Saturday, October 29, 2011

PNCCS - Alleviating the Navy’s Clearance Process

Anywhere in the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the process of acquiring command clearance is very long and tedious.  The clearance processing itself adds to the long bureaucracy of processing various procedures including retirement.  This holds true to the Philippine Navy where the manual system requires our personnel to secure clearances individually from an average of eleven clearance issuing offices.  Likewise, the poor communication structure of these offices adds to the delay in its processing.
On 04 August 2009, the former Chief of Naval Staff, then COMMODORE FELICIANO ANGUE AFP observed this inefficiency of our clearance process.  He gave an instruction to N6 for the development of an automated clearance system which will alleviate the burden of our personnel and help ease their retirement process.
 This concern triggered the Navy to create the Philippine Navy Centralized Clearance System (PNCCS).  It was developed by Naval Communications Electronics & Information Systems Center (NCEISC) starting October 2009 during the incumbency of CDR MARCOS Y IMPERIO PN, to provide the command with a fast, reliable and effective system for clearance administration and management.  Since most staff takes part of its implementation, HPN Central Staff fund sharing scheme supported the budget requirements of the project.  The system was  satisfactorily tested on January 2011 at the offices of the stakeholders located at NSJF (Bonifacio Naval Station), Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City and Headquarters Philippine Navy, Roxas Blvd. Manila.
By 18 August 2010, HPN published SOP number 08 for the proper utilization and implementation of the PN Centralized Clearance System.
The task for NCEISC is to develop a system that will automate processing of clearances and shorten the tedious and long process.  All clearance issuing offices must also be interconnected using available and feasible technology for the Philippine Navy.  NCEISC must also provide a dedicated and accessible communications network particularly intended for clearance issuing offices to provide easier coordination with the other offices.
                The system implementation utilizes the IP Virtual Private Network (IP VPN) of the Navy to provide connectivity between the server at HNCEISC in Cavite City, offices at HPN and offices within NSJF (or BNS) area.  Units in the same location are linked to the Virtual Private Network using the IP DSLAM technology.  Here, IP data of the different remote stations are transmitted through the existing military telephone network or local lines of the navy.
On 20 May 2011, NCEISC formally launched the system while its mother-unit Naval Sea Systems Command turned-over the system to the Office of the Naval Adjutant (OTNA) as the System Owner. The ceremony was graced by the Flag-Officer-in-Command himself, VADM ALEXANDER P PAMA AFP at the OTNA lobby which was simultaneously witnessed by the Naval Forces and other units of the Navy through the Video Teleconferencing System (VTS).  PN personnel witnessed the actual system operation of the system which also demonstrate the connectivity to the PNCCS server as well as the actual printing of the a sample clearance… the first system generated clearance of PNCCS.  The ten other clearance issuing offices involved in the system who also took part in the launching and turn-over are:
·         AC of NS for Logistics N4, Munitions Control Branch
·         AC of NS for Personnel N1, DLO Branch
·         AC of NS for Personnel N1, Housing Branch
·         The Naval Judge Advocate
·         Supply Accountable Office
·         The Naval Provost Marshall
·         The Naval Inspector General
·         The Naval Special Service Office
·         The Naval Accounting Service Office, and
·         Office of Ethical Standards and Public Accountability
·         Securing a Command Clearance is faster
·         Clearance applicant will only visit and settle requirement at the office he has deficiency
·         Faster and efficient verification with the concerned office through the dedicated communications network
This also results to resource savings for the command amounting to approximately Four Million Pesos per year covering the following:
·         travel fund and travel time for PN personnel that may result to better productivity for our personnel.  This is equivalent to 33,000 EP man-days and 1,650 Officer man-days.
·         at least one watch per office or 10 personnel from the clearance issuing offices saved to alleviate shortage of personnel since issuance of clearances are already centralized at OTNA.
·         at least ten pages per person requesting for clearance because we reduced the number of individual clearance documents
·         PN units or individuals will save on fuel since clearance processing is shortened and fewer offices need to be physically visited, and contribute in easing the shortage of POL allocation.
The same with any other systems, PNCCS has to undergo a transition period for the adjustment of both systems, including all personnel involved.  After its launching, the system is presently undergoing parallel run, where personnel acquiring clearances will still use the traditional process which will go hand in hand with the automated process.  In this stage, it will validate the accuracy of the flow as well as compare the equivalence of their respective outputs and objectives.
By 01 July 2011, all adjustments between the old and new system must have been ironed out and marks the full transfer to the automated process.  Taking the word of the Flag Officer in Command, the system is ready but the most important factor is the people manning the system.  However excellent is the automated system, if the offices will not do their job of populating the data - then the effort for the completion of the project will be useless. 
By January of 2013, all Major Unit Adjutants should have respective access to their own portions in the PNCCS where it is projected to be further implemented as part of the Integrated Personnel Management System (IPMS) Phase 2.  During this stage, verification and issuance of some clearances may be performed at the level of the Major Unit Adjutants.  In the same manner that other systems will be integrated such as
·         Medical Information Computerized System (MedICS)
·         Property and Logistic Management System (PALMS)
·         PN Senior Officers Record Tabulation System (PN SORTS)
·         Military Appraisal Reporting Computerized System (MARCS)
·         Civilian Employees Biometrics Information System (CEBIS)
·         Personnel Administration, Training & Education Records iNtegration System (PATERnS)
The successful implementation of the system serves as the prototype of the IPMS.  The PNCCS operation proves that the integration of different systems of the Navy is getting closer to reality.  It is also a testimony to the realization of the NCEISC vision: ONE NAVY, ONE NETWORK – doing its part in the attainment of the overall vision to becoming a strong and credible Navy that our maritime nation can be proud of.

Friday, April 8, 2011

International Human Rights in the Philippines

Humans are the most intelligent and civilized animals on earth. But like animals, we are territorial in nature. And being naturally territorial, we are very protective of our space and interests. Men in the same territory who shares common interest learned to form groups. Historically, conflicts between armed groups arise by trying to defend what they claimed as theirs. As war evolved, weapons used during armed conflicts also became deadlier where instances of brutal or inhumane killings are most likely to happen.

Different laws or standards in the conduct of war emerged. Trying to be civilized, humans agreed to have a common understanding during armed conflicts and efforts were undertaken to make war more humane in the nineteenth century. This is to have restrictions in the conduct of war and to have laws respecting humans and knowing when enough is enough. The most concrete and recognized form is the creation of the International Convention of the Red Cross in February 1863 and the signing of the International Humanitarian Law in August 1864 in the Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the wounded in armies in the field, which gave birth to the International Humanitarian Law.

The laws of war were based on the four cardinal rules. These rules include limitations, proportionality, humanity, and military necessity.

The International Humanitarian Law recognizes two categories of armed conflict namely the international and the non-international. “Non-international armed conflict involves hostilities between government armed forces and organized armed groups or between such groups within a state.” This definition therefore qualifies the different threat groups such as the NPA and the Islamic groups in the south. Even if wearing of uniform or distinctive sign and carrying of arms openly is required, exceptional circumstances such as wars of national liberation makes this requirement not strictly imposed. The carrying of arms openly is sufficient to identify that distinction.

However, this may not be easily applicable in the case of the terrorists groups such as the Abu Sayyaf. According to the Protocol I of the international treaty, “armed forces must be organized, be under a command responsible to that party and be subject to an internal disciplinary system that enforces compliance with humanitarian law.”

International Humanitarian Law provides recognition and protection only to organizations and individuals who act on behalf of a State or an entity that is a subject of international law. It excludes "private wars", whether conducted by individuals or groups. This means that "terrorist" groups such as Abu Sayyaf Group acting on their own behalf and without the requisite linked to a State or similar entity shall not be accorded prisoner of war protections.

Even if the Laws of War was originally crafted in the context of traditional military warfare, said convention still applies with the current form of armed conflict. Without the laws of war, conflicts will even become violent and inhumane, especially with the emergence of weapons of mass destruction. Weapons of mass destruction such as bio-warfare do not necessarily mean instant death to its targets. Though these modern weapons are not specifically described in IHL, it is still covered by the "Declaration of St Petersburg to the effect of prohibiting the use of certain projectiles in wartime" which says that "the only legitimate [objective] which States should endeavour to accomplish during war is to weaken the military forces of the enemy", and second, that, "this [objective] would be exceeded by the employment of arms which uselessly aggravate the sufferings of disabled men, or render their death inevitable".

The Philippines as a signatory to the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) is bound by it even during peace time. The country’s present conflict scenario on the other hand is still close to actual clashes of armed groups with the probability of a member of either party becoming a prisoner of war. So the laws of war are still valid.

Although these laws of war shall be re-evaluated for thorough study on certain issues that may no longer be applicable to present realities in the battlefield. Because these laws will at least govern the future actions of groups in times of armed conflict especially those groups vying for international recognition.

Today, the laws of war distinguish the government armed forces from the terrorist groups like the Abu Sayaf. It also continuously affects the conduct of armed groups like the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and New People’s Army (NPA). These groups may not want to abide with these rules but are bound to bear with it to gain political stature in the international community. Actions like mutilating the wounded or dead soldiers by beheading them during encounters are definitely unacceptable. Wounded soldiers must be treated as humane as possible and without unnecessary sufferings. There are even confirmed military and media reports that support government’s claim that both the MILF and NPA are using minors in combat and training them to be combatants as early as adolescent age.

It may not be very obvious to the public’s view that other Islamic militant groups hide behind the curtains of religious buildings for military purposes. But it is a fact known to few AFP personnel that these groups make use of mosques and even with the consent of priests/Imams as meeting place, armory and safety haven.

The clearest instance of religious buildings being used for military purposes is the stockpile of weapons and bomb paraphernalia reported by intelligence units as hidden in two separate mosques in Barangay Riverside, Maigo, Lanao del Norte and Barangay Pendulunan, Lanao del Sur. MILF fighters were sighted harboring in these mosques stockpiling high-powered firearms, ammunition and bomb paraphernalia.

IHL provides the protection of the wounded, sick or captured members of the armed forces, and civilians but forbids the use of hospitals for military purposes. A typical example happened in Lamitan, Basilan in year 2000, under the pressumption that Abu Sayyaf is not a terrorist group. The Abu Sayyaf Group led by Abu Sabaya barricaded the Hospital in Lamitan and held all doctors and nurses hostage inside the building covering and shielding from the pursuing military. While the gunfight is ongoing, they were able to have their wounded treated and there were reports that abuse of female nurses also happened in the building.

Above examples reflect the exploitation of physical churches and hospitals in pursuing their military objectives. Unfortunately, secessionist and terrorist groups such as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and ASG respectively use religious ideology as a deception to gain mass based support and even international recognition. Last August 17, 2008, heavily armed MILF attacked and killed innocent civilians and unwary travelling military personnel in three towns of Lanao del Norte. This incident actually occurred gradually even before the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain was preempted. The groups of Umbra Kato and Kumander Bravo pressured the government for the implementation of said agreement, by rallying his men and performing atrocities under the banner of a religion.

This act of treachery by the MILF remains unpunished to this date considering that the perpetrators have hidden behind ideological and religious cloaks that professional and disciplined soldiers of the AFP dare not to desecrate.

With the above examples and actual experiences, present warring groups do not refrain from using religious, medical and cultural buildings or facilities for military purposes. Sadly and unfortunately, government forces are the only ones who adhere to the laws of war by refraining from the use of the mentioned facilities for military purposes.

The International Humanitarian Law (IHL) concerns limitations on the methods and means of warfare introduced in order to protect combatants and non-combatants alike. But with the actions made by the enemy groups in the country, the MILF tries to conceal their violation while the ASG are blatantly ignoring it, even to the extent of kidnapping workers of the International Committee on the Red Cross.

IHL unequivocally prohibits acts of terrorism, such as attacks against civilians or civilian objects. It also explicitly prohibits acts or threats of violence the primary purpose of which is to spread terror among the civilian population. Thus, persons suspected of such acts are liable for criminal prosecution. Like the unacceptable acts of Abu Sayyaf terrorist group on mutilating and beheading soldiers who could no longer fight, and they should be prosecuted under our domestic criminal law.

Clearly, the IHL is followed only by those who are mandated such as the government forces while armed groups are forced to follow the same to gain international support. Unfortunately, the government is not pursuing the elevation of these violations to the international community, possibly so as not to grant them international political identity. Even if the IHL is applicable in the Philippine scenario, its continued re-evaluation is still recommended.

Maritime Academy of Asia and the Pacific

Maritime Academy of Asia and the Pacific (MAAP) entered the maritime school industry only on January 14, 1998. Too late compared to its competitors in the industry, yet it can boast of being one of the respected maritime schools in the country today. Why?

MAAP’s origin can be rooted to the creation of Associated Marine Officers' Union of the Philippines (AMOUP) for the protection of officers working on board commercial ships by Capt. Gregorio S. Oca who was moved by the unjust working conditions of the Filipino Seafarers in the 1960. This group transformed into Associated Marine Officers and Seamen's Union of the Philippines (AMOSUP) in 1972. But it was only more than a decade ago that the association capitalized and developed the academy seeing the need to breed merchant marine deck and engine officers in the world from our country.

Such a relatively new institution gained admiration of owners of merchant vessels choosing to sponsor the financial requirements of future Filipino seafarers as its midshipmen. Remarkably, it was able to get enough funding from a Japanese institution to build different set of facilities specifically constructed for midshipmen intended for Japan.

These can be considered breakthroughs in a very streamlined industry – maritime training, with its very young entry into the market. But what have these commercial institutions found in MAAP which gained their confidence to invest large amount of money to a newcomer? I believe other than the products or maritime graduates who may have made credit for their institutions, the world-recognized certifications by an external body for the academy gives MAAP its edge over the others. Standing alone, without government support, she has to be creative in getting the attention of its major stakeholders – the investors.

Certifications such as ISO and PSB-QMET builds a different character not only among the human resources but to the institution itself. MAAP in short was successful in developing an attractive brand both for its future cadets, and its consumers. In order to maintain those certifications, a high standard of learning and facilities must be maintained. It maintains a training standard which keeps up with the new trends in technology available in the industry.

Monday, April 5, 2010


We arrived in Busan Airport at around 6:50AM of March 29, 2010.   Since time zone in Korea is 1 hour higher than that of the Philippines, I manually adjusted my watch while my phone automatically updated its time.  I also set my phone to manually select a network to activate roaming feature.  I chose SK Telecom because the Customer Support I talked with a day before the travel told me this network offered cheaper roaming rates.  Temperature here is twice colder than that of Baguio City so it is best to wear your thermal suit upon arrival at the airport if you intend to go directly to your tour destinations.

Busan City is the second largest metropolitan city of Korea after Seoul.  It is like the Cebu City of Korea.  You can't see a lot of people roaming around but you can notice that it is a very progressive city.

Our first stop at around 9AM was the United Nations Memorial to pay tribute to the Filipino soldiers of the Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea (PEFTOK) who died during the Korean war.  Our delegation head layed a wreath to honor the heroes as the rest of the group had prayers and offered individual roses.

Then we went to Hanjin shipyard at about 11AM, the mother company of the Hanjin shipyard in Subic.  It was the first shipyard of Korea established in 1937.  They are manufacturing naval ships for the Korean Navy and also delivered orders of Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia.

We had our lunch at MokJangWon Korean Restaurant overlooking the Busan Bay.  I thought we will have shabu-shabu as we usually do in the Philippines, instead, we had Bolgogi... The attendant smiled when we asked for more rice...

After a quick Korean lunch (that means- no chairs:-D ), we continued with a travel of about two (2) hours to Jinhae,  the home of Republic of Korea Naval Education and Training Command (ROK NETC).  After visiting the institution that trains the sailors and marines of Korea (both officers and enlistedmen), we went directly to the ROK Naval Academy also in Jinhae.  At the academy, we dropped by the Navy Museum and seen a lot of miniature ships of the ROK Navy as well as their reverence to the fathers of ROKN and NETC.

Then we went to the neighboring Changwon City - the home of Samsung Techwin, GM-Daewoo, LG Electronics, Hyundai Rotem, Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction, Doosan Infracore, Doosan Engine.  Changwon is the capital of Gyeongsangnam-do (South Gyeongsang) province which includes the Jinhae.  Visited Samsung Techwin Head Office and were expecting a brief about digital electronics technology.  Instead, we were awed by what we have seen and heard- Techwin is Korea's leading defense industry manufacturing K9 Thunder 155mm self-propelled artillery, K10 ARV (Ammunition Resupply Vehicle) capable of transferring 12 rounds of 155mm ammunition to K9 Thunder, and the KAAV Amphibious Assault Vehicle. KAAV is an amphibious vehicle designed for the Marine Corps with a speed of 13 km/hr on water and 72 km/hr on land.

After the plant tour showing us the step by step modules of how they manufacture the KAAV, we departed for Seoul which is about five hour drive.  We had our diner at the expressway stop-over.  Unfortunate, while parking, the bus driver hit a truck on the right side of the bus.  I had a meal at 6000 Korean Won - pork cutlet with spicy Korean soup and kimchi.  After eating, I have to bring the dishes to the conveyor belt receiving the used utensils.  Then we continued our travel to Seoul.  We arrived at the capital of Korea around 11pm, imagine how cold it was... When I went out of the bus to pick my luggage at the bus trunk, I was chilling because I have not yet worn by thermal suits, bonnet and gloves by that time.  They were all in my luggage, so I have to hurry picking the gloves and bonnet and wore them on my way to Vabien Residences.  Whew... I made it, but I was still chilling inside.

We checked in at room 801 together with my six other colleagues.  The hotel is elegant and spacious, I can even compare it to a three star hotel in Manila, considering that its classification in Korea is only a serviced residence.  It has a kitchen complete with stoves, utensils, kettle, refrigerator and even a fully automatic washing machine.  Of the three rooms of the suite, I shared the smaller room with my colleague, though he decided to sleep at the couch at the comfort of the cable tv's remote control :-).  What is missing in Vabien is wireless internet connection.  We requested for an internet and they brought a UTP cable which can be plugged at an RJ45 socket on the wall - unfortunately, our IT powers is not enough to enable the connection.  We asked the hotel to fix the problem, the receptionist said she will visit our room to take care of it - but she never came.

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.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

NETC utilization of Hyundai Buses


The mission of Naval Education and Training Command (NETC) is to “Conduct individual education and training in order to provide knowledge and skills essential to the accomplishment of PN Mission.” This single statement serves as the guiding beacon of the Command for all its activities. It is also the same statement where the Commander of NETC benchmarks his programs or thrusts in administering this organization. This kind of mission outlook applies to all units of the Navy, which is aimed at accomplishing the over-all mission of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

As a subordinate organization of NETC, the mission of Naval Command and Staff College aligns to that of NETC mission which is to prepare selected Company Grade and Field Grade Officers for Staff and Higher Command Position in the Navy or Marines Corps or at GHQ and AFPWSSU’s.

During the Convening Ceremony of the Naval Command and Staff Course Class of 67 on 25 August 2009, Commander of NETC, RADM VICENTE M AGDAMAG AFP stressed that NETC is doing its best to provide the most that it could for every course that is convened within its grounds. That disposition of the Commander should not surprise anybody, because providing training or education is the primary reason of existence of this institution. The Command aims to accomplish this mission under the Five Pillars of Education he mentioned as follows: competent faculty, enhanced curriculum, a facility conducive to learning, advanced references, and high-morale students. Through these pillars, NETC shall send officers fully armed and ready to be assigned into different strategic positions not only in the Philippine Navy but in the whole Armed Forces of the Philippines.

It was during the convening ceremony where the Commander relates the experience of the AFP during the year 2000 Camp Abu Bakkar Campaign. He said that the AFP is into a full-scale war with the MILF yet the Navy’s vessel is in Singapore procuring ammunition to support the operation. The AFP does not have a good logistic support system to engage in a all-out war. And to think that it is actually a “minor” war for the entire Armed Forces of the Philippines to engage into. How can the Armed Forces of the Philippines achieve its mission to protect the people and secure the sovereignty of the state and integrity of national territory in that condition? The AFP is practically not ready to defend the country in a concentrated war, even in supporting the Philippine National Police suppressing insurgency, or against an aggression of a foreign country.

The AFP is simply a big organization living its life on a daily or piece-meal basis like an ordinary Filipino, more popularly coined as “isang kahig, isang tuka.” We do things on a reaction to something but not in preparation before things happen. We are inclined for the cure and not for prevention. The point being raised is that our attitude towards an organization is affected by our culture or mentality, however big or small is the organization handled. We are very poor in implementation even with our own logistic systems. We do not invest a lot in proper training. We simply try to comply but not achieve what we must reach.

During a visit in Sandakan, Malaysia sometime in the year 2001 for a border patrol exercise, I noticed the efficiency and effectiveness in the support system of the Royal Malaysian Navy. Mobile generator sets were lined-up at the pier providing electricity to docked Malaysian Navy vessels, however big or small. All their officers and enlisted personnel assigned in that particular area were provided each with enough housing facility that can accommodate even their own families. Costly maybe on a short perspective, but saves them money in ship maintenance and personnel management in the long term.

On 27 May 2009, DND Sec Gilberto C Teodoro Jr graced the unveiling of the Philippine Navy’s four new Hyundai buses through a caravan from Bonifacio Naval Station, Taguig City to Naval Education and Training Command in what is dubbed as “Navy Caravan 2009”1. The unveiling of these four newly-acquired buses is part of the Philippine Navy’s goal of improving mobility and transportation of its officers and enlisted personnel.

Vice Admiral Ferdinand S Golez, Flag Officer-in-Command, Philippine Navy, leads the contingent participating in this caravan. This contingent comprises of officers, enlisted personnel and civilian employees from the Philippine Navy within the Manila-Cavite area. This caravan intends to showcase the usage of the newly-acquired buses to address the Navy personnel’s accessibility concern in going to the then Naval Station San Miguel and avail of its camp facilities.

Upon arrival at NETC, the contingent partakes in various activities which include the blessing of the NETC spider-houses, model classroom and the graduation/commissioning of Naval Officer Candidate Course (NOCC) Class 14.

Each of these newly-acquired Hyundai buses is capable of seating 45 persons comfortably. These brand new buses definitely boost the mobility requirement of Philippine Navy officers and enlisted personnel. Of the four new buses, two were subsequently handed-over to the Naval Education and Training Command while the two others were distributed to other Philippine Navy units including one for the Philippine Marine Corps. This move of providing said transport facility by the Philippine Navy leadership is laudable and may be considered as a sign that we are getting matured. That is by providing the priority needs of the organization with its meager resources. This can be attributed to our common desire to attain the Navy’s 2020 vision of becoming a strong and credible navy that our maritime nation can be truly proud of.

The remoteness of NETC adds financial burden to the students affecting his attitude towards learning and disposition to the service.

The creation of a policy utilizing the NETC buses as regular week-end shuttles for students, including those from NCSC.

Why did the Philippine Navy assigned two of this buses to NETC in the first place? Probably because the current Flag Officer in Command was the former Commander of NETC before he was posted to the highest post of the navy. But definitely NOT because NETC was simply his former unit, but probably because he have seen that need particularly the students.

When NCSC Class 67 was about to convene, the College arranged to provide one bus in fetching its “new” students from Taguig City to San Antonio, Zambales. It was a very encouraging arrangement because NETC is about one hundred fifty kilometers away from the country’s center of commerce and trade – Metro Manila. NETC is very remote from other Philippine Navy camps in Manila and Cavite as well, which holds our limited housing facilities. So limited housing facilities that most officers and personnel either own or rent for themselves residences, also within Cavite and Manila area. Because of that proximity issue, others dreaded the idea of going to NETC even if it is for their career advancement. That is most likely the case because commuting from Naval Station Jose Francisco (formerly Bonifacio Naval Station) to NETC will cost every individual about Three Hundred Pesos on a single journey. While those with vehicles will spend about Three Hundred Fourteen for toll gate charges if passing through SCTEX and Subic to save on time. They will also add Sixty Five Pesos toll fee if coming from Cavite Province. And it does not end there, for their gasoline consumption of about fifteen liters will cost the student about Seven Hundred Pesos. A simple computation is shown as follows:

Toll Gate Charges : 18 + 174 + 112 = 304.00
Gasoline Expenses: 700.00
Total Expenses (One way) 1,004.00
Total Expenses (Round Trip) 2,008.00
Monthly Transportation Expenses 10,040.00

It is obviously very costly for each student to spend about Ten Thousand Pesos in a month. Since they are no longer attached to any unit being assigned in NETC for the course, these officers no longer enjoy gasoline allocations from their former offices, if there were any. And to save on cost, they may resort to soliciting “gas slips” from officers (and even enlisted personnel acting as POL custodians) just to alleviate the financial burden.

Absurd as it may, but money is practically among the primary factors affecting our personnel’s morale. In fact, it is among the top reasons why a lot of military officers leave the service for greener pastures. Either to seek a different career on foreign land, or use the skills they acquired from the service such as flying an aircraft or deep-sea diving.

It may be a shallow reason for officers to ponder on, but it is a reality. Every single cause of dissatisfaction, however small, adds to the over-all attitude towards the service. Private companies in Pasig City for instance, with factories in Laguna or Bulacan afford to provide daily shuttle service to its employees. And yet a military agency such as the Philippine Navy with enough available resources let its officers scamper for passenger bus to earn strategic wisdom. These are the kind of persons whom the Navy will entrust its different organizations and personnel occupying important staff positions in the future.

On the other hand, there are some unsolicited “good advice” they may receive…practice “car pooling”. In this suggestion, three or four students will “save” on transportation expenses by sharing the cost of the travel. Isn’t a forty-five seater bus the most ideal vehicle to accommodate about forty students to save on cost? It is definitely cheaper for the students to pay for the POL and toll fees of the bus. But the point is, can’t the Navy utilize the bus for its young leaders?

For what reason did the Philippine Navy provided buses for NETC anyway? Is it for the mobility of its organic personnel? Maybe… or is it for the training institution’s accessibility for the students? Again, maybe… But one thing is sure, both the organic personnel and the students are the primary considerations in its assignment to the Command. It is definitely not intended for those who will play golf or for tourists who want to visit the former communication station of the United States Naval Communications Station San Miguel3.

Shifting the appreciation of the Philippine Navy buses as vehicles intended to resolve NETC’s remote location issue. This shall be the most important factor to be addressed at first. No single strategy to effect the change will be effective unless we re-orient our frame of mind. Once done, we shall proceed with the specific strategies necessary.
This includes the creation of a policy at the NETC level, stating the implementing rules and regulations regarding its utilization as weekend shuttle in leaving and going to NETC.
If POL allocation is not sufficient, make proper representation with higher headquarters. Until additional POL allocation is released, students may be charged with minimal amount to cover the expenses of each trip. Fifty pesos for every student at a minimum of twenty five passengers as prescribed by regulations2 will generate at least One Thousand Two Hundred Fifty or at most Two Thousand Two Hundred Fifty when fully occupied.
One positive effect is boosting the morale of PN personnel not only those actually benefiting from it, but even those from other units specifically personnel expecting to undergo training in NETC.
Each bus festooned with images about the service is one of the Navy’s ways of promoting the Service of the Future. It is our manner of telling the youth to join the most important arm of this archipelagic country. Join the Navy and riding this bus is just one of the many fringe benefits that you will receive. Each satisfied officer is just like a satisfied restaurant customer spreading the word about how good is the service of the establishment he just visited, not to mention the delicious food he enjoyed.
As earlier mentioned, it will alleviate the financial burden of each student. It will boil down into affecting positively their morale and in fact living to its will of providing a facility conducive to learning. These are already two of the five pillars of education as highlighted by the Commander, NETC.
It may deplete the POL resources of NETC because of providing the facilities for the students, but it is the essence of the Command’s existence anyway.

The adoption of these proposed measures will probably require the amendment of HPN SOP with the subject Utilization General Dispatch of PN Buses indicating that said NETC buses are actually intended for the purpose.

Though the proposed change is not in conflict with to the HPN policy, it will however best to elevate the matter at the level of the headquarters.

The Philippine Navy will need to allocate more POL provision for NETC for the succeeding years to cater to this recommendation.

There are three main points that merit the utilization of Philippine Navy buses. First, the very reason of providing said buses to NETC is improving mobility and transportation for its officers and enlisted personnel. Its students, who are now assigned with NETC are already personnel of the Command.
Second, the very essence of existence of NETC is for its students and not for anything else. They are its main clientele, whether officers or enlisted personnel. Hence, its facilities must be focused at catering to said end-users.
Third, the morale of the entire Philippine Navy will be positively affected, more particularly the enlisted personnel who will find-out that shuttle services are now provided by the Command. It does not only reduces their financial burden due to high transportation cost, it will also physically benefit them by traveling in safety and comfort making them well prepared mentally and physiologically for the learning process of the week ahead. This will in turn create a positive notion that undergoing training in NETC is not a suffering but sort of a vacation. NETC becomes a nice place to unwind and a venue to take a break from rigors of routine job or risky operation.