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Archive for April, 2010

A Manifesto for Our Country, Part 2: Security

Posted by conscientioussubversive on April 5, 2010

An Agenda for 2010: The section that follows is a comprehensive list for what I believe should be the national agenda of any Presidential candidate. While they should take the lead in implementing this, they will require the support of competent public officials to make this a reality, and as such applies to all our public servants.





We have the weakest military in Southeast Asia, and I say this with no qualifiers. We have no operational air superiority fighters, (all our F5s are no longer operational due to lack of maintenance) our navy is in shambles (we only have three 20-year old ex-British peacock class patrol craft as the backbone of our navy, and very little patrol or recon capability), and our army has become a police force.

The fact that it took a US ship operating in our waters to detect a Chinese submarine just outside Subic Bay isn’t just embarrassing, it’s alarming! China is massively expanding its blue water capability and consolidating its structures in the Spratlys, including the construction of aircraft runways. If we are to show the Chinese and other hostile states that we are serious about protecting our sovereignty, we need to modernize our military NOW.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe we should immediately assume a war footing, and I don’t think we should spend on our military at the expense of infrastructure and education. However, there are ways we can modernize smartly to boost the capabilities of our military. For instance:

Instead of focusing on buying expensive maritime patrol craft, we should tap our nascent shipbuilding industry to design and build small, fast patrol craft suitable to both our tropical climate, our indented geography and our extremely long coastlines. Such craft should be capable of speeds up to 50 knots, be equipped with radar and sonar, and have armaments including rapid firing machine guns, and small anti-air and anti-ship missiles. A large number of these small craft could do better to protect our coastal waters from maritime robbery and intrusions than a few large craft. The latter can come once we are stronger economically.

For our air force, we need to improve our radar coverage and position anti-aircraft batteries along strategic points along our coastlines, including mobile anti-air batteries. As we cannot afford to purchase fighter aircraft, having a hailstorm of anti-aircraft rockets could go a long way to deterring airborne incursions.

Finally, our army needs to be downsized and professionalized. We should adopt Singapore’s model of retiring our top officers at the age of 50, allowing them to train junior officers and to do strategic planning at both government and private think tanks. Once they retire, they should leave formal government service and be limited to consulting roles. No more armchair generals lounging at Camp Aguinaldo and living off fat paychecks, or Generals taking on civilian positions in government. They should get a single large retirement fund, and no more. Should they squander this, they should be left on their own.

Our soldiers should abandon large formations and manoeuvres, which are not only outdated, but also inappropriate for our fragmented geography. We should pattern our army after North Vietnam’s, especially in terms of the way it combined mobility and firepower at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu. There, General Giap was able to not only surround the stationary French force at the airfield, but he was also able to bring significant artillery bombardments to bear in hidden placements. We need new thinking and fresh ideas to arise, and should encourage young staff officers to develop new strategies for our defence at the Philippine Military Academy. Aside from active defence, our military should also study how it can play a part in disaster preparedness and relief, given the vulnerability of our country to calamities.


I list this area next because its resolution is heavily dependent on the previous section. If one reads the great works on counterinsurgency and terrorism by esteemed scholars such as David Gallula and Gerard Chaliand, a common point made by all is that counterinsurgencies are won on the political arena, not on the battlefield. For as long as the state is unable to provide political and economic security, (best encapsulated by the concept of Human Security) insurgent groups will remain attractive to the dispossessed.

Thus, reforms in both agriculture and in the governance of communities that contribute to insurgencies will be required to address the grievances of people. Once these grievances are addressed, and trust is restored in local authorities, incentives should be provided for combatants to surrender their arms and to return to the fold of greater society. Recalcitrant insurgents should then be given a final opportunity to surrender peacefully. Otherwise, they should be classified as criminals according to their actions, and be arrested by the police. I am hesitant to recommend the deployment of the army in this case because I believe that this is both an overreaction and counterproductive to the formation of a depoliticized army.

Our military should avoid ‘scorched earth’ tactics and respect the human rights of captured insurgents. I believe it is only when our military can claim the high ground of conduct in fighting our insurgencies that the tide will turn in favor of the government.


The same recommendations in the previous section also apply to the resolution of the conflict with our Muslim brothers in the south, but there are additional measures that should be implemented.

First, land reform policies should immediately be implemented for the benefit of Muslims and lumads who were displaced from their land as a result of the conflict in Mindanao. Part the of the reason why the conflict in Mindanao broke out in the first place was because the people of Mindanao were systematically disregarded and excluded from the development policies of the nation, and were displaced by colonists coming in from Visayas and Luzon. When they began to compete for land, both sides turned to arms, and soon warlords arose from both camps.

While the proposal that I propose may seem extreme, it seems that no ordinary compromise will ever help resolve the violence in Mindanao. We must initiate a massive arms-for-land campaign in Mindanao, where a survey of untitled or dubiously titled land should reveal which areas should be distributed. Lands targeted for redistribution should mostly be located in areas of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, especially lands owned by provincial warlords. By encouraging the lower ranks of armed groups to turn their weapons in for a chance to legitimately own land, we can weaken the power of warlords and rebel leaders. At the same time, the arms turned in should be used to beef up a special unit of the police force that shall serve as peacekeepers in newly pacified areas. This ‘Constabulary’ should be trained in human rights, but also be equipped with considerable firepower and trained in counter-insurgency tactics to fight warlords who dare to oppose the government.

By offering the carrot of land and peace and order while also carrying the big stick of legitimate armed force, we can strengthen the state and crush the feudalist warlords in Mindanao once and for all.


The root cause of crime in our country is inequality and impunity. When people are deprived of the basic rights of education, housing, health and a job, they will fall prey to desperation. And when the legal system fails to enforce laws punishing those who abuse the system, crime becomes a way of life.

Because corruption in our police and law enforcement encourages impunity, we must address this. One thing we should do is to simplify our bureaucracy and to create clear chains-of-command to ensure that when things go wrong, it is easy to identify who is responsible. Next, we should ensure that our police force is paid high enough that it doesn’t need to take bribes from our citizenry in order to survive. Salaries should be comparable at least to people who work in offices to make policing an honorable profession. In addition, housing, education and health care should be subsidized to a higher degree than ordinary citizens, to encourage people to maintain careers in the police force. Ombudspersons at the municipal level should be established for both ordinary police and citizens to report misconduct and to conduct investigations of corruption anonymously and quickly.

Our criminal laws should also be revamped and simplified. Instead of wordy, vague and ambiguous penalties, most of our laws should be rewritten in both clear English and Filipino to allow the law to be understood better. Instant penalties, payable through banks and post offices to the national government should be imposed in the following areas: traffic violations, littering and pollution, tax offences, building code violations, and in the government: abuses of authority. Clear penalties posted conspicuously in public areas should make it clear that the government, while respecting human rights, will not tolerate misdemeanours that make society less civilized. A national police hotline should be established to report both misdemeanours and violent crimes, linked to municipal precincts. Should police fail to respond in time, they should be reported to ombudspersons for disciplinary probation.

For violent crimes, the police should be permitted to use deadly force against individuals who commit crimes using deadly weapons to intercept criminals in the act. While I do not believe in the death penalty, deadly force should be used to deal with dangerous criminals.


Our country should redefine our maritime boundaries and territories according to the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, ensuring that our archipelagic territory encompasses the waterways between islands and the seabed among them. We should also abandon our implausible claim to Sabah, in exchange for Malaysia agreeing to establish a common customs area between Sabah and Mindanao, and to allow free passage for both Filipino and Malaysian citizens between our territories. In depoliticizing the area, we can encourage economic cooperation and trade between those two territories, allowing both to develop.

We should also shore up defences of our extremities in the Spratlys and Scarborough Reef, establishing radar and surveillance facilities, air defence installations, and hardened defence points. Such equipment should prove to our competitors that we mean business, and should war ever erupt, they can also ensure that our enemies fight long and hard for every inch of Philippine territory.

PART 3: Governance and PART 4: Culture will follow this entry.


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