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National security beyond the police and military templates

DURING his first State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Rodrigo Roa Duterte said: “There can never be real, tangible and felt development without making our people feel secure.” Stressing further, the Chief Executive said, “[e]nduring peace can be attained only if we meet the fundamental needs of every man, woman and child.”

In essence, the President has laid down the indicators of peace and development – the twin areas that our defense department and the country’s police service, have been dovetailing their programs and activities with, for some decades now.

In his book, “National Security: in Retrospect & Prospects,” Galileo C. Kintanar, a national security analyst during his entire military career, noticed the progression of the subject when he said that, “[n]ational security is an evolving concept.” He pointed out that “[n]ational security is not just about having the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police on the side of a current President. More than that, national security is about having foods, jobs, education, health, infrastructure, water, electricity, markets, information, technology, copyrights, public order, public health and public safety for the majority of our people, if not for the individuals.”

I say, yes, national security is also an affair of the stomach magnified a million times. After all, even nationalists, activists, communists, rightists, including terrorists—they all need to take their meals as well.

Kintanar posits that “[n]ational security, indeed, is no longer the narrow interest of the defense and police establishments. It has come to command the attention and study of public administration students and professionals as well. For the state of national security has deep and broad impacts on governability of a nation, and thus demands understanding by public administrators, all the way up to the Chief Executive.”

Today, national security has gone beyond the traditional notion; it can no longer be cannalized within the banks of militaristics—it is now beyond the police and military templates.

Apropos, our National Security Policy (NSP)-2017-2022 defines national security as “a state or condition wherein the people’s welfare, well-being, ways of life; government and its institutions; territorial integrity; sovereignty; and core values are enhanced and protected.”

The country’s posture, under this policy document, provides that “national security is anchored on three (3) major pillars,” namely:

“The first pillar is safeguarding the Philippines’ national unity, its democracy and its social institutions. The most important foundation of national unity is that all citizens share one national identity that is, being Filipinos regardless of ethnic, religios, cultural and ideological orientations.

“The second pillar of national security is ensuring the security of the State and preserving and protecting its sovereignty, territorial integrity, and institutions. This is clearly provided in the Constitution x x x.”

“The third pillar is the protection of properties, infrastructures and keeping the people safe from all forms of threats, both here and abroad, and to the extent possible, creating jobs in order to bring back home overseas Filipino workers where their physical safety can be fully guaranteed by our Government.”

In a recent two-day conference of Peace and the Prevention of Violent Extremism in Southeast Asia at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) attended by some 300 participants from different sectors–political leaders, top government officials, defense and security analysts, religious leaders, peace advocates, academic leaders, media, women and youth, former Philippine President Fidel Ramos, himself a military man, keynoted the international conference by calling on the leaders of Asean member-states to address the root cause of extremism, he said: “We should address poverty. Whether insurgency, criminality, drug abuse and nuclear bullying, it always starts with poverty.”

The conference “aims to develop policies and standards for action plans at national and regional levels, strengthen different sectors to prevent the spread of extremism, engage local communities as partners for rehabilitation and reintegration initiatives as well as address social dynamics and drivers of radicalization of violence.”

And, as the war against poverty must be fought long and hard, pursued locally and globally, our NSP 2017-2022 has aptly identified ECONOMIC SOLIDARITY AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT as one of the national security interests (NSI) that amplify the concept of national security.

Thus, the document said, “Building an economy that is strong and capable of supporting and sustaining human livelihood and national endeavors is the overarching thrust of the Philippines’ developmental plans and goals. Reducing poverty and income gaps, creating equal economic opportunities for all, and distributing the fruits of development to the broadest segments of society are key objectives of the desired economic growth and national security outcomes. This component likewise emphasizes the development of a stakeholder mind-set among the Filipinos, which can form the basis for collective economic initiatives at the community level. It encourages community groups and grassroots organizations to organize themselves around a framework of solidarity and self-reliance to confront their problems and satisfy their needs.”

With this as the backdrop, it behooves the Duterte Administration to take a hard look into how the government functionaries, his and that of his predecessor’s, performed in some interventions along the area of economic liberation, as national security outcomes. Chiefly among these interventions is the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps). By now, the government should have a clear picture of how the 4Ps have impacted on the lives of its targeted beneficiaries. The noble intention of the program should be matched by a strategic, transparent, accountable, and responsive (STAR) implementation, measured on a year-by-year basis.

The Duterte Administration should be ordering a social audit into its 4Ps operation. With a government allocation that is so huge infused into it, failing in doing a social audit is unthinkable, if not downright plunder aggravated by slumber. Audit is the only recognized intervention that will enable government to measure how the intended billions were used to uplift those that have been wallowing in the Ground Zero of poverty and powerlessness. Yes, we can be held responsible for plunder aggravated by slumber. Reason suggests that audits were done before, and is being continued until now. For… not knowing how the program impacted on the lives of millions, while devoting billions of government resources, is a government failure—a colossal failure! If a social audit has not as yet been done, then the much-ballyhooed S-T-A-R use of government’s resources remains a hollow sloganeering in the Department of Lip Service. Friedrich Nietzsche said, “we may lie with our lips but we tell the truth with the face that we make when we lie.” It will show.

If this administration has no tolerance for corruption, then the 4Ps should be its showcase for Project: Accountability Check.

And if I may suggest, let the mantra of the activity be: Social Audit for Social Benefit! Unless we do this, we might not be able to check if a government program—as grand as 4Ps—should be stopped, for being hemorrhagic; or, enhanced, improved, or run in full-throttle, if found successful.

After all, failed programs—especially when attended by graft and corruption—gnaw into the very core of government’s response capability to pursue a national security agenda; and, the effective pursuit of this agenda hinges on how strong the vinculum between the rulers and the governed really is.

The Chief Executive hit the nail right on the head when during his Inaugural Address he said: “There are many amongst us who advance the assessment that the problems that bedevil our country today which need to be address with urgency, are corruption, both in the high and low echelons of government, criminality in the streets, and the rampant sale of illegal drugs… For I see these ills as mere symptoms of a virulent social disease that creeps and cuts into the moral fiber of Philippine society. I sense a problem deeper and more serious than any of those mentioned or all of them put together. Erosion of faith and trust in government—that is the real problem that confront us.”

Get involved! National security is no longer the exclusive turf of the police and the military; it has gone past the war and conflict zones, it is now fought, pursued, defended, nurtured, and cherished right in our own homes.

About Atty. Ramon Cuyco

Ramon G. Cuyco, Esq., CESO (inactive), former Regional Director, LTO; former DOTC Spokesperson; former Customs Director, former Head, Competitive Planning and Management Staff of the Bureau of Immigration. Currently, a Project-based Consultant at the Development Academy of the Philippines.

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