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Policy Dialogue Series 2004

Academe Meets the New Government (on Corruption in the Military)
18 February 2005, 1:00-4:00 a.m., Claro M. Recto Hall, Faculty Center

It took a failed mutiny and the arrest of an ex-comptroller general to propel military corruption into the spotlight once again. But like other controversies covered by Philippine media, the issues receded as fast as they exploded. As the stories fade from the headlines, one can only wonder when will the next incidence of corruption by an officer come to pass.

Like any other government agency, corruption in the military is not a recent phenomenon. It is not a secret either. Allegations of illicit arms trade, “conversions” and rigged biddings in government procurement, unexplained wealth of high-ranking officials and even staging of bomb attacks to obtain more support from the United States government have been thrown at the armed forces. Reform packages ranging from increase in the budget for housing and medical services to the creation of an independent “internal affairs office” to monitor the military’s procurement procedures and financial systems have been suggested in an attempt to transform the institution. There was even an executive order to create an Office of the Presidential Adviser under the Office of the President to implement the recommendations of the Feliciano Commission, the fact-finding body tasked to investigate the roots of the failed mutiny and the provocations that inspired it.

In truth, there have been a plethora of reform programs in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) since the 1986 People Power Revolution. Some reforms have taken root but the fundamental problem of and the reasons behind corruption have not yet really been dealt with. Corruption in the military is deep-seated and a systemic problem in Philippine society. In addition, reforms come with great risks for an administration that is perceived to be lacking in legitimacy and thus, hesitant to antagonize key allies in the armed forces.

The forum aims to provide a venue to discuss and debate on the present government’s reform agenda for the Philippine military, particularly how to address the problem of corruption in the institution. The presentations of both academe and government panels will focus on the following discussion questions:

  • What is the Arroyo administration’s overall reform agenda for the Department of National Defense and the Armed Forces of the Philippines?
  • How has the Arroyo government addressed and will address military corruption through the:
    • AFP Procurement System
    • Retirement and Separation Benefits System (RSBS)
  • What are the political, economic and cultural factors that would impede reforms in the military, particularly on the issue of corruption?
  • Is there political resolve to implement military reforms?


Undersecretary Ernesto Carolina, Department of National Defense
Chief of Staff General Efren Abu, Armed Forces of the Philippines

Dr. Carolina Hernandez, UP Department of Political Science and Presidential Adviser on the Implementation of the Feliciano Commission Recommendations
Prof. Felipe Miranda, UP Department of Political Science
Dr. Edna Estifania Co, UP National College of Public Administration and Governance

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