Together We Can Make a Difference in Reforming the Armed Forces

Manila Bulletin, August 23, 2003 | Go to article overview

Together We Can Make a Difference in Reforming the Armed Forces


(Speech of President GLORIA MACAPAGAL ARROYO at the Philippine Military Academy, Baguio City, August 22, 2003.)

PRESIDENTIAL Adviser, Governor Chavit Singson, Sec. Afable, Sec. Alingod, Undersecretary Purugganan, men and women of the Cadet Corps. Ladies and Gentlemen. I have come here, first of all, to affirm to you that I will not abolish the Philippine Military Academy.

After July 27 that I heard and the country heard many negative things said about the PMA. Those in the extreme said that the PMA should be abolished. There are those who say the cadets are spoiled and live in an idyllic world so detached from reality, and that is why they become lost dreamers when they are shocked by the realities in the field. Some say Mistah culture has bred corruption and coverups as well as blind loyalties to the wrong complex. Many blame the cadet for displaced idealism and for breeding the messianic complex within the officer corps.

As President of the Philippines, I listened intently to these opinions. But I would like to assure you that I did not come here to blame you for anything or to give you a long lecture on your values and principles. I dont believe that our cadets or young officers are spoiled. I dont believe that you are empty dreamers or wayward idealists. I respect you as soldiers of the people.

I came here to have a heart to heart talk with you. I appreciate it very much, and we would appreciate it very much, if you could dispel any preconceived thought that I am an arrogant President. I know I can be contentious and, perhaps, even overbearing sometimes, but we all have our strengths and weaknesses, our failings and frailties, anxieties and fears. But I do not habor notions of superiority over my fellow human beings including subordinates in the civilian and military service.

God gave us a great gift the power to communicate and understand each other. And as long as we are earnest and sincere and geared towards a common mission, as long as we agree to listen to each other and to respect each others diverse beliefs and opinions, there is nothing in this world that can destroy those great ideas we hold so dear the nation and the flag.

It is high time for our nation to break away from the excessive preoccupation with politics and even with We must now consolidate and solve energies towards the indispensable task of public order and development, especially the fight against poverty, terrorism, crime and corruption to which the government is devoting its undivided attention.

There is an insidious attempt to sideswipe the presidency. Because nobody has so far dug up anything that can put my office in bad light.

I am drawing a clear line between the purely private matters that are being imputed against my husband. And the issues of governance being attended to by the presidency. That controversy has nothing to do with my work as Chief Executive. I do not interfere with my husbands private business and I do not allow him to interfere with the affairs in the state.

My husband is not a ward of the palace. And if charges are filed against him, which we hope will be done, he will mount his legal defenses independently. Neither he nor any other member of the first family enjoys a mantle of political protection. I am not going to intervene. The palace is not a legal refuge of the first family.

I am married to our country.

As your Commander-in-Chief, I would like to be accorded respect, but not subservience. I would like my lawful orders to be carried out, but I demand honestly, frankness and candor. No officer of the Armed Forces should ever flinch in telling the truth to the Commander-in-Chief, whether he or she is a man or woman. I do not seek to be shielded from the horrors of soldiery or the dirt under the carpet. War is neither pleasant for me nor for you for our families and loved ones and for all our people for that matter. …

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