Homobono A. Adaza
“Freedom to differ is not limited to things that do not matter much. That would be a mere shadow of freedom. The test of its substance is the right to differ as to things that touch the heart of the existing order.” – Justice Robert Jackson
“Civilian authority is, at all times, supreme over the military. The Armed Forces of the Philippines is the protector of the people and the State. Its goal is to secure the sovereignty of the State and the integrity of the national territory.” – Section 3, Article II of the Constitution.
I used to have a healthy respect for National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana. Among the many cabinet secretaries of President Duterte he towers above all of them in intelligence, rationality, independence and civility. While the rest of them act like cowering canines, Lorenzana projected courage, without fear of being publicly reprimanded or removed from his job. It takes character and integrity to do that under President Duterte.
The most significant and exemplary act in his career was when he publicly contradicted President Duterte about the idea of establishing a revolutionary government. Without hesitation, he categorically stated that the military will not go along with the idea. Like a chastened leader who just woke up from a desired sweet dream, Duterte was pushed into silence. Since then, despite consistent prodding from some of his staunch supporters, Duterte ceased to blabber about establishing a revolutionary government.
Good for Lorenzana and Duterte as well.
UP and DND agreement: It is bilateral agreement, not a unilateral commitment. Being bilateral, it cannot be abrogated by one of the parties without the consent of the other, unless there is a provision for unilateral abrogation. In this case, none exists. So the abrogation is illegal. Lorenzana can be charged before the Ombudsman for violating section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019, doing something injurious to the government as well as to UP and its faculty, students and its officers and employees and section 4 of RA 6713 for doing something undemocratic, unprofessional, ant-nationalist and unpatriotic.
Lorenzana can also be charged administratively and civilly for violating section 1, Article XI of the Constitution which requires that public officers and employees “must at all times be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiently, act with patriotism and justice.” All the cited provisions of law and the Constitution have obviously been violated by Lorenzana and President Duterte as his co-conspirator since Lorenza announced publicly that the abrogation of the agreement is with the consent of the President.
Ground for abrogation: The SND stated as a reason for the abrogation of the agreement – that UP has become the recruitment place of the CPP-NPA. It is a claim without showing any evidence. . If there is evidence, Lorenzana should show it to the UP authorities, consistent with the agreement. If he cannot show any evidence, then Lorenza’s claim is merely speculative. Speculation cannot be a basis for the abrogation of an agreement.
Assuming Lorenzana shows evidence of CPP-NPA recruitment of students in UP campuses, why did not Lorenzana confront the UP authorities? What is the evidence? How was it secured? If the UP authorities were not informed of the operation which resulted to the gathering of evidence within any UP campus, then the military is guilty of violating the agreement.
Military: The spokesmen of the military claim that UP should explain why there were UP graduates who got killed in military operations against the rebels. You don’t have to come from UP to join the revolutionary movement – that is a matter of personal choice, it is not the fault of the institution.
When then Lt. Victor Corpuz and the late Capt. Crispin Tagamolila, both graduates of the Philippine Military Academy, joined the revolutionary movement did the military ask the PMA authorities to explain why the duo joined the CPP-NPA? Did it start conducting operations of any kind in the PMA to determine whether rebel recruitment in the Academy was going on?
When ten fresh PMA graduates were assigned to the Bureau of Customs to help in the campaign against graft and corruption in the Bureau but ended getting involved in graft and corruption themselves, did the DND ask the PMA authorities to explain the behavior of the PMA graduates? Did DND start policing the PMA whether recruitment was going on for cadets and graduates to join the ranks of the corrupt?
When generals and other officers of the military were accused of being involved in graft and corruption not only in military contracts but on day to day operations did the DND ask the military units to explain why there is graft and corruption? Did DND start conducting intelligent operations to rid of recruitment into the ranks of those involved in graft and corruption?
When some of the finest graduates of the PMA organized and joined coups against the Cory Aquino government, did DND ask itself why some of the best PMA graduates organize and join the coups? Did it start conducting intelligent operations among the ranks of the military whether recruitment was going on?
Did the DND inquire into the causes of why PMA graduates join the revolutionary movement, involve themselves in scandalous graft and corruption, and organize and join coups to overthrow the government? Why?
Why, oh why, Lorenzana?
Solution: When a solution is irrational, the normal response of knowledgeable and intelligent individuals is to say – Burning the house to kill a mouse. Invasion of universities by the military has never worked since time immemorial. Why? You cannot kill ideas by killing people. You kill ideas with better ideas.
The problem of the military is – it never study or re-study its strategy and tactics. It should read and analyze. Establishing its threatening and bullying presence in the University of the Philippines will never work. That kind of tactic has been tried here and in many parts of the world – it has never worked. It did not work with President Marcos who was a brilliant product of the UP; it will never work with anyone. Why? The reason is as clear as day – if the military does its homework.
On the other hand, the military approach produces contrary results – intensify recruitment of students into the fold of the CPP-NPA.
Recruitment: It exists everywhere – in UP, in other schools, in churches, in the labor force, in the government, in the professions. The greatest recruiter of rebellion and revolution is the government. Why? It represents a system that is rotten to the core – poverty, oppression, abuse of power, graft and corruption, irrational approaches to problems, lack of opportunities, lack of education, a failed justice system and a dysfunctional government, lack of adequate health services and inadequacy to promote the right ideas and values. In short – it is injustice. Poverty is unjust in a country that is democratic and boasts of being Christian.
Oppression, abuse of power and graft and corruption is unjust because they violate the fundamental provisions of the Constitution and the rule of law as well as the human person. Lack of opportunities, lack of education, and lack of adequate health services is unjust because it is failure of government to provide for them as these are basic government functions. Failure to promote the correct values and put them into practice is unjust because it is the duty of government to do it.
In short and as they say – deprive a man of food and he will beg for food, deprive a man of justice and he will join the revolution.
Rebellion and revolution: These are the different names of courses of action for system change to produce a better life for the people – the government calls it rebellion; rebels as well as political thinkers and historians call it revolution Central to the core of their use is – injustice. Let us take a closer look of the Philippine experience focusing on schools – civilian and military, on their students and graduates.
In the case of UP, it has produced some of the most outstanding revolutionary thinkers of our time – some of them not just thinking but organizing and joining revolutions. The names are interminable, so to say. Let us start with the affluent Lava family – Dr. Jesus Lava, Atty. Jose Lava and economist Horacio Lava. They all graduated from the UP with the highest of honors. Two of the brothers joined the revolution – earlier than the CPP-NPA.
Francisco Nemenzo, Jr., former President of UP is one of the most outstanding revolutionary thinkers and scholars who UP has ever nurtured and ever seen..
Jose Maria Sison, a scion of a wealthy family from the Ilocos – founder and leader of the CPP-NPA up to this day is a poet, professor, thinker and an undying revolutionary. Nur Misuari is the founder of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). And many more – some have fallen in the night like Antonio Tagamolila, editor-in-Chief of the Philippine Collegian, official student publication of UP, Diliman campus and Lorena Barros and some still alive like Dr. Carol Pagaduan Araullo.
They are the best and the brightest doing honor to the reason why UP exists – the promotion and preservation of the tradition of excellence in all fields of human activities; the promotion and preservation of the aristocracy of the mind; and the training of excellent Philippine national and community leaders.
Under the UP environment not just rebels and revolutionaries have been produced but President and leaders in Congress and the judiciary – Presidents Laurel, Roxas, Quirino and Marcos as well as a smattering of UP education in Presidents Garcia, Magsaysay and Macapagal who spent some years in colleges at UP; Presidents of the Senate like Gil Puyat and Marcos, Speakers of the House of Representatives like Eugenio Perez, Jose “Pepito” Laurel, Jr., Jose de Venecia, Noli Fuentebella and Alan Peter Cayetano and Speaker Nicanor Yñiguez of the Batasan Pambansa; and Chief Justices of the Supreme Court like de Castro and Sereno.
UP produces the best and the brightest in various shades of the spectrum. Rebel and revolutionary or not – this is quite a formidable contingent. To cross sword with this type of a crowd is like stirring the hornet’s nest.
Back to school: Now Lorenzana admits that tagging people Reds is an error of the military. He, however, insists that the military will not budge in the abolition of the UP-DND two decades agreement signed by Defense Secretary Enrile and President Ramos, both allies of President Duterte.
This abolition formula does not work, especially so because it is a typical approach of the Duterte administration – creating solution which is a problem. The Anti-Terrorism Act is a problem. The senseless killing of thousands of illegal drug addicts is a problem.
Charter change is a problem. Solutions become problems – giving birth to more problems. When will the Duterte administration ever learn?
This current approach failed in demolishing communist insurgency in China about a century ago. Mao Tse Tung, Chou-en Lai and Chu Te demolished Chiang Kai Shek and democratic capitalism. Ho Chi Minh, Vo Nguyen Giap and Van Tien Dong defeated this same approach in South Vietnam from Ngo Dinh Diem to Nguyen Van Thieu. Fidel Castro and Ernesto “Che” Guevarra defeated Battista in Cuba. Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin defeated the Czars in Russia. The kind of approach DND is using never worked in these countries. It will not work here.
So the military should go back to basics – study the fundamentals and the past. It is working on the wrong goals and adopting wrong approaches. The communist insurgency has been in this country for the past fifty years. The strategy and tactics of the military has failed including this one. It’s about time Lorenzana and the generals look at themselves in the mirror, review what they are doing, learn from the experience of other countries and start anew.
Footnote to history: President Duterte is very fond of saying – Don’t mess with me, every time someone touches him on the wrong side of his head – like impeachment, his presidential security guards and his family.
Secretary Lorenzana and the military should learn from President Duterte. Don’t mess with UP! It is not too late to learn. Stop this abrogation brouhaha. Lift the abrogation order – sit down and dialogue with the UP President. That is the right thing to do. HAA