Every year, a fresh batch of about 300 young men and women graduate from Asia’s premier military school — the Philippine Military Academy. The new officers take an oath at the end of their four year course, which is basically summed up by the motto of the Armed Forces of the Philippines — “to serve and protect”. However, with the recent scandals and corruption allegations that rocked the military service of the country a question comes in mind; who do they promise to “serve and protect”?
The military is in focus now, several of its high-ranking officers and past officials are now involved in a corruption scandal. One of the accused even committed suicide yesterday, most probably due to the intensity of the hearings. Most military officers are graduates of the PMA, most probably because the curriculum of the academy molds the cadets to become ranked-officers upon graduation. A PMA graduate is commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant immediately after graduation.
This comes as a surprise, it is widely-known that love for the Constitution, discipline and patriotism are among the values instilled in the cadets in the PMA curriculum. Didn’t these officers, who have been caught red-handed of corruption, learn such values while they were in the academy? If they love the Constitution why would they violate one of its laws which forbids plunder? Is conversion of public funds into their own pocket money a sign of discipline? And patriotism means putting your country first, not your employers or your superiors. These high-ranking officials violate such virtues.
Now there are calls to abolish the Philippine Military Academy, which is a shame because the school is one of the country’s source of pride — being the best military institution in the continent. Several honorable individuals are also products of this academy, they include: Representative Rodolfo Biazon, Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita. However, the academy also bore several bad fruits, which include coup plotters and one notable murder suspect now in hiding.
The PMA has already attracted bad publicity in the past, a few years back lawmakers were complaining about the amount of money spent on each cadet: a whooping Php2M on every cadet for the four year course. This translates to a Php514M annual budget for the academy, yet its’ junior officers take part in coups which make the money a bad investment. During PMA Homecomings, notable people in the fields of politics, showbiz and business become ‘honorary members’ for no logical reason whatsoever. These people include former President Gloria Arroyo, former presidential daughter Luli Arroyo and tycoon Tonyboy Cojuangco. All of them did not come from the institution. Speculation is that this is how the future officers, the young graduates, form a ‘friendship’ with these heavyweights. Allowing them to receive ‘favors’ from one another in the future.
Obviously the image of the armed forces is now messed up. The men-in-uniform children are supposed to look up to are now linked with corruption. Something of course has to be done about this, it is a wasted sacrifice fighting for your country wholeheartedly while your superiors, your so-called ‘leaders’, are ruining the glory you are trying to achieve. Depriving the soldier of the respect he deserves.
The reform needs to start at the PMA, it only makes sense, the officers who eventually take charge of the Armed Forces come from this institution after all. Mentors should review their curriculum, make sure they teach the right values to the cadets so as to avoid losing them to opportunistic officers who brainwash them into destabilization pawns. The Php500M+ annual budget should be well-invested to craft the best servicemen available to defend our great nation. Graduating cadets need to make sure they know what they are saying in oath during graduation, they need to know who they serve and protect.