Arroyo must listen to Cruz

Reading the latest headline from put a smile on my face. Outgoing defense chief prefers civilian successor.

Resigned Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz, Jr is right on the mark by stressing that he prefers to have another civilian, with no deep military ties or connections to succeed him as the new defense chief.

This is by far one of the most sensible thing I’ve heard from the men and women who compose the Arroyo administration, or in Cruz’ case, once become part of.

Ever since Arroyo took over the reigns of power, the military has been at the center of scandals, controversies and most likely behind the scenes of the recent rise in political killings and massive human rights abuses suffered by the peasant, labor and even laity leaders critical of the Arroyo administration.

Though the charges are still yet to be proven in the proper courts and investigations bear their final fruits, justice finally served to those who deserve it, a civilian leading the Department of National Defense is an utmost need.

It does not only shield the military from politics, it also does it good by having a counter-balance to the military line of thinking prevalent and carried by the seasoned military officers that make up the military high command.

Lastly, having a civilian distant from the military replacing Cruz is in consonance and genuine execution of one of the principles of democracy and liberty enshrined in our present Constitution which states:

“Civilian authority is, at all times, supreme over the military. The Armed Forces of the Philippines is the protector of the people of the State. Its goal is to secure the sovereignty of the State and integrity of the national territory.” (Art. II, Sec. 3 1987 Constitution)

Experts and teachers of Law and Political Science would agree in saying that this is the reason why the President, a civilian, is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. This principle is line with the nature of our nation being a republican and democratic one.

To further support and fully implement this principle, it necessary and logical that other government positions that are closely linked with the armed forces be headed by civilians as well. The position of Secretary of Defense being one of them and an important one at that.

So now the burden of choice is once again on the President. If she is true to her oath of enforcing the law of the land and preserve our Consitution, she must choose a civilian, one that is without close or deep connections with the military, to be the new head of the Department of National Defense.

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