PDI reporter tops nat’l defense gradsBy Marlon Ramos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Talk about beauty and brains.
Inquirer reporter Nikko Dizon received the Academic Excellence Award from the National Defense College of the Philippines (NDCP) on Thursday for finishing at the top of her class in the Master in National Security Administration (MNSA) program.
Dizon’s paper, titled “Standing on a Seesaw: The Principles and Practice of Press Freedom and National Security in the Case of the 2007 Manila Peninsula Siege,” also received the runner-up recognition for the best thesis award.
Dizon finished the grueling one-year MNSA program with a grade of 1.03. She was the youngest in her class.
The journalist, who also became a member of the Armed Forces’ Reserve Corps with the rank of lieutenant colonel, was among a handful of journalists who have taken the MNSA program in its 49-year history.
“My being a journalist helped me get through this really tough course because I was able to relate most of our discussions with the issues and events I have covered,” Dizon said.
“But after a year of intense studying, the MNSA program has broadened my perspective as a journalist as well. There’s a holistic approach to the program and it has trained me to look at things more analytically,” she added.
Speaking at the graduation rites held at the NDCP auditorium in Camp Aguinaldo, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said being admitted to the MNSA program alone was already a “lofty academic achievement and is in itself an honor.”
“This highly revered academic institution has been relentless in inculcating to its students the role that our defense and security leaders should portray in our search for genuine national and international peace, security and progress,” Gazmin said.
“The rigors of intellectual training that the students undergo in its whole-year curriculum are indeed meant for academic excellence. This is the ultimate goal of this course in order to produce outstanding national security leaders and administrators,” he said.
The defense secretary said this was one of the reasons why he required all senior military officers to secure MNSA eligibility first before they could be promoted to general.
The MNSA degrees of civilian government employees are also recognized for their promotion.
Gazmin also pointed out that a number of MNSA graduates have occupied important defense and security positions as well as the national leadership.
Among the MNSA graduates were former President Fidel V. Ramos, Vice President Jejomar Binay and Sen. Loren Legarda, who was a known broadcast journalist before going into politics.
The MNSA graduates received their awards from Gazmin, NDCP president Fermin de Leon, NDCP executive vice president Ernesto Aradanas and NDCP alumni association secretary general Shirley Plaza.
Dizon’s MNSA Regular Course No. 47 was comprised of 39 students, among them seven Armed Forces of the Philippines officers and four military officers from India and Malaysia.
Twenty-two members of the graduating class were from various civilian government agencies, including Cotabato City/Maguindanao Rep. Bai Sandra Sema, while six came from the private sector.
Also recognized for their academic achievement were Dr. Vilma Diez of the Cavite Provincial Health Office, Cherry Tamang of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, Col. Gavin Edjawan of the Philippine Army and Col. Vignesh Mahanti of the Indian Army.
Edjawan’s paper, titled “Winning the Peace: Lessons Learned in the Philippines’ Long Quest for Internal Security,” received the best thesis award.
The class president, Judge Marilou Runes-Tamang, was given the coveted Leadership Award, a recognition given by members of the graduating class and the faculty and staff of the NDCP.
The MNSA is a yearlong master’s degree program that gives a holistic view of the principles and dynamics of national security in the context of its six dimensions—political, economic, sociocultural, technoscience, environment and military.
MNSA students have to undergo a battery of written examinations and a panel interview that will assess their suitability and mental toughness to undergo the yearlong program that squeezes in nine course works, paper work, strategic planning exercises and a two-week rigorous military training for the civilian students as a requirement for their commissionship into the military’s reserve force as lieutenant colonels.