Free Burma!

Free Burma!

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Read the Inquirer editorial, Battle for Burma, and Alex Magno’s column, Emergency. Asia Sentinel has Horror in Burma, and asks, Where are Burma’s Monks?

The Irrawaddy News Magazine Burma Protests page has continuous updates. So does More on Burma in the Guardian Unlimited.

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  1. Bencard,

    Ramrod says right: “The decision to follow or not to follow legal orders do not normally fall on the non-enlisted and enlisted men, the burden of responsibility lie in THE OFFICERS CORPS.”

  2. But Bencard, you are stretching it very far but without being specific, hate to say statement is wooly:

    “still contend that its not for a soldier to say what is and what is not “legal” and “lawful” under our constitutional scheme.”

    What do you mean by under “our constitutional scheme?”

    If you are talking about following the chain of command, this “scheme” is the scheme in every civilized country in the world, Bencard.

    But it comes to the cruch, an officer should an must refuse an illegal order or suffer standing trial (example My Lai Massacre.)

    • ramrod on October 6, 2007 at 2:29 am

    Now, in the case of Esperon, he was confronted by these officers with this code, even Reyes. The challenge is “Is this alright?” When someone within the officer corps asks you this you are morally bound by everything you deem as holy, your very existence as a soldier depends on it – to answer the truth because as I said, these people have to be able to trust each other with their lives (never mind us). It is an agreement, a covenant, a law owned solely by the corps precisely to supposedly make them different from us ordinary mortals.

  3. Ramrod,

    That’s very similar to UK Royal Naval College tenet of cadetship.

    ““We the cadets do not lie, cheat, steal, nor TOLERATE OTHERS WHO DO SO…Those that violate this code of honor are normally “ostracized” to the point that they leave dishonorably…”

    • ramrod on October 6, 2007 at 2:45 am

    At any rate, the powers that be have the upperhand at the moment, but I believe eventually the truth will come out. I don’t blame Bencard, from what the public has been bombarded with its an extremely difficult point to make. These officers were imprisoned for stating their position bravely, out in the open, (they could have easily organized another coup) – but in their naivity believed in democracy. Did they go up in arms against the government that they in all honesty believe and know is illegitimate? No. If they’re statement in front of the media of “withdrawal of support” earned them this sentence I hate to see what will happen to us if they read what we had to say about GMA.

  4. Ramrod,

    “At any rate, the powers that be have the upperhand at the moment, ”

    True. There’s always that very delicate ground when people believe they are right because they won or they’re on top and it may even follow that they are legally right but it doesn’t mean that having the upperhand means that they’ve done what is morally right.

    That’s why I truly appreciate the incarcerated officers led by Brig Gen Danny Lim – these officers, some of Philippines’ best of the best because they chose to uphold integrity.

    • Bencard on October 6, 2007 at 2:57 am

    ramrod, in a “government of laws and not of men”, “legalism” is a way of life. we cannot avoid it if we want to adhere to the “rule of law”, the great equalizer. it amazes me how some people can dismiss legality or legalism as some kind of a dirty word. without denigrating the idea of “honor” by any means, i think the concept is objective rather than subjective, relative rather than absolute. 99.9% of the entire population of the country saying that plunder is “honorable” does not make it so. by the same token, 99.9% of the entire armed forces believing that the government is “illegitimate” does not make its order illegal, and therefore dishonorable (making its violation an act of “honor”).

    the time when the armed forces can decide what the law is, is the time we are ruled by by a military cabal or junta.

    • ramrod on October 6, 2007 at 2:59 am

    I’m guessing the Burmese military officers are also in a quandary, but you know if they had a “code” of some sorts that pertains to honor – some officers would have already decided what to do or are doing something about it already.

    • Bencard on October 6, 2007 at 3:13 am

    mwb, the last i looked at our constitution, the interpretation of its provisions, as well as statutes, is lodged with the judiciary with the sc., the final arbiter.
    that is our “constitutional scheme”. if you think that’s “wooly” (whatever that means), don’t blame me. i only abide by it, not the author of it.

  5. Bencard,

    I totally agree with you: “ramrod, in a “government of laws and not of men”, “legalism” is a way of life. we cannot avoid it if we want to adhere to the “rule of law”, the great equalizer.”

    Where we might differ is on the absolute principle that a military officer has the right to refuse to follow an illegal or unlawful order because the officer believes the order is illegal and unlawful. I say he/she has while you say in effect that an officer must obey all orders, illegal or not.

    • ramrod on October 6, 2007 at 3:19 am

    Bencard,

    I see your point now. You believe that the current administration is legitimate. You believe that Esperon is doing the legal thing, that he is saying the truth. For all intents and purposes the law is on his side as it is “legally” definable. Because all the paperwork says it is. Indulge us, think of this “what if its not?” “What if Esperon is lying, and he and his ilk were used or were accesory to this illegal act?”
    As I was saying they had the “intel,” the people involved aleady talked, you can’t possibly hide all this especially within the officer corps, its a very tight knit, not to mention, small society. Of course you’ll say unless the supreme court will say otherwise you will stand by GMA and Esperon. Truth will eventually come out and these guys will be vindicated. Until then you will continue to be amazed in how legalism can be considered a bad word. Lawyers spend their whole careers looking for loopholes in the law, what you may consider “legal” these people can make “illegal.” Of course “legalism” is relative, if its not you’ll be putting battalions of lawyers out of business. “Honor” on the other hand is a universal principle, it cannot be defined any other way, you cannot break it, you only break yourself against it.

    • Bencard on October 6, 2007 at 4:02 am

    ramrod, i have debated this issue extensively with a number of worthy contrarians in this blog, e.g, mlq3, mb, cvj, abe, (even benignO, the blogger many love to hate – figuratively, of course), among others. it is my view that in every civilized human society, the only acceptable “truth” is legal truth as determined by the rules of evidence. anything else is conjecture or speculation. there are lawyers who try to find loopholes and there are lawyers who try to plug those loopholes or convince the court that they don’t apply. it’s an adversarial thing and the ultimate objective is to find the “legal truth”.

    btw, who is the omnipotent, all-knowing person who determines and defines what “honor” consists of?

    • ramrod on October 6, 2007 at 4:25 am

    bencard,

    Good that you finally put your truth in context “legal truth,” as determined by the “rules of evidence.” This only means to say that your concept of “truth” is something that can be manipulated, so long as you can show evidence, but sad to say evidence can be manufactured. So in effect, you are willing to close your eyes to the “truth” even if you know its true as long as there are no “evidence” to say otherwise, that is “legalism.”
    As to the concept of honor, it is listed among the universal principles, check out Stephen Covey. You are either honorable or dishonorable, like truth – it should only be true or untrue (based on its essence) not “legally true.” I am not the person to argue as I am not basically confrontational and I will admit you’re out of my league. I’m just someone who calls a spade a spade, not half a spade because its handle is broken or something. To say that something is not true because it is not “legally true” is an admission that you can get away with anything as long as you make it appear legal…That my friend is the expertise of this administration…

    • Bencard on October 6, 2007 at 6:57 am

    ramrod, not to belabor the point but legal truth is the result of human truth, which by its nature, is far from perfection. thus, you’re right, its subject to manipulation or fabrication. the rules of evidence provide safeguards against manufactured evidence or perjured testimonies. our law has its ways to ferret out the truth and to keep falsehood out. most of the time, it succeeds but every now and then, it fails as is true in every human endeavor.

    we are not, and cannot, talk of divine truth. it would be the height of presumptuousness to claim that one has a handle on such kind of truth. not the courts, the media or even the clergy. hence, i take exception from your claim that i am “willing to close (my) eyes to the “truth”. its beyond the realm of my senses and understanding, and i am not about to make any “judgment” with respect to it. i’ll just stick to what my own faculty can comprehend.

    you probably know, as well as i, that there is a code of “honor” within the mafia, the knights templar, even the fictional “spectre”of the james bond notoriety. have you heard the saying: “there’s a code of honor among thieves” or something to that effect?

    • pete on October 6, 2007 at 7:02 am

    bencard, ramrod,mbw

    Col. Orlando de Leon: The Officer Who Said No

    By his gesture, however, de Leon, a member of PMA Class 1982, has shown the public that the country’s armed services do have officers who know how to just say no. Of course, there had been others before him, like the late Army Capt. Rene Jarque, a staunch reformist but who had to leave his career in 1998 disillusioned by the unchecked corruption in the military he had exposed.

    More recently, there were Brig. Gen. Francisco Gudani (now retired), and Col. Alexander Balutan, both also from the Marines, who defied a presidential order against military officers appearing before congressional inquiries when they testified before the Senate last year on allegations of widespread cheating during the 2004 elections.

    http://www.sundalo.bravehost.com/Col.%20Orlando%20de%20Leon.htm

    • pete on October 6, 2007 at 7:11 am

    bencard: “there’s a code of honor among thieves” or something to that effect?

    That’s GMA’s code of honor. Neri’s invocation of executive prevelege is a current example and many others before as in above Gen Gudani’s refusal to follow eo464 …

    You can get away with legalism on isolated individual cases but not when the PATTERN of behaviour by perpetrators are clearly established.

    • pete on October 6, 2007 at 7:21 am

    This “code of honor among thieves” has cultivated a culture of impunity that pervades in GMA’s regime. A UN emmissary calls it “official impunity”.

    • pete on October 6, 2007 at 7:29 am

    That means the rule of law is dysfunctional primarily because top officals, starting with GMA, themselves violate the law. Bencard is advocating the right priciple of rule of law , unwittingly, to protect the law breakers.

    • pete on October 6, 2007 at 7:34 am

    in other words, bencard, is right in advocating rule of law but he is obviously wrong in assuming that rule of law under GMA is rule of law as he thinks it should be.

    • Bencard on October 6, 2007 at 7:46 am

    pete, i only mention the “code of honor among thieves” in response to ramrod’s implication that honor is absolutely and universally good.

    your claim that GMA is a thief is your own personal judgment, along with that of other like-minded individuals. for purposes of this discussion about “truth”, your argument is out of place unless you can show at least the “legal truth” of what you are claiming.

    • indoro ni emilie on October 6, 2007 at 10:09 am

    “it amazes me how some people can dismiss legality or legalism as some kind of a dirty word.”

    paraphrasing shakespeare:
    to make clean the word again, cleanse the system of lawyers.

  6. Pilipinoparin, feel free to copy and paste (or link the post). if it would help in your discussions, why not?

    yeah I’m a PT, and would have felt even more insulted with that Desperate Housewive’s remark than other non-medical professionals, don’t you think? and yet i’m not. simply bec. I know in my heart my school (or me) do not belong to those being made fun of in the show.

    think of this analogy: insecure people are quick to anger at any imagined faults, while secure people will just laugh off jokes made at their expense.

    it’s like what ramrod pointed out. over reaction has made the remark reach a wider audience than it would have had the remark just been laughed off.

    another analogy: sino ang mas masayang tuksuhin, ang pikon o ang di pikon?

    crying foul at the remark and saying it destroys our medical professionals’ integrity doesn’t cut. first of all, newbies, whom you say will be the ones most affected, can just point this out to doubters out there: ok fine. you have a valid doubt. i did come from a med school in the phils and they have a reputation that isn’t really good. i give you that. but here’s my license. it’s issued by your country. with a licensure exam given by your country. here’s my visascreen. a certification by an independent body mandated by your country to check that foreign medical practitioners who will work in your country have the education equal to the standards of education set in your country.

    if you’re ready to doubt these things, then you may as well doubt our American counterparts for they sure go through these same licensures, are issued licenses by the same collegiate body, and their educational credentials don’t even have to go through the rigid review of CGFNS. a plus or minus, depending on your POV.

    • ramrod on October 6, 2007 at 11:47 am

    bencard,

    Please review everything that you’ve read in your whole lifetime, it says “there is no honor among thieves!”
    There is nothing “divine” about the essence of honor or truth, its basically honorable or dihonorable, true or untrue, the door is open or close (not half close). Its taught in basic philisophy, look up “essence.” Your line of argument is good for argument’s sake. You could even argue that you don’t have a nose in front of your face, just as long as you can “legally” define it like you can’t see it so it must not be there, etc. What we have here are “gentlemen” who at some point in their lives agreed among themselves to call a spade a spade no bullshitting – they meet again find out that one of them violated this agreement and called him out. This so called honor code was made precisely because they refuse to be thieves and made a built in mechanism to check each other. Why is this hard for you to accept? If you analyze a particular situation you have to understand a lot of things, their culture, their beliefs, their attitudinal system, then you can possibly hazard a guess to their motives. Biazon, though he cannot say it out loud because he is a gentlemen can only give us hints like “there must be something there.”
    You’re arguing for the sake of arguing. Scientists can say that a bumblebee cannot fly, its body is not “aerodynamically sound, its wing design do not allow for substantial lift, etc. The scientists know this, you know this, but the bumblebee doesn’t, he just flaps his wings for all he’s worth (xxx beats per second) so whala! “We have a lift off!”
    I will respect your views. But then again, if you insist on qualifying the “truth” in any way other than its essence…you cannot be trusted…

    • hvrds on October 6, 2007 at 11:54 am

    Moral Hazard and what the world must do about Myanmar/Burma. Asean economies – Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and with India and China are doing strategic business with Myanmar.

    Thailand is Myanmar’s biggest trading partner. 20% of Thailand’s power utilities are powered with natural gas from Myanmar. Thailand and China are in the process of agreements to build pipelines for oil and gas through Myanmar and Thailand to China for Middle East oil and gas.
    Kindly review the map of the world as to where the biggest bulk of the oil and gas reserves lie.

    The Asian/Russian mainland lies from the Pacific side to Turkey. Indo-Europe, Middle East and Indo-China are the upcoming fulcrum of the future of the carbon based economy of the world. The Anglo Saxon empire with the Europeans behind them have a strategic problem – India and China. The productive capacities of these two economies will dwarf anything the West can offer. The gap is primarily in technology.(Human Creative Ability)) The dollar hegemony has helped the U.S. maintain its lead but that utilization of financial technology under the authority of empire (fiat international currency) is under extreme stress.

    If you want to look at the hypocrisy of the U.S. stand in Myanmar just look at the U.S. support of the dictators in Azerbaijan and Central Asia. Oil and gas from the Caspian sea and Central Asia the “democratic” equalizer.

    Big Mike and GMA should counsel the generals about the value of PR. ( “Democracy 101”)Abalos should be sent there to teach them the mechanics of elections. They should have nothing to fear about elections after Abalos gives them the model to follow. Big Mike and GMA can also inform them of the Pork Barrel method of governance. Carmen Pedrosa and her husband would be a big help also. Get FVR involved there as he can show the generals the way they can rule keep their handle on economic power.

    Tiananmen Square shoot outs on CNN are bad PR. Send Esperon and company there to teach them low intensity methods to deal with dissent. Away from cameras.People who disappear can be believed to have been abducted by beings from outer space. No physical evidence. When you shoot down people demonstrating in front of cameras, that was perfectly acceptable during past times.

    GMA should send her national security advisers to Myanmar to teach them ways to stifle dissent away from the cameras. The old kill the chicken to frighten the monkeys approach. Send also PR communicators and start giving licenses for media. I think the Wowwowee model of circus and bread would be quite beneficial.

    Though Myanmar is primarily agricultural there are restive people in the capital since the generals forgot that when you make it hard for people to eat then even the monks do not eat. They live on handouts. Social stability requires at least some food to survive on.

    Can the people of Thailand impose sanctions on Myanmar and stop importing the natural gas and sacrifice their standard of living? Not likely. Will Singapore and Malaysia get involved in the internal politics of Myanmar?

    There is no doubt that the generals are living off the hardships of their people. Someone should translate the history of the French revolution to these guys. People need food to eat in an urban setting.

    The Philippines is fortunate that the empire created an infrastructure for learning in this country that gave schooling and training for a lot of Filipinos. The Spaniards and the Catholic school system also helped. But that schooling and training was for a first world economy.

    That economic system and structure does not exist in the country.

    I think GMA could also ask the World Bank to get involved in Myanmar. Follow the Philippine example. Get Shell, Chevron and Exxon Mobile involved.

    While in India GMA should have asked Manmohan Singh how come the government runs huge budget deficits and at the same time has a better credit rating than the Philippines?

    Singh is a practicing equilibrium economist with a socialist bent and is in coalition government with a Communist party.

    Siddhartha Gautama (The Buddha)is originally from Nepal.

    It is a complex problem but one that will be resolved mainly because the generals will learn about communication. The next step for the U.S. and the U.K. is to organize an armed insurrection. Start it from the Indian portion of the border. Import some Maoist fighters from Nepal.

    • ramrod on October 6, 2007 at 12:08 pm

    “pete, i only mention the “code of honor among thieves” in response to ramrod’s implication that honor is absolutely and universally good.” – bencard

    Please search your soul? Honor is a universal principle. By that I mean it can stand by itself and still retain its essence, its meaning. Honor and thievery are two extremely different things, they cannot merge with each other, its the difference between light and darkness, they cannot exist together. Thieves will never be honorable because they do what they do away from sight, precisely because they themselves know what they’re doing is wrong, but they argue that unless they are nit “legally” proven wrong its okay. Honorable men can do what they do in plain sight, because they have nothing to hide, or have you forgotten the concept of transparency also?

    • ramrod on October 6, 2007 at 12:31 pm

    hvrds,

    The scenario you’re painting is a scary albeit a “doable” one considering the mentioned parties.

    • ramrod on October 6, 2007 at 12:47 pm

    “I think GMA could also ask the World Bank to get involved in Myanmar. Follow the Philippine example. Get Shell, Chevron and Exxon Mobile involved.”

    hrvds, I believe Exxon has been operating in Myanmar already re natural gas. Its one of the companies that in effect is financing the junta.

    • cvj on October 6, 2007 at 1:32 pm

    Pete, i clicked through the link you provided. The site is mostly agreeable but read through this proposal and see if you agree:

    http://www.sundalo.bravehost.com/The%20New%20Order.htm

    I don’t, most especially this part:

    “Media releases should be limited to responsible news reporting and positive commentaries.”

    How different is that from the current administration line?

    • pete on October 6, 2007 at 3:26 pm

    cvj,

    I’m with you on these concerns. It’s not a matter of drawing the line on the militatry’s role in politics but implanting in them the faith necessary to make democracy work and work its way through seemingly chaotic and disordered situations which are stages or part and parcel of what democracy is.

    • pete on October 6, 2007 at 3:39 pm

    Rigidity sets in when details of reform supercedes the manner of reform. I believe that the means determine the ends. Militaristic means can only establish a rigid and undemocratic society.

    btw, to keep the beurocracy from being militarized due to appointment or election into public office of retired and resigned soldiers specially top officers, I suggest that a law be passed requiring an interignum before they are appointed or are allowed to run as candidates in an election. The higher the rank the longer the interignum. 5 star generals, 5 years; 4 star, 4 years and so on down the line. How many ex-generals now occupy civilians posts in GMA’s admin? One big signifant reason why military is politicized. Leandro Mendoza is incompetent for his post. Angelo Reyes is a terrible example of an asshole general. pardon the word but that’s how he really has behaved.

    • pete on October 6, 2007 at 3:58 pm

    bencard,

    “show at least the ‘legal truth’ of what you are claiming.”

    Trillanes came to mind as my quick answer to your challenge. Trillanes had openly declared that GMA is a thief and a cheat. Now he is legally a senator. His accusations against GMA were affirmed by millions of legal voters. He represents the ‘legal truth’ that you are asking for but is so difficult to uncover in GMA’s regime. Brave men try at the risk of being killed, kidnapped or at the very least imprisoned. Your ‘legal truth’ is imprisoned inside a top-security cell inside a military camp.

  7. Bencacrd,

    Agree with Ramrod quote is usually “There’s NO honour among thieves” or there’s honour sometimes among thieves (at least in Britain).

    Mlq3,

    Dumbo me! BRP Quezon is a she and not ‘it’. (What struck me was they simply wrote BRP Quezon and not BRP MANUEL Quezon or BRP Pres Manuel Quezon either one should be the complete name of the ship officially; anyway, just a detail, maybe the sailor in charge of keeping the website was lazy?)

    • bibeth on October 6, 2007 at 8:37 pm

    karah,

    have you been blogging until the wee hours of the morning again?

    That explains your eyebags…

    Note: Cucumber won’t help

    • bibeth on October 6, 2007 at 8:46 pm

    Burma, like many other countries continue to suffer from oppresive rulers because of one thing: Nobody cares to do anything.

    There have been massive condemnation of the way the Burmese junta runs the country.

    But condemnation not coupled with action is USELESS.

    “the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men not to do anything”

    We can post all sorts of websites and blogs to FREE BURMA, but unfortunately, we are talking in a language the Burmese junta can and will not understand.

    • ramrod on October 6, 2007 at 8:51 pm

    Free Burma!

    • ramrod on October 6, 2007 at 9:38 pm

    Bencard,

    Some reading materials, please try to read something at least once a day (or more), its a remedy to an extremely debilitating disease called “ignorance.”

    Leading the Righteous Way

    The demands of the Honor System are simple. We are not to lie, to cheat, to steal and to take advantage of others.

    However, the Honor System is not only to govern our behavior as cadets in order to level the playing field in our academics. The Honor System and its Code is designed to inculcate in us the leadership qualities needed by our nation. The Honor System is to govern us even outside the limits of Fort Del Pilar and in our daily private and official lives.

    In the Academy, we are trained to be leaders. As cadets, we all aspired to eventually become deserving generals. That is to be expected. And to be one, we had to strive and improve in our profession in order to deserve our promotions. Expectedly, each one of us strove to excel in our respective fields of operations.

    We were then truly apolitical. The people had faith that the Armed Services can be neutral in the political exercises. There was then also the assurance that elections can be undertaken without fraud if the military kept watch over the process.

    I believe that every graduate of the Academy can rightfully aspire to become the Chief of Staff or Chief of the Philippine National Police but we must accept the fact that not all of us can attain that ambition. There was a time when promotions and assignments to important positions were primarily based on competence.

    Those days are obviously gone. Since the martial law days, the common perception is that the process involved in the promotions and assignments of officers, particularly among the higher ranks, has become politicized. I am truly aware as you are, that promotions and assignments obtained through political connections involve quid pro quos.

    Promotions to higher ranks and positions are perceived to be no longer necessarily dictated by competence and dedication to duty. The recent spate of restiveness among our junior officers is obviously caused by this perception and reality. The politicization of the military remains unabated these days. The term ‘an apolitical military’ has become fiction. A lie.

    There was the time when the word of an officer, especially of a PMA graduate, was taken at face value. There was integrity. PMA graduates were entrusted with positions of trust. We were truthful to our friends. Deception was reserved against our enemies.

    However, in these trying times, lying is pervasive and practiced even against our people who deserve to know the Truth. These days, those who hold positions of trust, especially those who handle financial matters, are no longer thought to be worthy of faith and trust. There will always be suspicion that something anomalous goes on, especially those whose lifestyles do not reasonably match the pay scales of their ranks. The temptations of ‘conversion’ have sapped the moral strength of some of our officers. Integrity in PMA graduates seems to have become another fiction.

    The recent exposes on the crimes of some of the alumni of the PMA who deviated from the Honor System alert us to the immoral virus contaminating our Armed Services. I am sure there are still others who will be uncovered and must be purged from our Association. We seem to be in a regime where stealing public funds, lying and cheating have become the acceptable norm for one to succeed. Mistrust is tearing our nation into small pieces.

    The real meaning of Loyalty in our PMA motto is lost. Loyalty is no longer given to the institution or to the country, but given to ambitious persons with doubtful motives and self-interest. Loyalty to principles among some PMA graduates has become fiction. Ostracism seems to be reserved against the idealists and not against those who stray from the Righteous Path.

    Are we to allow the degeneration of morals in our professional corps of officers to continue? We are now under the spotlight of shame. The point is reached that when a crime is unearthed in the Armed Services, the question is asked: ‘Is he a PMAyer?’

    You may be distressed by the dismal picture of our moral state of affairs I have given. Nevertheless, I consider it my duty to do so. I need to do it. As Rizal once said, the cancer of society must be presented to the public in order that appropriate cures may be obtained.

    What is to be done?

    Although we, who are already retired, can no longer directly take action in reforming the Armed Services, we must nevertheless, exercise our moral suasion to insist on the urgent and necessary institutional changes for the good of our society and of the nation. We owe our young and idealistic officers our moral effort, support and example.

    We must not disappoint them.

    Now is the time to breathe new life into the Honor System and restore the PMA alumni to the high esteem of society.

    Now is the time to revive and strengthen the righteous spirit of Courage, Loyalty and Integrity among all alumni and members of this Association. Otherwise, the future for those who will come after us will be in doubt. In the dark.

    Leading the Righteous Way is the imperative for all of us.

    The Cavaliers,
    The PMA Alumni Association
    February 2006

  8. Hi Ramrod,

    Thanks for publishing the PMA AA’s statement:

    While the statement on the whole calls for a revival of the honour system, it equally confirms the widespread belief that AFP leadership today is dishonest. We may all try to read between the lines and insist that they have a different meaning but really, however we try to modify, the message can’t be changed – the AFP leadership is on the dock.

    This one here is particularly telling:

    “The recent exposes on the crimes of some of the alumni of the PMA who deviated from the Honor System alert us to the immoral virus contaminating our Armed Services. I am sure there are still others who will be uncovered and must be purged from our Association. We seem to be in a regime where stealing public funds, lying and cheating have become the acceptable norm for one to succeed. Mistrust is tearing our nation into small pieces.”

    • ramrod on October 6, 2007 at 10:36 pm

    mbw,

    I agree, I saw this happening even 20 years ago. You know the feeling of “disillusionment?” A long time ago in another life I was part of them. Although I have no regrets leaving and starting a different career, sometimes I ask myself if I could have helped.

    • cvj on October 6, 2007 at 11:21 pm

    Pete, thanks for that. I can understand why the idealistic elements in the military, similar to their idealistic counterparts in the Left would want an undemocratic ‘transition period’. However, if they are to start a genuine peaceful revolution, they have to get the people into the act and for that, you need democracy in the truest sense of the word.

    • Bencard on October 6, 2007 at 11:24 pm

    ramrod, you can believe what you want, and it doesn’t bother me one bit if you think i cannot be trusted because of my opposing point of view.

    in this finite world we live in, “truth” is what the human mind can comprehend as such, no more no less. there is no standard of truth usable to, or used by, man than what could only be ascertained and derived from rules gradually established through experience and experimentation in the course of its history. no wise man or group of wise men, dead or alive, can proclaim real truth (as opposed to legal truth) with finality. what is perceived through the senses may or may not be true. intellect is flawed, one way or the other, so not absolutely reliable. a “close” door is factually close only as far as the person who sees it is concerned, not to a person who is only told that it is close. but suppose the person who “sees” it has seriously impaired vision and that what he sees is not really what it seems to be? would his testimony be reliable as “truth”?

    i don’t know what you exactly mean by “essence”. as i understand it, the word could mean “the nature of ” or “attribute” (as in a derivative substance retaining some attribute of the product it was derived from). in this context, perhaps i could say, legal truth is an “essence” of truth (whatever that is).

    honor is a positive reputation accorded a person by his peers. it is earned and given, not born into, grabbed, bought, or stolen. like i said, the mafia (or cosa nostra) has a code of honor, violation of which could mean death to the violator. a gang of assassins can have a code that honors, perhaps, the member who perpetrates the greatest number of assassinations in a given year. a club with dishonorable objectives can have an honor system within its membership.

    btw, one eminent scientist (i think Carl Sagan)once said that everything in this world (or universe?) is illusion.

    pete, to paraphrase lincoln, millions of angels swearing that what a lying witness says is true will not transform his lies to truth.

    • ramrod on October 6, 2007 at 11:38 pm

    Bencard,

    The mafia did not have a “code of honor” they had OMERTA, the code of silence.

    “A more famous example of the code of silence is omerta (Italian: omertà, from the Latin: humilitas=humility or modesty), the Mafia code of silence.”

    Thieves cannot have a code of honor because they don’t expect each other to be honorable, on the contrary, it is a generally accepted fact that they “steal from each other.”

    • Bencard on October 7, 2007 at 12:36 am

    ramrod, call it however or whatever you want, i don’t care. you want to call it (as maybe the rest of the world) “the code of silence” or “omerta”, be my guest. but what makes you, or anyone else outside of the organization, so sure that its members don’t regard it (or call it) the code of honor, and that omerta is just a part of that code. no one, including you, can prevent them from calling their rules of conduct anyway they want, don’t you agree?

    who do you think you are denying thieves the right to set up their own rules of conduct and call it a “code of honor”? they, and only they, can define the “right” conduct that will govern each of their members in relation to the others, and to name it as they please, ain’t that a fact?

    • ramrod on October 7, 2007 at 2:24 am

    bencard,

    They probably can, but there isn’t, no evidence in history whatsoever, no evidence – ergo in your logic
    “nada.”

    • jaxius on October 7, 2007 at 2:47 am

    Ramrod,

    I think we’re on the opposite sides of the fence on this one. I think the “Alright” challenge utilized by Sens. Lacson and Honasan was an inordinate use of the Honor Code. It was the wrong place, wrong time, wrong audience.

    The Honor Code, as I understood it, is meant only for the men who swore to live by it and uphold it. Using the challenge in public, in a Senate hearing to say the least, cheapens it in my opinion. What’s next, a public spectacle of an honor trial in PMA? It should have been used only between and among those who swore to abide by it.

    Its use in public bespeaks of unbridled arrogance. Its not simple arrogance or esprit de corps. For military men, pride or simple arrogance is something of an allowed excess. As they say, its “part of the uniform”. That’s why when Sec. Angelo Reyes was challenged by Sen Lacson and he answered “I am already under oath”, I think he answered correctly.

    What were the two senators of Class ’71 trying to say by issuing that challenge? That there is a higher oath that cavaliers follow? Are they saying to their fellow Senators and to the Filipino people “you can’t make tell the truth but I can through this password ‘alright, sir’ which only PMA grads use?” Old Boys Club mentality?

    Second, baka wala nang maniwala nyan sa mga graduate ng PMA hanggang hindi nachachallenge ng “alright, sir?” They’ve basically reduced the Honor Code to a challenge. I think that is precisely the reason why the use of direct questions are discouraged. If you have the goods on someone, then bring him to court or some other tribunal where his indiscretion can be penalized. The Honor Code was not made for use in fishing expeditions.

  9. Coming from Honasan, I thought the ‘Alright’ seemed like a challeng a la OK Coral.

    Coming from Ping Lacson at the time was acceptable. Although I tend to agree with Jaxius that a public challenge once too often might lose its meaning.

    • pete on October 7, 2007 at 4:28 am

    cvj,

    Thanks, btw, for poitning out that particular post on the sundalos’ blog. Regarding the means and ends of change,
    the espousal of ‘undemocratic transition’ period by idealists on the Left and Right actually puts them on the same side opposite the people they claim to fight for. They use “democracy” to attract support to their causes. Of course once they get to power, even blogs like theirs won’t be allowed.
    The process of democracy is itself an end. The undemocratic means that they espouse can only establish an undemocratic society.

    • pete on October 7, 2007 at 5:05 am

    ramrod,

    The PMA AA staement is, basically, a critique on the kind of society we have now but without challenging the members to make specific commitments in response to specific issues. It’s not enough to say, ” many PMAer’s have become dis-honorable”. For example, on the issue of ret. generals’ appointment to civilian posts, as i had suggested above:

    “to keep the beurocracy from being militarized due to appointment or election into public office of retired and resigned soldiers specially top officers, I suggest that a law be passed requiring an interignum before they are appointed or are allowed to run as candidates in an election. The higher the rank the longer the interignum. 5 star generals, 5 years; 4 star, 4 years and so on down the line. How many ex-generals now occupy civilians posts in GMA’s admin? One big signifant reason why military is politicized. Leandro Mendoza is incompetent for his post. Angelo Reyes is a terrible example of an asshole general. pardon the word but that’s how he really has behaved.”

    This interignum could be proposed for legislation( Anti-militarization of beurocracy/ Anti-politization of the military Act ?) but it could be violative of the ret generals rights.

    The challenge to PMAers who are committed to reviving the honor code could be a pledge to resist being political appointees or run in an elections within a specific period after getting out of service. Ret Generals now occupying appointive posts can lead the way by resigning. Without the challenge to sacrifice, the PMA AA statement is plain simple rhetoric.

    • Bencard on October 7, 2007 at 9:46 am

    ramfrod, you don’t make yourself knowledgeable by calling me “ignorant”. prove that you are smart, or well-informed, by what you post here. as far as i can see, there is nothing to show that you are. Being able to quote or copy the full statement of the alumni assoc. of pma, or even its “code of honor”, just doesn’t cut it.

    • mlq3 on October 7, 2007 at 11:16 am
      Author

    ramrod, pete, mbw, bencard, et al. the interesting discussion on officers’ codes of honors, the culture that mistahs share, has been the topic of one of the most interesting books i’ve ever read (and a highly one among pma alumni). here’s the book:

    http://www.amazon.com/Closer-Than-Brothers-Philippine-Military/dp/0300077653/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/105-4514866-9906846?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1191726744&sr=8-1

    he looks at two pma classes, that of 1940 and 1971, and explores the pma culture both went through and asks why one class, that of 1940, ended up defending democracy and generally living honorable lives, while the class of 1971 helped implement martial law and gained a reputation for having torturers, etc. in its ranks.

    • ramrod on October 7, 2007 at 9:07 pm

    “What were the two senators of Class ‘71 trying to say by issuing that challenge? That there is a higher oath that cavaliers follow? Are they saying to their fellow Senators and to the Filipino people “you can’t make tell the truth but I can through this password ‘alright, sir’ which only PMA grads use?” Old Boys Club mentality” – Jaxius

    The “Honor Code” is a covenant made by a group of men who swore to tell the truth to each other, regardless of the circumstances, whether in private or in a senate hearing. Yes its “Old Boy’s Club” mentality, I know. Arrogance? It depends on what your beliefs and how much you know of the culture. I understand you may react this way because you cannot relate to it. The idea of an exclusive group of men, the strongest, the smartest, and most combat ready in the land will make anyone squirm with disdain. You may judge, you’re free to do so. But mind you your “freedom” to speak or write your mind you owe partly to generations of sacrifice and blood shed by this “old boy’s club.”
    Whether you like this “old boy’s club” or not, it is still the only venue where courage, loyalty, and integrity are hammered into the minds and hearts of its members and lofty ideals like honor are still regarded as sacred. Can you find a university in the country that during exams the teacher writes all the answers on the board while the students are answer their test papers with bowed heads, eyes focused only on their papers, not even rolling their eyeballs, and after a specified time are told to all answers are on the board check your own papers. These students are fanatic about honor to the point that no one dares, each one is honor bound to report a violation and even the tolerators suffer the same fate?
    The premise is, you all swore to tell the truth at least to each other and reserve deceit for the enemy.
    Yes, the challenge was used in the senate but it was not for you, it was for Reyes. It was a test if Reyes still values the code or lives by the code regardless of the circumstances.
    It is an old boy’s club as you put it, and not everyone can join it. It takes a lot of heart and physical ability.
    People will find it hard to understand, just as you find it hard to understand why some people join fraternities or something similar in nature. But I will fight tooth and nail to defend these people for as long as I can from those who judge them without even knowing them, especially from those who are used to the comfort a safe distance from all forms of danger and cringe at the first sound of gunfire and perhaps hide under a table or bed somewhere.

    MLQ3. Yes I will say its true that hazing and even torture exists in the academy, although I can’ say it still does now. In battle situations, inorder to get the upper hand, “intel” is very important and at times the use of unorthodox means is necessary. You do everything to win. In battle you have to be “more than human” – stronger, more powerful, smarter, and “less than human” – subhuman, you torture, maim, behead, and mutilate your enemies. This is not a profession for the faint hearted.
    I will also admit that there was “hazing” in the academy but as far as I know the class of ’89 which I used to belong have pledged to stamp it out completely hence the class name “Makatao Class of ’89.”

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