed of graduates of the Philippine Military Academy who are no longer in active service, hereby strongly recommend that:
1. The Congress and the President of the Philippines totally abolish the Congressional Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or “pork barrel funds” in whatever form;
2. The President of the Philippines discontinue the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP);
3. The President submit all unbudgeted funds, like the Malampaya Fund, the Road Users Tax, and the social funds from the PAGCOR and the PCSO, to the budgetary process and oversight power of Congress;
4. The Congress of the Philippines, in turn, provide the President with enough funds to deal with calamities and other contingencies, subject to its oversight power;
5. The Congress enact a law which provides that all revenues of the government from whatever source, including but not limited to the Malampaya Fund, the Road Users Tax, the PAGCOR Fund, and the PCSO Fund, be deposited in the National Treasury to be spent only as may be provided in the yearly General Appropriations Act, repealing or amending as necessary existing laws and Presidential issuances to the contrary;
6. Public officials who have been implicated in the misuse of their “pork barrel funds,” and/or in amassing wealth illegally in violation of the anti-plunder or anti-graft laws, take a leave of absence or resign from their positions, without prejudice to their prosecution for criminal offense as may be warranted;
7. The Judiciary of the Philippines, led by the Supreme Court, initiate reforms within its ranks to ensure speedy and impartial trial to punish the guilty and clear the innocent; and
8. All public officials, including members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), set the correct example in good governance, perform their duties as protectors of the people and the State, and not use their office as an opportunity to amass wealth illegally.