To touch a dream

Long trekking, Mt. Pulag, Philippines [Photo by]

By Joe America

It is easy to get caught up in the negativity of a government of the crass, by the crass, and for the crass. Mean-spirited men and women haunt the hallowed halls of government and our public space every day, offending our sense of decency and fairness.

There is a way out. I believe that.

I think the solution is probably eluding us all, and VP Robredo is closer to it than anyone. She works to give people hope, and to participate in finding a way to something just a little better. I thank Will Villanueva and those who commented on his recent article for making this point so clear.

Former Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said that LP lost the 2016 election because LP candidates were busy talking about intangibles when the people needed tangibles. That seems ‘spot on’.

So I wonder, how does one make a dream tangible? For it is the dreams that surround freedom, democracy, and the promise of prosperity that most of us labor for, and self-fulfillment is a big deal in that formula. Graduating from college. Nailing a good job. Buying our first car, and then home. But these things are NOT tangible to someone who labors without much hope. With no sense of having the ability to fulfill a worthy destiny.

How do we make dreams real for those caught up in daily struggle? How do we help people touch the dreams, for themselves?

We can’t promise everyone a rose garden, or a car. That would break the treasury. Is there a way that we can make STRIVING for those goals tangible? That’s what America did well. Citizens could almost touch ‘opportunity’.

Several random ideas emerged from a tweet dialogue I had on this subject a few days ago:

  1. It is the wholesomeness of the climb that is important, not the top of the mountain. The Philippines may never be rich in our lifetime. It is the getting there that has to be fulfilling. If you think about it, there is never a top to reach, for any of us, ever. But we go forward with hope . . . and collect many riches along the way.
  2. Every family needs at least one success story. That makes the dream tangible for the entire family. It is the proof.
  3. The nation needs a President who can cut through the crap. I cited Bam Aquino as an example of someone who sets trivial matters aside to drill into what is meaningful. His questioning during Senate hearings is a marvel to behold. He is patient to a point, but he is like a hunter with the prey in sight, and he is not going to blink.

I muse that the Philippine national government is already the nation’s biggest employer, but many of the staff are doing ridiculous work because of poor management or lousy automation or stupid policies. It is a sloppy, grumpy, inefficient place, in the main.

Furthermore, few Filipinos anywhere look for a “career path”, they look for a job. Because neither government nor private institutions excel at building hope and the power of ambition into the management of their human resources. Spanish autocrats are still in charge rather than psychologists skilled at motivating people.

  • So step one in re-inventing Philippine dreams might be to start building career paths.
  • Step two might be mandated national service of two years for every graduating senior.

Step one would be created by legislation, under Senator Aquino’s guidance.

Step two would see half of all young people going into the military and half going into government agencies to replace the lowest grade workers. Both the military and agencies would identify the capable self-starters for retention and promotion on career paths. It would be funded by transferring the conditional cash transfer and free education budgets into the building of national competence, national opportunity . . . and national dreams.

One must change to change. You can’t just call it ‘change’ but stay the same. And going backward for sure is not the stuff of dreams.


135 Responses to “To touch a dream”
  1. karlgarcia says:

    National Service.

    The ROTC has been made voluntarily replaced by National Service Training Program.
    Which make you choose Civil Welfare Training Servicesor Literacy Training Services.

    What happened?
    Nothing, now they want mandatory ROTC back.

    ROTC is voluntary, naturally conscription is voluntary.

    Chemrock shared hs conscription stories.
    I think josephivo is against it or …. not.

    • They want it back to generate lots of loyalists. To serve them. I want service back so government can serve people by launching them on a career path.

    • karlgarcia says:

      There is still a school if thought that all wars are manufactured.
      Conspiracy theory or not that should not diminish the service of our troops.
      Loved ones do not want their family to be sent to wartorn no man’s land area so they can go home in one piece.

      Some say if all peace talks succeed, there would be no need for the military, but some experts say they are still needed for external threats.
      The question is not, “with what army?”, but with “what equipment and ammo?”.

    • Edgar Lores says:

      As I underwent PMT in high school and ROTC in college, I would be in favor of these military training courses being made mandatory. It conditions the young mind on the need to defend the country construct and, of course, it instills discipline.

      But these two training courses were mainly for males. There should be courses designed for females. Or the training can be co-ed. There should be gender equality.

  2. karlgarcia says:

    Now as to the government being the largest employer.
    Enemy number one- privatization
    Enemy number two- computerization

  3. Mary Grace P. Gonzales says:

    “One must change to change. You can’t just call it ‘change’ but stay the same” – Joe

    The “change is coming” quickly became “change scamming” ..we were poised to leap forward but the change introduced was to leap backward, back to Marcos style of government.

    Have a nice and troll free morning, Joe.

  4. Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

    May I suggest two years after college, in sales work for eyeball-to-eyeball relationships made almost irrelevant by Facebook? I learned more about myself and how humanity operates by selling life insurance, a most difficult product to sell. In sales, you will discover power you never thought you had, and people you never thought would be your lifetime friends. Filipinos I think cannot handle rejection or a thankless slog. Instant gratification is us, hence the election of someone who promised this and that in three to six months. Success is a process. Ma’am Leni seems to be leading us in that direction: government will help but there must be equal effort from beneficiaries. Cory won because she could take away Marcos, after that, national frustration for want of the magic pill. Duterte won because he could frighten kids away from drugs. Push-button. Gimme. America was built, is being built on the backs of pioneers, in open territory–land and then tech. Ok, one more time, class: Nation building is hard work. Repeat 50 times a day with Hail Marys.

    • Superb idea, extending it to ways to get large businesses to have service programs for young people.

      • Mary Grace P. Gonzales says:

        The company I work for has helped a number of students, upon the recommendation of their respective schools, to complete their immersion and on the job training.

        The latest on such immersion and on the job training are the ones I coordinated and supervised, are the daughter of my destitute cousin, and her best friend, both in their senior high school (Grade 12). They are now qualified to work in offices if they wish to, My cousin is arranging for a scholarship for this daughter so she can go on with a 4-year course, and failing that, she can opt to work and be a working student…at least there are now additional options they can choose from.

    • karlgarcia says:

      Selling is telling people what you can offer.Nice! This must also be a must for service providers.

    • Mary Grace P. Gonzales says:

      Cory prioritized the restoration of democracy but she also initiated the micro-financing facilities plus the accompanying free health card that are now benefiting my barrio mates in Batangas as well as her son PNOY’s expansion of the 4Ps.

      There are abuses in the 4Ps implementation but strict monitoring should address those concerns. My destitute cousins were able to send their children to school and to senior high schools for free (the K-11 to K12) and are availing of the free health monitoring and maintenance.

      I would like to mention that regional migrants to our province (those coming from far flung Bicol provinces) were able to send their children to senior high schools as well and are now on the brink of being gainfully empoloyed so they could help out. Their fathers are the ones we hire from time to time with various tasks – carpentry and masonry jobs, cleaning and preparing the little lot we have for vegetable planting. Those are the families that miss meals when they fail to request (due to shyness) for cash advance for the jobs still to be done (weekly payments which turn into daily payments, reminding me of a bible passage wherein the Lord reminded the employers to pay the laborers’ wage at the end of the day lest they don’t eat) I am humbled by the little boy asking my aunt if she has errands for him to do so he can have pocket money for food, transportation and for minor school projects. That’s how the people in the fringes of society live and somehow, they are being helped by the 4Ps and the microfinancing facilities begun by Cory and expanded by Senator Bam Aquino.

      Small steps, minute steps…the steps we went through during our time before I finished college and found gainful employment.

      Multipy that all over the nation and with local and foreign investments that should be encouraged by the government instead of getting loans, people can get jobs and/or invest in profitable businesses that will turn the country’s economic engine on a consistent and continuous basis.

  5. Volunteering in Angat Buhay projects is a possibility, could help in expanding them.

    Starting small first. Otherwise the old corrupt groups smell money, and come to feed.

  6. karlgarcia says:

    Speaking of Angat Buhay.
    It is nice to have government support for Micro Enterprise to SMEs, but big industries like the banana industries will die with out support.
    Getting China to accept our bananas is one thing, but without government support, we can’t stop Ecuador, Guatemala, etc who are already established there.

    Domestic consumption is not a solution, either.

    Even startups in most sectors are prioritizing markets outside the Philippines.

    • Mary Grace P. Gonzales says:

      We have a larger market in EU (Which granted us MFNS – Most Favored Nation Status), much larger than the China market.

  7. Mary Grace P. Gonzales says:

    In Ninoy’s time, with a rubber stamp parliament and Supreme Court, with the police and AFP at his beck and call, no restraints at all in government and personal spending, with a muzzled media and manipulated citizenry – he could only dream the impossible dream, but did not lose hope, did not lose faith in the Filipino people.

    We are facing the same scenario plus a more sophisticated social media for propaganda and more murderous president, but still, we must struggle on and lean on each other, and on God, like Ninoy did.

    Nothing is impossible with God.

  8. Mary Grace P. Gonzales says:

    Sorry, double posting of the song…please delete the second one, I meant to post this to complete my comment

    • kalakala says:

      I strongly agree that “God Will Make A Way”. One way is to clean our Justice system. Thanks to IPU’s plan to observe the trial of sen. d5. the filipino people is about to know the truth about the blind item re: the member/s of “JUSTICE/S for sale”

      Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr. contradicted himself numerous times in rejecting the plea of detained Sen. Leila de Lima to toss out her indictment for drug trafficking, according to two of his colleagues in the Supreme Court.
      Velasco, who was appointed by former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, wrote the high court’s majority decision that upheld De Lima’s arrest based on the criminal complaint brought against her by the Department of Justice (DOJ).

      Read more:

      • Mary Grace P. Gonzales says:

        Maybe the trial could open the eyes of the non-fanatical supporters and enablers, I hope for more shenanigans will be exposed and that song “The Impossible Dream” will turn into “God Will Make a Way” and eventually “Victory, Victory is mine” In the meantime we will take “One day at a Time”

        Thanks for the link, kalakala.

  9. NHerrera says:


    Joe, this is refreshing blog article along with others we have had lately. I just want to post first your own phrases — with highlighting and some slight change — the words which struck me the most:

    * we’re busy talking about intangibles when the people needed tangibles;

    * these things — graduating from college, nailing a good job, buying our first car, and then home — are NOT tangible to someone who labors without much hope;

    *we can’t promise everyone a rose garden, or a car — that would break the treasury;

    * Is there a way that we can make STRIVING for those goals tangible? … It is the wholesomeness of the climb that is important, not the top of the mountain. The Philippines may never be rich in our lifetime. It is the getting there that has to be fulfilling.

    • Perfect alignment of key ideas. Thanks.

    • NHerrera says:

      A slight addition to my post above: in so many words, the Administration promised (still promising) everyone a rose garden at the end of the drug war, and the pivot to China, etc.

    • Mary Grace P. Gonzales says:

      Indeed, it is the getting there that is fulfilling.

      To realize that you did your part as in EDSA 1 – in the rallies, in the boycott plans against all the companies run by the dictator’s cronies, in calling radio station Veritas to join the voices of dissent, in preparing placards to denounce the excesses of Marcos, his family, his cronies and to watch FVR jumping in victory when news of the dictator’s departure from the palace and as in EDSA 2, of Estrada, his family and his mistresses, and before that, the daily monitoring of the impeachement trial, clapping our hands and hugging each other each time credible witnesses shame the wily and celebrated legal teams of the Estrada admin…stressful, suspenseful but fulfilling just the same. and the joy, the joy to realize that the people has prevailed over the madness that is the deposed leaders.

  10. manangbok says:

    “but many of the staff are doing ridiculous work because of poor management or lousy automation or stupid policies. It is a sloppy, grumpy, inefficient place, in the main.”

    As the Philippine government was my employer for a number of years, I can attest to the veracity of this statement.

    However… there are leaders (in the middle management mostly) in government bureaucracy who are hardworking, dedicated, loyal to country and truly inspirational. Unfortunately, they were stuck in middle management because of politics (what else!). Also, because of fellow Pinoys’ crab mentality and prone-ness to tsismis to bring other people down.

    I am musing on your blog post today as I have just gone through a post by Mr IB Salazar in his own blog and one of the commenters (Mr Bill of Oz) said that we need a new color to unite anti Duterte groups. Sadly, I do not think that will be effective the long run. Pinoys have gone through almost all the colors of the rainbow already – yet still, where are we now?

    I get the point, though … having a color is like making a dream more solid, less ephemeral.

    Pinoys are entertainers, we are experts in making dreams look less ephemeral. That is the problem. Making something LOOK real is different from making IT real. The latter is a lot more difficult to do – time, effort, dedication, patience, unity, courage, creativity — ha ha ha, we are only learning how to mix these all together and not combust 😦

    • Colors are memes of a few decades ago. Peace sign, fist bump. A good ‘I have a dream’ speech. They can help energize and bind.

      • manangbok says:

        If only we can manage to energize and bind for more than like 5 seconds? We bind for a few shining moments like 1986 People Power then we forget. Or other exigencies get in the way and we compromise. Or should I say the generation who was older than me compromised? 🙂 Ha ha ha … I can just imagine the next batch of millenials hurling that statement back at my face 10 years down the road 😦

  11. andrewlim8 says:

    Sara Duterte just launched a movement supposedly to unite Filipinos: TMAP or Tapang at Malasakit Alliance for the Phils.

    Here’s what others think of the acronym TMAP:

    1. Talagang maki-Marcos Alliance for the Phils (Truly pro-Marcos Alliance of the Phils)

    2. Takot Mabuking at Pumirma (Scared of being found out and of signing)

    🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Mary Grace P. Gonzales says:

      Another one after CNG – Citizen National Guard organized by Aguirre and Acosta…more utilization of the Office of the President’s gargantuan budget?

      • In addition to SWORD – Sincere Warriors of Rodrigo Duterte. When do they add the army of aswang, malignos and Tulfo brothers to all of that? It is slowly getting ridiculous.

        • Mary Grace P. Gonzales says:

          Holy mackerel! Will they arm more civilian groups to counter the professional AFP?

          Are they preparing for a civil war? With officials like Cañete, any peaceful movements like EDSA 1 & 2 will seem to be a remote possibility.

          What have the 16M done?

          • Miela says:

            Brace yourself. Should that happen, the Philippines is toast. The AFP will bw hardpressed fighting multi-front wars – NPA, ISIS/MILF/Maute, invasion of small Philippine terriroties by China, and a potential armed pro-Duterte faction.

            This will lead to the collapse of the republic. All for their Duterte worship

        • kalakala says:

          No. i can’t add the army of aswang… talo si du30 sa mga aswang

    • andrewlim8 says:

      Walang tapang sa waiver, walang malasakit sa mahihirap. Yan ang TMAP ni Sara Duterte.

      • NHerrera says:

        I definitely think you got it, Andrew. They left out the all important ” – ” that makes all the difference in the acronym:


  12. NHerrera says:

    Off topic


    Randy David:

    Ironically, the one state institution that perhaps separates us today from the imposition of dictatorial rule is the Philippine military. Martial law nearly destroyed the professionalism of the armed forces. The Edsa uprising and the failed coup attempts that followed turned brother officers against each other, narrowly avoiding a slaughter in their ranks. It is a lesson they will not forget — that partisan politics is not a game in which the man in uniform must ever get involved.

    Oscar Franklin Tan:

    Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Armed Forces Chief of Staff Eduardo Año are heralded as paragons of professionalism. Prof. Richard Heydarian wrote beautifully in The New York Times (“Not Duterte’s personal army,” 6/14/17) that today’s martial law is different because today’s soldier is different, a professional unwilling to serve as political pawn.

    • NHerrera says:

      Here is Richard Heydarian’s article written 4 months ago, referred to by Oscar Franklin Tan above:

    • manangbok says:

      Hi! Did you know that it was only in 1993 that the PMA accepted female cadets?

      Do you think this is a factor why our soldiers today are more professional?

      My theory: males are less inclined to act barbarously when females are around, hence they are more inclined to absorb so-called “soft” values like ethics and respect for human rights. So maybe that’s why this batch of soldiers are different from pre-Martial Law ones 🙂

  13. popoy says:

    THIS A POSITIVE PIECE generating, germinating POSITIVE COMMENTS, a bit tangential on some issues. Filipino politicians are very positive for SELF and FAMILIES and criminally NEGATIVE for their country. Puro DAGDAG, and DAGDAG para sarili, puro KAWAT ng KAWAT sa BANSA at mga kababayan.

    Puro eche bocheche ang mga lunas sa sakit ng bayan. Pagandahan ng solusyon.Lahat ng departamento mula sa Health, education, labor transportasyon,, at sangkatutak pang oficina bakit hindi tignan GAYAHIN ang tagumpay na ginawa sa Merika, Canada, Britanya. Puro eche bucheche ang lakas ng tunog ng hilik sa pancitan. Nakaka asar na. Eh.

    • popoy says:

      heto ang sampol ng yabang at negatibong aydeya na pusakal pero lumalapit sa katotohanan. sa Ingles : braggadocio seeking to touch the truth, lure it away from political correctness. Kinapitalized, at saka ini -italized lang ang komento.


      Randy David:

      Ironically, the one state institution that perhaps separates us today from the imposition of dictatorial rule is the Philippine military [IT’S THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT REALLY, WAIT AND SEE]. Martial law nearly destroyed the professionalism of the armed forces [IT DID. DARN. IT DID]. The Edsa uprising and the failed coup attempts that followed turned brother officers against each other, narrowly avoiding a slaughter in their ranks. [RESTFUL JAIL AND PUSH UPS AVERTED BLOOD SHED AND DENIED JUSTICE TO WRONG DOERS] It is a lesson they will not forget — that partisan politics is not a game in which the man in uniform must ever get involved. [TRY TO SEE THE NEW BALLGAME FOR SOME RETIREE GENERALS]

      If anyone would like to be prescient on what the AFP (unique Filipino soldiery) will do, or will happen to it during the immediate future, one best way is to make the Trillanes’ Oakwood Mutiny (other captains lumabas nakisakay lang) the THESIS of analysis against anti-thesis of violence or peace of political correctness in the bowels of the AFP. Ano ba ang nangyari pagakatapos, sino ba ? meron bang naging bida? Will there be factions that will fight and kill or die for democracy? Will synthesis depict history played by GOMBURZA, the Bonifacio brothers, Justice Jose Abad Santos, Antonio Luna, Goyo del Pilar ? Over the years naging Pinoy kasi. Naging Onli in da Pilipins. Ano ba ang mangyayari? Paki analyze naman. Sana yun analysis hindi daplis.

  14. Edgar Lores says:

    1. In the American Dream, the dream is viable because America is the Land of Opportunity.

    2. The typical migrant story is of people using their talents and skills as bootstraps to pull themselves up. No job is too small or too dirty to ignore.

    3. And the Dream is that anyone can reach high and occupy the White House.

    4. I have not been back to the country in a long time, but I see evidence of economically successful families. Shining malls have sprung up in all major cities. There are many hotels and resorts. Many people can afford to eat out all the time. There are many cars on the roads. The buses are air-conditioned. And there are many beautiful mansions.

    5. So many are living the Dream.

    5.1. Consider the Average Annual Income (AAI) measured against the International Poverty Line of $1.90/day. That’s $693.50/year or P34,675/year (@ P50=$1).

    o The A/B/C classes, 10% of the population, have never had it so good. (AAI of P1.857M for A/B and P603K for C.)
    o The D class (60%) are more than surviving. (AAI of P191K)
    o It is the E class (30%), I think, to which this post is mainly addressed. (AAI of 62K)

    5.2. As a measure of comparison, the poverty rate in Australia was 13.3% in 2014 (after taking account of housing costs.)


    6. The problem of poverty is undoubtedly widespread but the AAI of the E Class is double the International Poverty Line. If we halve the E class, the poverty rate would be equal to that of Australia’s. So could it be that the main problem is not the economy but the frustrating social conditions?

    6.1. These would include:

    o Too much politics and political corruption
    o Population density
    o Traffic congestion
    o Rampant criminality
    o Drug war and EJKs
    o Moral climate
    o Unkindness

    6.2. I might add the less than enlightening attitudes and opinions being expressed in and out of social media.

    7. I stand to be corrected.

    P.S. Have a good break, JoeAm.

    • karlgarcia says:

      You will sit prettily(sitting pretty) not to be corrected.

      • caliphman says:

        Not to knock anyone of their perches or burst tneir bubbles, but hold the champagne and celebrations. It is the persistent bugaboo of income inequality and perceived poverty. The income and economic pie may have grown much bigger but the so-called poor and near poor have been partaking of proportionately smaller pieces of it. Not only have Filipinos as a country gotten politically and culturally as well as morally poorer but those who are truly financially bereft subsist on false hope and fantasy peddled by the Duterte regime.

        • karlgarcia says:

          True, but Edgar’s number four and five are true too.
          Because of remmitances or some other reasons, people can afford to go out to malls and dine out and contribute to the traffic.

          On false hopes.
          Still there are many suckers that BBM is telling us in advance there is another scam coming.

    • All you say is good. We can see a developing middle class, a lot of new cars, new homes, new businesses. The BPO industry was a vibrant opportunity for young people but is now shrinking. The problem is that people did not FEEL promise and hope and prosperity. They felt frustration at the trains, unable to comprehend that infrastructure takes decades to build and maybe living across town from work is not the best idea. Well, some of that well-to-do comes from remittances, and Filipinos do have an obesity problem when they can afford the restaurants and snacks. What did they want Duterte to do, exactly? Kill poor people, coddle drug lords, kiss up to China, do nothing on transportation? I don’t think so.

      I think there needs to be social re-engineering to help people feel the successes, and better marketing from the leadership to promote FUTURE hopes with current good efforts. But say that and eyes glaze over. It is an intangible concept. Better to propose some specific actions, like national service and mandating career paths in government and large businesses. And schools can do a better job of promoting individual accountability and being a self-starter. That way they won’t need a king to provide them with a reason to think things will be better.

      Thanks for the PS. We have a small trip planned, so that will help me get my mind off these matters for a few days.

    • popoy says:

      I explored the songs and their lyrics, aside from most being hollow but current and relevant, the American Dream is not what you see is what you get, so, the US got Trump for POTUS. I might yet write the wet side of the dream.

      • popoy says:

        the olds are most times like broken record, but repetition of what is good become the juice of their souls like this song of a little of Marawi which mitigates the price paid for the loss of thousands of lives.

    • NHerrera says:

      edgar, karl: RE the notes on Marawi, I would like to share those sentiments — the much deserved thanks to the AFP and the hope for an effective rebuilding of the spirit and lives of the residents and associated material infrastructure.

      edgar, RE Average Annual Income (AAI) — thanks for the information in the table, the reference to the International AAI, and the listing of items of poverty not related to income, including distortions in the social media.

      Joe, RE your 10-day break — it seems your “To Touch a Dream” blog rounds-up the many ideas that may be useful as you freshen up body and mind. It is when one is not using pen and paper or that keyboard, but just, say, walking about, that great and useful ideas come about. Best wishes to you and family on the break.

  15. Edgar Lores says:


    A big thank you to the AFP for winning and ending the Marawi War on its fifth-month anniversary.

    We pray for all the dead — the military men, the residents, and the misguided hostiles.

    May the residents of the city, both Muslim and non-Muslim, return to their homes and rebuild their lives.

    And may the tribulation of war never visit the city again or the whole of Mindanao.

  16. karlgarcia says:

    Semi OT

    The nightmare of Marawi is almost over.
    I hope rebuilding would go smoothly and hopefully past mistakes won’t be repeated.
    Or am I dreaming too much for wishing and hoping?

    • karlgarcia says:

      I have not read the comment of Edgar about Marawi, beforeI typed my comment.

      • Edgar Lores says:

        Ahaha! Sometimes I do what the Mayor wishes he could do — nanguuna.

        • popoy says:

          If I may differ using my dark specs. Marawi and all its kind before it HAVE NEVER ENDED, because the lawyers, the pedestaled justices and judges and the prosecution lawyers and the prisons bosses and the guards HAVE NOT DONE THEIR JOBS. Everybody is happy, celebrating and FREE, because crimes against patrimony if not forgotten, pay handsomely.

          • popoy says:

            Soldiers (not sure about the police) ALWAYS DO AND FINISH THEIR JOB without eche bucheche because in their business their lives are the CAPITAL and only FREEDOM their profit.
            All other bureaucrats, their KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS are their CAPITAL and only the GOOD LIFE their PROFIT. Soldiers return to their barracks to wait for another job. Bureaucrats return to their homes at the end of day to enjoy their good life.

            • popoy says:

              This we prefer not to be in our dream
              even without the pomp and riches of the moment
              it’s a singular way to remember the strange soldiers
              we lost in Marawi.

              • popoy says:

                Not a Dilemma Really

                which comes first FREEDOM or the FLAG and HEROES?
                From the eggs breaks out the chicks to become hens
                From the hens comes the eggs that could be
                infertile so there’s no chicks to expect
                From freedom gets born the heroes and their flags
                From heroes and flags comes Freedom paid with blood
                OKAY make a wise choice : FREEDOM or Heroes and Flags?
                Of Course I choose Freedom,
                no sweat, a sure and finish thing
                While Heroes and Flags are done that
                mere eche bucheches of the here and now.

                about the video above. the flags and the caskets
                are the eche bucheche of tears of empathy.

          • popoy says:

            What I am saying is in Marawi City ALL government men be they elected or appointed, all businessmen, and ordinary citizens who have aided or abetted or been direct and active participants in insurrection and rebellion against the lawful government should be arrested, hailed to court, tried and when found guilty to be incarcerated in proper prisons. Only then can the government and media say halelleluyah to the success in Marawi City. Otherwise it is BAKUKANG, a nation’s wound that will never heal. Despite billions of pesos promised and spent for rehab and reconstruction. Puro expensive make-up para takpan lang ang tigidig.

            • sonny says:

              All valid and compelling points to ponder deeply and act on swiftly, Popoy. There is something at stake for everybody: top-down and bottom-up, else as you said, it is all BAKUKANG. You have identified the sectors and corners of the citizenry where action begs to be done.

          • karlgarcia says:

            On jailing everybody responsible.
            We will be living a dream with a just justice system.
            No more case backlogs, more judges, more budget,more jails,etc.

            True, everyone from financiers to contacts in the local and national government.

            • popoy says:

              Pardon the cynicism and anger Karl: more budget more personnel, more logistics. Damn. This is the cry of the crooks, the corrupt, MOSTLY incompetent, the classic songs of the incorrigibles in opinion columns and in budget hearings by Congressional Appropriations Committees. The invertebrates just don’t get that life is a plenitude of wants which means money amid the scarcity of resources. That these dumbos should accomplish best and more what they should do WITH WHAT THEY HAVE and only ask for additional resources for new things, new projects. Lack of competence and integrity equals lack of funds and personnel. Why not learn from less corrupt but modern countries?

              That’s my beef with PNoy, while still a candidate I advised him (by email) as president to start constructing building more JAILS, so that even if the Judiciary does not do its job, the crooks could get scared, might just slow down or stop stealing the people’s money because he can declare Martial Law and have the place for all of them. Well I emailed him also about Wang wang and the criminalese ambush interview seemingly disrespectful of the President. Try to remember what PNoy did. Also PNoy might be darn wise when he preferred driving sports cars to Tarlac instead of wrestling a wife in bed on week ends. My unacknowledged emails to him could fill a thin book.

              • popoy says:

                It’s still oxygen (from plants) and carbon dioxide (from us and animals\) in the air but for a book on PNoy I can already think of a title: THE SON OF ICONS, regardless of a stay in jail or a statue of a hero, nothing can refute that book title.

              • karlgarcia says:

                We see jails with secret compartments, if you can expropriate when building roads and hi-ways, why not expropriate when building jails.
                I read a proposal by a DILG USec to ask people to donate land. Suntok sa bwan e.

              • karlgarcia says:

                Wang wang is back.

            • popoy says:

              “We will be living a dream with a just justice system.”


              Why delete the word JUST; it’s cynically elementary: we AIN’T got one right now, not a right one. The irrationals can even say what we got is a fake one; a precursor if not an abetting or nurturing factor to the spread of fake news. A PhD dissertation on law should prove or confute that cynical notion.

              • popoy says:

                Salamat sa pansin Karl, to be a chokaran one must NOT be pikon, which you are Karl. Even Zoos to confine animals have no secret compartments Karl kasi the animals hindi puedeng pasukahin ng kwarta Eh.

              • karlgarcia says:

                May I interest you with excerpts of my dad’s essay about National Interests.

                We embarked on the road to definition sufficiently warned that the concept of national interest has no universal meaning; that it is not clueless but adequately vague; and that it is ambiguous even as to who defines the interests. The unbeaten path was rough and shrouded with the fog of contending frameworks. But we traveled light with nothing but for the earlier initiatives of DND.
                Between the frameworks of the realist-pragmatic and the idealist-romanticist schools we endorsed the idealist-pragmatic marriage of the contending views by DND. It is noteworthy that defense/military should logically be realist-objectivist that equates national interest to military power. But we found that the Constitution has a surfeit of values, core interests, and directive-policies that negate the realist views. That it renounced war as an instrument of national policy not as a lame adoption of the Kellogg-Briand pact of 1928 against wars of aggression but as a mind-set against militarism, according to Father Bernas, of the moral and political leadership. That ‘selfish” national interest was tempered by “peace and amity” with all nations in the 1973 Constitution but still read into it the concept of “love” in the 1987 charter. But our framework is also pragmatic, because defense is basic to sovereignty in an ever-changing security seascape.
                Policy salience
                We adopted the view that national interests pertain to both domestic and international affairs. While the US is largely foreign security policy and foreign economic policy oriented, the rest of the western developed countries have a balanced mix of vital interests. The notion of comprehensive security in Asia, particularly in ASEAN, put national interest as a guiding principle of national security policy to which we subscribe. Moreover, the Constitution is crystal clear in this regard. It mandated specifically that national interest be a paramount consideration of foreign policy [Article II] and national economy and patrimony [Article XII] as well. The ejaculations of our political leaders are mostly on domestic interests, rudely interrupted in the streets by recycled cold war slogans.
                We are not waylaid by the concerns of political sociologists on the semantic of nation and state. In our Constitution and jurisprudence, state and nation are interchangeable. That is why it is a state of the nation address, not state of the state. But we are persuaded that state sovereignty be essentially people sovereignty, the Montevideo Convention notwithstanding. There is, in the words of Commissioner Nolledo, a “justifiable redundancy” of people in the 1987 Constitution. Finally, if the Bangsa Moro could articulate its “national interests” why not the Filipino nation to which it belongs.
                Starting definition
                With the conceptual baggage assumed away, we started with a simple working definition suggested by a former National Security Adviser: “National interest is what is good and beneficial to the nation”. To that we added “in domestic and international affairs”. Then we made a laundry list of goods and benefits, from the pedestrian [traffic discipline] to the profound [submarine resources protection]. But we encountered the national ID system somewhere between. That was a “defining moment”. Here we are identifying national interests when we cannot even agree on a plastic of personal identity!
                Round Table Discussion
                Thus, we suggested a round table discussion [RTD] to graduate from the naughty to the sublime. In the countries we surveyed, national interests are articulated by political parties; by private commissions of eminent national personalities and think tanks; or by the bureaucracy assisted by a council of experts. Absent the foregoing, we settled for the members of the Cabinet and the Strategic Studies Group [SSG].
                The President of NDCP opened the RTD, with a definition from the Brookings’s Institute: “The general and continuing ends upon which the nation acts”. Caveat: Might be too general rendering the concept ambiguous a tool of analysis or as a basis of political decisions.
                It turned out that DFA knew where our foreign security and foreign economic interests lie. But they cannot be all vital. Some are less or just important. DND even had, in an earlier study, a definition of what is a vital interest, from a defense perspective. DBM was predictably concerned with the means to pursue the ends that should be prioritized. NSC lamented that our nation is too crisis-prone to consider more deliberately our array of national security interests. But all the participants believe that our national interests should be equated to our fundamental ideals and aspirations.
                Thus, the NDCP working definition adopted from a 1969 AFP Intelligence Manual got back in harness: “The fundamental and continuing concerns for which the nation acts”. America, where this definition came from, has a sturdy one-line summary of core interests formulated by the wise men of the 1940’s: to “preserve the United States as a free nation with our fundamental institutions and values intact”. Our wise men of 1935, 1987, and 1987 have a one-paragraph summary: The Preamble of the Constitution – sometimes called as the national purpose -further elaborated by 28 principles and state policies. In our study of the Constitution, we have classified them into the dimensions of national policy. We have a surfeit of fundamental and continuing concerns.
                These constitutional concerns are in a trilogy of values – interests – policies. At that level of abstraction, values and interests are interchangeable. The security of our sovereign people and their common good is not just a core interest but a core value as well. The policies are “guidelines for the orientation of the state” and the principles are “binding rules which must be observed in the conduct of government”. But at the level of Article II, they are essentially values and interests as well. Down the hierarchy, implementing policies to protect or advance the interests are distinct. These policies require complex analyses of challenges and opportunities, policy options and gains and losses. The fundamental interests help focus debates on said policy issues.
                Constitutional priorities
                The Constitution did not leave us clueless on the priority of our fundamental concerns. The “binding rules” are sovereignty of the people and the State and their protection; territorial integrity; maintenance of peace and order; protection of life, liberty, and property; and the promotion of the general welfare [common good]. These priorities are essential for “the enjoyment by all the people of the blessings of democracy”.
                The “guidelines” of 21 state policies specified national interests to be defined “by the executive and legislative branches of government” as the paramount consideration of foreign policy in general, foreign military bases and troops, and nuclear weapons. An entire Article XII that specified national interest further elaborated the state policy on the national economy. Priority was mandated to education, science and technology, and arts and culture.
                Well-being and Security
                With the fundamental and continuing concerns established, the second part of the NDCP working definition completed the concept: “The totality of goals and aspirations which a nation issues or may pursue at any given time for its own welfare and security”. It should be noted that national goals [desired conditions] are often listed between national interests and national objectives.
                Now we have the trilogy of ends – situation – means. The ends are now focused on well being [welfare] and security. These are the basic goals of national security also called the ’irreducible national interest”. National security, in turn, while an end [having secure core values] is also means [defending the core values] in order to pursue the nation’s goals. Thus NDCP say that – the degree of security enjoyed by a state is directly proportional to its capacity to effectively promote and protect its national interests; and that without national security, a nation’s interest cannot be attained and safeguarded.
                Core definition
                From the tale of three working definitions of the concept of national interest we should arrive at our core interests. Most countries surveyed expressed them in one big paragraph that summarized up front the detailed discussion, if they care to issue them. Our equivalent, more comprehensive really, is the Preamble of our Constitution.
                As mentioned earlier, The Commission on America’s National Interests reflected on a one-line summary and proceeded to work on two [1] survival as a free nation with our fundamental institutions and values: and [2] the conditions required to safeguard and enhance the well-being of Americans in a free and secure nation. After the recent Russian elections the new Foreign Minister said that Russian core interest is simple: A nation that is secure and the well- being of its people enhanced in a world at peace. Australia expressed its core interests as: The security and independence of the national territory and the economic well being of Australians – the jobs and standard of living of its citizens. What these countries summarized, however, are volumes of analyses still being updated.
                The said summaries remind us that world peace is no longer an abstraction outside of national interests. Independence should ring a bell to us. That was what our heroes fought and died for from 1896 and before, to 1986 when the “blessings of democracy” became the “blessings of democracy and independence”. Territory should remind us that we are but “a dot in the ocean” as the USSR UN delegate told Romulo, if we are not conscious that we are the second largest archipelagic state. Jobs, jobs, and jobs – are the opening four-letter word of the new administration.
                The core interests of the Philippines, deriving from the Preamble, in the pattern of the models above could be: The economic well being of the sovereign Filipino people in a just and humane society in a secure and independent archipelagic nation with fundamental institutions and values enhanced; or the security and independence of the Philippine archipelago with fundamental institutions and values enhanced and the economic well being of Filipinos in a just and humane society – jobs, adequate income, and dignity.
                Clusters and layers
                These core interests are a cluster surrounded by clusters and layers of interests. Territorial integrity is a cluster of [1] the archipelago, [2] waters, air space, and submarine areas, and [3] other territories. Essential for the enjoyment of the blessings of democracy, according to Section 5, Article II of the Constitution is a cluster of [1] maintenance of peace and order, [2] protection of life, liberty, and property, and [3] promotion of the general welfare. The promotion of a just and dynamic social order [Sec 9] is another cluster. Economic growth is a cluster and layers within clusters. Now the bottom line is the “fiscal crisis”. The priority to education has layers such as the salaries of teachers that eat up probably 90 percent of the priority. The same is true with the modernization of the armed forces. Special relations with the US have layers of interests, of which the least important could appear as vital. We can be lost in a labyrinthine maze.
                Hierarchy of interests
                ​Subjective choice and creativity is our best hope to identify our vital interests consistent with the idealist-pragmatic framework of definition. A DND study defined vital interests as those over which the Philippine state is willing to go to war because they are those things that the Filipino live for and even willing to die for. There are many who are squeamish about war as if a sovereign nation has no right to defend itself. Others are just cynical about our capacity to wage one just because we cannot take away the insurgents within and nobody is crazy enough to invade us – to solve our problems. Yet the last line in our national anthem is “Ang mamatay nang dahil sa iyo”. To be sure our overseas workers are willing to be tortured, raped, killed for the interests of their families.
                Short of an “enemy at the gates” we are confident that when a threat against genuinely vital interests is identified, the nation will act to override other concerns. It has not worked that well in the “wars” against poverty and the like because it is a figure of speech. We have not succeeded in eliminating the insurgents perhaps because they are our own people. But what shall we do if China defines the Malampaya gas and oil field within its territory because it is a piss away from Mischief? What must we do to the rich if they persist in cheating in taxes and the grafters who rob us blind? No more EDSA after 1-2-3! How about EDSA-poor?
                Thus, we should draw the line to avoid unnecessary “wars” and loss of egos. Our vital interests should not be inflated nor deflated. Is the proclamation of the president by congress “in the highest national interest”? Is the opening of ballot boxes in the national interest? Is it the unification of the opposition or the two-party system that is in the national interest? Is it the shift to parliamentary system? Perhaps the vital war is political reforms – politics being the most destructive force in the body politic, according to the Bishop of Manila.
                But to remove the fog of war, we are adopting suitable foreign models for our hierarchy of interests. Vital interests are conditions that are strictly necessary to protect and enhance the well being of Filipinos in a secure and independent nation. Less vital are those that if compromised would severely affect but not strictly endanger the ability of the government to protect and enhance the well being of Filipinos in a secure and independent nation. Important interests are those that are intrinsically good and beneficial to the nation but would not cause immediate major consequences or effect. Other countries use the gambling chips of blue, red, white, and translucent for the hierarchy of interests. We suggest the three colors of our national flag – red for vital, blue for less vital, and white for important interests.
                Identifying interests
                The laundry list for washing and ironing could be long. Alas, the water is no longer clean and the power is expensive!
                There is a hierarchy in strategy with time scales to help. On the summit are values – that are very enduring. Below it is interests – mostly constant. Then lower are the sequence of objectives, strategy, and policies – slowly changing. The lowest group is operational objectives, operational strategies, current policies, and operational tactics – situation dependent, temporal.
                Our fundamental values are more or less established in the Constitution, declarations of our statesmen, if not the ejaculations of our politicians. We have a slew of national security objectives, defense objectives, foreign policy objectives, and the consequent strategies and policies. But the national interests are missing. We could identify them by descending from values and ascending from the objectives. Somewhere between we could encounter the national interests.
                For example, the 1998 Defense Policy Paper stated that “national defense objectives are derived from national security interests” – that were not articulated. In national strategy and policy, objectives could be broad or specific, but they are conditioned to interpret national interest. For further example, one “defense objective” was to protect and defend our territory against external aggression. It is general enough to be an interest but too general to be analyzed and interpreted by an objective. Thus, our territorial interests should be identified as a layer of interests from the archipelago and inland waters outward to the territorial waters and finally to the exclusive economic zone [EEZ]. There may be “other territories “ that may not be vital but still important. Las Palmas, southeast of Davao, is within the Treaty of Paris limits, but what we can we do? Similar thought-process may be done to the rest of the defense objectives to arrive at an identification of interests and consequently at objectives that would make better sense for strategy and policy.
                In this process, national security interests could be identified from the defense objectives in the 1998 Defense Policy Paper in line with 1992 NSC security framework, as updated, to be as follows: Appendix D to include 2003 DND paper.
                • Socio-political stability by protecting the people and securing the State as one nation-state.
                • Territorial integrity by securing the Philippine archipelago and asserting our rights over the EEZ and “other territories”.
                • Protecting our communities from internal threats.
                • Safeguarding Filipino lives and property during times of crises and calamities, here and abroad.
                • Supporting the national security efforts towards economic growth, cultural cohesion, moral and spiritual consensus, and ecological balance.
                • Contributing to political and diplomatic initiatives to promote international and regional stability and security.
                • Instrumentally, developing a balanced, credible, and modern defense force of active and reserve components with a professionalism founded on a patriotic spirit and nationalist consciousness.
                In contrast, a 2003 DND study identified vital and important interests as follows:
                • National unity
                • Defense of our national sovereignty and territorial integrity
                • Protection of the Filipino people, to include their values, ways of life and institutions
                • Security of our strategic resources and critical infrastructures
                • World peace and regional stability
                • Freedom of the sea and air navigation and security of vital lines of communication
                • Preservation of ecological balance
                The above list omitted a crucial instrumental interest in the development of a modern and credible police force for the maintenance of peace and order and internal security operations. It is noteworthy that both lists above covered all the bases, so to speak, except our “special relations” with the US. Defense policies of countries with a treaty alliance with US consider such relations as vital national interest, security and economic. How about the newest US major non-NATO ally? And regional stability is pregnant with strategic interests.
                The national interests identified from the foreign policy perspective may provide some answers. After EDSA 2, the President identified specific realities of the regional and international environment that bear on our interests. Accordingly, Secretary of DFA articulated our interests at the RTD 28 April 2004 as follows: Appendix E.
                • Managing potential conflict in the South China sea
                • Enhancing ASEAN political and security integration based on the pillars of the security community, economic community, and socio-cultural community
                • Leading the regional consensus against and joining the coalition against terrorism
                • Enhancing cooperation with the world’s Islamic community not only as sources of energy and destination of overseas workers but as a country with an Islamic community living with neighboring Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei
                • Active participation with UN guided by the national interests
                • Promoting trade, investments and tourism to include development assistance
                • Promoting fair global trade
                • Enhancing cooperation in the fight against transnational crimes to include drugs, and smuggling goods and human trafficking
                • Isolating the insurgent groups from international support and bringing instead that support to our side in the search for peace
                • Promoting the rights and protecting the welfare of overseas Filipinos
                It should be noteworthy that specific interests with three major powers- US, China and Japan- whose influence to the evolution of our security and economy that was prioritized have yet to be identified, specially with US and China whose articulation of national interests are loud and clear. It should be noted that in spite of a code of conduct at the South China Sea other claimants consistently “assert” their rights. Earlier, DFA stated that: “the defense of the nation’s sovereignty and the protection of its environment can be carried out only to the extent that it assert its rights over its maritime territory and get others to respect those rights”.
                The RTD discussed the perspectives of defense and foreign affairs to arrive at national security interests as insights submitted by a member of SSG, former National Security Adviser Aguirre. See Appendix F. An SSG group presented later 10 national security concerns that are in effect challenges to our national interests. Appendix G.
                • Terrorism, domestic and international
                • Lingering insurgency
                • Natural calamities
                • Political dysfunctions
                • Deteriorating quality of education
                • Overpopulation and underdevelopment
                • Potential regional conflicts
                • Potential health problems in relation to poverty
                • Massive poverty
                • Potential military regime
                Challenges to national interests
                This study slightly differs with the above initial list of national security concerns as follows: [1] Political instability is inclusive of potential military intervention; [2] To Terrorism is added crimes, national and transnational; [3] To natural calamities is added man-made calamities because we have not yet recovered as a global capital even before the recent super-ferry accident; [4] Graft and corruption, real or perceived; [5] Fiscal crisis and public debt; [6] Inadequate economic growth; and [7] National cynicism and lack of self-esteem.
                These challenges are not for the next decade but yesterday’s. The challenges from the emerging international security environment are more than potential regional conflicts but internal security is consuming enough. Yet the local price of oil is largely beyond domestic control. Our economic growth depends on the economy of the sources of investments, destination of our exports, and the locations of our overseas workers. [What happened to Flor Contemplación and Angelo de la Cruz were a matter of life and death for the nation.]
                Presidential response
                The inaugural response to the challenges to our national interests was a 10-point virtual declaration of war that was a validation of the dominant reality of the national condition recognized by the RTD on the national interest— the “permanent war” against poverty, ignorance, and disease. Clusters and layers of mostly economic interests conditioned the aforesaid declaration of war with a hint of demographic intervention [decongestion of Metro Manila] and political reform [electoral]. The other war against insurgency and terrorism was conditioned by the war against poverty. Simultaneously, a war against waste, graft and corruption, and tax evasion to be able to manage the fiscal deficit and public debt will be waged. Population management and constitutional reforms may yet be taken up in the State of the Nation Address [SONA].
                We have arrived at the identification of our vital, less vital, and important interests out of items from laundry lists to wash and iron: Interests of other countries [Appendix A]; Interests from the Constitution [Appendix A]; Declarations of statesmen and ejaculations of politicians; RTD with members of the Cabinet; Realities of the national condition prioritized [Appendix C]; Interests derived from 1998 Defense objectives and subsequent DND drafts; Interests derived from Foreign policy framework; 1998 and 1999 NSC national security frameworks; and 2004 SSG Proposed national security agenda. Then on June 30, the President offered her life and treasure for the national interests with a smile.
                Vital interests
                Vital interests are desired conditions that are strictly necessary to protect and enhance the well being of Filipinos in a society that is just and humane and in a nation that is secure and independent. It is what a nation acts, fights and if necessary, dies for. Interests are separable from, but closely related to, what a nation is prepared to do about those interests, however. The President declared that he is prepared to do so for the legacy she wants to leave behind.
                Basic to the war against poverty and national security are three sequential priorities that the nation must act upon if possible simultaneously, as follows: [1] Political stability and strength; [2] Economic development, and [3] Social harmony and national unity.
                Political reforms.
                To muster the political will to act upon our core interests, we essentially concur with the end goals, on political dysfunctions and potential military regime as national security concerns, of the study group on the national security agenda: “To provide the country with a credible political system that is characterized by public and political accountability” and “the strong need to develop a system of public governance that is credible, legitimate and people-oriented” to prevent unnecessary military interventionism and other forms of destabilization, imagined or real.
                But these reforms may take a Charter change. The President must act, even singularly, even if the opposition does not concede and before the nation responds to the call to arms.
                Reform of the bureaucracy
                ​It is a necessary condition for effective governance and more so in a prospective parliamentary form of government. Congress should start on its own bureaucracy.
                Fighting graft and corruption
                ​It is a necessary condition of a credible government and to national unity. National self-esteem would not survive being perceived as one of the most corrupt nation in the world, even if aggravated by the deprecation and calumny of the socio-political culture. Independent of the legal prosecution of the criminal cases is an effective public diplomacy on the real score. For example, while revenue corruption can be estimated as a percentage of GDP, reported expenditure corruption in a year sometimes approximates the total budget of government for operations and capital outlay. A Truth Commission may discover that most of the pending cases on the expenditures of government that clog up the justice system and crowd out the graft cases that matter are relatively petty and due to failure to take care of a technical paper trail that the court may eventually after a decade or so dismiss. It is no wonder that they crowd out corruption cases in the collection of revenues. The fight must start with the mother of political corruption– illegal massive spending in elections. The fight against tax cheats cannot wait for next elections.
                Fighting other crimes
                ​The national interest cannot survive being a drug and kidnapping center of the world over and above embarrassments in the custody of terrorists and drug lords. The recent successes in this regard ant in the maintenance of peace and order are desired conditions in the national interest. Destabilization is a crime that perhaps even the defenders of the administration and the media are unwittingly to blame.
                Fighting the ‘fiscal crisis”
                ​Collecting more revenues and enacting additional revenue measures is the acid test of the political dimension.
                National prestige
                ​It is a vital interest that the aforesaid conditions would promote but for which, we should put our money where our mouth is, so to speak. Developing nations invest precious foreign exchange not only for tourism but to promote national prestige. A cursory review of the international cable channels will show that nations in the region do so. Indonesia, after Suharto and Bali had a scoop in the recent conduct of its first computerized national presidential elections to boot. ​
                Economic interests
                ​The above concerns acted upon or in the process of being done are strictly necessary to spur economic growth. The economic dimensions of national security are not too obviously different between the rich and developing nations. To America, economic security is being able to shape the international economic environment to its liking. One vital interest for example is “that there be no collapse of the international trade or financial system”. To us, it is vital enough that international investment and trade be maximized for our GNP growth. The same is true for the supply of energy. We can only ride on the vital interests of other nations that these sources be available and that the navigational lines of communications are open.
                Our vital economic interest is a cluster related to economic prosperity – economic growth, full employment, low inflation, high levels of investment, improvements in productivity, etc. Beyond the macroeconomics, it is the legacy interest/policy of the President to combat poverty consisting of job creation, broadening of the middle class by more income and enterprises, class rooms for education, power and water, and linking the country with transportation and communication infrastructure – all socio-economic interests.
                Social interests
                ​The most vital social interest is the promotion of social harmony and national unity even as we recognize cultural diversity. The actions upon political and economic concerns promote social interests. Towards a “just and humane society” we promote social justice and the common good as well as the rights of the basic unit of society – the family. While population growth management is an economic concern, it is a vital social interest. Also vital interests are developing a well-educated population and enhancing and protecting the health of our population. The protection of the rights of overseas Filipinos and the promotion of their welfare and of, the families they left behind vitally contribute to socio-economic stability.
                Resolving the lingering insurgencies and domestic terrorism
                ​The President envisions that peace will finally come when the nation acts upon the vital political, economic and social interests. However, for as long as armed groups and terrorists have not given up their arms, a vital instrumental interests are credible, professional and modern military and police forces. ​ ​
                ​VIII. Ranking of National Interests
                We have identified quite a number of laundry lists of national interests, so to speak, – to wash and iron – for what are vital, less vital, and important.
                • Interests of other countries. Appendix A.
                • Interests from the Constitution. Appendix B.
                • Declarations of statesmen and ejaculations of politicians.
                • Interests derived from the realities of the national condition prioritized at the RTD. Appendix C.
                • Interests derived from the 1998 Defense policy objectives and 2003 DND drafts. Appendix D.
                • Interests derived from NSC 1992 and 1999 national security frameworks.
                • Interests presented by DFA in the RTD. Appendix E.
                • Interests submitted to SSG as inputs by a former National Security Adviser classified and prioritized by dimension of national security. Appendix F.
                • Interests derived from 2004 SSG study on 10 priority national security concerns. Appendix G.
                • Presidential inaugural 10-point legacy interests/policy.

                The RTD, SSG, and the President have identified vital interests that are clustered around the “war against poverty”. Vital interests are what a nation acts, fights, and if necessary dies for. They co-mingle with threats. They are separable from, but closely related to, what a nation is willing to do. The nation may not yet be at “war” but the national leader is “willing to give his life and treasure”. National survival is under mortal danger from the enemy within. The war against poverty and related ignorance and disease has battles that are epic enough to be specific vital interests.
                • Ameliorating the urban poor
                It will involve decongesting Metro Manila in a backdrop of worsening urbanization, creating job opportunities in other economic centers and rural areas, and housing, etc.
                • Ameliorating the rural poor
                It will involve creating jobs in agriculture, small-scale enterprises and providing power, water, classrooms, and housing etc.
                • Ameliorating the overseas Filipino poor
                It will involve protecting the rights especially the distressed averaging almost a thousand a year and their welfare to include the families behind. Their amelioration is crucial to the economic stability of their families and the nation and to social stability. The battle cry is: Remember Flor Contemplacion and Angelo de la Cruz! They were virtual surrogates of the national interest.
                • Education, education, and education
                It is a mandated priority by the Constitution that is imperative for the amelioration of the poor and global competitiveness – from vocational arts and trades to science and technology.
                • Health, health, and health
                There are actual and potential health problems, in relation to poverty, of the body and the mind, not to mention the spirit. It will involve the rising prices of medicines, health services, and hospitalization. The right to a healthful environment was the only State policy [Sec 16, Art II] that was deemed by the Court as an enforceable right without need of further legislation. The control of pandemics from abroad, like AIDS and SARS, was and will always be vital.
                • Population management
                Controlling population growth rate, almost the highest in the world, but respecting the rights of the unborn and the freedom of choice for life is vital to the war against poverty, ignorance, and disease.
                • Resolving lingering insurgencies and domestic terrorism
                It is the vision of the President that when the war against poverty is won the armed insurgents and related terrorists will seek peace. In this connection, the “right hand” effort – to protect our communities from internal threats – remain vital.

                The above cluster of vital interests in the war against poverty require resources that are not there in the first place. To do that requires a strong and stable government and ultimately a nation united for action. The vital political interests are:
                • Political reforms
                To muster the political will to act upon our core interests we essentially concur with a national concern of the SSG group on the national security agenda on political dysfunctions and potential military regime: “To provide the country with a credible political system that is characterized by public and political accountability” and “the strong need to develop a system of public governance that is credible, legitimate and people-oriented” to prevent military interventionism and other forms of destabilization, imagined and real. But these reforms may require a Charter change. In the meantime, the leader calls the nation to arms by reforms in action.
                • Reforming the bureaucracy
                It is a necessary condition for effective governance and more so for a prospective parliamentary form of government. Thus, the legislative and the judiciary should also mind its own bureaucracy.​
                • Fighting graft and corruption
                What is left of the national self-esteem would not survive being called as one of the most corrupt nations in the world, even as the perception is aggravated by “verbal crusades” that deprecate and calumniate political enemies and government in general. A dedicated Commission may find that the bulk of pending graft cases clogging up the system are technical omissions that would probably be dismissed by the courts after years of damage to the accused thereby adversely affecting the anti-graft campaign because they crowd out the investigation and prosecution of cases that damaged the government – the bulk of expenditure corruption that are obvious by the property and the bank accounts of uncharged grafters laughing their way to the bank or the mansions of their mistresses. And yet this government expenditure corruption do not come close to revenue corruption – collection and tax evasion – that with drug and gambling loot is said to finance massive election spending. The fight against tax cheats cannot wait for the next elections that may never come if this vital interest is not acted upon.
                • Reforming the electoral system
                Our elections are the root cause of graft and corruption and political instability, and a cause of international embarrassment.
                • Fighting domestic and transnational crimes ​
                The national interest cannot survive being a drug and kidnapping center of the world over and above embarrassments in the custody of terrorists and drug lords – that are transnational in the first place. The recent successes in this regard and improved maintenance of peace and order are desired conditions that are vital. Smuggling is bleeding our domestic economy to allow it to worsen the price advantage of imported goods.
                • Fighting the “fiscal crisis”
                Collecting the right taxes and enacting additional revenue measures are the acid tests of political reforms.
                • Instrumentally, a reformed and modernized BIR and BOC are vital.

                Economic interests. Political concerns acted upon or in process of being done are strictly necessary to spur the economy. The economic dimension of national security is obviously different between the rich and poor nations. To America, economic security is being able to shape the international economic environment to its liking. To us, it is vital enough that international investment and trade be maximized for our economic growth. The same is true for the supply of energy. We ride on the national interests of major powers that the supply be available and that the sea lines of communications are open. Our vital interest is to cooperate, regionally and internationally, in this regard; develop further the neighboring sources; and develop our own. Our NAPOCOR is in deep debt to be efficient. The price of our food products is not yet competitive. Improvement of rice harvest is yet to overtake population growth.

                Our vital economic interest is a cluster related to economic development – economic growth, full employment, low inflation, high levels of employment, improvements in productivity, etc. It is from economic growth that we fight the war against poverty and the non-metaphoric war against insurgents, terrorists, and criminals. It is from economic growth and foreign investments that we enhanced our critical infrastructures and secure them, which in turn enhanced growth.​
                Two of the three pillars of our foreign policy are economic interests, namely, the promotion and attainment of economic security and the protection of the rights and welfare of Filipino overseas workers. Our vital interests lie wherever the evolution of our economy are affected. They are: the sources and prospective sources of foreign direct investment, tourism, energy, and development assistance; destination and prospective destinations of our exports; and the location of our 7 million or more overseas workers and sailors. Our vital interests lie on our factories and farms to be protected from the negatives of globalization and free trade

                Social interests. The “just and humane society” mandated by the Constitution is underscored by the war against poverty and the political and economic conditions mentioned above that are strictly necessary. A vital goal is social cohesion and national unity strictly necessary for national security.

                Defense and Security interests. From the identified interests, less the political, economic and social interests mentioned earlier, we consider the following security interests as vital:
                • National unity, as an end and as means as well
                • Protection of the people from insurgency, terrorism, and other crimes
                • Defense of our national sovereignty
                • Territorial integrity by securing the Philippine archipelago and asserting our rights over EEZ and “other territories”
                • Protection from calamities, natural and man-made
                • Instrumentally, developing a balanced, credible, and modern defense force and similarly, a national police force that can support the national security concerns.

                Less vital interests are those that if compromised would severely prejudice the ability of the government to protect and enhance the well being of Filipinos in a secure and independent nation.​
                • National prestige
                Over and above the reforms to negate our image as one of the most corrupt nation in the world, the kidnapping and drug center, the calamity capital, the “weakest link”, etc., active positive promotion of the Philippines in the global communications network is vital.
                • Promoting world peace and regional stability by active participation with UN, ASEAN, and APEC
                • Managing potential conflict in the South China Sea
                • Conserving and developing our maritime resources and patrimony especially our mineral and aquatic wealth
                • Enhancing defense alliance with US
                • Enhancing cooperation with world’s Islamic community not only as sources of energy and destination of overseas workers but as a country with a large Islamic population and growing, living with neighboring Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei.
                • Enhancing the border control agreements with Indonesia and Malaysia
                • Isolating insurgents and criminals from international support
                • Promoting fair global trade
                • Preserving ecological balance
                Reforestation, restoration of mangroves and corals, and cleaning the air and water are the vital ones to include the breeding places of the world’s tuna.

                Important interests are those that are intrinsically good and beneficial to the nation but would not cause immediate major consequences or effect.
                • Promoting sports with comparative advantages for international competition
                • Resolving protracted national issues if necessary by referendum [National ID system, “jueteng”, and Chacha could be taken up in the next barangay election]
                • Persuading Filipino dollars deposited abroad to relocate home
                • Promoting ASEAN integration – political, economic, and security
                • Promoting cultural and economic relations with countries with Spanish heritage
                • Promoting relations with EU, Russia, India, South Korea, and Australia
                • Balancing bilateral trade deficits
                • Formulating scenarios of future strategic relations with US and China
                • Deciding once and for all if we should retain the national name “PHILIPPINES” and the national flag that the Constitution suggested we may
                • Persuading the State of Wyoming USA to return the bells of Samar

              • Edgar Lores says:

                Karl, there are a lot of gold nuggets here to be mined for the future.

              • karlgarcia says:

                Again Edgar, many thanks!

  17. chemrock says:

    War on drugs is also intangible.
    So is giving away the sovereignty of the west philippines seas.
    Build build build is also intangible, until we get cheaper and comfortable rides, etc.
    FOI is intangible

    One’s intangibles is another’s tangibles.

    • popoy says:

      Karl as per your nudge, I tried to read the long piece as practicable as time will allow me. No doubt I can say it is a labor of love limited only by knowledge and experience. However if I consider it as the output of my executive panel in the AFP-CGSC from early to mid seventies, I have to pull no punches to warn my panel members of the merciless cutting the other panels will subject their paper during the plenary presentation . So, take it or leave it, below will be my comments.

      There’s seem lot of waffle; definition of concepts must follow those of the science of origin; the use of a flame thrower, a musket by Davy Crocket, a 12 gauge shot gun, must be judiciously used to pin down specifics from a scatter of issues; avoid sky is the limit in tackling esoteric concepts like core values and national interest, in short defined boundaries and borders of relevance, salience, responsibilities and accountability, get a firm grasp of functions and structures of issues. CONCRETIZE.

      Take and Stay on the high ground. FOCUS on targets in the wide terrain. Make sure targets of discourse are thoroughly smashed before shifting to the next. From whom or in whose perspective the paper is being addressed like: is it the Office of the Pres and CIC, or the Sec of Foreign Affairs or Dept of Defense, or National Intelligence.

      A paradigm has to be constructed to limit and control the scope of peroration . For example ONLY of a paradigm in a descending order of specificity of abstraction or increasing order of concretization, the paradigm could be SOUVEREIGNTY>>National/Public Interest>>National Goals>>National Policies>>National Strategies>>National Priorities and Plans>>Objectives>>>Programs>>Projects>>Targets>>Activities>>

      Each rung in the paradigm ladder should have its own structure and functions and could be tested to its suitability to cost benefit analysis. The point must be very clear after every paragraph or issues discussed. If there are six CGSC Executive Panels of Full and Light Colonels and a sprinkling of Majors, there will be six almost very different approaches to the assign subject.

      • karlgarcia says:

        Thank you very much for your valuable input.
        In my not so humble opinion, we can not even separate national defense from national security.
        My dad was asked to present a proposal for the revision of the National Defense Act, but my dad said it would be blind leading the blind.
        So in short you are correct in your short assessment.

        What we do in TSH is for the National interest, and again that is not a humble opinion!

        • Mary Grace P. Gonzales says:

          karl, you must be truly proud of your dad. I would if I’m in your place.

          this is a must-read for all our legislative members for additional reference.

          Japan, for all her super technological know-how and self-discipline, have “surrendered” her sovereignty and let US take care of their defense system so they could they concentrate on building up their national interest via economic means by leaps and bounds.

          KSA for all her wealth from vast oil deposits did the same if I’m not mistaken. We are so proud, pero di naman kaya…sobra sa yabang mahina naman ang tuhod.

          Pakistan is wise, while we are mad.

          • karlgarcia says:

            Thanks Mary at TY din sa FB share dito na ako mag thank you.

            • Mary Grace P. Gonzales says:

              you’re very welcome, karl…very shareable naman kasi…dapat mabasa ng mas nakakarami kaso takot sa mahabang post ang iba kaya pakonti konti lang…mga pinaikling posts lang ang peg sa ngayon to catch their attention…short span sila o short on time…like me hehe

        • popoy says:

          Karl, what I had dished out is the eche bucheche of an academic mostly colored and enslaved by my last field of experience which is public administration my biased territory of thought.

          Why fix the national defense act when it ain’t broke ? For and In whose treasonous interest (who benefits?) should it be done? I PERSONALLY think abolition of the ROTC is All WET and WRONG. From being a PMT, to being a Basic and Advanced ROTC cadet to completion of 2nd Lt Tng, MADE ME to what I am to age 80. It’s more than 80% of my character. Cogito ergo sum. And so I think that happened also to the millions of others who complied with the National Defense Act with of course the exception of hundreds of scalawags.

          Wishy -washy fiddling BY THE POLITICIANS of the concepts of national defense vis-a-vis national security is according to military parlance: FIGHTING THE PROBLEM, not solving it to avoid splitting hairs.

          The nation, its territory and its wealth of natural resources, its world image of honor and the integrity of its name in the conduct of world affairs is and are all constitutive of NATIONAL INTEREST. The PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS and the GOOD LIFE, and the MAJESTY of its people constitute THE PUBLIC INTEREST. National Defense sharing the foxhole with national security comprises the entire armada of bloody or peaceful eche bucheche of keeping INTACT like body and soul of the nation and its people. That rambling should clarify the conceptual relationships between national/public interest vis-a-vis national defense/national security. Pasensiya na ha. Dating guro kasi.

          • karlgarcia says:

            Walang dapat pag pasensyahan. Kung minsan hindi kita maintindihan agad pero hindi ibig sabihin na hindi ko sinusubukang intindihin ang mga comment mo.

            Binabalikan ko ang mga sinulat mo este ni Andy Ibay, yung 2030 series.


            • popoy says:

              Salamat Karl, kulang na sa panahon pero binasa ko yung link sa Balita, mahaba pero magaling na exercise para sa ulianin, dating matalas na neurons.

          • karlgarcia says:

            You may not agree but Here is what former Senator and Congressman Biazon has to say about NDSA.

            Home > Breaking News > Biazon: Review and update the 1935 National Defense Act
            Biazon: Review and update the 1935 National Defense Act

            THE existing National Defense Act, crafted in 1935, must be updated to address the current realities and demands of the time, a former Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines today stressed.

            “The National Defense Act, under Commonwealth Act No. 1, was based on the 1935 constitution. A national security act must integrate the roles of the economic, social, cultural and political dimensions into the comprehensive effort of defense,” declared Muntinlupa City Rep. Rodolfo Biazon, author of HB No. 01.

            Biazon pointed out that the national principles governing the said dimensions as prescribed by the 1987 Constitution differ significantly from those of the 1935 Constitution.

            “The 1935 Constitution was a product of the experiences of a people who had just broken out of four centuries of colonial rule. The 1987 Constitution is a reflection of the aspiration of a nation that is still experiencing growing up pains and has only itself to rely on,” Biazon explained.

            HB No. 01, entitled “An Act providing for the National Defense and Security of the Republic of the Philippines and for other purposes,” translates into operational terms the multi-dimensional provisions of the 1987 Constitution that apply to national defense and security.

            “This bill also aims to redirect the links of the numerous enabling acts on national defense and security from the National Defense Act of 1935 to the 1987 constitution,” Biazon added.

            Then Commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon signed into law the National Defense Act of 1935 contained in Commonwealth Act No. 01 which provided the legal basis for contingency planning for the defense of the Philippines under the aegis of War Plan Orange.

            The proposed National Defense and Security Act (NDSA), Biazon said, “is founded on seven basic security and defense policies from where the principles, processes, structures and critical details cascade into four titles, 25 articles and 81 sections covering a comprehensive layout of those interdependent facets of national life that impinge on national defense and security policy.”

            HB No. 01 provides the mechanism for the coordination of departments and agencies in addressing the multi-dimensional facet of national defense and security where the Cluster E of the Cabinet will be transformed into the National Command Authority which would have added powers than just an interim entity.

            Likewise, the Act seeks to achieve common understanding of defense and security issues by providing the facility for consensus building and consultation processes which is an Asian innate value, Biazon pointed out.

            “By making the National Security Council and the Peace and Order Council as consultative entities from which the President could harness popular consensus, defense and security policies would ensure national commitment,” Biazon insisted.

            To paint a clearer historical landscape, Biazon noted that after July 4, 1946, the first effort to shape the defense policy in keeping with the times was the issuance by President Manuel Roxas on October 4, 1947 of Executive Order No. 94, which saw the conversion of the Army of the Philippines to the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

            Subsequently, the enactment of R.A. No. 422 during the presidency of Elpidio Quirino, which authorized the president to reorganize the executive branch of government, opened the floodgates for changes in defense policies by executive issuances or even department orders.

            Furthermore, Executive Order No. 389, on recommendation of then Secretary of Defense Ramon Magsaysay, reorganized the AFP into four major services. Defense policies that were formulated by Congress consisted mostly of personnel administration of the AFP, Biazon noted.

            “The scope of the National Defense Act of 1935, therefore, became inadequate the moment we became a sovereign nation and became increasingly so as we continued to mature,” the soldier-lawmaker said.

            • popoy says:

              It is hard not to be smart alecky. When hindsights strongly invoked to change a law FAILED miserably to become positive FORESIGHT. What happened and is happening now to Philippine territory, the West Philippine Sea and other little islands ? After years of implementation of functional and structural changes in the defense organic and adjunct structures, was diagnoses and prognosis of obsolescence in the defense sector resulted in some cure? Doctorate studies in law should identify how little were the numbers of beneficial laws and how shamefully big are the numbers of enacted laws which became harmful to the country.

              • karlgarcia says:

                Sabi nga ni Andy Ibay

                “If the lawmakers, make laws which are not for the people but are implemented and interpreted only for some of the people, what happens then? If the Public Interest is so defined as the sole interest of the elite what happens to the masses ? If it is going on for at least 55 years? When and how had it started? By whom?  For example, for whose sake was the law enacted to abolish the death penalty ? Compassion for the lives of the criminals maybe or saving the skin of plunderers? It is unimaginable even to Paul McCartney if for more than half a century, life is going just fine for Filipinos, making it elsewhere as global citizens.”


          • karlgarcia says:

            Professor Popoy,
            Maaring hindi ito pumasa sa iyo lalo na at kasali sa proposal ang NDA pero ipakita o ipamalas ko pa din.

            Why do we need for a new Philippine security sector reform?
            The Paradox of Civilian Control on the Military

            (Based on the policy paper presented by Commo Plaridel Garcia AFP (Ret) to the Strategic Studies Group on 28 October 2010)

            “…the real issue is the development of civilian politicians, civilian bureaucracy, and civilian society in national security affairs that we need not to call back to arms retired military officers to hold civilian positions.”


            THE ISSUES AND PROBLEMS OF THE AFP that unraveled in the last and first two months of the Arroyo and Aquino administration were formidable enough challenges to National Security Policy among other levels of security and scoped on military security issues. The Civil-Military Relations, the precursor of Security Sector Reform according to Huntington is “one aspect of national security policy”. (Huntington, 1957)

            Bureaucrats past and present believe that there is a need to establish “civilian control over national security policy and decision-making” as it is clearly stated in our Constitution (1973 and 1987). This gives theorists a better understanding of CMR/Security Sector Reform (SSR) as it develops to fill some of the gaps of Civil-Military Relations (CMR) and move “away from considering the military to be the sole security provider of a nation”, taking into account evolving roles of the security sector components (e.g. democratization, human rights protection, conflict prevention, and post-conflict reconstruction). (Bruneau and Matei, 2008)

            Major Issues/Controversies

            The issues and problems of the AFP that unraveled in the last and first two months of the Arroyo and Aquino administration (e.g. HK bloody hostage-killing in Manila that triggered a crisis a week after the Manila police station torture video, both featured prominently in international media) were formidable challenges to National Security Policy among other levels of security and military related issues.

            The functional imperative of military security policy stayed even if overwhelmed by societal imperatives. Thus in a 2008 forum of SSR at NDCP, a DND USec maintained that the Philippine approach to national security is comprehensive and a top AFP General observed that the armed forces excelled in all its other missions except the primary one. Political pugilist believed that democratic civilian control over the armed forces (DCAF) was seemingly assumed perhaps because of the events that occurred during those aborted uprisings (both military and civilian) against PGMA failed, thanks to our professional soldiers who uphold the sanctity of the Constitution despite questionable election irregularities and the non-conclusive legitimacy.

            In the old Civil-Military Relations (CMR) and the contextualized theories that followed already laced by SSR were virtually unheard of in the Philippine security establishment aside from vague references to Huntington’s model of military professionalism – “expertise, corporate loyalty, and social responsibility”. There were even no indications that the framers of the 1973 and 1987 Constitutions considered Huntington et al in the explicit principle of civilian supremacy over the military aside from the 1936 National Defence Act (NDA) penned by then Major Dwight Eisenhower consistent with the 1935 Constitution that was inspired by the American Constitution.

            Civilian Control Theories and Security Sector Reform

            Civilian control has been the short version of civilian authority over the military that used to be civil authority in Eisenhower’s 1936. It is said that the rise of anti-militarism after the two world wars was accompanied by a rise of “civilianism”. In CMR, civilian control was the primacy concern along with military professionalism as a solution to such control. It was carried on as a primary concern of SSR in countries that were in transition from military rule or intervention and the rest that are still threatened by such intervention in various forms. RP security policy embarking on SSR must review the abundant civilian control theories and practices.

            1. Classical Liberal (Kohn)

            The liberal theory and practice according to Richard Kohn is “when every decision of government in peace and war – all choices about national security – are made or approved by officials outside the professional armed forces; in democracies by civilian officials elected by the people or appointed by those who are elected.

            2. Institutional Theory (Huntington)

            This liberal approach also called “Civilian control through Professionalism” describes the contrasting difference between the attitudes and values held by the military as mostly conservative, and those held by civilians as mostly liberal. They are separate institutions with different rules and norms. The military’s function was furthermore inherently different from that of the civilian. Given that gap which Huntington want maintained, it was imperative that the liberal civilian would be able to hold its dominance over the conservative military.

            3. Convergence Theory (Janowitz)

            This approach is also called “Civilian control through Societal Control”. If Huntington wanted to maintain the gap, Janowitz in his 1960 “The Professional Soldier” would like to narrow the difference. He argued that because the military is fundamentally conservative the more it should not be isolated in the barracks to benefit from the liberal influence of the outside world. He encouraged the conscription against an all-volunteer force to widen the social influences in the military and presumably to increase the military influence in the civilian. He especially encouraged the ROTC program in the elite universities so that “the broader influences of society would be represented in the officer corps”. The ROTC program would also ensure that the military academies did not have monopoly on the type of officers in the military service.

            4. Institutional/Occupational Hypothesis (Moskos)

            ​The hypothesis evolved into the “Postmodern Military Model intended to help predict the course of civil-military relations after the end of the Cold War. The argument was that from the institutional model of Huntington the military was moving towards one that was more occupational in nature. The occupational model presents the military more convergent with civilian structures (Janowitz).

            5. Corporatism (Nordlinger and Moskowitz)
            This approach is also called “Civilian control with limited autonomy in economic sphere”. Unlike the “professional model” (Huntington), the “civil authorities have an obligation to tolerate the autonomous development of the military’s influence within the sphere of its economic interests.” It suggests that “the military is ready to keep its focus on the primary job of defence from external aggression if civilian elites respect its corporate interests and allow military elites independence in some specific matters concerning the military and society”.

            6. Agency Theory (Feaver)

            Feaver had a problem with democratic theories of Huntington and Janowitz that explains changes in CMR in terms of “broad exogenous factors such as the external threat, the nature of prevailing ideology within civilian society, and the extent of integration between the civilian and military elites”. He laid out the agency theory of civil control that he hoped to replace Huntington’s institutional theory. Taking the rationalist approach from micro-economics he used the principal-agent framework. While he believes in control by objectives, he argued that civilian leaders would prefer direct day to day supervision over the military.

            Security Sector Reforms: Key Points to Consider

            • Security Sector Reform

            Before our security establishment could reasonably imbibe CMR theories and practices from its first wave in the 1960’s (Cold War) with local insurgency, in the “wave of democratization” in the 1970’s with more local insurgency and martial law, and the 1990’s (post Cold War) described in the West as a “renaissance” in CMR as an aspect of national security policy, SSR started to come out and be heard in the late 2000’s.

            SSR has made conceptual contributions as it fills some of the gaps in the traditional concept of CMR (Bruneau and Matei, 2008). According to the Centre for Civil Military Relations at the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey California, the SSR agenda moves away from considering the military to be the sole security provider of a nation, and proposes a broad concept of uniformed/non-uniformed ‘sector’ or ‘community’ whose members must work together to achieve security. Second, it takes into account the contemporary interchangeable roles and missions of the security sector components. These include, for example, armed forces performing police and diplomatic tasks, as well as social development work, while police and other law enforcement bodies perform military tasks to safeguard society against external threats, in particular after terrorist attacks.

            Third, an SSR conceptualization explicitly links security sector reform directly to broader efforts toward democratization, human rights promotion, conflict prevention, and post-conflict reconstruction. It seeks to connect to wider political, economic, social, and cultural transformations that accompany democratization, as well as taking into account civil society, which is expected to be more involved in influencing policymaking, violence reduction, and conflict prevention.

            • Responsibility of and accountability to civilian authority
            ​In the Philippines civilian supremacy has more currency than civilian authority and yet, as Bernas observed, the Constitution is about authority. Perforce when there is authority there is responsibility. It is to the responsible civilian authority that the military is accountable, not only to the President that exercises command. For example, in the recent legislative hearing for the 2011 budget it was pointed out while the new President has raised concerns for the control of intelligence funds it was only another constitutional agency, the Commission on Audit (COA) that has superficial oversight over it. To be sure, a change would not be that welcome in the military that has outstanding grievances on the COA process alone. It is because there are irresponsible politicians

            In countries in democratic transition, SSR found as much concern for control of intelligence as it is with the military and police because it is the instrument that has least transparency and accountability.

            • Civilian Control: SND, NSA, and NICA (DAVIDE AND FELICIANO COMMISSIONS)
            ​The 1990 Davide Commission recommended that: “The supremacy of civilian authority over the military should be established by the appointment, as soon as practicable, of civilians with the capability, intelligence, and leadership to head DND, NSC and the NICA should have its own intelligence capability that can complement as well as validate military intelligence information.” The 2003 Feliciano Commission continued: The Commission reiterates the recommendation of the Davide Commission to have a civilian appointed to the position of SND. Beyond the need to institutionalize civilian authority over the military, the appointment of persons who have not had long and deep ties with the military and who had not held positions in the military establishment that itself needs to be reformed is essential if a reform program is to succeed.

            In the final analysis, the real issue is the development of civilian politicians, civilian bureaucracy, and civilian society in national security affairs that we need not to call back to arms retired military officers to hold civilian positions. Dr. Carolina Hernandez suggested that SSR could settle for the enhancement of the knowledge of their staffs. In countries like Turkey, Pakistan, Thailand, Vietnam, and the likes where the military is considered professional and highly regarded compared in the Philippines. However, with the quality of their politicians and their bureaucracy somehow neutralize the traditional powers of the military to bend and/or dictate the outcome of national events.

            Finally, it is worthwhile to note that civilian control is the institutional aspect of national security policy. In that security aspect, military officer professionalism is a more formidable problem and issue. It should also be noted that before the Cold War ended, Huntington suggested that political parties shift to the centre if not conservative realism for national security to have less friction with the professional military ethic.

            Policy Recommendations

            • Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Technology: Need for Recommend that the PMA teach Filipino military history.
            • Recommend that the AFPCGSC and NDCP curricula consider a module and that NSA support and conduct a sustained literacy program on CMR/SSR in the security sector.
            • Recommend that SSR consider a review program for the security sector on the Constitution and its enabling laws or the lack of it that will be specified in the foregoing recommendations.
            • Recommend that the proposed NDA to replace the 1936 NDA include in its declaration of principles where it was first found that, subject to style, the sovereign people is the ultimate authority over the military.
            • Recommend that the controversy be resolved in the new NDA legislation instead of unnecessary constitutional change.
            • Recommend that the lack of a strong tradition of civilian control in spite of a “legacy of civilian rule” not be glossed over through a closer appreciation of CMR/SSR theories and practices in the Philippines.
            • Recommend the selection of political appointees to executive oversight and supervisory agencies over the armed forces with a minimum orientation on national security and /or a further orientation at NDCP; the conduct of special courses on national security for the legislative bureaucracy (recognized by SSR NGOs); and the development of a DND civilian career bureaucracy patterned after the DFA foreign service corps (in progress) as a separate legislation if not a part of the proposed NDA.
            • Recommend the review and amendment of the National Service Training Program (NSTP) and RA 7077.
            • Recommend the passage of a Joint Resolution pending at the Fifteenth Congress of a PNP Reorganization Plan pursuant to RA 8551, entitled “An Act Providing for the Reform and Reorganization of the PNP and for other purposes, amending certain provisions of RA 6975, entitled “An Act Establishing the PNP under a reorganized DILG and for other purposes:
            • Recommend that civilian authority take heed in the declaration of the President during the CP PA turnover that “there is no more politics in the military” and the ultimate enactment of the bill prescribing a fixed tenure for the CSAFP.
            • Recommend high-technology training be the affordable jump-off activity to equipment modernization.
            • Recommend that the tri-service concept at PMA in order “to pre-empt other service academies” be reviewed.
            • Recommend that the ROTC program be enhanced to produce officers.
            • Recommend that the charter of PMMA be amended to accommodate prospective officers for PN and PCG.
            • Recommend that national security strategy and doctrines be done by Filipino officials.
            • Recommend that national security strategy and doctrines be done by Filipino officials.
            • Recommend consider the aforesaid conclusions and recommendations in the crafting of the new NDA.

            The views expressed in the policy brief do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Defense College of the Philippines. The readers are free to make additional copies or quote any part provided proper citations are made. For comments and suggestions, please contact the Research and Special Studies Division, National Defense College of the Philippines @ telephone no 912-0767 or email

            Recommend that a focused study on the prospects of a revolutionary military coup be commissioned in the Philippine context

            • popoy says:

              Ganda Karl para pag aralan, himayin at ituro sa estudyanteng bukas ang isipan.
              Sayang nga lang retired na ako. Bakit ganoon pag hindi na puede wala ng lakas
              at panahon saka dumarating ang magagandang dapat gawin. Yun national defense at
              national security CONJOINED TWINS yan talaga, malalakas na bansa ngayon
              ang meron niyan. Meron din tayong mga nakakaligtaan hero ng National Intelligence
              agencies, hindi lang appreciated ng publiko.

              • karlgarcia says:

                Salamat professor!

                Hanggang may lakas pa, usap lang tayo dito.
                Kailangan namin na mas bata ng kaunti ang wisdom nyo.

                Sana may makapulot ng mga pieces of wisdom at mapaganda pa mapalaganap ito.

  18. Care to start a thread on actionable Tangibles Creation/Promotion for the transformation of our country??

  19. Sabtang Basco says:

    Donald Trump is meeting Rodrigo Duterte in his 12-day visit to Asia in Manila. Obviously, Philippine Presidential Command will report to U.S. Secret Service like any presidential visits by American Presidents in the past. Of course, Filipinos cannot hear or read of it because this is the only event in the Philippines when bureaucrats keep their mouth shut the Filipinos can only read it in blogs and musings and conspirational “analysis” from the Philippine Press.

    If Elite Presidential Security Command that escorted Antonio Lozano, one of the many witnesses of ZTE scandal that to this day remained unanswered and “investigated” were overpowered by scrawny La Salle nuns US Secret Services would never trust the safety of their president to them.

    Will there be tinikling dancers to meet Donald Trump ? I do not know !
    Will the homeless street children rounded up and coralled to environmentally controlled hotels? Will find out !
    Of course, as usual, the obligatory eating with their hands … and US Secret service surely will have food tasters if it is not poisoned.
    Will Leni Robredo be invited? I wish she’d be.

    Donald Trump will congratulate Duterte in private but what is going to be published that “Trump castigated Duterte for the killings” for show only.
    Trump will request Duterte for more land-based American troops against North Korea under the guise of “security of Philippines against China encroachment”
    As usual, Philippine media will rock and roll over Trump’s like of Adobo
    Who will take care of Melania Trump? That is taken cared of: Mocha Uson

    No American Presidents had ever visited Philippine Tourists spots. Wonder why? It is about time Donald Trump should be forced to visit for free advertisement sake.

    • chemrock says:

      Trump will be here to promote Trump Tower, period.

      • Sabtang Basco says:

        OMG ! Yeah, you are right, chemrock. Donald Trump has Trump hotel in Manila. Will there be ribbon cutting? If ever there will be CNN and the rest of American Fake News will have their heyday attacking Donald Trump.

        Will there be Filipinos protesting against Donald Trump of his immigration policy? I guess there will be because Filipinos wanted to go to America leaving behind Philippines.

        Toughie Donald Trump despite his big mouth will not go to DMZ like all past presidents except Ronald Reagan because he is actually afraid of Kim Jung Un.

        What past presidents usually do when visiting DMZ is wear bomber jackets and a binocular peering thru it over North Korea border. But this time no DMZ. Trump will visit new South Korea President in Seoul.

  20. chemrock says:

    It seems the president now has 80 million suporters hceering him on.
    16mm from Kilusan Pagbabago
    16 mm from MRRD NECC
    16 mm from Duterte Youth
    16 mm fromCitizen’s National Guards
    16 mm from Tapang and Malasaki Alliance

    The only tangible they are promoting is Duterte.

  21. Francis says:

    A good article. Very relevant. Pardon the really, really long post.

    (In this time of partisanship—where all sides are in a state of all-out jaw-jaw—it is nice to have an article focusing on the constructive. I am personally a firm believer in the notion that the best and most effective critique is to construct an alternative, rather than to tear down something; the latter (to tear and rail against) is sadly I think is the style of arguing that is now being fethisized by many Filipinos. When one has an alternative in mind—that something you wish to change, it tears down itself.)

    My understanding of the article (please correct me if I am wrong) is that this dream of a “decent” society—which I am assuming translates to a republic of free and lawful men and women governed by a constitutional democracy—didn’t quite sell well during the previous election because the people spoke too much about the “intangibles” and too little about the “tangibles” as it were. You this identify the problem as: “How does one make a dream tangible?” In dealing with this particular problem—the three ideas from yhat you got from Twitter could also be respectively (corresponding to 1, 2 and 3) paraphrased as: the importance of process or the means as opposed to the conclusion or the ends, the importance of inclusivity or encompassing everyone with no exceptions, and the importance of simplicity and clarity in one’s message and delivery of said message.

    But in short, how do we make the “intangible” feel as if they were “tangible”?

    So, you note the problem of the role of jobs (a very tangible thing) in our society. How we look to jobs—not to career paths or (to be less capitalist, hahaha) vocations. This leads to incompetence, inefficiency (and possibly corruption) everywhere. A sign of lacking intangibles?

    You sketch two solutions:

    “So step one in re-inventing Philippine dreams might be to start building career paths.”
    “Step two might be mandated national service of two years for every graduating senior.”

    Step 2, I agree. A common sacred (secular) ritual is the best way to preserve healthy nationalism in this era of maddening skepticism and postmodern chaos.

    However, this is where I disagree: with Step 1. Maybe—in the 20th century and previous eras, this scheme could be workable. A medieval society, a mass industrial society could expect a semblance of stability; the career path you pick is assured so long as you put in the hard work: blacksmiths will always be blacksmiths (guaranteed by the local guild) and factory workers will always be factory workers (guaranteed by your neighborhood union, in theory). However, we live in the 21st century now. So much distribution going about. Globalization making jobs offshored from one place to another with one order from on high. Automation making a good number of humans no longer necessary to the production process.

    The Industrial Age was driven by rapid and exponential specialization; factory jobs multiplied as tasks were broken down into more tasks, and even in the academe, fields of study started breaking down into more niche fields, i.e. chemistry is now biochemistry, etc.

    We note however that—as human society becomes more and more complex in the current (post-industrial, 21st century) era—the problems of human society are also becoming more complex and bigger. And this increasing complexity of human problems is also connected to an trend of convergence. Take for instance, the problem of AI. I am a layman, but I assume that to create a working AI needs not only a programmer, but also: a human psychologist to think about how it should think, a mathematician to run through the logical thought processes, a physicist to analyze the high grade material required to run such a thing…in short, interdisciplinary.

    And even beyond the Ivory Tower of the academe: the factory man, the average Joe who goes to a job at a factory (or an office) in the morning and leaves in the afternoon, is obsolete. Companies are asking for knowledge workers at all levels. Flexibility. A good dose of creative thinking.

    Not people who stick, who specialize in one path—but who can think about running in two, three, four paths and WHY. In a nutshell: generalists, not specialists—or specialists who are also generalists at heart.

    So I would propose for Step 1 to instead read as: “teaching people to build career paths.” Which may involve them being prepared to radically shift from one path to another path (or maybe be engaged in two simultaneous paths or more) to deal with a rapidly changing and progressing society. Which in a nutshell, is knowing how to ask not only HOW but also WHY.

    This needs to be fixed. Otherwise the devotion built by Step 2 will have the potential to be directed uncritically towards…less than than savory goals. Like hypernationalism.

    To link back to the talk of “intangibles” (why) and “tangibles” (how) as it were—I think it is safe to say that the 21st century absolutely requires understanding of BOTH.

    Filipinos are good with the HOW. We have millions of nurses, engineers, doctors and lawyers. We know how to do things. Yet, the WHY escapes us. An example would be our obsession with bar topnotchers: I am not saying they’re not brilliant folk, but don’t you think this is a bit misplaced? What counts more: a lawyer who can recite every law in the book, or a lawyer who can write a stirring, majestic interpretation of the law? We value recitation of a million facts, but scoff at “pilosopos” as good-for-nothings; that we have such a word “pilosopo” is quite…sad in itself.

    What I’ve observed in the discussion is that the solutions are aimed at young adults; the college and probably senior high school people. No. I think the rot extends much further.

    My solution would be the overhaul of the entire K12 educational system; without an overhaul of our elementary schools and high schools, at best, you’ll get college graduates who are technical geniuses—they’ll know how to fix things—but fools when it comes to stuff outside the book, like areas of subjective judgement, i.e. philosophy and ethics.

    How? I think far, far too much attention has been paid towards building classrooms and supplying textbooks and other physical inputs. What I would do is make the pipelines supplying teachers a matter of national security and importance: I’d raise teacher wages (I view this as a matter so important, I’d be personally willing to increase debt just to make this happen) and I’d make world-class facilities to train them. I’d prioritize the training not of math teachers, for instance, but of people who love math and teach. There is a difference.

    • Excellent, Francis. Just excellent. You have taken the core idea in its very rough state and pointed out how to make it work. Vey valuable insights, and I very much like the personal accountability aspect.

    • NHerrera says:

      The proposal (last paragraph) — arrived at through a persuasive introduction and explanation — appeals to me. I am specifically persuaded by the reality of the 21th century including the impact of AI you mentioned. My only immediate comment is that such proposal be appropriately timed in parallel or in series with the other urgent country needs, all of which are constrained by budgetary requirements and gestation periods.

    • karlgarcia says:

      Francis excellent insights.
      On education it should not be strictly STEM , Humanities should always be incorporated for the human aspect, like on how you broken down the elements of AI, STEM and Humanities combined.

    • Miela says:

      Excellent points , Francis.

      If I may add, the educational system must be overhauled towards critical thinking over rote memorization or even “humoring” your teacher. I remember my teacher remarking I should change my essay because it wasn’t agreeing with the expectation. Not if I were able to support my thesis or not.

      There is an overemphasis on obedience and under emphasis on critical thinking. This is why Filipinos are fools outside of the book. People who think differently than the herd are ostracized in some way or another.

  22. Sabtang Basco says:

    The number one problems in the Philippines is peace, order, corruption and drugs.

    Duterte touched all of them tangibly but the Philippine Press touched them in this order:
    Number 1: Killings of drug peddlers and users
    Number 2: Corruption

    What Philippine Press is not touching
    Number 1: Drug problem
    Number 2: Peace and Order

    Based on the above questions arise:
    1. If drug problem is not reported why are people loving the killings of drug peddlers and users if there is no drug problem reported by the media? The people know better drug is number one problem even with negative news on killings.
    2. Corruption seems focused on Duterte so are the killings. The people know the media are focusing on these for the reason they want Duterte out.

    Drug problem is touching majority of the Filipinos. Duterte tangibly showed them he can touch the peddlers and drug addicts that touched the hearts of victims of drug peddlers and addicts.

    Why are voters of Duterte do not care about corruption? Because corruption or not their lives remain the same. To put it simply if there is no corruption their lives remain the same. If there are corruptions the more their lives remain the same.


    That should be answered and if it can be answered and the benefits of corruption-less society trickles to majority that tangibly uplifts their lives the Philippines will never have a Duterte or Marcos again … on second thoughts, who put Bongbong Marcos there? that is an uplifting question.

  23. Sabtang Basco says:

    Why are Philippine Press not covering the burial of a soldier in Bohol?
    You can see in this video by Aheezy da Islander:

    As what anyone can see in this video …
    1. The Filipinos are not scared at the sight of soldiers/PnP …
    2. The Filipinos attended the burial of their soldiers …
    3. The PnP soldiers are friendly not demons as reported by Philippine Press …
    4. ONLY THE POOR PEOPLE ATTENDED THE BURIAL OF A SOLDIER … no media presence … no reports how people and soldiers get along side-by-side …

    Despite all the negative news of killings of drug addicts … Filipinos love the soldiers … this kind of youtube video clip is never seen in any TV news reports what the Filipinos see are all the crying and screaming … not the camaraderie of common people and the soldiers.

    Something is wrong with Philippine Media.

  24. Sup says:

    A new dream for Harry?

    Being presidential spokesman would serve well Roque’s senatorial ambition. His daily media exposure from now until early 2019 would ensure name-recall that anyone harboring senatorial ambition would not be able to match. Not even Philippine National Police Chief Ronald de la Rosa with his mascots and mall standees.

  25. karlgarcia says:

    For those interested,I will do it in install ents and I will just exclude the one I posted earlier.

    In the mid-20th century, the captain of a British man-of-war received an order: “Proceed to Taiwan Straits and protect the interests of the Queen”. The national interests of England germinated from the boudoir of Queen Elizabeth I. In Spain, it developed at the Escorial palace, where the bedroom of Philip II was separated from the Queen’s by a huge altar. There is a sea story that Philippine national interests emanated from a mythical conversation between Felipe Segundo and his father, Carlos Quinto, who commissioned the decrepit Magellan expedition and the four other unsuccessful expeditions before Legaspi. The son offered that the islands where the sun rises be named after the father instead. But Emperor Charles who would rather watch the sunsets in a monastery, answered “Felipe, no!” That was the origin of the Filipino and the state of denial ever since.
    But for a sexist succession to the throne, history could have changed. One of the daughters of Philip II, who was affectionately called Filipina because of a cute pug nose, could have given Elizabeth of England a run for her pirates. For want of a nose, then Commander Carlos Agustin, now President of NDCP could have had received a message from Malacañang: Proceed to the South China Sea and protect the interests of the Queen.
    Lady Constitution mandates the protection of the people and the State. But what does the State want? What do the people need? Message: Proceed to Manila for a round table discussion on the national interest.

    The concept of national interest is a central idea of national security as a field of study. It is more than that. Viewed sometimes in the singular, it is the “one guiding star” in determining national policy1. It is the “touchstone” of strategic policy2 and serves as the “keystone” to national strategy. To survive and to secure the blessings of freedom is said to be the “irreducible national interest”. But there are more compelling needs. A telescope with high definition and a seismograph with some sensitivity would find a constellation of stars and more than a cornerstone – competing if not colliding against one another.
    Thus, national policies are said to emanate from the identified interests of a nation, stated or implied. The defense establishment in particular sees it as “an indispensable starting point for defining national security objectives as well as formulating national defense policy and strategy.” DND has a work in progress entitled “Defining and enhancing Philippine national interests: A national defense perspective.” Defense Policy 1998 was actually requested by the members of ASEAN and participants of the Asian Regular Forum [ARF] to include an articulation of national interests but was issued without them. To be sure, NEDA has a Medium Term Development Plan, NSC has a National Security Strategy, and DFA has a 10-year Foreign Policy Strategy.
    It must be stated that much needs to be desired about Philippine literature on national interest. But the sound bites before and after the recent national elections were interesting and intriguing. Senator Lacson raised the issue of national interest- above personal, human, and public interests- as the justification for the unification of the opposition. Senator Roco would fight for the national interest. Bishop Villanueva was “willing to die for the national interest” in response to a question about a perceived policy of the Catholic Church on population management. Wittingly or unwittingly, he has defined vital interest as one that a nation is willing to die for. Candidate Poe suggested to the majority in Congress to canvass the results in the “interest of the majority”. Senator Pimentel invoked the national interest for the opening of the election boxes. Speaker De Venecia perorated that the timely proclamation of the President is “in the highest national interest”. Immediately after the proclamation, the President promised to serve the national interests [plural], having come closest to identifying the national interests since after EDSA 2.
    In other countries, national interests are not as fleeting as ritualistic “bell-ringing” in an election campaign. Do the bells toll for whom Recto lamented as “a race with a mysterious urge to suicide” in a “nation run like hell by Filipinos” that Quezon would rather have than a “nation run like heaven by Americans”? But we will settle for the return of the bells of Samar taken by the Americans as war booty and tolling for our national interest ever since.
    In the meanwhile, let us walk the talk on our road to definition. The road is rough, consistent with the Philippines having the least paved walk in ASEAN but more text-talk than Europe and US combined. The unbeaten path is shrouded with the fog of the conceptual ambiguity of national interest.
    There are the contending frameworks for definition, between the realists and the liberals. The realist equates interest to power and the liberal to values. But in our country Marxists pass as liberals, liberals talk like Marxists, and “realists” make “life” property, “liberty” more property, and “property”- plunder.
    There is the semantic of nation and state- the tensions and diversities of our nation and a “weak and pre-mature state” struggling to be a strong republic. But even a remote tribe of the Sioux nation has defined an interest in a marooned enemy lieutenant identified as “dances with wolves” in a famous movie. Charter change [cha-cha] is a national dance interest. Yet a nation-state Japan, would postpone a clearer articulation of its national interests reportedly completed by the Commission on the Constitution of the Japanese House of Representatives.
    There are the fundamental interests, already contested by a protracted twin insurgencies to be shared values, to expect a consensus on specific interests in the absence of an effective ruling political party. There are the interests of sub-national groups complicated by trans-national influences. But even the 100 participants in a US Council of Foreign Relations [CFR] study reached unanimity on only one American vital interest.
    The concept of national interest has no universal meaning. The perception of a country’s national interest is shaped by its history, geography, ideology, economic conditions, strategic circumstances, values, and the state of the nation. Even our geography is dynamic.
    Thus, our road to definition is no packaged-tour. After Part One, you may want to be on your own but rejoin later at Part Seven and Part Eight, for a definition of our national interests and its identification with snapshots of Part Two and Six and ranked. Part Two is an exposition of the concept of national interest as the concept of national security enlarged. Part Three is a cursory visit of eighteen countries, from major powers to our ASEAN neighbors. Part Four is an exposition of national interest in the Constitution from values to core interests to directive-policies and specific provisions on the national interest. Part Five is going beyond the Constitutions from Biak-na-bato to Malolos to the Commonwealth era, and- bypassing the Japanese occupation- to martial law and EDSA 1. What were the laws, official promulgations and pronouncement of our leaders, and public advocacies on the national interest? Part Six is the realities of the national condition from EDSA 2 to the beginning of the new administration that provide challenges and opportunities to our national interests.
    Definition in modern telecommunication means “degree of clarity” and in optics the “clarity of image”. But the fog of our “permanent wars” blurs the views. Identifying is not any less problematic. We cannot even agree on a national ID. But psychology defines identifying as associating with. Certainly, we can identify with promoting a focused discussion on the national interest conditioned to interpret the national purpose – sometimes called the fundamental interests.

    ​The only local articulation of the concept of national interest was by Senator Miriam Santiago in the 1999 debates over the Visiting Forces Agreement [VFA]: “The concept of national interest has no universal meaning. It can be defined on the basis of either objective or subjective factors. Objective factors include economic strength, military capabilities, and the size of the resource base. Subjective factors include morality, legality, or ideology. Whether the VFA will promote Philippine national interest depends upon whether the person defining national interest gives preference to objective or subjective gain. However, it is also widely accepted that there are three basic fundamental interests: physical survival, including territorial integrity; economic well being; and national self-determination.” In this connection, President Estrada stated that while the military bases agreement [MBA] was an issue of sovereignty, the VFA was a matter of security – a distinction that should fuel more debates.
    ​The Senator added that the concept of national interest has broadened to include domestic affairs as the concept of national security enlarged. Indeed, from the traditional dimensions of political, military, and economic, it now includes: resource depletion, environment, population growth, arms control, terrorism, crime, and technological. There is an ever-increasing importance of cross cutting transnational issues. Traditionally outward looking, the inward-look has pre-occupied the developing states. Actually, the move to broaden the scope of security was initiated by the Asian governments in the 1967 Bangkok declaration and gained acceptance in the West in the 1970’s. ASEAN concept of comprehensive security developed to be broader and more concrete than what was originated in Japan.
    In the Philippines, a concept of national security, which “revolved around the goal of national unity”, was adopted by the National Security Council (NSC) in 1992. The approach focused on seven elements with priorities centered on moral and spiritual consensus, cultural cohesiveness and economic solidarity, placing socio-political stability, ecological balance, territorial integrity, and external peace in the lower portion of the scale.
    Later the security framework gave more importance to socio-political stability and territorial integrity. Actually it has remained essentially the same. The “war against poverty” is even more paramount. The twin- insurgency is now aggravated by international terrorism, which top the national security agenda recently proposed by an NDCP study.
    The ejaculations of our politicians tend to define national interest as that something good above personal, family, and party interests. Putting that interest above our divided concerns logically consumes us more than our interests in our relations with other nations. Paraphrasing the National Security Adviser, we are so internally crises-prone to attend to our over-all national interests.
    The contending schools of thought on the national interest may tell us where to go or what to adopt. The realist-objectivist suggests that the absence of a supra state in the international system places states in perpetual competition under a constant state of anarchy. For Morgenthau, the doyen of Realism, this means that the fundamental national interest of any state was the protection of its physical, political and cultural identity against encroachments by other nations. Given the realist’s emphasis on material advantage, states pursue their own national interests in terms of power translated into military power through the acquisition of weapons. Might is right!
    In said view, a code of conduct in the South China Sea may be to explore for oil by an energy-hungry China which Siberia may not satisfy, among other advantages like fishing and the sea lines of communications [SLOC]. But Vietnam bloodied the Chinese in the Paracels before moving to the Spratlys and previously defeated the French, the Americans, and the Chinese not because of realism but patriotism and nationalism. The Vietnamese has ideals rooted in its history and culture.
    The idealist-romanticist school or liberal contends that the national interests are best served when the high-prized values of the nation are best served. It pays greater attention to economic emancipation than on military development and freedoms like freedom from disease, ignorance and poverty. It concerns itself more with domestic anarchy than international anarchy. Right is might!
    But the distinction is more useful as a heuristic device. Actually, the liberal school is pragmatic enough to recognize that self-defense is fundamental. Senator Blas Ople was liberal on the national ID system but realist on the war against terrorism. A musical distinction is that the liberal sings “peace and goodwill towards men” and the realist sings “peace to men of goodwill”. But we listen to the melody more than the lyrics.
    To be sure, economic emancipation is a condition precedent to military modernization. The small nation of Singapore is pragmatic enough to put national survival as the primary national interest but attended to economic development before having the most modern military in ASEAN with a defense industry equal to none. China’s Four Modernizations has the military at the last. Up to now, we are still debating as to which comes first. End result – no military solution and no holistic solution either.
    In retrospect, the concept of national interest was less vague and ambiguous in its role in explaining state action in relations to others: from feudal relations, to commercial city-states, to nations in the era of exploration, to colonization, to world wars, to the Cold War and finally to the advent of globalization. Now critics have argued that the “nation” and “national interest” are losing their supreme place in international relations. On one hand, a unitary national interest is inappropriate for pluralist societies; on the other, it clashes with global ideas. Simultaneously, however, national interest has grown in importance in the foreign security and foreign economic policies of developing nations as they impact on their domestic policies. After the demise of the Cold War and the enlargement of the concept of national security the major and the middle powers started to mind their national interests once more with greater vigor and rigor. It has also been useful to strategic engagements to see national interests shared by others as promoting common interests.
    In the Philippines, we are happy enough to hear in the words of Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, a welcome “verbal diarrhea” on the subject by our politicians. May the disease increase!

    • Sup says:

      You can have 10 NEDA’s, NSC’s and DFA’s but f the highest ”Authorities ” making their own laws, impeach all opposition high ranking persons to replace them with puppets, refusing grants, throwing away European zero tariff rules for thousands Filipino products out of ”ego”, mocking UN, USA, Europe etc you can ”plan” whatever you want but it will not work…..
      My humble opinion for today…

      • Sup says:

        Rumors? Panelo next Comelec Chef?

      • Edgar Lores says:

        The opinion may be humble — that is, insignificant — but its truth — that is, it’s significance — is not.

        • karlgarcia says:

          We are entitled to our humble opinions,, but when it comes to truth and facts, we must be proud!

          This Durerte government is bringing us to the pits!

          As this blog installment is aptly titled,”To Touch a Dream”, it may not work now, but someday,
          we can touch the dream.

  26. karlgarcia says:

    Next installment on the Study of National Interests.

    “The ambiguity of the concept of national interest and the contending schools of thought notwithstanding, nations do articulate their interests with varying degrees of commonalities,” so revealed a cursory survey of 18 countries. The most materials came from the U.S. and Australia.
    Motivated by the end of the Cold War, among other reasons, a private Commission on American National Interests was established with membership from the most notable national security and foreign policy personalities with the institutional support of Harvard Center for Sciences and International Affairs, the Nixon Center, and The Rand Corporation. Its first report was in 1996 for the Clinton administration; the second in 2000 for the new Bush administration; and the third expected in 2004. The effects of 9/11 may have been preempted, officially for that matter, by the US National Strategy 2002 document. Earlier, 100 members of the famous Council of Foreign Relations succeeded to achieve consensus on a solitary vital interest. This Commission, funded by the Hauser Foundation, in its first report, arrived at 31 interests with 5 vital, 11 extremely important, 10 just important, and 5 less important. It reflected on a one-line summary by their wise men in the late 1940’s: “Preserve the United States as a free nation with fundamental institutions and values intact”.
    The Australian Ministries for Foreign Affairs and Trade with an advisory panel of eminent citizens published in 1997 its first White Paper “In the National Interest” that could be summarized into: “The security and independence of the national territory and the economic well being of Australians – the jobs and standard of living of its citizens”. It was highly influenced by the Asian economic growth that was later rudely interrupted by the Asian financial crisis before the paper was completely distributed. In February 2003, a new Foreign Policy White Paper on national interests [ANI] was issued followed by a Defense White Paper on security [ANS]. ANI and ANS reflect 9/11, the 8/12 bombing at Bali, and recent developments concerning weapons of mass destruction [WMD]. [Paul Gorao, Lusiada University, Portugal]
    In Japan, there was an increasing public call for a clearer articulation of national interest after the NK missile tests and the Iraq war. But the ruling party did not oblige in spite of a study reportedly completed at the Commission on the Constitution of the House of Representatives. PM Koizumi stated that: “I know what is good for Japan”. Former PM Nakasone commented that: “What I want to know is if he can do it”. [Asian Times, November 2002] However, the basis of its defense policy as enumerated in the annual National Defense Policy of Japan are: The promotion of efforts for international peace; establishment of the foundations for national security through domestic stability; development of an efficient defense capability; and adherence to the Japan-US Security arrangements.
    Russia has recently re-elected a President who once head the Security Council, which formulates the national interests. At CNN, the new Foreign Minister said: “The national interest of Russia is simple”. He added, as paraphrased – to have a nation that is secure and the well being of its people enhanced in a world at peace under international law and institutions. Russia’s national interests are the combined and balanced interests of the individual, society and the state in economic, domestic political, social, international, informational, military, border, and ecology.
    China national interests appear in the annual Defense Policy White Paper to include the following: Safeguarding state sovereignty; unity; territorial integrity and security; upholding economic development as the central task and unremittingly enhancing national strength; adhering to and improving the socialist system; maintaining and promoting social stability and harmony; and striving for an international environment of lasting peace and a favorable climate in China’s periphery.
    The national interests of China and Vietnam are approved by their respective Communist Parties. The ruling parties of the parliamentary governments surveyed formulate the national interests.
    All the core interests reveal an enlarged concept of national security. While those of the western countries are largely foreign policy- oriented, the notion of “common security” is apparent in the European countries and the Canadian “cooperative security” has gained headway. The Asian countries reflect the concept of “comprehensive security”. [Nature of Security, NDCP Manual]
    The commonalities are not unexpected. Sovereignty/Security and economic well being of the people are the priority interests of the 18 countries surveyed. Global peace was stressed by Canada, China, Russia, Japan, Indonesia, Cambodia, Norway, and Germany.
    But the Asian countries prioritized “unity” as national interest: China, Indonesia, Mongolia, Cambodia and Vietnam while espousing an ideology. It is not merely a means to attain domestic stability and social cohesion but a compelling need of the nation to claim or reclaim territorial integrity and political sovereignty. To China, Hong Kong, Macau, Tibet, and Taiwan are vital national interests. To Vietnam, the Spratly claim is a vital interest after losing control, in bloody conflict, the Paracels to China.
    Interestingly, “cultural identity” is crucial to Mongolia, Vietnam, Indonesia and Brunei. Singularly, “national survival” is Singapore’s highest priority to have a socially cohesive people with the most modern military in the ASEAN. Thailand placed the rights and welfare of its laborers abroad as a vital interest.
    Certainly, the national interests and how they are formulated of the nations surveyed are interesting to say the least. They provide models in the definition and identification of our own. The national interests of our primary ally, United States, may help our politicians avoid exaggerated perceptions of our importance and American “hidden intentions”. Those of other countries would provide confidence-building measures.
    As summarized and classified the national interests are: Appendix A
    State sovereignty and security
    Territorial integrity and security
    Security of the people, in and out
    Border security
    National survival
    Existence of civilization
    Survival of culture and traditions
    National unity
    Domestic stability
    Cooperation with other nations
    Global peace
    Survival of international systems

    Trade and investment
    Global competitiveness
    Overseas workers
    Population management

    Stability and harmony/cohesion
    Civilization and culture
    Education and health

    National ecology
    Global environment
    Disaster control

    Science and technology

    Self-reliant capability
    Defense alliances


    The Constitution is indispensable in the identification and definition of our national interests. Essentially, it is the fundamental national interest. In its Preamble is the distillation of the ideals and aspirations of our people. In the body of the Constitution are the guiding principles and policies of government. The national territory, with due respect to international law, is defined in Article 1. National interest is mentioned several times in the 1987 Constitution.
    The rule of law, regime of truth, and love were added to the l973 litany of justice, peace, freedom, and equality. The definition of our national interests, therefore, cannot be based solely on the objective factors of national power but the subjective factors of ideals as well. The effect may be seen, in a less abstract fashion, in the rest of the Constitution.
    But it can be said that the Preamble are values with interests. The national interests are ‘to build a just and humane society”; “to promote the common good”; “to conserve and develop our patrimony”; and “to secure to ourselves and our posterity the blessings of democracy and independence”, “imploring the aid of Almighty God”.
    Territory [Article II]
    The national territory as defined roughly consists of three parts: [1] Philippine archipelago; [2] all other territories; [3] waters air space and submarine areas. The principal point of reference for the delineation of the archipelago, according to the sponsors of this provision, is the Treaty of Paris. The only clear claim, however, to unilaterally delimit boundaries was respect to inland and territorial waters. The principle that it is not the Constitution that definitely fixes the extent and control of territory, is said to be accepted, specially as pertains to all other territories over which the Philippines “has sovereignty or jurisdiction” and the contiguous and exclusive economic zones that are covered by UNCLOS.
    Territorial interests in legitimate claims to Sabbah and Freedomland are under the realm of international law and territorial integrity as a national interest is thereby legal, acceptable and wise. The 1987 version, while it “removed language possibly offensive to an ASEAN neighbor” has preserved the 1973 Constitution and considered the 1986 UNCLOS. As an archipelagic state [Art 46] it has sovereignty over the waters enclosed by the archipelagic baselines [Art 49].
    Declaration of Principles [Article II]
    Art II contains interests with values. Sec 1 is ‘sovereignty of a democratic and republican state. Sec 2 is “peace and amity with all nations”. Sec 3 is “sovereignty of the State and the integrity of the national territory. Sec 4 is “to serve and protect the people”. Sec 5 is “the maintenance of peace and order” and the “promotion of general welfare”.
    State Policies [Article II]
    Foreign policy
    Sec 2 Art II [Declaration of Principles and State Policies] consists of three parts: [1] renunciation of war; [2] adoption of the principles of international law; [3] adherence to a policy of peace, freedom, cooperation, and amity with all nations. The third part is an abbreviated statement of an article on Foreign Relations approved by the 1971 Convention which read: “The Philippines shall pursue a foreign policy aimed at the fulfillment of the national interest in a world order based on equality, peace, freedom, justice, and prosperity for all nations”. The last two items of the third part – “cooperation, and amity with all nations” – were expressed more fully in aforesaid article, which read: “In the national interest and of international peace and cooperation, the Philippines may extend recognition and establish . . . with other nations irrespective of ideology”.
    Thus, it is clear that the guiding principle of Philippine foreign policy is the national interest. Whatever these ‘selfish” interests are, they are tempered, as Father Bernas observed, with concerns for peace and justice. Additionally, while the 1973 text was retained, the 1986 Commission read into the word “amity” the concept of “love” found in the Preamble.
    Independent foreign policy
    Sec. 7. Article II. The State shall pursue an independent foreign policy. In its relations with other states the paramount consideration shall be national sovereignty, territorial integrity, national interest, and the right to self- determination.
    This principle betrays a hidden aspiration for national interest. Real sovereignty is the capacity to conduct independent international relations. Actually, this section is the closest reference to a ban against foreign military bases that was originally drafted as a section in the Declaration of Principles, which read: ‘The State has the inherent right to self-determination, national independence and sovereignty. To ensure the integrity of such right, foreign military bases, troops or facilities shall not be allowed . . .” In the reformulations, “national interest” got listed together with vital interests, not as a catch-all term. The debates seemed to indicate that while a ban is in the national interest, declaring it under Article II is not. Thus, it became Sec 25, Art XVIII [Transitory Provisions]

    Nuclear weapons policy
    Sec. 8 Art II. The Philippines, consistent with national interest, adopts and pursues a policy of freedom from nuclear weapons in its territory.
    The sponsor of this provision explained that “consistent with” means “subject to” that is, “that both the adoption and the pursuit of the policy, as well as any exception therefrom, must be subject to the national interest”. The original draft was “consistent with considerations solely of national interest”. The “considerations” are what may be “defined by the executive and legislative departments”. But “solely” was dropped because there may other opposition based on conditions like peace in the region.

    Citizenship [Article IV]
    Sec 5 Art IV read: Dual allegiance of citizens is inimical to national interest and shall be dealt with by law.
    The sponsor of this provision explained that dual allegiance referred to that “unsettled kind of allegiance of persons who are already Filipinos but who, by their acts, may be said to be bound by a second allegiance to Peking or Taiwan”. It stemmed from the concerns about the impact of liberalized naturalization procedures on national security and exploitation of natural resources. Finally, national interest was debated in connection with security.
    National Economy and Patrimony [Article XII]
    The trilogy of values, interests, and policies is found in the Constitution. The Preamble is values with interests. The Declaration of Principles is interest with values. The State Policies are policy objectives shaped by interests and values. Values and interests are not poles apart and could be alternative expressions of valuation The national survival of the Philippines is not just a fundamental interest but a core value as well.
    The specific constitutional citations of the national interest, however, are mainly with respect to relations with other nations, alien residents or business, and citizens with certain ethnicity to indicate some mandated priorities. But its concept of national interest is not exactly “selfish”. In the Preamble are ideals with a unique twist. “Love“ was read into the ideals of “peace and amity”. The Declaration of Principles renounces war, as if it were a previous policy. Make love, not war!
    As summarized and classified the national interests are: Appendix B
    Sovereignty of the State
    Territorial integrity
    Protection of the people
    Democratic and republican state
    Cooperation and amity with all nations
    Global peace
    Adoption of international law
    Renunciation of aggressive war
    Conservation of patrimony
    Ban on nuclear weapons/foreign military bases
    Ban on political dynasty
    Civilian supremacy
    Human rights

    Private initiative
    Conservation and development of patrimony
    Common good
    Public interest
    Interest of welfare or defense

    Social justice
    Personal dignity and human rights
    Youth, women, and elderly
    Indigenous communities
    Non-government organizations
    National unity

    National ecology

    Priority to education
    Science and technology
    Communication and information

    Defense and Law and order
    Nationalist and patriotic military
    Civilian police force
    AFP to protect the people and the State
    Citizen’s armed forces

    ​ ​
    Our constitution-making started with Biak-na-bato, followed by Malolos in 1898, then the 1935 Constitution, the Japanese occupation charter, the 1973 Constitution, and the 1987 Constitution – which may be soon be subject to charter change [cha-cha]. After each of them are laws, official promulgations, articulations of our national leaders, and public opinion to include academic discussions and papers.
    The Declaration of Independence at Kawit in describing the red, white and blue of our national colors declared that it commemorated “the flag of the United States of America as a manifestation of our profound gratitude toward this Great Nation for its disinterested protection which it lent us and is continuing to lend us”. [Alejandro Roces, Philippine Star, June 12 2004] It may be discerned that the over-riding national interest was independence under the “disinterested protection” of America. Before that, the “emerging Filipino nation” was for reforms under Spain and representation in the Spanish Cortez.
    At Malolos, still unknowing of the “national interest” of America, Aguinaldo declared that “the next great task, having the conquest of territory completed, is the problem of peace – to formulate a solemn documentation . . . as the supreme expression of the national will”. The Philippines was the second most economically developed nation in the whole of Asia. But before Aguinaldo/Mabini could articulate fully the national interest, they were, in the words of American historian Walter Millis, “neatly double-crossed” [Salvador Araneta]. The national interest of America articulated no less in a dream by President McKinley supported by the “yellow press” of Pulitzer and Hearst prevailed.
    Before the Commonwealth, the dominant interest was independence once again, or a universal fundamental interest called self-determination. President Quezon would rather have a nation run like hell by Filipinos than a nation like heaven by the Americans. But the framers of the 1935 Constitution was also concerned that “the defense of the State is the prime duty of government”. Thus, Commonwealth Act # 1 was the National Defense Act, seemingly written in granite by Majors Eisenhower and Ord, because a new National Security Act has yet to be enacted while Fort Ord in California has long been closed.
    Before the fruition of the Defense plan, the Japanese rudely interrupted. Hell finally came, but run by the Japanese and the Americans, not by Filipinos. In 1946, independence was granted. But the national interest included the military bases of America, ostensibly for our national security, with the perceived “gain” from the sweeteners of military assistance out of defense excess materials and a Mutual Defense Treaty [MDT] that was to be found later as not good enough to justify a simple Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA). A bitter pill was the “parity” given to American business. All together made Recto lament that we are “a race with a mysterious urge to suicide”. Self-destruction is not a national interest. Wanton logging of our forests and illegal fishing followed.
    Soon enough, the national interest was emerging from the fires of political interchange. A more “nationalist Quirino” took over after the early death of Roxas, and a “Filipino First Garcia” after the untimely death of Magsaysay. Macapagal changed our independence from July 4 to June 12. The shortening of the bases duration and the end of parity would soon happen. The “blessings of democracy” in the 1935 Constitution that our heroes fought for in Bataan and Corregidor would be reformulated in the 1971 Constitutional Convention to “blessings of independence”. Independence is a fundamental interest that remains an aspiration.
    But the Declaration of Principles while identifiable as core values or abstract interests are not only not self-executory but are yet to be defined, as mentioned earlier – by the executive and legislative branches of government. Yet it was the judiciary that was revolutionized by the principle of “social justice”, one of the five, of the 1935 Constitution. The definition of the national territory that was not subsequently defined as a national interest led to embarrassments in London and Bangkok over Sabbah and revolutionized the “Moro nation”. A revolutionary “new society” defined out of the principles that have increased from five to ten in the 1973 Constitution turned out to be out of sync with “the blessings of democracy” in the 1935 Preamble. A “defining moment” would come twenty years after 1946. That restored the ‘blessings of democracy” and added democratic to the republican state. But it was the judiciary once more that enabled one of the now 28 provisions of the 1987 Declaration of Principles and State Policies, Section 16, on the “right to a healthful environment” to be without need for further legislation. Legislation for local and vested interests dominated.
    It was the parliament of the streets that were more active in their definition of a version of national interests. Articulated between the lines of worn-out cold war slogans and raging anti-globalization, they protested for “the national interest” against joining the “coalition of the willing” against terrorism and the war in Iraq and the effects of globalization. Earlier the left was active in territorial interests bordering on expansionism and a self-reliant modernization of the military-if only to preclude American military aid.
    The specific invocations of the national interest in Article II remained to be too “prudently” undefined to be a basis of an “independent foreign policy” and nuclear weapons policy”. The ‘national interest” in Article IV was rendered ineffective by investments from Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia. The said “national interest Article XII” hardly made a dent in development planning before it was overtaken by globalization and WTO. It was again the judiciary that defined the national interest in the Manila Hotel disposition. The Malaysians may have Sabbah but not the former quarters of MacArthur. But the nationalist restrictions have become controversial.
    From the Development Plan, there was no discussion of the national interest in the 1998 Defense Policy Paper, to the 1999 NSC reference paper “Our National Security Strategy.” The draft new Defense Policy Paper is awaiting foreign policy inputs. However, DND has a work in progress entitled “Defining and Advancing Philippine National Interests”.
    With not much work in the academe circulated either, what has our political leaders have to say about national interest? As mentioned earlier, it was only Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago who delivered a speech in the Senate on the concept of national interest and national security. To be fair Senator Tatad, asked for our definition of national interests during the debates on the [VFA]. The sound bites on national interest before and after the recent national elections were interesting enough to be mentioned in the Introduction.
    But in a not-so chance encounter with former President FVR, NEDA Secretary, and PAL president during the recent launching of the 2007 RP Mt Everest Climb, President Ramos stressed peace and development as the foundations of our national interest. As the super-salesman of our country, he was concerned about national reputation and self-esteem. The Everest climb is in the national interest indeed! The PAL president did not say that an “open skies policy” is in the national interest. The NEDA Secretary was concerned with political reforms to spur economic growth by more foreign and domestic investments and enhanced exports that generate more revenues. How about the “nationalist” provisions in the Constitution? Is population growth in the national interest? He has been quoted or misquoted that it is – without it we would not have 8 billion dollars a year from the Filipino overseas workers.
    Beyond the Constitutions, the last word has yet to be said before another Constitution is done.

  27. karlgarcia says:

    Last installment, I skipped the part I submitted earlier.

    This is so dated that wig before refers to Eddie Gil.
    Now that wig belongs to Wiguirre.

    ​While opposing politicians have verbalized a “national interest” [singular] before and after the recent elections, the incumbent President and some members of the Cabinet have been closer to articulating the national interests [plural]. After EDSA 2, in a VIN d’honneur for the diplomatic community she stated the realities of our foreign policy:
    • The paramount influence of China, Japan and the United States in the security and economic evolution of East Asia;
    • The growing context of ASEAN in global affairs;
    • The role of the international Islamic community;
    • The role of the European Union;
    • The looming importance of inter-regional organizations;
    • The protection of the environment, natural resources and maritime territory;
    • The drive for foreign markets and foreign investments in which Europe is also a major source along with the U.S., Japan, China and ASEAN;
    • The importance of international tourism;
    • The crucial role of overseas Filipinos in socio-economic stability.
    DFA Secretary Albert restated the aforesaid realities during a round table discussion [RTD] of the Strategic Studies Group [SSG] with members of the Cabinet precisely on the national interests on April 28, 2004. She said that the President might have to make an update soon, to include the need to combat international terrorism.
    In the RTD, a former NSC Adviser, Gen Alexander Aguirre, suggested additional realities with international implications, as follows:
    • The threat of international terrorism;
    • The extensive influence of globalization;
    • The threat of organized transnational crimes;
    • The existence of sources of conflict or tensions in the region; and
    • The existence of communist and secessionist insurgencies in the country.
    All the aforementioned realities were considered challenges to our national interests. In this connection, the DFA Secretary enunciated the three pillars of our foreign policy: first – the preservation and enhancement of national security; second – the promotion and attainment of economic security; and third – the protection of the rights, and the promotion of the welfare and interests of Filipinos overseas.
    It was discussed that our vital interests lie wherever the evolution of our security and economy are affected. Our vital interests lie wherever our 7 million overseas workers are, in 165 countries and on ships on all the world’s oceans. Thus, our vital interest is also world peace and global stability. The said realities of foreign policy indicate where they are, to include the countries hosting the peace negotiations with communist and secessionist rebels. Except that others are more vital than some.
    Prudence may seem to relegate our territorial claims to less vital even if the Vietnamese claim in the South China Sea may be in its vital interests. But the protection of our archipelagic resources cannot be less than vital together with the control of our borders and entry points to smuggling of human and material goods, drugs and disease as mandated by Sec 21 Article XII of the Constitution.
    If the influences of China, Japan, and America are paramount then our national interests with respect to each of them must be defined. If there is a growing importance of inter-regional relations are important, then the integration of ASEAN to deal with China and India as emerging economic giants are also important if not vital.
    The 10 year Foreign Policy Strategy of DFA reflect said interests although DND would need a country-by-country approach specially the countries of our vital national interests, as the USND requested from DFA during the RTD. Assuming, for example that, contrary to conventional wisdom, the military does not gain much from the RP-US ‘Balikatan” exercises in terms of training, it may be gaining some in logistics. Or in a higher plane, it may enhance our geo-political importance to include economic considerations of market and investments. An array of our national interests in our relations with USA would clarify that.
    As to China, what have we gained so far from a one-China policy? Market for our exports or competition to our exports… more investment from China or lesser investment from Taiwan… peace and security in the South China Sea or Mischief? Nevertheless, are we to be a “coaling station” once again for America’s interest in China? As to Japan, are we more concerned with its economy as a primary market for our exports and a major source of direct foreign investments and assistance than an imagined repeat of the past war?
    Earlier than the RTD, DFA elaborated on the other realities of foreign policy. It declared that: “the defense of the nation’s sovereignty and the protection of its environment can be carried out only to the extent that it asserts its rights over its maritime territory and get others to respect those rights” and that, the Philippines will also endeavor to promote its ties with South Korea and Australia and promote bilateral and multilateral relations for common interests.
    But foreign security policy and foreign economic policy start from the homeland. During the RTD still additional realities were considered:
    • The call for political stability and national unity to include constitutional reforms.
    • The fiscal deficit and the burgeoning public debt;
    • The “permanent war” against poverty, ignorance, over-population, and crimes – specially graft and corruption;
    On top of these realities are political reforms, even before constitutional reforms, for a strong and democratic governance to spur economic growth, which in turn will promote social cohesion and stability. National unity, the buzzword of the season, is both an end and a means. The realities of the national condition are finally reordered as follows: Appendix C.
    • The need for political stability and national unity to include constitutional reforms.
    • The fiscal deficit and burgeoning public debt.
    • The drive for foreign markets, foreign investments, sources of energy, and tourism.
    • The “permanent war” against poverty, ignorance, disease, over-population, and crime-especially graft and corruption.
    • The safety and welfare of overseas Filipinos, whose role is crucial to socio-economic stability.
    • The threat of international terrorism.
    • The communist and secessionist insurgencies.
    • The protection of the environment, natural resources, and maritime territory.
    • The paramount influence of China, Japan, and USA in the security and economic evolution of East Asia.
    • The growing context of ASEAN and the Islamic world.
    • The threat of organized trans-national crime.
    • The extensive influence of globalization.
    • The importance of regional and international organizations. ​
    For the purpose of defining our national interests, the study re-ordered the realities of the national condition from political survival to economic survival to social survival to be able to attend more effectively to internal security and territorial integrity, and so on. The inaugural address of the President validated these realities, except constitutional reforms and population management. According to Senator Recto, she has another FPJ to confront – Fiscal deficit, power, and jobs.

    This study was introduced when the recent elections was taking shape. The first question was: Is it in the national interest to elect Eddie Gil, FPJ, and so on? National interest was equivalent to what is good for the country or for short: NI = WIG. To be sure, the wig is good for Mr. Gil.
    But WIG or NI [singular] is a variable dependent on other variables – national interests [plural] competing against each other in a construct of gain and loss. One such variable that is a given is democracy – operationally, the rule of the majority or the “mob” according to Lee Kwan Yew. Alas, not even GMA got it. The law did not provide a second-round between GMA and FPJ. Our electoral democracy is the rule of plurality, while the impeachment of the President elected by a plurality is a two-thirds majority vote of the Senate with a little help from EDSA.
    Ultimately, the question, after the congressional canvas earned our international reputation another sobriquet, played a worn-out record: Is Charter change in the national interest? That will not be the last question on the matter of national interest. In fact, using the words of Senator Miriam Santiago, a “verbal diarrhea” was loud and clear in the ejaculations of politicians even after the proclamation of the President – to include the designation of the VP to DSWD “in the higher interests”. NI is now high, higher, and highest.
    Then as the study was winding up, OFW Angelo de la Cruz was hostaged by the Iraqi ‘Khalid bin-Walid squadron”. Ten years ago, a seasonably outraged nation vent its anger on otherwise good neighbor Singapore who put its national interest on its rule of law on the Flor Contemplacion case. This time it was not a nation-state, but an extremist group, a model of the Abu Sayaf. But almost directly, the new Iraq with whom we hope to do business with, and America with whom we hope to better business with are involved. This time seven to eight billion dollars from OFWs mean a lot more. The nation was oozing with compassion to include groups with other interests in mind. Seemingly, we have read into the national interest the concept of “love” as mandated by the Constitution.
    Is it or [as of this reading] was it in the national interest to have withdrawn the RP contingent in Iraq to free Mr. de la Cruz? The answer of the Palace spokesman was it is “in the best interest” of the country to do so. Good, better, best! National interests, as found out by this study, are largely what the national leader and the government say, indeed. And political stability is a vital interest, especially of an administration enhancing its mandate from a fractious nation.
    Nevertheless, this study identified relevant national interests from the declarations of the President and the Cabinet, namely [1] Safeguarding Filipino lives and property, here and abroad, [2] Promoting the rights and protecting the welfare of overseas Filipinos, [3] Combating terrorism, domestic and international, and [4] Leading the regional consensus and joining “the coalition of the willing” against terrorism. To some, the OFW justifies the high population growth rate.
    More than coincidental, this study did not rank the fourth interest as vital because it is more a policy option or options than interest. Defense alliance with US was not considered as vital as Japan and Australia do and as the major non-NATO allies like Pakistan, South Korea, Israel, and Egypt do likewise. In the first place, our Constitution bans nuclear weapons and foreign military bases extended by some interpretation even to access agreements. In the second place, it is wishful thinking for us to get the billions of dollars that Pakistan got to include the recent half-billion dollars debt condonation with the rest to follow. Perhaps it will happen when China is about to take Taiwan in 2020, or earlier Malampaya, a piss away from Mischief Reef. But it is vital that our long- term national interests with China and US that we have not identified be articulated. Diplomatic ambiguity is not a rationale for lack of strategic thinking.
    But given that the welfare and security of our OFWs are more vital concerns, is Mr. Cruz a veritable surrogate of that vital interest? Most of our OFW dollars are coming from US and non-Islamic countries. Will the security of 4,000 OFWs in US bases in Iraq be served from other groups that were given some ideas? Is the extremist Islamic militant group, traceable to the cold-blooded slaying of the son of the only daughter, Fátima, of Prophet Mohammad 1,300 years ago, trustworthy? If so, then the Abu Sayaf, which at the Sampinet complex at Basilan has a camp named after Khalid bin-Walid is not hopeless! To be sure, they beheaded an American citizen, but the American troops did not withdraw.
    The invocations of the national interest, undefined and un-articulated, over the last six months made a more focused discussion of national interests more imperative in a crises-prone country. In this latest crisis eminent Filipino personalities say: Viva Bulgaria! Why not Viva España? This study on the national interest declares: Viva Filipinas!

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