On October 25, 2019, forty-three (43) officers from the AFP, PNP, BJMP and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), and civilian employees from government agencies and the civilian sector are recognized as the latest batch of Warrior Diplomats, graduating from the 17th class of the Strategic Civil-Military Operations Officers’ Online Course (SCMOOOC) at the AFP CMO School.
The closing ceremony of the course held at the Bulwagang Reyes, Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City was graced by the Acting Commander of the Civil Relations Service, Armed Forces of the Philippines (CRSAFP), BRIGADIER GENERAL EDGARD A AREVALO AFP, as the keynote speaker. In his speech, he told the graduates of the course ” Be better, serve better. This graduation is not the end. Your real grades come not from the papers or requirements you have done but from how well you will exemplify what you have learned in your work place.”
During the ceremony, three students: LTC ELMER M BOONGALING INF (GSC) PA, LT ANGELA C TOBIAS PCG and Mr. Rommel Dela Rosa have shared their reflections on how they learned a lot about civil military operations which they can use going back to their respective units to attain a lasting and sustainable peace for the Filipino people. (Read below the narrative of their reflections) All of the students’ efforts of accomplishing coursework online for the past three months, and physically attending and actively participating in the integration phase conducted at the AFP CMO School in the last four days of the course from October 21 to 24, 2019, have been designed to help shape the forty-three (43) strong students as warrior diplomats, soldiers who are specialized in CMO and valued partners in nation-building.
Graduating from the 17th Class of the Course, LTC ELMER M BOONGALING INF (GSC) PA ranked Number One, CPT RESTER JOHN L NONATO JAGS (RES) ranked Number Two, and PCPT ROD KEVIN T TALPLACIDO PNP ranked Number Three. Likewise LTC ELMER M BOONGALING INF (GSC) PA received special studies award in behalf of his group for producing the best in Strategic Communication Snapshots-Group Category. On the other hand, 2LT MARK CYRUSH B CABRAL PAF was given special award for obtaining the highest grade in course requirement on Regional Study.
The AFP CMO School will open the 18th class of the Strategic Civil-Military Operations Officers’ Online Course (SCMOOOC) in the First Quarter of 2020.
Students’ Reflections on the Strategic CMO Officers’ Online Course Class 17-19
LTC ELMER M BOONGALING O-12337 INF (GSC) PA
As this Strategic CMO Officers Online Course comes to a close, I express my sincere thanks to the faculty and staff of the CRS CMO School under the leadership of Ltc Jerome Cabigon for giving us the opportunity to learn from each other, from the online discussions and the practical exercises that we had during the integration phase. He and his staff did a splendid job in running this course. I am certain that we learned many things that will be useful not only for ourselves and our careers but also for our respective units.
I always believe that learning is a continuous process. I enrolled in this course to force myself to read literatures that are relevant to the AFP’s campaign. Out there in the field, especially when conducting combat operations, it is very convenient to just say “I am busy with operations and I do not have the time to read”. We should not stop learning because we are busy or we thought that we are knowledgeable enough. We should always find ways and motivate ourselves to learn some more.
It will be to our advantage to keep ourselves knowledgeable and attune to the campaigns and strategies of the AFP especially that we are in a war against threat groups that continue to evolve. They also analyze, assess, and adjust their plans and strategies with the aim of defeating us. Thus, we need to continuously evaluate our strategies, make adjustments accordingly, and retool ourselves. This CMO course is a big step towards that objective.
As I go through the course and the long list of reading assignments, I also felt the challenge of whether or not I can actually meet submission deadlines of TMAs and discussions. I am not making excuses but my responsibilities
and tasks as a Battalion Commander are challenging enough and the additional tasks for this course add up to the pressure. Majority of my TMAs were done at the Tactical Command Post while directing and monitoring combat operations. And I actually had to answer the comprehensive exam and do the regional study during the Battalion Commanders’ Symposium in Zamboanga.
As a Battalion Commander, I had the chance to test and apply immediately the theories and ideas I learned from the online discussions and interactions that we had. I discuss and share with my staff and subordinate commanders the topics that this course provides. And probably, we are doing the right CMO, complemented with intelligence and operations, because our Battalion area of operation has become relatively peaceful as compared to the previous months. We were able to resolve rido cases, effect the surrender of 14 BIFF rebels, and there was not a single case of harassment on any of our patrol bases although we are situated in a very volatile area, the Salbo-PagatinMamasapano-Shariff Aguak or commonly known as the SPMS box.
I am certain that this course has provided us the knowledge on how we can best apply CMO in our campaign against the various threat groups and challenges that our country is facing. We may have different designations in our respective units but we can always have that CMO lens to look at the issues and challenges that we face. After all, whatever we do, whatever designation we may have, we want to attain lasting and sustainable peace for the Filipino people.
LT ANGELA C TOBIAS PCG
The Strategic CMO Officers; Online Course: a catalyst for my personal healing.
I took up the Strategic CMO Officers; Online Course at a time when I was battling against depression, that even waking up in the morning and reporting for work dreaded me to the core. I felt hopeless. That even thoughts of instant disappearance from the universe crossed my mind.
And then I was informed about this course, my former commander, who was very understanding of my situation encouraged me to take this up and be among the very few coast guard warrior diplomats. At first I was hesitant because I am projected to undergo the command and staff course for my career advancement, but since there was no announcement yet, I decided to join this class. At first I thought the course was very easy because it was how my fellow officers described to me. And so I believed them. However, as Mentor Z popped out in my notification, I started to feel pressured, there were times that I thought of not opening my Facebook account or to deactivate it so that I could no longer see the constant reminders plus the conversations in our Viber group. And then I remember our course director’s message during the opening of the course and her penchant for the very popular hugot lines. In every TMA and Discussion, I just wrote whatever came to my mind, recalling about my previous experiences in the field, engaging virtually with my classmates and mentors while undergoing the very painful process of healing. For the past three months I can say that the TMAs and the Discussions made me forget the personal battle I went through. And then I realized, this is God’s plan for me. He wanted me to get up through this journey so I could help establish the much needed linkages for the Coast Guard Civil Relations Service to Grow.
The course is literally difficult for me since most of the subjects are not commonly discussed in the Coast Guard environment, but with the guidance of the training staff, here I am now, with renewed spirit and with my eyes opened to the peculiarities of Civil Military Operations. I met new friends both from the military and the civilian world with common passion. Learning with them taught me the value of stakeholder engagements, and the powerful impact it can have for peace.
In closing, I would like to thank my husband Petty Officer Second Class June M Tobias PCG for his moral support, to my CRS family and of course, I will be forever grateful to the Armed Forces of the Philippines for continually opening its door to the Philippine Coast Guard. Indeed, it is the #AFPyoucanTRUST. To God be the glory.
Mr. Rommel Dela Rosa
I was born and raised in the conflict affected area in Southern Philippines. There was a time that our village was declared as “no man’s land” and we were advised to leave our village. Then I moved to Central Mindanao to pursue my engineering studies. It was at the height of armed conflict between rebel groups and government forces.
At those early years, I have seen and experienced the effects of conflict – people are displaced, properties are destroyed, people lost livelihood, and worst lost their lives. In addition, relationships between affected communities and the security sector is also challenged. It is for this reason that I stayed in Central Mindanao and joined an international NGO who has programs on peace and development wherein, I can contribute my skills and knowledge. My passion of being a peacebuilder, was mainly attributed to my experiences of being personally affected by conflict in Mindanao.
I worked with former rebels in their reintegration process by providing them skills training and assisted in project proposals for their livelihood to be funded by Government and donors and implemented interventions to manage “clan conflicts” in conflict affected areas. This is were I was exposed to have worked most of the time with the security sector for partnerships – the most challenging one.
Taking this course Strategic CMO Officers; Online Course further honed my skills and understanding of being a warrior diplomat. It is my advocacy in life to reach out to communities that are conflict affected and the security sector and continue to be a mediator and facilitate a platform that will connect people and groups to talk, discuss, agree, and decide on how to co-exist peacefully through partnerships who share common vision for the society. Partnership creates more impact to the community especially if partnership is made through the community itself.
Truly, I am very thankful to the CMO school, for providing the platform to learn, exchange ideas and share experiences with peers/classmates from the security sector and mentors to gain knowledge and skills to be a culturally competent communicator with adherence to human rights, and a socially dynamic and mutual partner in state-building.
Now, to my classmates, today is our graduation, our time-bounded TMAs, time-bounded discussions, time-bounded interactions, time-bounded reactions coupled with word limits – 300 words..500 words..1000 words, name it, has officially ended!
However, this has also triggered the start of our endless discussions, endless interactions, if needed, endless TMAs too. So, classmates, let us continue the connection and bonding, let this be a platform for sharing of learning and experiences as we apply what we have learned together for the past 3 months! If you run out of words to share, just remember the keywords – “ming” “ming” “ming”, somebody will come to the rescue!! Once again, thank you for the opportunity to learn together!