The next time Sen. Pong Biazon guests on any of your shows, can you kindly ask him the following question?
Some of us who keep blogs or post in their comment threads have been exercised by the vexing role of a professional military in a functioning democracy. I myself tend toward the idea that the chain of command is the military; it is what makes the armed services viable in the first place. At the same time, and from different points of departure, many of us have arrived at the conclusion that, even in the military, conscience is primary.
Some, like myself, understand this primary role in a more limited sense. Only illegal or immoral orders can be the subject of a conscience-bound act of disobedience. (Edwin Lacierda asks a crucial question; I hope I will have time later today, after the many Sunday obligations have been attended to, to give the question the attention it deserves.)
Now Biazon — a former Marine general, the savior of Camp Aguinaldo, and an ex-Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces — has struggled with the tension between the primacy of conscience and the essential role of the chain of command almost his entire life. In his questioning of Marine general Franciso Gudani ("Congratulations, Marine!"), he hinted as much.
At one point, after Gudani told him about his moral dilemma regarding possible election fraud, Biazon recalled an incident in his military career which he said was similar to Gudani’s. A long time ago, in a matter involving smuggling in Cavite, he said, he was asked, either by a superior officer or an influential politician, to look the other way. He said he refused to do so.
I do not remember what he said after that, whether he was relieved of his command or transferred to another post or left to wither on the narrow ladder of military promotion. In fact, Biazon left it pretty much at that. Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile butted in to crack a joke, saying, "This minister was not the one who told you to look away, right?" or words to that same effect. (Which makes me think the incident happened during martial law.)
The question for Biazon: Did he break the chain of command then? If he didn’t, what did he do, in the face of incontrovertible evidence of smuggling and high-level cover-up?
These aren’t facetious questions; I really would like to know how, in that particular incident, the tension between conscience and chain of command was resolved. Perhaps he has answers the "internal audience" of the AFP needs to hear.