Editorial: Tougher discipline, stricter watch

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Sunday, May 25, 2014

THE Philippine Army soldier released by the New People’s Army (NPA) last Monday after 16 days of being held captive faces dismissal from service, said the spokesperson for the Army’s 10th Infantry Division Capt. Ernest D. Carolina.

"Corporal Rosales is facing possible (dismissal) from the service (after he was) found him guilty of violating the Articles of War 97, committing an act, which is prejudicial to good orders and military discipline and discredits the entire organization," Carolina said.

That’s good.


In a situation where the rebel group is plucking military and paramilitary personnel here and there and releasing them everywhere, whether the military admits it or not, the rebels are gaining major propaganda points.

Being on the side of government and paid by people’s money very little propaganda points can be won if the military announces this and that major gun battle victory where these or that number of rebels are killed.

After all, whatever their ideologies and principles are, they are still Filipinos and most likely have a passel of kids and relatives in their community. Meaning, the stranger soldier – as they usually come from some other towns outside where the rebels operate and come from – have just killed a local or a relative of a local. The military cannot also win major propaganda victory in delivering basic services to the people simply because they are government and delivery of basic services is the role of government that had always been found wanting. That the military may at times have been instrumental in delivering these is not a victory. Rather, it is making up for a basic function undelivered until then.

The major propaganda point is in maintaining a military who live up to the image of being officers and gentlemen, patriotic citizens who have sworn to protect the people, and people deserving to bear arms and wear the uniforms of the defenders.

Now, a soldier found with a packet of shabu is definitely not the type of person one would look up to as one’s defender. We all know what meth can do to the brain and turn a person too. The news that the military is not about ready to welcome Corporal Rogelio Rosales, belonging to Bravo Company of the 10th ID, into its fold is good, but not a propaganda victory.

The victory will come in the form of respect of the people to all those who wear uniforms. As it is now, it is not surprising if regular motorists sneer at uniformed men manning checkpoints and inspecting logging trucks. Or, if yet another soldier is plucked out by the rebels and found to have another sachet of shabu on hand. If the military men find the eyes of the public too condescending or too demanding, that is but a challenge to them toward greater discipline because that is but part and parcel of the vocation they chose. Come to think of it, staying drug-free is not even a tough demand, even regular employees who earn regular wages and haven’t taken the oath of service to the people are expected not to muddle their brains with meth.

As it is now, it doesn’t help that the suspect in the killing of two teen-aged boys at a beach resort in the Island Garden City of Samal last Sunday is a soldier. From initial reports, it seems that one of the boys had an argument with the soldier, identified only as April Francis Alarcon Enumerables, 28, and said to be from General Santos City. Both boys ended up dead. Just like that.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on May 26, 2014.


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