The sacking of the NSA and the takeover by the generals




The Manila Times


JUST recently, one of the more qualified Cabinet members was sacked by the President. Speculations are rife as to what triggered this singular act: from appeasing the restive military in the wake of the Duterte law that fixed the tenure of senior generals to the call for courtesy resignations from 953 PNP officials, to the recent demise of Joma Sison, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder, and the need to expiate the Dutertes, particularly Sara who had her eye on the defense portfolio and therefore in lieu of it, the reinstatement of the Duterte generals — all fueled by “Marites” and conspiracy theories. But those who appreciate the workings of this government and Malacañang politics know better. For the military mindset overarching the country’s security, defense and foreign affairs, and more importantly the Philippine patriarchal social system where men hold positions of dominance, Clarita Carlos is simply an outsider. And she’s a strong woman, complicated further by a quick and smart mouth attached to a sharp mind, period! Such combinations are anathema to the machismos encircling BBM. Women broke the glass ceiling in a couple of departments. Not at the National Security Council (NSC). That’s military turf. The NSC Carlos, the only woman to head the NSC, advised the President on security and foreign policy issues. It is a collegial body chaired by BBM himself, with other Cabinet members, congressmen, including those invited by the President as members. Carlos as the director-general headed the secretariat providing technical support to the council proper. The members fancy themselves as alter egos of BBM, which in essence they are, except with bloated appreciation of their own. It is unfortunate that national security, protection of the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are deemed exclusive proprietary tasks of the military. Carlos’ impeccable qualifications include a stint as president of the Philippine National Defense College, where many of these generals, admirals and colonels pass through as her students, perforce creating for her a wide network. But a stronger adhesive binds these senior uniformed men forged in the fields of the Philippine Military Academy. Carlos is simply not one of the boys. Thus, from the very start, she was the interloper. With her enthusiasm and academic joie de vivre she hit the ground running. An independent woman of modest means and bred for 56 years in the jaded halls of the academe, she was a tyro to the arcana of political bureaucratic life with still unsharpened political talons required for the rough and tumble world of real-politique. It did not help her cause that even before warming her seat at the NSC, she dove right into controversy at the National Task Force to end Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTFElcac), the Duterte anti-communist creation. Although Carlos was right in urging the NTF-Elcac to desist from”red-tagging” as that militaristic approach to counterinsurgency “never works” — this was a big no-no! Her earlier off-the-cuff pronouncements redefining security to include, food, environment and incongruously “bamboo-planting,” enthusiastically egged on by allies in social media, were seen as an attempt to expand her turf encroaching into other line departments’ concerns. This fueled suspicions that Carlos was transplanting her perceived UP leftistliberal mindset to the clearly rightist environment of the NSC. Then the knives came out. In mid-July, a letter written by NSC employees was sent to the President containing a menu of grievances: Carlos populating the upper echelon with her former top UP students, bereft of credentials; employing one known in the intelligence community as a Chinese asset and a security risk; Carlos was accused of delegating too much to these acolytes now cloaked with authority and power, upsetting the cultural and collective personality of the organization. But BBM had her back — at least, for now.