Recommendations of the Final Report of the Fact-Finding Commission

by the Davide Commission

The Davide Commission was formed, initially in December 1989 by a presidential administrative order (AO 146) and later, by Republic Act No. 6832, to conduct a thorough fact-finding investigation of the failed coup díetat of December 1989 and to recommend measures that would prevent the occurrence of similar attempts in the future.

Headed by Hilario G. Davide, Jr. (now Chief Justice of the Supreme Court), the Commission had as members distinguished personalities from academe and the private sector ó Carolina G. Hernandez, Ricardo J. Romulo, Delfin L. Lazaro and Christian S. Monsod.

The 743-page final report was released 13 years ago and its recommendations are worth poring over again in light of the recent events surrounding the failed mutiny of junior military officers last July 27.

Short-Term prescription:

Since a coup díetat is primarily a military operation which does not depend on mass civilian support for its success, immediate prescriptions should be directed at immobilizing, isolating, and capturing military rebels, both known or covert, before they can plan, recruit, or launch a coup.

Addressing the immediate problem of another coup requires a set of prescriptions that fully recognizes the complex interaction of internal factors and external factors and the different degrees of participation and motive, and hence culpability.

The Commission reiterates its recommendations in Interim Reports No. 1 (system of military justice), and No. 3 (needed legislation), and further recommends:

Administering a justice and rehabilitation program to military participants as follows:

  • Continual trial for those already charged.

  • Speedy process for those under investigation as well as those recommended for prosecution, investigation, or reinvestigation by the Commission.

  • Dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all benefits, in valid instances allowing the attachment of their properties, and punishment to the full extent of the law for those found guilty as principals. Those with lesser offenses should be meted graduated punishment.

  • Strict enforcement of AW 68 for failure to report contacts, solicitations and attempted recruitment to participate in coups.

  • Immediate release of those against whom there is insufficient evidence for prosecution, without prejudice to a reopening of the cases, if warranted.

  • The restoration of the lineal roster of all those already cleared as well as those released for insufficient evidence.

  • An amnesty program for young officers (majors and below) who are not principals and who have exceptional service records, provided they sincerely renounce all coups, pledge not to have any kind of involvement in any recruitment or planning for an coup, and agree to resign from the armed forces. This is without prejudice to their re-commissioning after two to three years without loss of seniority for those who express such intention at the time they apply for amnesty and engage in community and/or public service approved by the government during the "rehabilitation" period.

  • An early retirement program which is available to all but primarily directed at those lagging behind in the promotional ladder for reasons of non-performance, those who believe they are being discriminated upon for being identified with the Marcos-Ver or Enrile groups and those implicated with or suspected to be sympathetic to the rebels but against whom evidence may not be sufficient to prove guilty beyond reasonable doubt. The objective is not to invite the retirement of those officers the AFP wants to retain, but to give reasonable benefits to those who cannot meet the rigid requirements of a smaller officer corps and to provide an exit opportunity to those who believe that their careers have been impaired by their associations. It is the condition of such benefits that they no be found guilty subsequently of any crime against national security and public order. Otherwise, they are liable for the return of all the benefits plus interest.

In the Commissionís view, the amnesty and retirement programs are necessary to allow officers, whose opportunities to allow officers, whose opportunities in the military may be limited, to leave without any stigma. It will also totally purge the AFP of officers vulnerable to using their position to recruit for or participate in a coup, without driving them to desperate behavior for lack of livelihood. The dilemma of the military is how to handle the loyal but dishonest or ineffective officer, or the honest and loyal but ineffective, or the effective and loyal but dishonest. While this is obviously a difficult decision, there is really only one answer if the military is to be restored to an honest, loyal, and effective force. Anyone who does not possess all three qualifications should be removed. But, they should be encouraged and helped to find a useful career in civilian life. By depriving coup-prone officers of an institutional base, the program would reduce considerably the risk of another coup. It would constitute the first stage in the strengthening of a post-insurgency military that is smaller, more professional, and fully modernized. The program would also offer a second chance to young officers genuinely interested in resuming their military careers but who need to be totally expunged of any coup "virus" and to have the cloud over them permanently removed. Finally, the program would answer the military rebelís accusation of selective justice by the government, with the case of former NPA Victor Corpus as well as the amnesty program for NPA insurgents being mentioned as examples.

However, the granting of amnesty should be only one component of a calibrated response and should be judiciously applied. The government should not allow itself to be stampeded into a generalized program to "start with a clean slate", since that argument was used as a ploy in past coup attempts to merely preempt prosecution of incorrigible rebels. It should be emphasized that an amnesty may cure the symptom but not the disease (i.e. injustice, poverty).

a. The strengthening of security measures on those under detention, especially where there may be sympathetic guards, i.e. Muntinlupa.

The government should not forget the escapes of Honasan and Bibit who successfully co-opted or outwitted their guards. Nothing hurts the governmentís image more or frustrates those who made the capture, than to see maximum security suspects escape with ease and impunity.

b. The intensification of efforts to capture key renegade officers with a special unit of trusted officers directly responsible to the CSAFP.

Honasan, Kapunan, Turingan, Batac, Bibit, Purugganan, and other central figures in the coup attempts should be specially targeted for capture. Despite the wide publicity given to the YOU and other military renegades as the potential source of new coups, the rebel cause would be set back considerably by the capture of the RAM-HF leaders. Furthermore, the public perception is that these renegades cannot be captured because they are protected by elements within the military itself. Their capture would be a clear signal that the military is unequivocally committed to enforce the law, as repeatedly stated by the Commander-in-Chief herself after each coup attempt. While several key rebels have been captured, the ability of the core group to elude capture after such tough talk tends to demoralize those who abide by the law and undermines the system of reward and punishment in the larger society itself.

c. A reinvestigation of the "God Save The Queen" plot and prosecution of all those implicated in it.

There appears to be sufficient basis for the military to conduct a formal investigation of the incident, and for the government to cause the prosecution of everyone found to have been involved. The original excuses for not conducting an investigation are not, nor were they ever, valid, i.e., no overt action, the risk of dividing the military, the independent character of the DND security force from the normal chain of command, the hope that those implicated can still be reformed, if not prosecuted. If there is to be a total approach to the problem of coups, it is important to close the book on the incident.

d. A review of the subsequent actuations of those involved in the Manila Hotel incident, both military and civilian, who pledged never to engage in similar adventurism again, if spared from prosecution.

Those who are implicated or suspected with respect to the December 1989 or any other coup attempts and are found to have violated their pledge should also be prosecuted for the Manila Hotel incident.

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