Thursday, January 12, 2012

Lawmaker vows to oppose plan to reorganize AFP

House Assistant Majority Leader and Davao City Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles yesterday expressed deep concern over the admission of the Department of National Defense (DND) on the plan to abolish certain key units in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), including its plan to incorporate engineering and civil military operations (CMO) units to regular combat units.

He said this is not only unnecessary but a step backward in the government’s quest to create an efficient, mobile and modern Armed Forces.

According to Nograles, this plan to fuse combat units with CMO units as envisioned by the DND’s Defense Planning Guidance (DPG) poses operational incompatibility not only because of differences in terms of mission orientation but also on the psychological mindset of individual personnel.

There is also the plan to transfer the administrative functions of the National Development Support Command (Nadescom) to The Corps of Engineers (TCE) will undermine the evolution of AFP’s role as mere infrastructure developers to sincere community development partner, Nograles said.

“The TCE is a technical staff, primarily involved with engineering requirements. What makes Nadescom different is that it integrates the engineering works and the civil affairs dimensions which have made our response to contemporary conflicts far more encompassing, more caring, and hence, more effective government tool in addressing the internal security situation besetting the country for the past four decades,” Nograles added.

“While the engineers will be more concerned with building the infrastructure such as school buildings and health centers, Nadescom strives to make those structures living mechanisms by finding partners who will provide amenities such as computers, tables, chairs, books, e-learning modules, electric power, technical/vocational equipment, feeding program, etc. for the schools; and medicines, medical equipment, trained health workers, etc. for the health centers it builds,” he said.

Nograles statement came as the AFP admitted that there is indeed a plan to overhaul the organizational structure of the Armed Forces allegedly for the purpose of decentralization.

Included in the plan is the abolition of the Nadescom and the fusion of certain units such as the Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) and Southern Luzon Command (Solcom) to become just the Northern Command and the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) and Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) to become Southern Command.

According to Nograles, this DND re-organization plan is a “disaster waiting to happen” as he noted that apart from the fact that it would take some time before a colossal organization like the AFP can adjust to a completely new system, it’s administrative repercussion would be also mind-boggling.

“Promotions alone would become a serious issue because under the set-up being pushed by the DPG, there will be too many generals for very few command positions. Unless, of course, we would impose a strict quota on the promotion for generals,” Nograles said.

“Instead of helping the AFP focus on the problem at hand, the DPG will only make the AFP inward looking for the next 2-3 years, minding its massive reorganization, tweaking proven systems, looking into where to place the key officers in an organization which will have dwindling key positions, etc.,” he added.

In addition, Nograles said the DPG runs counter with the AFP’s Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) “Bayanihan” which is the core of the Aquino administration’s reform program for the AFP.

He noted that this “Bayanihan” strategy of the AFP gives ultimate focus on development and civil military activities that are designed to bring back the people’s trust toward the government.

Nograles said instead of wasting time on re-organization, the DND should give more focus on the IPSP Bayanihan which seeks to actively assist other government line agencies that are in the forefront of pursuing President Aquino’s social-reform agenda.

“The President has publicly endorsed the IPSP which was actually authored Lt. Gen. Jessie Dellosa hence the Defense department should no longer realign on the direction of IPSP Bayanihan,” Nograles said.

And with the abolition of the office of the comptroller in the AFP, the military organization is now working in perfect harmony with Aquino’s reform agenda, Nograles said.

“This re-organization is waste of time, money and energy. It’s fixing something that ain’t broken,” he said. 
By Charlie V. Manalo
The Daily Tribune

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