Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Bangit Dilemma: Honor first

Okey, once and for all, let's talk about this dilemma over whether General Delfin Bangit stays on as Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) or not. Is Enrile correct in interpreting Bangit's non-confirmation as sign for him to immediately vacate his post?

Was it just Bangit's rank as 4-star general that was clearly by-passed by the Commission on Appointments when it ended its session last Monday? Let us read Article VII, Section 16, which says, and I quote:

"The President shall nominate and, with the consent of the Commission on Appointments, appoint the heads of the executive departments, ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, or officers of the armed forces from the rank or colonel or naval captain, and other officers whose appointments are vested in him in this constitution."

He shall also appoint all other officers of the Government whose appointments are not otherwise provided for by the law, and those whom he may be authorized by law to appoint. The Congress may, by law, vest the appointment of other officers lower in rank in the President alone, in the courts, or in the heads of departments, agencies, commissions, or boards."

It is clear from the above provision that the scope of which the CA is involved in, concerns all presidential appointments including " officers of the armed forces". This provision actually says that the scope of review that the CA has the duty of doing involves not just those officers who were promoted to newer ranks, it involves appointments to positions particularly those made by the president.  Now, when a particular appointee is bypassed, in this case, Bangit who was appointed as AFP C-S last March 9, does it mean that it was only his rank that was bypassed, not his appointment.


It is very clear in the provisions of the charter that the Commission on Appointments has the power to review and affirm the appointments of the President and has the power to either affirm or perpetually bypass those appointments.

Bangit's appointment that was being reviewed by the CA before it ended its session, was clearly that of him being an AFP Chief of Staff. His 4-star rank appointment was just incidental to his appointment as Chief of Staff.

Okey. So, that's clear. What about the call for his immediate resignation?

Let us continue what the Constitution says when the CA bypasses a particular appointment. Bangit's appointment falls on those made "during the recess of Congress" and therefore, effective only until disapproved by the CA. In this case, it was clearly disapproved.

"The President shall have the power to make appointments during the recess of Congress, whether voluntary or compulsory, but such appointments shall be effective only until disapproval by the Commission on Appointments or until the next adjournment of the Congress."

Now, would it suffice to say that he, Bangit, should tender his resignation immediately as Chief of Staff? No.

Under the rules, Bangit should not resign until a competent authority orders him to vacate his position. If he does so, Bangit will be charged with dereliction of duty, even abandonment of post/duty under Article 58 of the Articles of War.

To resolve the Bangit dilemma,the incoming president would have to appoint a New Chief of Staff before June 30, to replace Bangit. Bangit cannot just resign his post just because he was bypassed by the CA, no.

A civilian authority must ask him to vacate the post, in this case, the President being the Commander-in-Chief. Fact is, it would now be easier for president-elect Noynoy Aquino to replace Bangit since his appointment as Chief of Staff was bypassed by the CA.

The Core of the Issue

Now, what would be the implications if Aquino removes Bangit from the Chief of Staff position? Would it affect the morale of the soldiers? Would it politicize the institution? Were the officers bypassed by the CA now unify behind Bangit's call, austensibly because they felt demoralized?

No. Fact is, it is the Bangit's camp that is now politicizing the issue. 

Look at these "veiled" threats being made by the Bangit camp against the civilian authority. In his statement yesterday, Bangit claims that the issue is not about him, but about the institution.

“I have contemplated on availing (myself) of early retirement but decided to fight not for myself but for the entire military as an institution,” Bangit said, adding that he was sorry to learn that some senior officers might also have been bypassed by the CA because of their closeness to him.

“It seems that because of me, the Armed Forces is being dragged into politics. Several of our officers, some officers who needed the confirmation of their rank, have been denied the privilege just because I am one of them,” he said.

This is no longer just about General Bangit whom they doubt despite contrary evidence. This has been about the Armed Forces of the Philippines. This has been about our politicians who do not understand what the Armed Forces is all about, politicians who disregarded the military systems that we have worked hard to put and strengthen for the good of the institution and for the stability of this country,” he said.

This is a blatant and outright LIE. This issue is not about the Armed Forces of the Philippines as an institution, no. This is about the injustices committed by a very abusive civilian authority which treated the institution as a private army and appointed several ass lickers to sensitive posts as booty for their loyalty to the person, not the People.

Bangit claims to have worked so hard for the professionalization of the ranks, that, again, is a lie. If he really worked for the professionalization of the institution, then, why did he accept the Chief of Staff post, knowing full well, that his appointment violates the time-honored and unwritten succession policy of the AFP. If he is really a gentleman and an officer committed to the Constitution, then, Bangit should have refused the appointment and instead, advised or proposed to Mrs. Arroyo to appoint more senior members of the AFP instead of him.
Admit it---the reason why many soldiers are in low morale is the politicization made by the Arroyo administration in the institution. Bangit's appointment bypassed senior ranks, including those of PMA Classes 1977 and 1976. There are still many officers more senior than Bangit who deserves the Chief of Staff post but were denied the opportunity precisely because of Bangit's closeness with the former president, Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. 

Bangit's appointment was the cause of demoralization, not just among the ranks but even of senior officers. Fact is, his ascension as AFP C-S further caused unjust appointments within the institution.

If Aquino chooses to replace Bangit, he will do so to CORRECT THE PREVIOUS INJUSTICE wrought by the Arroyo administration to the officers of the institution.

Bangit is not the institution. He is merely a member of it.

Bangit should take it like a man, and possibly plan out an honorable exit. He did it upon himself, playing politics with politicians and now that he lost his powerful backer, he is now trying to drag the entire institution down with him.

Sir, let me ask you a question--who played fiddle with politicos first? Was it the soldiers? No. It was you and your predecessor, General Hermogenes Esperon who institutionalized politics in the AFP. Who took part in the Hello Garci operations?

One advise to General Delfin Bangit--he should probably recommend a replacement, possibly belonging to PMA Class 1977. That will be an honorable way out.