Defense Secretary Lorenzana has failed the Philippines

Defense Secretary Lorenzana [Photo source: Philippine Star]

By Joe America

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has a difficult job, without question. He performed it well until this week when he decided to lay the blame for mismanagement of the West Philippine Sea on President Aquino (Who ‘mismanaged’ West PHL Sea? Lorenzana points to previous admin; GMA News).

The fundamental rule that Secretary Lorenzana botched is the well-established principle that the defense and security establishments MUST NOT BE political. They must rise above politics, otherwise they cannot defend the NATION. Politics in inherently divisive, and if the defense establishment engages in politics it brings guns and information unfairly into the equation, promoting one political ideal over another.

It is assuredly a quick path to a fractured state.

In his unfortunate remarks, Secretary Lorenzana failed to defend President Aquino, the duly elected President of the Philippines, a man who by all accounts served the nation honorably. Secretary Lorenzana defended President Duterte on the West Philippine Sea by blame-shifting to Aquino. He placed guns and cannons on the side of one group of Filipinos and laid blame on another.

He effectively defended China by dividing the Philippines.

The nation Philippines, under the Constitution, should be one state, one union of many different people with many different ideas. That’s what Defense is supposed to assure.

The guns today are on the side of some of the people, and not on the side of others.

Secretary Lorenzana made it so.

He aimed the guns away from China, for sure. He aimed them at President Aquino. If you are ‘yellow’ or for democracy and civility and active defense of sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea, he may have aimed the guns at you, too.


55 Responses to “Defense Secretary Lorenzana has failed the Philippines”
  1. Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

    Agree. What a shame. Thought we had a champion in the defense establishment. Step down, Sec. Lorenzana, if you’re not up to serving Filipinos to whom you report.

  2. edgar lores says:

    I was disappointed when I read the news item yesterday.

    But not only Lorenzana. Carpio too.

    Of the two, I was more disappointed with Carpio advising people to “move on” from the Sereno ouster.

    I gather that Lorenzana has some history with Duterte in Davao, whereas Carpio does not… except by affiliation (?). And Lorenzana is part of the Cabinet, whereas Carpio belongs to a co-equal branch.

    Is Carpio being cowed by Duterte’s tirade?

    “Kung mas bright itong mga justices, itong mga putang inang’to, siya ‘yung presidente ngayon. Hindi ako. Totoo. If you are smart more than enough you claimed to be, then why are you there? Why am I here?”

    • Senator Pangilinan about Independence Day: “Not since World War II have we faced such a serious threat to our sovereignty, to the very definition of who we are, to our very existence and survival as a country.”

    • Antony Kintanar says:

      Did ACJ Carpio really said that or Fake News ? Please clarify, verify and conclude then. As regards Mr. Lorenzana, need I say more about his cowardice and selling out our WPS sovereignty !!! A despicable President with his nincompoops Cabinet OMG !!!

  3. The military establishment of any country should be above politics which, as you say, is “inherently divisive.” It should be absolutely loyal to a country’s Constitution which is our people’s vision of an ideal democracy. With us, China is beyond any reasonable doubt, an imperialist bully!! The military is our last line of defense against tyranny and dictatorship — our last line of defense since our Supreme Court is Du30’s disgusting tuta!

    • edgar lores says:

      Interesting for two reasons:

      1. Mr. Abad usually lends moral support to TSH. This time he is offering analytical support. This is a cause for celebration!

      2. His last sentence, the thesis that the military is our last line of defense, made me pause in the face of my earlier opinion that between Lorenzana and Carpio, Carpio is the greater disappointment. I gave three reasons for this:

      2.1. Lorenzana is a member of the Cabinet.
      2.2. Lorenzana has a “history of alliance” with Duterte which Irineo has confirmed.
      2.3. Carpio belongs to a co-equal branch of the Executive.

      3. I believe Mr. Abad’s thesis, which is the current meme, is based on two things: a fact and a belief.

      3.1. The fact is that the military was the last line of defense against the Marcos dictatorship.
      3.2. The belief (or hope) was that Lorenzana would defend the Constitution in that he had previously exhibited independence from Duterte.

      4. So there was my initial perspective not quite in conformity with the current meme.

      5. I have spoken before about “institutionalizing resistance.” This is resistance to the Executive Branch that, in our past and current experience, can swallow the Legislature and Judiciary.

      5.1. The question arises: Is the military really the last line of defense against tyranny and dictatorship? Is this belief or doctrine to be perpetuated?

      5.2. My opinion, from the viewpoint of institutionalizing resistance, is that the military should not be so depended upon because this is extraconstitutional. Rather, I would that other ways be found of institutionalizing resistance primarily by reinforcing the independence of the two co-equal branches and the independent commissions and by increasing the discernment of the people.

      5.3. The blog emphasizes the principle that the military should not be political. I do not think that the US and other democracies hold onto the belief that the military is the line of defense against tyranny. The belief itself creates a dangerous dependence and would negate efforts to develop institutional resistance.

      5.4. From the viewpoint of the Constitution, the primary role of the military is the defense of the State against external and internal threats: “The Armed Forces of the Philippines is the protector of the people and the State. Its goal is to secure the sovereignty of the State and the integrity of the national territory.” It does not recognize that tyranny, the very antithesis of democracy, is an internal threat.

      5.4.1. We know the 1987 Constitution was crafted in such a way as to prevent another dictatorship. Yet how easily Duterte thwarted it! All he had to do was utter curses.

      5.5. In a way, the Philippine military has always recognized the superiority of civilian authority. And yet from the observations of Irineo and Sonny, politicians have recognized the need for the military to be on their side. This was true of Marcos, who appointed many Ilocanos to the military, and it is true of Duterte, who has courted the military and appointed many ex-military to juicy civilian positions.

      5.5.1. It would be dangerous to upset the recognition of civilian supremacy and tempt the military with the doctrine that they are the last resort against tyranny. Some of our Asian neighbors, mainly Myanmar and Thailand, has succumbed to the temptation. This has resulted in the rule of military juntas and the subsequent loss of freedom.

  4. NHerrera says:

    Is this how Lorenzana want to defuse the ugly scene of the Chinese harassing our fishermen? I feel deeply betrayed by a man among the Cabinet Members I earlier sincerely admired. Shame on you Lorenzana.


    Some nuance relative to Acting CJ Carpio — here is an excerpt of an Inquirer report:

    “The Supreme Court decides and we must follow,” Carpio said.

    Carpio, the most senior magistrate, is one of the six justices who dissented with the majority in granting the quo warranto petition by Solicitor General Jose Calida.

    In his dissenting opinion, Carpio maintained that it is the Senate that has the exclusive jurisdiction to try and remove impeachable officials.

    “I belong to the minority. I lost but that’s it. I mean you win, you lose but we are governed by the rule of the majority. That’s how democracy works. Whether its correct or wrong, we just have to accept it because that’s how we can move on,” Carpio said.

    • edgar lores says:

      NHerrera, thanks.

      I don’t see majority rule — tyrannical or otherwise — as a nuance. It is a fact in a democracy.

      Nevertheless, we must voice out our opposition to the tyranny, voice out our suggestions, that we may shape the world closer to our hearts’ desires.

      Carpio, until this week, has been voicing his protests to the Administration’s approach in the WPS.

      Thus, I would turn the table on him: Why doesn’t he accept the status quo? Why doesn’t he move on?

      • NHerrera says:

        I missed the “move on” statement of Carpio relative to WPS. When I googled, I grabbed immediately his statement relative to the SC decision on Sereno. My comment relates to the latter. If that move-on statement refers to the WPS, that is another matter — a very serious one, and I agree with your earlier post.

        • edgar lores says:

          Carpio’s “move on” statement is about Sereno. I am questioning the inconsistency of his logic.

      • David C. Martinez says:

        When the tyranny of the majority – which you call “a fact in a democracy” [whatever that means”] – becomes political creed, are you seriously suggesting that we “accept the status quo” and “move on?”

  5. Sup says:

    Paolo having a ”good” time in a voodoo museum….Object? Sen.Trillanes-

  6. Francis says:

    The institutions have failed. This is proof that the system is not suffering a few kinks—but something very wrong at the foundations.

    It is worth have a conversation revolving around the question, “why?” And, “what should be done to lessen the chances of this systemic failure again?”

  7. David C. Martinez says:

    the road to hell isn’t lit by a flame
    but by the piercing beam of blame
    whenever things go wrong, you see
    ‘twas she, or he, but never ever me

  8. madlanglupa says:

    OT: The puppet and the puppetmaster.

  9. Lorenzana was connected to Lt. Col. Franco Calida in the early days of the Alsa Masa in Davao – yes, with SolGen Calida’s older brother, when Duterte was merely a novice Vice Mayor there. That is why Lorenzana could act like the older brother to Duterte at times, making some people hope.

    The reality is that clique loyalty is highly important in the Philippines. Even Secretary Gazmin was Cory’s PSG head once upon a time, and comes from the same province, Tarlac. In the Philipppine setting I would trust those I know more, especially if they control armed men – no need to explain.

    But Lorenzana has crossed the line into speaking about politics, something Gazmin never did. Even if the reality is partisanship, it was always taboo to speak about it. Maybe it is good it came out, because it might have to be exorcised for the country to become more of a nation than just tribes.

    • NHerrera says:

      Maybe it is good it came out … because now we know!

    • Thanks for the background info.

    • sonny says:

      “The reality is that clique loyalty is highly important in the Philippines …”

      “… then-Lieutenant Gazmin married his long-time fiancée, Rhodora Hernández, with Senator Benigno S. Aquino, Jr. serving as principal sponsor. … (during martial law) Gazmin discreetly monitored Aquino’s status and welfare. He would extend courtesies to Aquino’s wife, Corazon, when she visited her husband. During Senator Aquino’s 40-day hunger strike, Gazmin would secretly bring milk to the detention cell and oversee the solon’s daily medical check-up ” — from Wiki

      • edgar lores says:

        …And PNoy made Gazmin his defense secretary, thus completing the circle.

        • sonny says:


          And the bonds created over time that could be made suspect by ill-will, instead become accepted and admirable worthy of emulation.

          • In this case, utang na loob is positively manifested. Gazmin also never disappointed in any of his positions, always doing his job well – unlike some Duterte utang-na-loob appointees.

            But I still abide by my statement that loyalty and trust are scarce and therefore valuable commodities in the Philippines, which is in contrast to Japan a low-trust society.

            That someone protects you in a period of oppression is all the more valuable over there.

  10. Tancio de Leon says:

    Bayan Ko — Lea Salonga – YouTube
    ▶ 4:26

    Jan 1, 2010 – Uploaded by Tim Chen
    Lea Salonga…Your Song, December 12, 2009, Manila.

    BAYAN KO (In English)
    Philippines, my country, my homeland,
    Gold and flowers in her heart abound,
    Blessings on her fate did love bestow,
    Sweet beauty’s grace and splendor’s glow.
    How her charms so kind and tender
    Drove the stranger to desire her;
    Land of mine, in fetters kept,
    You suffered as we wept.

    Birds that freely claim the skies to fly
    When imprisoned mourn, protest and cry!
    How more deeply will a land most fair,
    Yearn to break the chains of sad despair?
    Philippines, my life’s sole burning fire,
    Cradle of my tears, my misery;
    All that I desire:
    To see you rise, forever free!

  11. chemrock says:

    Filipinos, don’t they love Napoleon

    • Napoleon Bonaparte (originally Napoleone Buonaparte) was Corsican. Corsicans are more like Italians in dialect and temperament. Napoleon made his brothers kings of countries he conquered.

      (Bavarians in that time were pragmatic. There was also a marriage between their royal house and Napoleon’s family. In return Napoleon proclaimed Bavaria a kingdom, after giving Franconia to it. They managed to switch sides on time to keep the kingship afterwards. There is a memory of those times in the Munich Southern cemetery – a grave stone of a French general who died near Munich after refusing to have his wounded leg amputated.)

  12. NHerrera says:

    Off topic

    If I may be veering greatly off track, I will be glad to be so advised.

    Canadian PM Trudeau stated before the press — after Trump prematurely left the Quebec G7 Meeting, that he told Pres Trump that Canada will make retaliatory tariff on US exports to Canada that the US earlier imposed on Canadian exports to the US. He added in that press briefing that Canadians are polite and reasonable but will not be pushed around. He made this statement in a calm manner as befits a self-respecting country, a country which joined with US in arms against US enemies in several armed conflicts.

    Then in an obvious unleashing of Sec of Trade Navarro — “like an attack dog” [my words], the latter stated that “there is a special place in hell” for the likes of Trudeau for making that statement against Trump after the latter left for Singapore.

    I am posting this because the behavior of my once admired American Presidency, Cabinet Members and Legislators are not so different from those in our local scene.

    • The dynamic is the same. Any criticism is perceived as disloyalty and a stab in the back. Only one person is allowed to be rude, and that is Trump. I also wonder what will happen to the Filipinos arrested for interrupting Duterte on Independence Day.

    • edgar lores says:

      Trump and Kim agree! Fab!

    • NHerrera says:

      In a realization that he cannot live down the rest of his life the statement he made on Canadian PM Trudeau, Navarro [Trump’s Trade Adviser, not Sec of Trade, as I incorrectly posted above] made an apology:

      “In conveying that message, I used language that was inappropriate and basically lost the power of that message … I own that. That was my mistake, those were my words.”

      No fellow Republican endorsed or mitigated his crude or disgusting statement, in fact quite a few made strong negative remarks. I suspect even his friends and relatives must have urged him to apologize for that indefensible statement.

  13. gerverg1885 says:

    The latest on Lorenzana that I saw on Facebook was about his denial of ever knowing that a Chinese military aircraft landed in Davao.

    The top man of the military establishment being the last one to know about such an important news? Could it be that it was the janitor in his office who relayed to him the news late in the afternoon after he (the janitor) read it in the newspaper early in the morning?

    • SPOTTED: Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua were seen talking to each other during the 120th Philippine Independence Day anniversary celebration in Kawit, Cavite on Tuesday morning.

  14. NHerrera says:


    Since it seems the reality — at least in the PH and US — we may as well say we do when we don’t, don’t when we do; ugly when beautiful is said, beautiful when ugly is said; not a joke when joke is said, joke when not a joke is said; moral when something is perceived as immoral, immoral when something is perceived as moral, etc.

    This is the advice of a mathematician to a fellow mathematician who just woke up after a two-year comma: that the language has simply changed, that is all — positive is negative, negative is positive.

    Good morning to you, folks.

  15. caliphman says:

    The most acute and endemic failure which all Philippine government institutions and leadership suffer from is failure in their sworn duty to follow if not uphold the constitution. When the presidential powers is not bounded by the basic law, legislative and local leaders are guided by self-interest, and the very judicial bastion of that law distorts rather than impartially interprets it, it is but a fool’s hope that the military will be any different and that their primary allegiance will be to protect and preserve our constitutional democracy. Soldiers and units are programmed to obey the chain o of command and whilst their military leadership may still have notions that their duty is to the people, country and the constitution, it is the rare general who is not corrupted by the same privileges of power, wealth, and career future that have led other government leaders astray!

    • I know I am repeating myself, but a Constitution is in most countries a consensus on the basic principles by which it wants to be governed. In the Philippines it is just a lot of words that sound nice but one half of the country doesn’t care, the other half doesn’t understand.

      There are a few who understood what it was about from the very beginning, but even the referendum was probably understood by most as being about “Cory na tayo, di na Makoy”. There are those who want to break the usual divides and echo chambers like Florin Hilbay, but today he Twittered about moral fiber, and I half-jokingly responded that many Filipinos might ask in what fruits and cereals you can find that. So malayo pa talaga ang umaga.

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