Creating a Vision: Philippine Army Leadership during the Crisis

“Army Leadership is the lifeblood of the Philippine Army.” — PA Leadership Roles Manual

As embodied in the 1987 Constitution, our primary role as the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is to be the protector of the people and the state. Our goal is to secure the sovereignty of the state and the integrity of national territory. We, the Philippine Army, as a major component of the AFP, firmly adhere to this constitutional mandate and are committed to defeat enemies of the nation, fulfill military responsibilities, and support civilian authorities.

We operate under the definition of leadership that was defined by the 2013 AFP Basic Doctrine as the ability to command forces with courage, integrity, and loyalty. As our lifeblood, leadership is the most dynamic and essential element of land combat power because of the personal and physical nature of ground operations.

In the past months, the security environment of the Philippines, particularly in Mindanao, presented a tremendous challenge for us. The threats of terrorism have increased in complexity because of new trends and technology. It is in times like these that the qualities of a leader are scrutinized. Our leaders were well-schooled in the latest advances in
keeping with the times, broad minded, analytical, perceptive, decisive, encouraging, inspiring, mindful of the opinion of others, selfless, fearless, and the unifying force for others.

Leadership as a Process

Leadership is the art of influencing people by providing purpose, direction, and motivation to accomplish a mission and improve the organization. In this chapter we will be focusing on what ways can Army leadership be effective while relating it to the leadership skills of our leaders during the Marawi crisis. Going through the above mentioned definition of leadership, we focus on the keywords given: Influencing, Purpose, Direction, Motivation, and Improving the organization.


According to Cpt Jiro Poblacion, Special Forces Combat Qualifying Course (SFCQC – Airborne), leadership is the art of influencing our troops towards the accomplishment of a mission while maintaining their high degree of motivation and morale. Influencing is not just to make people act – but it is to give them the right push in doing what is required.

Just giving out orders is not as persuasive nor totally influencing, however, meaningful words that overflow with passion and care toward one’s subordinates greatly influence them to do what is needed. For Cpt Poblacion, constantly communicating with his unit, giving time to get to know them intimately, and listening to their stories, are ways by which he was able to be an effective leader.

According to Lt Col Ramon Flores, Commander, 63rd Infantry Battalion (63IB), 8th Infantry Division (8ID), “Marawi has been won by ordinary soldiers doing extraordinary deeds.” Since he was transferred from Sulu to a new combat environment, Lt Col Flores had mixed emotions about this challenging task. His leadership style boosted the morale of his troops. He used this new opportunity as a chance to serve the country when he was needed.

For BGen Corleto Vinluan Jr, Commander, Joint Task Group Vector/Joint Special Operations Group (JSOG), it was really important for leaders to boost the morale of all our troops. He did this through constant dialogue and a meaningful exchange of ideas, words of encouragement, and show of support. He reminded them that the mission was important, yet their welfare was also important to him.


Leaders should provide a clear purpose for their followers. Morale dwindles when our troops lose sight of the purpose of what they are supposed to do. It is essential to repeatedly remind our soldiers and even ourselves of the vision of the Philippine Army as an organization, as well as the purpose behind the mission. BGen Vinluan, Lt Col Flores, and Cpt Poblacion exemplified leadership by talking and listening to their men, sharing the purpose of their mission, and explaining to them that each and everyone of them had a role to play which was deemed important.


Providing direction lays down the steps on how the mission should be accomplished. This can be done when we prioritize tasks, assign responsibilities for completion, and make sure that the troops understand our plan, so that they execute the appropriate actions that will ensure the mission’s accomplishment. Cpt Poblacion’s approach was a welcome sight. His students from the (SFCQC) were not alienated from the war effort. They were made to feel that they had a role to play in liberating the City of Marawi.


In long battles such as the Marawi crisis, it is crucial for us to keep our troops motivated. Motivation is the will and initiative to do what is necessary to accomplish a mission. It is influenced by others’ deeds, actions, and words. BGen Vinluan did this by making sure that at least one company was resting from time to time. Cpt Poblacion did this by lobbying for Rest and Recreation (RNR) of his students. Lt Col Flores retrained right inside the MBA the men and women of the battalion that he inherited and gave them the confidence to fight by leading them from the front.

Improving the Organization

To better ourselves in order to prepare for the future means that we have to capture and act on important lessons learned from ongoing and completed missions. The three exemplified leaders agree that from the lessons learned during the Marawi crisis we can improve our organization.

The Keys to Effective Leadership of Army Leaders in Marawi Crisis

An effective leader is said to be: 1) professional and accountable; 2) capable; 3) empowered, 4) people-oriented; and 5) ethical and responsible. In this section, we will briefly define these principles of leadership and connect it with our data from the experiences of Lt Col Flores, BGen Vinluan, and Cpt Poblacion.

A Leader is Professional and Accountable

For BGen Vinluan, Lt Col Flores, and Cpt Poblacion, accepting an individual as a person unique in his or her own right and believing that that individual can develop fully within the context of a united effort facilitates professionalism and accountability.

A Leader is Capable

These three leaders showed varying degrees of abilities to lead all throughout the crisis.

A Leader is Empowering

An effective leader empowers by having faith and confidence in the abilities of his or her subordinates.

For BGen Vinluan, whenever he and his staff would plan, he makes sure that his staff would participate and present courses of actions. These ideas and suggestions, are then considered and assessed as to whether the formulated plan is feasible or not. He would then decide on which is the plan A or B. However, he would leave the detailed planning and the execution to his staff in order to train and enable them to make decisions.

For Lt Col Flores, every commander should be a morale booster. His “never give up” attitude enables his team to view each challenge as an opportunity, considering that every decision a commander makes, is crucial. As an empowered leader, he is passionate with the way he does things and leads from the front. He wants his troops to believe in each other’s ability.

For Cpt Poblacion, he pushes his students to their limits and harnesses the best of their abilities during their time in the MBA.

A Leader is People-Oriented and Transparent

A true leader is a person for others. One that puts the morale and welfare of the unit before his or her own interest.

A Leader is Ethical and Responsible

A leader’s decision has a significant impact on the organization, one’s subordinates, and the accomplishment of one’s mission. Each decision therefore, must be carefully scrutinized and reflective of ethical considerations.

This entry is part of Book 1: Leading from the Heart.)

Click here to to go back to Book 1 Contents.