Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

[Newspoint] A compounding security problem

Vergel O. Santos
[Newspoint] A compounding security problem

David Castuciano

By itself, restiveness among soldiers should be problem enough

Troubles plague the security establishment, and no amount of rationalizing can make them look any less serious than they are. Their very nature makes them serious enough, involving as they do a most delicate facet of national life. If anything, they only tend to be affirmed by the half-baked, rash, or otherwise puzzling official responses to them. 

In the case of the police, it was the secretary of the interior and local government himself, Benjamin Abalos Jr., who rang the alarm – if rather indecisively. He asked his generals and colonels to hand in their “courtesy resignations.” He said a reevaluation of their fitness for leadership was called for in view of allegations of police involvement in drug trafficking. 

Abalos was quick to add, however, that he was not demanding their resignations, just asking – in other words, they may or may not oblige. It seemed apparent from the trappings of courtesy in which he wrapped his appeal that he didn’t have the confidence to institute an outright crackdown, much less the evidence for a court case.

Cases of drug-dealing among cops are actually nothing new. In fact, not too long ago, one case was blown open on national television during a Senate inquiry into the drug war President Rodrigo Duterte had declared upon taking office, in 2016 – although already out of office, Duterte himself remains the subject of pre-trial investigation by International Criminal Court prosecutors for the brutality of the conduct of his war. 

At its height, a police general, Oscar Albayalde, was summoned to the Senate to answer allegations that, when he was a provincial police chief, in 2013, he had protected 12 of his men accused of selling confiscated drugs; he forthwith quit as Duterte’s national police chief. The progress of that case, if it progressed at all, has gone unreported, and that failing, definitely not an isolated instance, may well be one reason the problem continues.

Grumblings have also begun to surface from inside the military. They don’t appear connected, whether by plot or by sympathy, to the police case, but the two cases could feed upon each other, thus compounding the problem. 

By itself, restiveness among soldiers should be problem enough. Three cases in the nation’s recent history are worth revisiting for lessons in how far it could go: the coup that led to the People Power protests that ended the 14-year dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, in 1986; the military breakaway that capped the popular clamor for the ouster, in 2001, of the corrupt presidency of Joseph Estrada; and the split in military allegiance that nearly brought down, in 2006, the high-handed presidency of Gloria Arroyo.

The current disaffection goes back to Duterte’s time, over favoritism in promotions and appointments. It was a practice unsurprising in a closed regime. Anyway, continued into the presidency of Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the problem was only bound to grow. 

Only in recent days, Marcos removed the armed forces chief of merely six months and reinstalled his predecessor. By such irregular presidential action, he prompted the resignation of the secretary of defense, whom he replaced with another general recycled from retirement, again a practice from Duterte’s time.

Irregular as the whole affair may seem, with a Marcos it should have been no surprise: he can’t be but his father’s son. And picking up where the Duterte presidency left off and taking a Duterte daughter for vice president, he is a turtle who has just built its own pond.

He is proving to be his mother’s son, too. He likes to make speeches and sing and party and travel, and to fit his diplomacy in the context of PR Which makes him a pure breed from the conjugal dictatorship. 

How to find some place for those security troubles among his happy habits is the problem. Well, those troubles happen to be of the precise sort that spelled the end for his father, the genius that he was. And, on that particular count, Junior is definitely nothing like him. – Rappler.com

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