Lorenzana hits pot bellies, too much social media use of Army personnel
MANILA, Philippines — Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Thursday aired his concerns on bulging bellies and excessive social media use of military personnel, among other things, as he challenged senior Army officers anew to step up their capacity to lead their subordinates.
The defense chief was guest of honor at the Philippine Army leadership and capability expo, an event that gathered senior Army leaders to exchange ideas and best practices in the organization.
Lorenzana, a retired Army general, spoke candidly to the senior officers in attendance as he reminded them of President Rodrigo Duterte’s guidance to put an end to insurgency within his term.
“He (Duterte) doesn’t want to leave the problem to the next administration. Tapusin na natin (Let’s finish it),” he said. “Sometimes I get impatient, I call commanders, ‘Anong nangyayari dyan? Ba’t walang nangyayaring activities dyan (What’s happening there? Why are there no activities happening there?)’.”
“…Tapusin na natin ang Abu Sayyaf. Kung kulang ang seven battalions dadgagan natin siguro ng tatlo para 10. Then tapusin natin once and for all. I know for a fact that the people there do not want the Abu Sayyaf there also. ‘Di talaga sila maka-progress habang nandun ang Abu Sayyaf,” he added.
(Let’s finish the Abu Sayyaf. If seven battalions are not enough, let’s add three more so there will be 10. Then. let’s finish this once and for all. I know for a fact that the people there do not want the Abu Sayyaf there also. They really can’t progress while the Abu Sayyaf are there.)
‘What’s happening to our Army?’
The defense chief then took the opportunity to air his observations on the bulging bellies and excessive social media use of military personnel.
“Isa sa mga napansin ko sa senior leaders whenever I go around… Ang lalaki ng tyan ng officers, pumutupok na ‘yung unimporme. Anong nangyayari sa Army natin? Wala na ‘yung physical fitness natin,” he said.
(One of the things I observed with senior leaders whenever I go around… The officers have big bellies, their uniforms about to burst. What’s happening to our Army? Seems like our physical fitness is already gone.)
“Kung hindi kayo nag o-operate, nagte-training kayo or nag de-develop ng intelligence. Train your people. Hindi pwedeng dumating sa kampo, relax agad. Inspect the firearms kung malinis ‘yung ammunition, kung kumpleto pa ang hawak ng sundalo,” he added.
(If you are not operating [on the field], undergoing training or developing intelligence. Train your people. It can’t be that you return to the camp and immediately relax. Inspect the firearms if they are clean, if the firearms of the personnel are all accounted for.)
Lorenzana also lamented that he has been getting feedback that junior officers spend more time on their mobile phones than doing their actual job.
“I heard that itong mga mga tinyente ninyo, ‘di nila inaasikaso masyado ang mga tao nila kasi nagte-text na lang palagi. The cell phone is good and bad. Kung walang panahon ang mga officer ninyo to talk to their people because they are busy surfing the internet, so nakikipag-text sa mga girlfriend nila, then it’s bad also,” he said.
(I heard that your lieutenants are not managing their people properly because they are always on their phones, texting. The cell phone is good and bad. If your officers don’t have time to talk to their people because they are busy surfing the internet, and they are just texting their girlfriends, then it’s bad also.)
“Kaya iniisip ko siguro ‘pag nag operate tayo, patayin ko muna siguro ‘yung cell sites,” he added.
(That’s why I’m thinking, if they go on operations, maybe I should shut off cell sites.)
The defense chief further raised his concerns on military personnel being “too eager” to post their work accomplishments on social media first even before the leadership knows about it.
“During the Marawi siege, nauuna pa mabigyan ng information ‘yung mga media because of the soldiers inside; malakas ‘yung signal eh… Some people are just too eager to tell somebody that they have something good,” he said.
(During the Marawi siege, the media are first to get information because of the soldiers inside because there’s strong signal inside… Some people are just too eager to tell somebody that they have something good.)
This is not the first time that the Army leadership received stern words from Lorenzana.
In March, he questioned the senior Army officers on the quality of training of soldiers on the ground in the wake of deaths of newly-recruited soldiers in Sulu, as well as the supposed lobbying of promotions to politicians.
His frustrations notwithstanding, Duterte appears to be satisfied with the military’s overall performance but there are more things to be done. “The President is very eager to finish this job. He is happy with our accomplishments so far but he wants more,” Lorenzana said.
“Remember what I told you here. There is a command responsibility principle that we follow. You are responsible for what your unit does or fails to do,” he added.
Edited by KGA
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.