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HOWIE SEE IT: Politicizing the military

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By Atty. Howie Calleja

To begin, let me first contextualize the situation … In a recent statement, Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa shared his disappointment on an upperclassman who has cooperated and testified against him and PRRD before the ICC. To quote, “So sad of my upperclassman. When PRRD was about to remove you from your post because you are a Pnoy appointee, I moved heaven & earth to dissuade him. You finished the whole 6-year term”.

At the onset, I will not diminish such an emotional response from the Senator for feeling that he was somewhat thrown under the bus amid the drug war inquiry by the International Criminal Court (ICC) by a “Mistah” because I know nothing about their relational connection. But I will comment on the implications of such remarks.

Quite obvious was his intervention for this “unnamed” upperclassman (who now he feels being betrayed despite giving him/her a favor).

Well, such “padrino” approach has clearly politicized the professional code for the military and police. Any promotion or assignment should never be based on who appointed you or how close you are to a “padrino” (otherwise known as patronage politics — the value system where one gains favor, promotion, or political appointment through family affiliation [nepotism] or friendship [cronyism], as opposed to one’s merit).

Merit is loyalty to the institution and country while a “padrino system” is loyalty to the person. And take note, Sen. Dela Rosa’s disappointment mirrors his (and PRRD’s) propensity to collect on a political debt or favor. His statement appears to imply that by allowing the upperclassman to finish the 6 year term of PRRD he is forever indebted to them and is expected to hide the truth and not cooperate with legal entities both foreign and domestic. Sadly, patronage politics corrupts government institutions whereby loyalty to the appointing authority or to a “padrino” takes precedence to truth, justice and loyalty to our motherland.

I do hope we can revisit the late Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago’s piece of legislation as she introduced the “anti-political recommendations” bill, to deprive incumbent officials of the power to “influence the appointment of persons to government posts through the exercise called ‘political recommendations.” As such, this will dissuade the “padrino system” which allows the appointment of unqualified individuals to government positions over those who are really qualified based on their merits.

So, despite what Sen. Dela Rosa may have personally felt; I still salute our morally upright men and women in uniform who despite the social pressures of the “padrino system” are still committed to never be subservient to their appointing authorities most especially when it is immoral to do so.

We should start practicing genuine professionalism and meritocracy as it is enshrined in our code of good public governance. We should learn to get rid of patronage politics and “twisted” loyalty to one person but rather we should promote unity, love and loyalty to our country.

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