Reforming Intelligence: Obstacles to Democratic Control and Effectiveness

By Thomas C. Bruneau; Steven C. Boraz | Go to book overview

TWELVE
ETHICAL AND MORAL ISSUES
IN INTELLIGENCE REFORM
The Philippines

Douglas J. Macdonald

This nation is at a crossroad: quite simply, it must reform or perish.
— FILIPINO PRESIDENT GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO

Reform of security services in emerging democracies is one of the most important tasks facing these governments in the process of democratization.1 This chapter will examine the tortuous road to intelligence and military reform since the overthrow of the Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines in 1986. The Marcos period (1965–1986) was marked by an unprecedented politicization and corruption of the civilian and military security forces of the Philippines, the primary producers of intelligence. This legacy has been and will remain one of the greatest barriers to meaningful reform of democratic institutions and intelligence services. Two fundamental approaches to reform are contrasted: the “top-down,” widespread, wholesale reforms aimed at the complete transformation of the security forces simultaneously attempted by the Corazon Aquino government (1986–1992), and the incremental “bottom-up” reforms attempted by its successor, the government of President Fidel Ramos (1992–1998). In addition, the Ramos administration proceeded with a series of creative diplomatic and socioeconomic initiatives that were crucial to its relative success. As additional important elements in this success, Ramos served in a period of relative prosperity in the region of Southeast Asia and, as a former military man, was not the object of suspicion from that quarter, as was President Aquino. Although both the top-down and bottom-up approaches have their strengths and weaknesses, and implementation of intelligence reform as one aspect of broader democratic reforms has been imperfect, the incremental approach utilized by Ramos is the superior strategy in pressing for intelligence reform in the Philippines.

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