Marcos Jr. administration

Political scientist Clarita Carlos is Marcos’ national security adviser

Lian Buan

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Political scientist Clarita Carlos is Marcos’ national security adviser

NSA PICK. President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. meets with his choice for national security adviser, retired political science professor Clarita Carlos, on June 8, 2022.

She will be the first female to hold the post
Political scientist Clarita Carlos is Marcos’ national security adviser

MANILA, Philippines – President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. chose a political scientist as national security adviser (NSA), a post typically given to former military officers.

Clarita Carlos, a retired political science professor from the University of the Philippines (UP), will be the first female to hold the post at least since the presidency of Marcos’ father.

The Marcos camp announced the pick Wednesday evening, June 8, saying that Carlos and the president-elect held a meeting for two hours at the Mandaluyong City headquarters earlier that day.

What is her background?

According to a profile on the National Research Council of the Philippines, Carlos was the first female civilian president of the National Defense College of the Philippines.

She is executive director of StratSearch Foundation, a policy think tank.

Carlos was perceived to be pro-Marcos during the campaign, after serving on the panel of SMNI’s presidential debate. She asked questions that were seen to raise the intellectual profile of the then-candidate who was criticized for not having a platform.

Before the campaign, Carlos was hit for her comments that seemed to whitewash the atrocities of the repressive martial law of Marcos’ father, the late ousted dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos.

Carlos’ warm ties to Marcos did not sit well with some of her colleagues in UP, a bastion of opposition during the dictatorship. The UP Department of Political Science eventually issued a public notice containing a list of active faculty members, or their professors emeritus, excluding Carlos’ name.

It was, in effect, a public distancing from Carlos that did not sit well with the retired professor. Carlos said of her colleagues in UP: “One does not need an IQ of 140 to see the real issue here…. It is not about being retired or active…but, clearly, it is about my not worshipping in the altar of their chosen candidate.”

What awaits her at the National Security Council?

Under recent administrations, the NSA post has typically gone to former military officers or politicians with defense background.

The NSA advises the president on all issues related to security – from counterterrorism and counterinsurgency to maritime security, especially now that Philippines is still staking its claim against China in the West Philippine Sea.

As director general of the National Security Council, Carlos will be vice chairperson of the anti-terror council, an executive body whose powers to arbitrarily designate people and groups as terrorists without going through the court have been upheld by the Supreme Court.

Marcos earlier said that he had asked Carlos what Cabinet post she preferred. It was not immediately clear if the NSA portfolio was her first pick. –

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan is a senior investigative reporter, and minder of Rappler's justice, human rights and crime cluster.