Defense college not living up to name–COABy TJ Burgonio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Some of the students in the graduate course were “overage,” and not many came from the military.
For these reasons, state auditors believe the National Defense College of the Philippines (NDCP) has failed in recent years to achieve its goal of producing future defense leaders.
The Commission on Audit (COA) said the college had relaxed its rules to admit over-aged applicants, failed to fill the ideal quota of students from the military and had not met its target number of graduates.
The NDCP offers the Master in National Security Administration Scholarship Program (MNSA), a one-year master’s degree course earned through various forms of classroom work, case studies, regional security development studies and academic enhancement travels. It is the main academic program of the NDCP.
The COA observed that from school years 2008-2009 to 2011-2012, eight students were admitted, aged 52 to 59, despite the age limit of 51 for uniformed personnel, applicants from the private sector and military officers from allied countries, and 55 for civilians. Two of the eight did not graduate, the COA said, but did not elaborate on whether or not age had anything to do with it.
School administrators had argued that discrimination against age had been waived on a case to case basis.
On the low representation of military officers in the course, administrators reasoned out that this was not a career course for military officers.
The NDCP itself has spelled out that 60 percent of the students should come from the military, 30 percent from the government and 10 percent from the private sector.
Dwindling number of students
But COA noted that the 60 percent representation of the military in the class was not achieved in the past four school years, and that the number of military officers taking the course had been dwindling over the years.
The COA also observed another deficiency: In 2009-2010 and 2010-2011, only 26 and 38, respectively, graduated from the program, way below the minimum annual target of 50 graduates.
“The agency’s mission to prepare and develop potential national defense leaders was not attained despite spending about 63 percent to 81 percent of the budget,” COA said.
On the relaxation of age limits, the COA insisted that “this is a setback to the completion of the course… that because of age, it may lead to the inability of the individual to cope with rigorous school work.”
On military representation in the course, the COA noted that the number of military students had dwindled over the years. For instance, there were 19 military students out of the total of 47 in 2007-2008. This dropped to 11 out of 35 in 2008-2009, and further dropped to seven out of 33 in 2009-2010. It slightly rose to 13 out of 44 in 2010-2011.
“The military sector, being involved in national security and the first line of defense for the country from actual and perceived threats, should be at the forefront of the MNSA program,” COA said.
“Their participation in the program should be mandatory owing to their functions and responsibilities,” it added.
The agency recommended that the college strictly enforce the age limit, make representations with defense and military officials to make the MNSA course mandatory for military officers, and to set more realistic and credible targets.