National Security As A Community’s Responsibility
BY: Nick Torre III • Jul 17, 2019
Last Independence Day Celebration, I was asked by the Provincial Government of Samar to give a short message during the flag raising ceremony. I chose the topic about national security because I saw the cross section of society in attendance: government workers, private citizens, children, laborers, office personnel, businessmen, students, and most especially teachers. I found the perfect opportunity to re-echo a very important concept that I believe all Filipinos should understand.
National security is defined by the National Security Council as a situation and/or environment where the nation’s fundamental values and the way of life of Filipinos, its institutions, and its socio-political interests are protected and enhanced. I first heard the lecture of this concept in 1997 when I took up my basic intelligence course. The concept further enumerated that there are seven elements that comprise national security, to wit:
- Moral and Spiritual Consensus
- Cultural Cohesiveness
- Economic Solidarity
- Socio-Political Stability
- Environmental Protection or National Patrimony
- Territorial Integrity
- International Harmony
These seven are often collectively illustrated as a triangle with the apex occupied by the first element and the base the seventh. This is so because of the seven elements, the primus inter pares is the first element. It requires that for a country to achieve national security, the people must have an agreement on the most basic fundamentals of a nation such as who they are as a people, their aspirations, and their agreed methods in achieving these aspirations. As such, there is a need for an enlightened leadership if a country aspires for national security. It is this leadership that crafts the national vision and purpose from which everyone can align and derive their individual strategies, be it at the personal or organizational level.
For the second element, my favorite illustration is the life experience I have in college. I recall that there are popular beliefs such as that Ilocanos are often at odds with the Visayans. The Kapampangans are branded as ‘dugong aso’. The Batanguenos are promdi. The Bacolodnons are good at football. The stereotyping goes on and on. All these beliefs are partly fueled by ethnic or regional pride. Some LGUs actually promote it but if not moderated, may weaken the Filipino society as a whole as this, instead of promoting unity, may actually fuel divisiveness. The Philippines is composed of 7,100 islands with more than 100 distinct languages. Filipinos will always speak diverse languages and believe in as many traditions. But instead of this being a source of friction, it would be worth pondering if this condition can be used as an opportunity to bring the best out of the Filipinos by drawing from its diversity and using this diversity to summon national unity.
The third element postulates that for a country to have national security, every individual must have a stake at the economy of the country. As such, the government and the public alike are one in driving the wheels of the economy. The public-private partnership in major infrastructure projects is one illustration of this element. Likewise, the privatization of traditionally state run businesses such as water and electric utilities is another example. At the ground level, the promotion of small to medium scale industries is an example.
Socio political stability requires that the three branches of the government—executive, legislative, and the judiciary—are functioning and providing check and balance with each other. Likewise, the fourth estate, which is the media, needs to be free and independent that can act as a court of last resort in case of excesses or collusion of the three other branches.
Environmental protection or national patrimony is the element that stresses on continuity of the heritage of the society including its natural resources. For how can our children live in a country whose forest cover are all gone and people are killing each other for drinking water? National patrimony then mandates that the current generation consider the effects of their decisions on future generations. With this element, understating the national security implications of the decisions on logging, mining, and water usage is easier.
The last two elements, territorial integrity and international harmony are the two elements that fall primarily in the responsibility of the state armed forces or uniformed service.
I chose this topic because thinking about it more deeply, while national security is often equated with the police and the military, the first five elements are obviously not a military nor police responsibility. The five must be taught in schools and most especially in the basic unit of our society, the home. Failing to inculcate this to young Filipinos will result in old Filipinos who have no sense of direction and purpose and attachment to the Philippine society.
Now is it still a wonder that some few years back, we read in the newspapers that a survey showed that one of every three Filipinos wanted to leave the country and resettle elsewhere if given the chance?