Monday, November 30, 2009

Friday, November 27, 2009

Philippine Navy Modernization (Multi Purpose Attack Craft - MPAC)

The main problem of the navy modernization is the limited fund appropriated by the legislators. Our modernization budget is supposedly substantial but the government only release small part of it. so the AFP is restricted to buy small items just like the harris radios and not actually big items such as ships.

What happened to the BCDA? The AFP only have 31.5% of the total proceeds from selling the military bases. And what happened in return? The Navy has no more base of its own, it is already squatting from Fort Bonifacio, and even, hopefully not, in Fort San Antonio Abad (now Naval Station Jose Andrada).

The Philippine Navy has recently acquired small but very fast combat boats known as MPACs or Multi-purpose Attack Craft at about 73M each. Big ships will cost billions in acquisition and millions in maintenance. It can run to as fast as 45knots (45 miles per hour). It can reach top speed in less than five seconds, and it can also stop in similar duration. It can turn at stationary position (imagine a harrier aircraft rotating on air). It is used by the Navy in the southern Philippines for interdiction and interception, while one is used in Palawan to protect the government's sensitive project there.

The thrust of the current Navy administration is to purchase new though small but lethal ships.

It is also in the process of acquiring a multi-role vessel which accommodates marines, LCU/LCAC, choppers and amphibian crafts. Our acquisition is based on the need of the country.

Another effort is to acquire a strategic sealift vessel on a lease-to-own scheme through the initiative of the Philippine Navy's civilian board of advisers. These are dedicated Filipino citizens coming from different sectors of the society devoting a portion of their precious time in recommending and sitting with the Philippine Navy as to what they can suggest and do. I hope when this group of people comes up with a foundation intended to purchase modern vessels, you will be among those who will contribute.

The most that you can do to help today is to urge our legislators either through the internet or through other means to prioritize the full and actual implementation of the AFP/NAVY modernization by releasing/allocating the appropriate budget. We Filipinos will only release those budget when the need already happened. Look at Ondoy, the Navy has been asking always for more rubber boats but a modernization program process takes at least more than 1 year and six months if you are lucky. That's Philippine government bureaucracy. But with Ondoy, the DND is urged to buy those rubber boats AS FAST AS POSSIBLE.

In short, we have to wait when China, Vietnam, Malaysia, North Korea or other neighboring Asian countries to invade one of our Kalayaan Islands before the legislators will scamper to look for someone to investigate and to blame. Have they ever blamed themselves? And when that happens, that is the time that they will say let us buy missiles for our ships now. let us buy torpedos for our choppers now. I really that invasion will soon come, so that we will be forced to really modernize our navy/AFP. Unless the LAWMAKERS/EXECUTIVES don't feel the pressure to buy new ships, we will never be modernize as fast as we can. The navy will continue to pass through the very very very very taxing process of making every document pass... the very bullying question of why do you need that? "how many school buildings or books will be lost if we buy those ships. How many mouths will not be fed if we buy your toys?" Now what?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Participatory Leadership

“Do not ask anybody to do something unless you are willing to do it yourself.” A statement by Mayor Jesse Robredo that says it all about his strategy in transforming Naga City into one of Asia’s most improved cities. This humble Mayor proves that success in both the political arena and good governance can be combined. Introducing a total shift of leadership style from traditional politics into people participation using turn-around strategies, Mayor Robredo believes that empowering his constituency gains greater power than solely using it.

Mayor Robredo is not simply “leading by example” as commonly known, but leading through vision anchored strategies. Four strategies namely: Confidence Building, Investing in People, Building Partnership, and Greater People Participation brings Naga City’s vision into reality. A government official who lives to the true meaning of leadership, he rallied his constituency by taking the lead in restoring their pride through visions created by the people themselves.

With the country’s painful experiences in the Marcos regime and series of coup attempts during the Aquino administration, the Honorable Mayor faced real challenges when he was elected as Naga’s City Mayor in 1988. The election process is just like a hill that blocks the view to a gigantic mountain. What lies behind is a more challenging task that remains unseen until the hill has been climbed. Step number one for the new-comer is CONFIDENCE BUILDING. Indeed, how could you lead the people when they doubt your capacity and your sincerity? The odds must be faced. He eradicated illegal gambling particularly “jueteng” and stamped out lewd shows as concrete steps. Believing that for as long as these practices exist in his area, the people will always perceive that he is receiving “toll fees” from it. Possibly aided by his background in the corporate world, transformation will not materialize without the participation of the stakeholders. This is true to any organization, from the Sangguniang Kabataan to the national government, from the Non-Government Organizations (NGO) to private institutions, even in the military or the navy.

This leads to Mayor Robredo’s next step which is INVESTING IN PEOPLE. He recognized that the transformation can not be done by the elected government officials or the city employees alone. He empowered the people by letting them participate in the affairs of the city, by letting them feel that they are important and their voices are heard. People participation was institutionalized through an Empowerment Ordinance creating the People’s Council - a body specially created for accredited business, non-government and people’s organizations of the city, to represent the people in local special bodies. This gives them the power to observe, vote and participate in the deliberation, conceptualization, implementation and evaluation of programs, projects and activities of the city government. They can even propose legislation, participate and vote at the committee level of the City Council.

BUILDING PARTNERSHIP is the third strategy which played a very crucial role in the economic development of the city. The local government shifted its role from “do-it-all” provider to integrator and coordinator of local service providers. This strategy enabled LGUs to marshal untapped resources of the local community for pro-poor programs and other local development initiatives. Robredo recognized that he or anybody in the City Hall does not have the specialization to handle specific sectors of the society. He tapped parents of mentally-ill children to build and run a local center for that specific need. He forged partnership with NGOs to take care of urban-poor program, livelihood, health and nutrition, emergency assistance and education. Number of informal settlers reduced to a significant level through the cooperation of those urban poor organizations, landowners and private developers working together to find mutually-acceptable solutions to tenure related issues. As of 2005, they already covered at least 8,717 households. In military parlance, partnership is termed as alliance which has been emphasized by famous strategists including Sun Tzu. Alliances by the military can be forged not only in times of war but most of all in times of peace, not with other military organizations or nations but with private institutions.

Finally, the last strategy harnessed by the Mayor is GREATER PEOPLE PARTICIPATION. He believes that the people are the one who has given him his powers hence if shared with them will be returned in greater magnitude. Letting the people decide on major issues affecting the future of the city gives them ownership of that decision. And ownership of anything gives them a sense of responsibility, a responsibility to stand to that decision and keep it in the long run even if Mayor Robredo is no longer in position.

These strategies of Mayor Robredo can be applied in the case of the Philippine Navy on a different perspective. Rebuilding our navy requires the trust of everybody, at least generally. Every member must have the reason to believe that the Navy leadership is indeed sincere in making our organization strong and credible.

Alliances with private entities in this modern era will be instrumental in the navy’s transformation. Local car manufacturers, ship builders, gun-makers, shoe and uniform factories, realties, and even food & beverages producers can be tapped in a partnership with the navy for its different requirements.

Greater participation in military context will still apply in the navy by letting our men participate, also on a limited manner, on some matters for the development of the organization as what we have done in the development of the Navy’s vision.

Investing in the people would mean giving attention to the personal development of our men. Training should be taken very seriously by the Command in order to meet what we expect from the organization. We always look forward with our vision but our own people are not properly groomed right at the start of their training. At our level, we can see program of instructions taken for compliance and not regularly evaluated. Candidate soldiers seem to be having fun in a summer outing and thought under the instruction of one or two enlisted personnel as drill supervisors. We intend to impart discipline and training to our enlisted personnel and new officers but those who are handling the actual instruction are not officers. These trainees or students are expected to be under the leadership of officers hence they must be trained also in that perspective.

Nature’s Wrath

Known with international code name Ketsana, typhoon Ondoy submerged up to 80% of Metro Manila, and covered with water the areas that never experienced flooding before. Stranding people on rooftops and bringing death and misery to rich and poor alike, it poured 334 millimeters of rain in the first six hours from 8am to 2pm, the highest ever recorded rainfall in the Metropolis. That amount of rain caused by the infamous Ondoy is almost equal to the average monthly rainfall in Metro Manila. The previous record was 341 millimeters over a 24 hour period in 1967. Even after the raining stopped and the waters subsided, Metro Manila and the nearby regions were caught unprepared to handle the evacuees, the injured, and much less the contamination that the floodwaters brought.

The government has been severely battered by the media saying it served a very poor reaction to the situation especially during the critical hours. Particularly lambasted was DND Secretary at the same time NDCC Chairman Gilberto Teodoro Jr who was blamed by some network stations for not rescuing people in distress. Or rather, for not rescuing Christine Reyes, an ABS-CBN actress who has been calling for help from the television network she works for. As of the last official online situation report by NDCC on 27 September 2009, the government effort was able to rescue a total of 5,594 persons. While the humanitarian coordination effort served 193,775 families or 982,408 individuals. NDCC also reported 12,399 houses totally damaged and 21,031 partially damaged. And the total casualties numbered to 335, broken down into 288 dead, 5 injured and 42 missing.

As a component of the NDCC, the Armed Forces of the Philippines performed a very crucial role in the rescue efforts being deployed in the most dangerous areas of operation. In fact, two soldiers and five militiamen died while performing rescue missions on separate occasions. Army Pfc. Venancio Ancheta died after he was hit by a log while saving a drowning man. Likewise, Cpl. Adriano Regua who was leading rescue efforts in Barangay Nanguma in Mabitac, Laguna, was killed while trying to save a militiaman from drowning who was also part of the rescue mission. The militiaman was among the five other CAFGU who perished.

But what is alarming to note though is the peculiarity of this calamity. It submerged areas never before been flooded, and water rose to level at very fast rate never imagined by those who were affected. Others may shrug-off their shoulder and say it is just one special case. But I would rather believe those who say that it is due to climate change. Weather patterns have recently become so erratic. Typhoons occur during the usual dry or summer season, while droughts occur in the supposedly rainy season. Different weather phenomenon such as El Niño, La Niña, and now the “El Niño Modoki” emerges. Some scientists explain that the 11 year sun cycle is the culprit that triggers the La Niña and El Niño Modoki. But human’s contribution plays a big role on the primary reason of global warming, which is emission of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggests in its report in 2001 that glacier retreat, ice shelf disruption such as that of Antarctic’s Larsen Ice Shelf, sea level rise, changes in rainfall patterns, and increased intensity and frequency of extreme weather events are attributable in part to global warming. And a major culprit in this irreversible process is human activity particularly the increasing rate of forest denudation and combustion of fossil fuels. The rise in CO2 concentration, methane, troposphere ozone, CFCs and nitrous oxide occurred since the start of the industrial revolution. Presently, we are still not addressing with full attention this concern and remain mediocre in preventing the change in global climate.
During the intensity of the typhoon, flood level increased very rapidly that people no longer have enough time to respond. The rate of increase may be attributed to the voluminous water poured from the sky. However, there are still areas where water has not yet completely subsided as of this writing. This means that the small tunnels of many drainage systems remain clogged due to a lot of waste. Small pieces of plastic wraps may, in a way or another, have a big piece in the reason why water rose too fast. Ordinary citizen have contributed individually with their petty trashes that clogged the drainage system. Many local government units boast of Solid Waste Management Program but very few have actually implemented them seriously up to the individual households and every individual citizen.
Sincerity of government effort in environmental protection is in doubt. We have a total log ban that is not indeed TOTAL. We have a “Clean Air Act” that never eliminated or discouraged the use of diesel fuel (which emits 22.2 lbs/gallon of CO2 as compared to 19.4 lbs/gallon for gasoline), not to mention the particulate black carbon and associated organic matter ("soot") emitted per kilometer.

Disaster response by the NDCC and its subordinate Coordinating Councils is only a first aid to emergency. The Philippines’ ailing environment needs a long term cure that warrants the cooperation of every sector of the society. Our government should take bold steps to pursue sustainable development. RP should make a clear statement in the forthcoming Copenhagen Summit for Climate Change on December 2009 and stand for that statement at the homeland. Though our present government does not seem to consider environmental protection as a priority concern, as the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.” In the context of the country’s physical health, abuse on environmental exploitation in all forms must be attended to deter its long term effect. And minimize, if not prevent immediate occurrence of world climate change. Climate change is already here, it is now a matter of slowing it down and prolong the life of the earth.