Army commander sacked for criticizing military leadership
- Jaime Laude () - June 11, 2005 - 12:00am
An Army officer identified with a right-wing military group that spearheaded the ouster of former president Ferdinand Marcos during a civilian-backed military revolt in 1986 was relieved yesterday for his vocal criticism of the military leadership.

Col. Ricardo Morales was relieved as commander of the Philippine Army (PA) 404th Brigade based in Eastern Mindanao (Mawab District, Davao del Norte). Morales is now on floating status. He belongs to the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class ’77.

Morales’ relief was announced yesterday by Armed Forces chief of directorial staff Lt. Gen. Edilberto Adan, in a "farewell lunch" with the media hosted by AFP chief Gen. Efren Abu.

"Based on investigation and upon the recommendation of the commanding general (of the) Philippine Army and the chief of staff, the AFP has approved the relief of Col. Ricardo Morales, PA, as commanding officer of the 404th Infantry Brigade," Adan said.

Morales’ relief stemmed from a recent e-mail message he sent to his fellow cavaliers urging them to act now in order to save the society: "The time has come for all good men to come to the aid of their society. The time for talking is over; the time for action is now."

In his e-mail message, Morales questioned the wisdom of the top military leadership, singling out AFP Central Command chief Marine Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Teodosio for the construction of a 60-room Boracay resort: "How can the 60-room resort in Boracay improve the AFP’s capability to fight? Who determined this priority? We have hospitals without medicine and they spend money for this resort?"

Camp Aguinaldo said the Boracay project was a brainchild of Teodosio, not Abu, as had been earlier reported. The construction began shortly after Abu assumed his post as AFP chief in October last year.

Teodosio said the military did not spend any of its allocated budget for the construction of the resort, where soldiers and their dependents would be allowed to stay for rest and recreation. He said the construction of the resort was funded through donations.

"That the top leaders in the AFP, especially the Marine officer (Teodosio) who commands (the) Army divisions, allowed this shows their insensitivity to the needs and suffering of the men in the field," Morales said.

Writing in Filipino, Morales posited the following questions: "How did they become leaders of the AFP? Is stupidity the criteria for selection, or do they feign stupidity as the stars increase (on their shoulder boards)?" Teodosio was promoted to a three-star rank last year.

"The next ‘coup’ will be peaceful and open," Morales said in his electronic missive. "Enough of leaders who talk about reforms but do not understand what they are saying. Enough of this organizational stupidity."

A military source said Abu ordered Morales’ relief because of his pronouncements. "He has asked (Army chief Lt. Gen. Generoso) Senga to relieve him because of the message," the AFP official said.
Not Coup-Mongering
Morales, for his part, said that whatever opinion he may have given regarding the priorities of the current leadership of the AFP is purely an internal matter and not part of a destabilization plot.

"I am sorry to disappoint all those coup enthusiasts. This is an entirely internal matter within the AFP," Morales said. "It has nothing to do with any destabilization plot."

He sent the e-mails to the on-line communities of the PMA alumni, particularly a Yahoo! e-group of PMA alumni. However, Morales was quick to point out whoever used his comment in the e-mail group did not have his consent: "They did not have my permission at all. It was just that I’m the only one quoted, but of course, I am not the only one saying it within the AFP," he said. — With Edith Regalado

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