Saturday, January 02, 2010

Privatization 1: Philippine Military Academy (PMA)

The Philippine Military Academy (PMA) is known as the "premier" military school in the country. Well, it's the only military school in this country expensively supported by our taxes.

I believe that the PMA should be privatized, for the following reasons.

One, it is very expensive, or simply highly pampered,  to train military students at P500,000/year/ student, or P2million/student over 4 years. PMA is bragging that figure in their photo exhibits, to lure more applicants.

Two, the ROTC or CMT system at the university level produces lots of good potential AFP officers. And yet those guys receive zero subsidy from the government for their early military training.

Three, Israel has the most battle-tested army in the world, but it has no military academy. Officers and soldiers are trained by the IDF (Israeli defence force) right there, and brought to "action" when there is another war with the Palestinians and/or other Arabs.

Four, lots of squatters at the PMA compound, mostly former AFP officers, soldiers and their friends/relatives.

Five, AFP needs lots of money for its modernization, it need not come from taxpayers' pockets. Sell a big portion of the compound and use the money for AFP use.

Six, it creates favoritism and nepotism in AFP promotions, where non-PMAers are almost always behind in promotion, regardless of their good performance in the field.

When Fort bonifacio was a military camp, it was a place for paranoid military officers. By 5pm, it was close to the public; also on weekends. And those people live off on taxes by the public. After Fort Bonifacio was privatized, it was democratized 100 percent. Anyone can enter the vicinity 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Fort Bonifacio Global City encourage people to come in, to shop, to enjoy the improved scenery, to join marathons, etc.

The case of abuses of Blackwater guards contracted by the US Army in Iraq cannot be used as argument against PMA privatization. Whether public or private, what is important is accountability of soldiers, of government people and their contractors, under the rule of law.

A soldier kills a civilian because the former got drunk and became trigger happy. He will be accountable for that under the rule of law. A civilian guard (under a private security agency or under a military contract) kills a civilian because the former got drunk. He and/or his superiors will be accountable for that under the rule of law. Because there is only one law, not two or three. And that law says, "don't kill civilians without any valid reason".

On another note, using soldiers for engineering brigade, I think it's an excuse for having a bloated military. Like lots of air force soldiers but few airplanes. That is why many of the the guys we see in anti-riot defense by an unpopular president are air force soldiers and navy soldiers.

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