>Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero on Tuesday said it would not be wise to abolish the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) just because of the recent controversy hounding its graduates.
“Hindi kasalanan ng institusyon ang kasalanan ng ilang graduate nito. Kung may gagawin tayo, huwag namang i-abolish. I-improve, i-ayos, i-review at iwasto kung ano man ang mali o pagkukulang. Huwag namang abolisyon kaagad ang unang solusyon,” said Escudero, chairman of the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security.
(The wrongdoing of some graduates is not the institution’s fault. If we need to do something, that shouldn’t be to abolish it. Let’s improve, fix, review, and correct whatever is wrong or insufficient. But let’s not immediately look at abolition as the first solution.)
Traditionally, PMA graduates have been considered as the elite of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ corps of officers, enjoying an inside track on promotions and opportunities not purely due to merit but also due to an “old-boy-network” solidarity among classmates.
Recent controversies in which former top officials of the AFP have been implicated included the supposed “pabaon” system, wherein retiring generals are given millions of pesos as “sendoff gifts.”
Retired Gen. Angelo Reyes killed himself last week after he was accused by another former AFP official as one of those who benefited from the anomalous practice,
“[Pero] Marami din naman eskuwelahan na nag-produce ng graduate na hindi maganda ang ginawa sa ating bansa. Wala namang nagsasabing i-abolish na ang mga eskuwelahang yon. Ganoon din siguro dapat sa PMA,” Escudero said.
(Many other schools produced graduates who did our country no good. But no one is asking us to abolish those schools. The PMA should perhaps be treated the same way.)
In the same Senate hearing, Escudero also said that members of the AFP themselves have expressed opposition to proposals to establish more military schools other than the PMA.
“Tila hindi suportado ito ng Sandatahang Lakas sa ngayon at least [It seems the AFP doesn’t support this, for now at least],” Escudero said.
While some PMA graduates admit that some of their fellow alumni may have strayed from the straight path, some military and police officials junked recent calls by some sectors to abolish their alma mater. (See: PMA alumni in PNP, AFP junk calls to abolish alma mater)
Escudero also said that the Philippines’ creating new military schools was aping the US military, apart from budget constraints that the government could face in adopting such an approach.
“Eh baka naman hindi talaga bagay sa atin dito… Marahil mas bagay iyon sa mas mayamang bansa tulad ng Estados Unidos… Ang dami kasing sundalo at ang daming giyerang pinapasukan nila sa iba’t ibang parte ng mundo. Eh hindi naman tayo ganoon,” the lawmaker said. (Maybe that [maintaining a number of military academies] is not appropriate to our situation. Maybe that’s more appropriate to wealthier countries like the United States… due to their huge armed forces and their involvement in many wars in various parts of the world. But we are not like that.)
Just the same, Escudero said he will be forming a technical working group to further study the feasibility of setting up new Philippine military schools.—Mark D. Merueñas/JV,