3.1 Pursuit of Excellence
A soldier powered by the pursuit of excellence is not readily seen, for the soldier operates in silence though he carries the organization with him. Within each soldier, there lies the competence necessary to attain outstanding performance in any place. He has full knowledge of his job he has proficiency in training, in combat requirements, in peacekeeping, and in the implementation of national policies for development. He has the unparalleled wealth of combat experience within the context of a dynamic security environment. Hence, pursuit of excellence is seen in the utmost efficiency and maximum use of the soldier's abilities with the prudent use of resources available to him. It is a continuing goal that, when achieved in any endeavor, reaps the full confidence, morale, esprit-de-corps, and pride that the soldier carries as the symbol of the military spirit. Historically, even when reduced to the barest of fighting paraphernalia, the pursuit of excellence remained constant such as when the guerillas were recognized for their best weapons: "silence, invisibility, and speed". In more recent times, the elite unit of the then Scout Rangers was organized to perform dual roles in tactical intelligence and combat, recognizing that it was within the individual soldier's capability to be supreme in his field:
"(General) Ileto geared this concept on the fact that the best weapon in the unit is the individual himself, thus aiming to develop that individual to be the most potent weapon. Besides the actual encounters, Ileto considers this a major accomplishment: the creation in the enemy's mind that there exists a unit that can penetrate the Jungle, the enemy territory."
And as one continually strives to perfect his craft and achieve his mission, the soldier becomes more confident in his mission and his uniform assumes a whole new significance.
3.2 Pride in Uniform
In any legitimate army of any sovereign country, the military uniform reflects one's pride in being the guardian of his country. Each soldier carries the Army on his shoulders, projecting an image of strength and more suggestively, the core values for which the Army stands. He also projects humility in such strength and invites reliance by his fellow countrymen on the Army symbolized by his uniform. The manner of wearing the uniform is therefore a manifestation of the state of the Army. It reflects not only the personality and character of the individual soldier but also that of the whole organization. It is the responsibility of the soldier to take extra care and use of his uniform and all insignias he carries on them, for it is in this simple ritual that the soldier is set apart from the rest. Embedded in the uniform is the extraordinary patriotism and dedication that begets respect and admiration from the people he serves.
The uniform is proudly worn with the seal of the Philippine Army that has captured the essence of the Filipino soldier forged through the crucible of history:
"The present Army insigne contains the historical events descriptive of the Philippine Army. It is symbolic of the glory and aspirations that remain a glow in the Filipino soldier's heart to preserve liberty, freedom and democracy in his country. Present Army patch is basically that of a modified pentagonal shield, which signifies defense, the Army's primary and ultimate mission. As an instrument of defense, it also strives to destroy internal threats mid subversion. It also depicts the determination of the Filipino people in seeking his identity as a Nation. Within the shield is a red equilateral triangle with three stars at its vertices, representing the three major island groupings Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. At the center of the triangle is an eight-rayed sun, which represents the first eight provinces that revolted against Spain. This triangular emblem, with a white border signifying the Army's foremost preoccupation with peace, is the historic coat-of-arms of an ancient Filipino script representing the letter "K", which stands for the Katipunan Army raised by Andres Bonifacio in the initial struggles for Philippine Independence. It rests on a shield of green, symbolic of the verdant land over which it exerts its influence. The shield and the coat-of-arms in turn, lie on a white field symbolic of the purity and loftiness of the Filipino ideals." (The First 100 Years, Philippine Army, 1997)
The uniform is also the symbol of integrity and discipline in the service; thus, any damage deliberately done thereto or any soldier appearing in civilian clothing without authority, or appearing in unclean uniform, or not in the prescribed uniform, or in uniform but worn otherwise than in the prescribed manner constitute serious misconduct warranting punishment of equal severity, if only to reinforce the importance of the profession and the steadfast commitment required of it. This commitment is also an unconditional acceptance of the discipline that accompanies the immense responsibility for one bearing arms.
A soldier is a model of self-discipline. As he follows the disciplined path, he generates the same quality of discipline from those he walks with. In this manner, disciplined governance from the Chain of Command is correspondingly achieved especially since a Philippine Army soldier performs excellently under the tutelage of an excellent commander. The soldier and ultimately the Philippine Army's energy come from this unity of disciplined purpose. Thus, the Philippine Army operates in a uniform and collective manner, requiring a continuous regimen of training, practice, self-responsible conduct, and complete obedience to authority. Good discipline conquers fear and the best discipline, which is self-discipline, conquers all. This means continuing the fight even when alone and to the last man; staying alert when all others are asleep; and keeping to the objective when all else seems lost. This is more than being fierce in battle; it is being true to the noble warrior spirit in all of us.
Discipline is equally vital to preservation of life as much as to the success of military operations, and demands unconditional compliance as its foremost aspect. It requires that each person in authority must be able to enforce it when necessary and the follower must, in turn, be confident in following the orders for battle. Discipline may be rigorous but history has shown that fairness and equality in its application has and will continue to work in war as well as in peace. And, it is rigorous training enforced with discipline that kicks in when theory is tested in actual combat:
"This is the only firefight I've ever been, none of us had experienced it before but when the battle started, the training just took over." (Corporal, Sierra Leone, September 2000)
Each disciplined soldier generates pride from the people he is protecting. Many challenges have been resolved with the mere presence of a disciplined array of soldiers with characteristic military bearing, ready at a moment's notice to respond to a command from one of equal bearing. It is discipline that is the bedrock of the military profession just as professionalism enhances and projects the discipline required to carry out the soldier's mission.
Professionalism in the military career stands for commitment, knowledge, and skills and is better expressed in one's attention to duty with the required discipline and competence. Each soldier is guided by standards of military professionalism that embody the core values of the Philippine Army and more particularly spelled out in issuances of the AFP, and the various branches of government. Professionalism comes from the soldier's pursuit of excellence; his disciplined performance as to When, Where and How; the recognition of individual merit; humility where respect is earned and not coveted; and most of all, humor in being human and in keeping one's feet on the ground. This prescription comes from a battle-hardened general who rose through the ranks and consistently believes that military professionalism can only pave the way for peace rather than insurgency, and stability rather than conflict in the country.
Professionalism in the soldier gives rise to impartiality, objectivity, and non-partisanship that is necessary to support common goals for the welfare of the population. It stresses reliance on competence and ability rather than personality. Professionalism and uniformity in the military does not breed anonymity that allows the soldier to get lost in the crowd, but instead fosters the correct perception of the uniqueness of the soldier's mission. The professional soldier is recognized as fully equipped to handle threats to the country's security and stability and to be relied upon for nation building, whether in war or in peace. It is this recognition that spells the difference between civilian support and rejection of any military initiative.
3.5 Adherence to Law
The Armed Forces of the Philippines is an organization that operates pursuant to the policy direction of the National Command Authority. As a field of service of the AFP, the Philippine Army and each soldier is committed to follow orders that are pursuant to such national policy. Each soldier therefore does not individually determine how policies of the government will be carried out, for it is the military leadership in the chain of command that takes responsibility for this. Moreover, members of the Philippine Army are both citizens and military personnel; hence all soldiers are subject to the same law shall uphold the same as part of their duty of service to the Country. The Constitution, the Articles of War, the various coded laws, the law on Ethical Standard and Public Accountability, and all other general special laws are to be followed as the minimum standard of conduct expected of a military man.
In case of conflict, the higher military standard of conduct, required under the same set of circumstances in either system, is always paramount. Likewise, in the absence of an order or lack of knowledge on how a member of the military shall act in unfamiliar situations, or in non-traditional roles, or even in the absence of an order, the value system and the standard of conduct contained herein is to be consistently followed.
The supremacy of civilian authority places the burden of responsibility for such policy on the civil government, implemented only by the military upon being appropriately handed down through the chain of command. The dilemma facing the Philippine army soldier will occur only if the directive handed down through the chain of command is patently irreconcilable with the convictions of the soldier tasked with carrying out the order, such as when military personnel refused to fire on friendly and unarmed civilians who surrounded them at EDSA in 1986. In this situation, the propriety of following orders was no longer the issue in the face of the preservation of civilian life for a rightful cause that had become paramount. Military doctrine recognizes this reality in its basic doctrine:
"While the military fights wars, it is done so only as an instrument of public policy which the government initiates. While war is primarily an instrument of violence, it is subject to limitations as to means, objective, and conduct." (AFP Basic Doctrine)
3.6 Deference To Authority
Authority refers to those with the right and responsibility to carry out functions that affect an entire group. Within the military, authority is evident in the chain of command, starting with the non-commissioned officer in the most vital role as implementor, and the succession of Commanding Officers before him through which commands are progressively issued and implemented at each level of the hierarchy. Persons in position of authority within the military are entrusted with carrying out the military operational imperative and discipline ensures this is followed. This should not be confused with civil authority, which provides the policies to be implemented by the Army as a whole organization. Military authority is inherent in its position as well as earned. It is recognition of a soldier's right to command within his level of the military organization. It is also a factor of solidarity for when one leads with distinction, his success carries all of his men. Military ceremonies, traditions, customs and practices honor the chain of command and show the best side of discipline exhibited by the soldier.
Deference to civil authority is likewise required of the soldier as a function of his responsibility, for it is his response that can either influence the outcome of a critical situation or even determine the stability of the authority in power. In this respect a soldier, despite being confined by the bounds of his mission, can rely on civilian authority to the extent that life is preserved and the goal is achieved. While instances may arise wherein such deference may result in unwarranted results, a professional soldier acting in accordance with the Philippine Army's core philosophy can and will be able to carry the responsibility for decision made in the course of duty and as required by circumstances. It is his professionalism that will be his protection and his guide for action. By being true to himself and to the people he serves, the soldier can thus face the conflict of ideas and actions that normally characterize daily life, for his mission is lofty yet simple, profound and yet workable in the daily crucible of life.
Copyright © 2005. Philippine Army