FORT DEL PILAR, Baguio City—Former Customs Commissioner Salvador Mison advised soldiers and Philippine Military Academy (PMA) cadets to avoid being used by politicians in election fraud.
At a PMA leadership forum, which the alumni organized on Friday, Mison, a member of PMA Class 1955, said the military’s integrity and credibility are compromised when politicians approach them and ask for their help to ensure that they would win elections.
“Leave the military alone to perform its duty. They should not be used to promote personal interests,” said Mison.
He said military leaders face ethical dilemmas when their superiors issue illegal instructions on behalf of candidates, citing occasions during the term of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo that were widely discussed.
“Illegal orders usually [involve] terrorizing voters and rigging election results. In our time, the Philippine Army and [the Philippine] Air Force were used to collect ballot boxes [on behalf of people who] changed the ballots,” Mison said.
“The military should be isolated from the politician. If there is any relationship [between them], it should be honorable… We can have a closer relationship with the Philippine government. After all, the President is our chief executive but the relationship should be noble and respectable,” he said.
He told cadets that the phrase, “Obey before you complain,” should be challenged if orders by the higher ranking officers are illegal.
“Develop being morally upright early on in your career. If you have a reputation of being honorable and if you have integrity and if you are morally upright, the senior officer would hesitate to give you illegal orders,” he said.
Mison said young soldiers should emulate the late Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes, who committed suicide on Feb. 8, 2011, in front of his mother’s grave amid a Senate probe on military corruption.
He said Reyes, a member of PMA Class 1966, could not take the corruption that hounded the military so he gave up his life to protect his honor.
“[The Armed Forces of the Philippines] needs real leaders and they should uphold ethical values in your military career,” he said.
Vice President Jejomar Binay, in his speech at the homecoming on Saturday, said: “I think what we need is the ability to ask questions and to think things through. [We also need] discipline to do well, and that is vision. Discipline in how to do well and that is strategy and political will… the ability to formulate a national philosophy sprouting from a fundamental notion of who we are as a people.”
“In my view, we all believe that key to our progress as a nation is discipline. But where do we use discipline? We remember our experiences as a nation that lost its freedom, where discipline was used to pursue the interests of a few,” he said in Filipino.
Binay said “those same questions would equip us to confront the ever intensifying and more complex issues on our territorial integrity and sovereignty, such as the challenge of the West Philippine Sea.”
Binay was adopted by the homecoming’s host, the PMA “Maringal” Class of 1988.
Former President Fidel Ramos, Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, former Defense Secretary Fortunato Abat and Muntinlupa Rep. Rodolfo Biazon joined top military and police officials, led by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, at the homecoming.