His Excellency Ferdinand E. Marcos
President of the Philippines
At the Closing Dinner Program of the Philippine Military Academy Alumni Association
[Delivered on May 17, 1969]
A Corps of Advisers
ANYONE WHO REACHES a position of leadership acquires the habit of deliberate thinking. One of my favorite mental exercises, which others may find useful, is to foresee possible problems one may have to face in the future and to determine what solutions can possibly be made to meet these problems.
For instance, if I were suddenly asked, to pose a given situation, to decide in five minutes when and where to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, I have decided that there should be at least five questions that I would ask, and depending on the answers to these five questions, I would know when and where to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.
The same thing is true with the declaration of martial law. Incidentally, martial law has just recently been declared in Malaysia. It is a useful mental exercise to meet a problem before it happens. A leader must foresee a problem coming up long before the ordinary citizen even expects it to surface, and expecting this, it is incumbent upon the leader to anticipate the circumstances surrounding such a crisis so that he may be able to meet the full impact of the crisis with coolness.
This is true, too, of military men. When you anticipate, for instance, the capability of the enemy and then you are met with sudden withering fire, while the others — the men under you — who have not anticipated it recoil in shock, you meet the situation with a little coolness and deliberation because you expected it, and you are well fortified, for although expecting the best, you are prepared for the worst.
I have also looked upon contemporary opinions and criticisms not as final judgements but simply as materials for the historian to utilize in forming a perspective, at some future time, when the eyes are not dimmed with passion and the heart, once motivated by partisanship, is no longer moved to inform th judgment of those who write and those who comment upon the past with distinct bias.
I congratulate the outgoing officers of the Philippine Military Academy Alumni Association for their achievements in fostering a stronger spirit of brotherhood among its members.
I am gratified to note that of the alumni associations in the Philippines, the Philippine Military Academy Alumni Association is one of the most active. This association has helped promote the interest and the development of our military establishment. It has helped clarify important military issues.
Going over the list of resolutions taken up during your convention last year, I observed that you created a committee to study basic military problems.
I should like to see such a committee work hand in hand with other agencies of the government.
For that matter, I should like to go further by suggesting the organization of a study group within your association. Such a group, unrestricted by normal inhibitions of formal organizations, can develop ideas and concepts freely and creatively. The special studies of such a group can perhaps be submitted for consideration to the proper office in the military establishment. In fact, I have suggested to your President that such studies be presented to me personally. I would like to know your views on many matters and here you have a built-in pool of talent to consider matters that may not affect the military but may affect the entire government. As you know I have a habit of asking almost every group of our society, including the barrio captains, to give their views on certain important issues.
I had a very exciting discussion at one time when I went to a barrio convention, and I asked the barrio leaders present to speak out on national problems. I wanted to test the capability of our barrio leaders, so I asked about, the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization: what they thought of common, defense, whether we could convince Japan to exercise leadership in the economic and military development of Asia—things which you might think the barrio people would not know about. I was surprised therefore by the self-confidence and perspicacity of the barrio leaders, which just goes to show that this is, indeed, a changing world.
But I am serious about this proposal for you to organize several study groups because, I repeat, if you want to continue doing your share in helping run the government and in establishing policy, as well as the means and procedures for implementation of policy, I certainly cannot see why such study groups, quietly working, will not influence the policy-makers of our government. I would be the first to listen to your recommendations. It is my hope then that you will consider this proposal very seriously.
And this brings me to the subject of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization. Members of the Philippine Military Academy Alumni Association have served as military, advisers, coordinators, and action officers in the military conferences and exercises of SEATO. Young members of PMAAA look forward to serving in the different units of SEATO.
At this point, perhaps the PMAAA would like to ask itself what it has done by way of reviewing the 15-year life of SEATO and its significance upon the security of our country and the treaty area in general.
Because of the threat of communist expansion in this part of the world, eight nations organized SEATO in Manila some 15 years ago.
The flag of the SEATO has waved as a symbol of commitment of its members to defend the values they cherish. It has also stood for the promotion of the economic and social well-being of the peoples of the region.
Probably because of SEATO, the Communists have avoided open armed aggression in Southeast Asia.
To test how determined this flag would fly and how long it would endure, Communist forces closed in on the frontiers of Thailand about seven years ago. You will remember that within 48 hours, combat-ready forces from four SEATO allies were in position in the area. This action proved that SEATO could respond instantly and effectively.
Although it has been severely criticized, SEATO has met the Communist threat in this area and it has prevented this threat from worsening into a more unmanageable form of insurgency.
But this threat, the Communist threat, is a present and clear danger. It is for this reason that, for the moment, we cannot support any move to lower the flag of SEATO and to abolish the organization it stands for.
During my last visit to the SEATO headquarters in Bangkok I said that there was no other organization that could take the place of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization.
I also expressed my firm belief that until the nations of Southeast Asia can get together and organize a machinery for their own defense, it is necessary to maintain the existing alliances that have so far prevented the loss of an inch of soil to those who seek to subvert their respective governments and societies.
The representatives of our nation will sit with their counterparts from SEATO member nations next week to discuss the problems confronting the alliance. They will support all moves for the retention of SEATO. They will support steps that will enhance the effectiveness of SEATO as a shield in this area behind which economic and social development can be carried out unhindered by threats of armed aggression.
They will support initiatives to strengthen the organizational structure of the alliance but they will be prepared to subordinate intricate organizational formalities in favor of practicable measures that will help in the attainment of objectives and benefits for the nations in the treaty area.
They will join in the exploration of avenues that can lead to wider Asian membership in the organization. And they will maintain an open, mind in the search for new defense alliances, perhaps in line with the current sentiment of Asians to seek Asian solutions to Asian problems through regional cooperation.
This was but one of the policy areas on which I wished you had given your recommendations to me at the time when I was meeting with my advisers.
Again, I encourage the PMAAA to carry on its good work. Our country and our people depend upon you for the planning, direction and execution of our security measures while the civilians concentrate their energy on industry and productivity.
However, while the military is supposed to attend to security matters, I repeat, more and more, the military must also participate in the basic activities of development. For, as all authorities are agreed, not only is development the first line of defense of a developing country, it is perhaps the only effective defense against our ideological enemies. So, as I have said in the past, this association, which is identified with the military, certainly must be congratulated for realizing that the military has a role to play in these changing times. Since this association embraces within its fold leaders in the military, as well as leaders in other areas of activity, including the economic, political and social fields it is my hope that your association will continue to work in beneficial partnership with the government. On my part, I have nothing but best wishes for your association and its members.
I have the greatest respect for the graduates of the military academy, as my decisions on matters of promotion and assignments have indicated. I look for guidance from your association in areas where such guidance may be needed. Rest assured that I will listen to your advice and to your recommendations.
Source: National Library
Marcos, F. E. (1978). Presidential speeches (Vol. 2). [Manila : Office of the President of the Philippines].