“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature”
— Helen Keller
If only these words spoken by the great American author Helen Keller still holds true today, life would be so much simpler and more enjoyable. In reality, security is hardly a superstition; it is something that concerns all of us.
Certainly, we ought to be responsible for our individual security: be it against street crimes or securing our homes. Security per se is much larger than this. It involves both industrial and national security.
But what is the difference between industrial security and national security? When does an event become an industrial security apart from a security situation of national concern?
Industrial vs National Security
“It is industrial security when it involves individual corporations or when it deals with crisis management of the company,” says Col. Manuel Espejo, president of the Federation of Industrial Security Organizations of the Philippines (FISOP). “But at the flick of a finger, this can escalate into a national security concern,” citing the Dos Palmas incident in Palawan. What started seemingly as a simple kidnapping case which fell under the responsibility of the security of Dos Palmas subsequently became a national security issue.
Being assigned in the Armed Forces under Special Operations Department prior to joining the private sector, Col. Espejo has experienced both sides of the fence. He believes that coordination between the private sector and the government agencies is the only way to keep security threats in our country at bay.
As FISOP president for the past nine years, a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy (Class 1966) and a highly decorated officer of the Philippine Air Force, Col. Espejo had a stint as chief of the Aviation Security Command leaving no doubt that he is an authority to discuss security issues.
“My role in FISOP is to coordinate with the other security associations,” he says. “National security is everybody’s responsibility,” he adds. “That’s the reason that all stakeholders should not only think of one’s own corporation, but to think of the welfare of the whole country.”
Schools of Thought
Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Gen. Alexander Yano says there are two schools of thought about national security. “The first views national security as the protection of the country’s people and territories from physical assault. In this sense, national security is equated with national defense, and the threats to a nation’s security are perceived to emanate from outside the country.”
Gen. Yano adds the concept of national security had a broader meaning in the 1950s, when developing countries such as the Philippines had to adjust to the changing winds of domestic affairs and international relations. “In addition to national defense, it (national security) now includes the protection of vital economic and political interests, the loss of which could threaten fundamental values and the vitality of the state itself.
“With this, national security concerns not only the military, but also other departments and agencies.” This is the second school of thought.
Bridging the Gap
Prof. Raymund Jose Quilop, an associate professor of political science at the University of the Philippines, sees the need to bridge the gap between commonly held beliefs about industrial security and national security.
Prof. Quilop, who is also a senior analyst and fellow of the Office of Strategic and Special Studies of the AFP, says that the public dismisses national security as the sole responsibility of the military, sharing the views of Col. Espejo. “National security is a concern of the entire society. This is something we all miss.”
He adds industrial security is a subcomponent of national security and the latter cannot be thoroughly discussed without incorporating the issues of industrial security.
Col. Espejo, who has worked in both the private sector and the government, admits much work remains undone but is pleased with the progress he has seen so far.
“There’s still a lot of work to be done, but slowly FISOP is being recognized by the national law enforcement agencies,” he says. He also views an increasing level of cooperation between the government and proponents of industrial security. “Even the Department of Tourism recognizes the importance of security. It has already commissioned the Association of Security Officers to conduct orientation and seminars about security and tourist protection.” For his part, Gen. Yano, a graduate of PMA Class 1976, exhorts the citizenry to be proactively involved in security.
“Information sharing will contribute to the goals of the AFP in defeating insurgency and preventing terrorist activities, especially in remote areas where some big industries are housed,” he says. “While the military is focused on pursuing the terror groups based on military intelligence, it cannot just barge in all sites based on reports or simple requests for security. This is when industrial security can help.”
The industrial security sector, with its 24/7 coverage to the private clients, may serve as AFP’s eyes and ears in places that it cannot cover all the time. According to Gen. Yano, “The 24/7 set-up can afford security personnel with the capability to detect any irregularities within the company’s premises. Timely reporting and close cooperation with the AFP and other law enforcement agencies can spell the difference in capturing the perpetrators and halting the crimes that affect not only the industries but also our democratic way of living.”
Gen. Yano explains that the AFP basically defines security as having two aspects — physical and psychological — and in the military’s mind; this is the fundamental difference between national security and industrial security.
“With AFP’s task to provide a physically and psychologically secured environment allowing a democratic way of living, military units not only do their best to clear their respective areas of threats or lawless armed groups, but also try to win the hearts of the people living in those areas to support them in tracking the enemies.”
The general says the psychological aspect is what differs the military’s definition of security from the private sector. “The private sector’s main concern is the protection of the business infrastructure, while the military extends its psychological operation to the people living within the areas where infrastructure are built,” he adds. “The AFP believes that a citizenry-backed security is stronger and more proactive than the physical security that the military alone provides.”
In his presentation to the ASIS International – Philippines Chapter Meeting, Prof. Quilop asserts that “national security requires interaction, cooperation, coordination, and collaboration.” In a nutshell, this is known as the IC3 concept.
First, the government and the private sector must interact with each other. Cooperation pertains to dissecting the interaction between the two and agreeing on what needs to be done. Coordination is a step higher and categorizes definite areas where individuals can contribute their efforts. Collaboration is the final and most essential part leading the way for the government and the private sector to collaborate on situations to bring about a fruitful end. While achieving absolute security is a yet dream, the next best thing to do is to identify the biggest threats to security.
For AFP, the enemy is tangible and can be easily identified. “The major threats to national security for the past 10 years,” says Gen. Yano, “are the Communist Terrorist Movement (CTM), the secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and the terrorists Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and Jemaah Islamiyah (JI).
“The AFP internal security operation has, however, significantly degraded the capability of the CTM. Should the downward trend in all its insurgency parameters continue, the threat posed by this group is expected to be significantly reduced to the inconsequential level by 2010. Beyond that, the group may be considered a mere law enforcement problem.”
For Col. Espejo, threats are more abstract and do not come in the form of lawless elements or freedom fighters. He is more concerned about how security is perceived by the stakeholders, and how processes and protocols can be improved.
“First, it is the fact that not everybody realizes that security is everyone’s business. Although there has been an improvement in recent years, we still need to work harder. Second, there is jealousy among law enforcement agencies. Sometimes you will see a turf war, people being territorial. That does not help anyone. Third, there is still lack of orientation on security. Security organizations need to do more to orient the public about safety and protection.”
Need for Reinforcement
Admittedly, the Philippines is still far from an ideal state of security. To make matters worse, the peace and order situation in the different parts of Mindanao has put the country in a bad light.
Col. Espejo says our negative image overseas is merely a product of ignorance. In his view, we are actually better off than other countries.
“I have attended a lot of security conferences abroad. For most foreigners, they think the Philippines is a mere speck in the Pacific Ocean. So when they hear of a bombing in Mindanao, they immediately conclude that the whole country is unsafe. In reality, we are better equipped to deal with security threats compared to other countries.”
The good colonel adds, “But at the end of the day, we are all in this together. While the military takes the lead role in implementing national security, the private sector also beefs up its own security detail—by hiring former military officers to train their security forces.”
“This makes sense. Who is better to teach you about security than those who have made a career of upholding national security?” Col. Espejo is a perfect example. In many ways, he is the most ideal person to make this crossover and pave the way for others to follow his footsteps, of which some already had. For men like him, switching from national to industrial, from government to private, was all part of his personal mission to further strengthen the country’s security by ensuring cooperation among all concerned parties.
Moving to Private Sector
But for Prof. Quilop, when military men make a beeline for the nearest job in the private sector, it could be a sign of lost faith in the government. While acknowledging that “private entities seek protection from former military, police personnel or security management businesses because they see a potential or capacity from them as a result of their previous education, background and experience,” Prof. Quilop believes these former military and police personnel leave the service for three reasons:
First is their dissatisfaction of the system while in service. Second is having better opportunities in the private sector. Third is the lack of responsibility in caring or identifying with the society we live in.
Gen. Yano disputes these reasons. He refused to recognize the increasing occurrences of military men jumping over to the private sector. “This is not the case. It is not an alarming influx towards the private sector. Many would still like to remain. However, there are those who are good who may have some potential to be employed outside the service. If you have no other skills and talents that will qualify you for employment outside, you will be the last one to get out of the organization. We do not look at this as a problem. It is not really a case of increasing numbers. I do not find that phenomenon (accurate), except for the technical field, like the pilots most especially.”
If there are those who leave, the general insists these are mostly personnel in the technical field. “Among our enlisted personnel, these are those with the technical skills. These are the explosive ordnance experts, the signal people, and the mechanics aircraft. So these are mostly the people who may be enticed to get out of the service. But the so-called general purpose personnel, they would rather remain because they have no security outside.” The general was referring primarily to the enlisted personnel and not to the officers who have various reasons for leaving the service.
As the concept of national security evolves with changing geo-politics, economic globalization and industrialization, so does the industrial security landscape. The human element, the core security officers manning the various sectors of industrial security, mostly came from an organization in charge of national security bringing competent knowledge on macro-level security concepts. But are these all to the points of view of industrial security? There are still a lot of issues to tackle between national and industrial security. The point of view of the police on public safety and industrial security is another story.
—By Sid Ventura, with interviews by Lorela Sandoval and Deedee Santa Cruz-Espina. This article appeared on Vol.1 No.1, April 2009 issue.