Func­tion of the Armed Forces

Sun Star Bacolod - - Opinion -

THE pic­ture of sol­diers bear­ing long firearms while help­ing traffic en­forcers im­pose road rules brought about many nar­ra­tives.

One is that long firearms in­tended for for­eign threats are be­ing trained on com­pa­tri­ots. Another is that civil­ian traffic en­forcers must have given up on the prob­lem that sol­diers have to boost them. And still another is the thought that any prob­lem that does not have an im­me­di­ate solution would re­quire mil­i­tary in­ter­ven­tion.

But those long firearms should be di­rected at ex­ter­nal threats to the coun­try’s se­cu­rity, not at Filipinos on their way to work, school or home. That is hap­pen­ing now largely be­cause of the grav­ity of the lack of or­der on streets with com­muters and ve­hi­cle own­ers ig­nor­ing traffic rules.

The Armed Forces of the Philip­pines is pri­mar­ily meant to pro­tect the coun­try from ex­ter­nal threats. Sol­diers are bet­ter armed than the po­lice be­cause they are sup­posed to be com­bat-ready to thwart se­cu­rity threats. The func­tion of the Armed Forces is to up­hold sovereignty, sup­port the Con­sti­tu­tion, de­fend Philip­pine ter­ri­tory against all en­e­mies for­eign and do­mes­tic, and ad­vance aims to­ward na­tional se­cu­rity.

Traffic is not di­rectly re­lated to sovereignty and de­fend­ing the coun­try’s ter­ri­tory but one might ar­gue that the re­fusal to obey road rules could be detri­men­tal to our in­de­pen­dence and our free­doms to go about our daily lives with­out loss of pro­duc­tive hours due to traffic.

That is the rea­son lo­cal of­fi­cials and cit­i­zens, bas­ing on on­line com­men­tary, wel­comed the field­ing of sol­diers to help en­sure that peo­ple on the road fol­low rules.

There are those who wel­comed the sight of sol­diers on the roads while there are oth­ers who saw this as a pre­lude to mil­i­tary rule. Those against it feared that mil­i­ta­riza­tion of the roads is not what the Armed Forces is all about and that these sol­diers are best placed in ar­eas where there are se­cu­rity threats.

Oth­ers asked if it does not be­lit­tle the role that the mil­i­tary pro­fes­sion plays in so­ci­ety.

“They are trained to de­fend the coun­try and the Con­sti­tu­tion not to be­come traffic en­forcers. All those years of train­ing and this is how our leader treats them?” This was the ques­tion posed on­line by one iden­ti­fied as Don Bathan Lo­marda. Another com­ment, by Emma Swan, said, “No to that. That is when we lose our free­dom. The mil­i­tary’s job is to pro­tect our coun­try from the out­side world, not in­side.”

Sol­diers on the roads are there to fol­low in­struc­tions from their com­man­ders. They know their func­tions and their pri­mary role in keep­ing our free­doms and, per­haps, our san­ity. What is wor­ri­some is the re­ac­tion of some who fa­vor this unique ar­range­ment that al­lows the Armed Forces to train their guns on the pop­u­lace when their pres­ence is meant to help put or­der on our streets.

Solv­ing road con­ges­tion is not only about im­pos­ing the rules but also about in­fra­struc­ture, plan­ning and pol­icy, and pri­or­i­ties./sun­star Cebu

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