Kasarinlan: Philippine Journal of Third World Studies, Vol 16, No 2 (2001)

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Waltzing with the Army: From Marcos to Arroyo

Raymund Jose G. Quilop

Abstract


The relationship between civilian political leadership and the military has changed in character from the Marcos dictatorship to the Macapagal-Arroyo presidency. The military, ideally a professional and depoliticized institution, found itself in conflicting roles in governance. President Ferdinand Marcos used the military to pursue personal interests. After the first EDSA revolt, the principle of civilian superiority was restored but sections in the AFP responded with a series a coup d'etats against the I govemment of President Corazon Aquino. President Fidel Ramos, a former general, found difficulty in limiting the role of the military in government and appointed retired officers in key positions. His government eventually emphasized the role of the armed forces in national development and pushed for the modernization of the AFP,
a program sidelined by the previous administration. President Joseph Estrada was more supportive of the military campaign in Mindanao but eventually lost the, support of the AFP in EDSA II. So far the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo appears to have a better understanding of the military.The president, a consistent visitor of the military camps, increased the benefits of military personnel and appointed the outgoing AFP Chief of Staff, General Angelo
Reyes, as Secretary of National Defense. When pro-Estrada supporters clamored, for the latter's return in the so-called EDSA III, the military stood by President Macapagal-Arroyo Civilian political leadership played a great role in shaping the mindset of and their relationship with military officers. They must be knowledgeable and sensitive to the military culture and psyche. The ability to govern effectively and cultivate the culture within the armed forces that subscribes to civilian authority is necessary for harmonious civil-military relations, particularly for democratic societies like the Philippines.

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