“A important legislative reformapproved in the summer [de 2021] by a large parliamentary majority, enshrines the imperative of reinforce joint command structures of the Armed Forces and its operational responsiveness. Having passed a phase of debate and conceptual elaboration, the reform now approved simply has to be implemented with the energythe determination and flexibility that are the hallmark of the Portuguese Armed Forces”.
The words, with implicit determination, are from Prime Minister Antonio Costain September 2021, at the 47th anniversary ceremony of the General Staff of the Armed Forces (EMGFA), about three months after approval, in June of this yearof the laws that had been proposed by the Government and that aim to concentrate more power in the figure of the Chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces (CEMGFA).
But the “energy” requested by Costa for the execution of the law was not fulfilled. The new organic law of the EMGFA was published in January and provided that “the attributions, competences and organization of the internal structure of the EMGFA, the Navy, the Army and the Air Force” were “established by regulatory decree, to be approved within 180 days“, until July, therefore.
The DN knows that the EMGFA has sent its projects on time, but have not yet left the Ministry of National Defense (MDN).
A PSD that, under fire from a wave of former chief generals’ objection against the law, was the only party to vote alongside the PSsays it is “unacceptable”.
Officials without legal competences
questioned the office of Minister Helena Carreirasresponds that said regulatory decrees “have already been submitted to the legislative process by the MDN, awaiting completion of this phase for its publication. While the regulatory diplomas are not published, the rules that currently govern the corresponding matters remain in force, as provided for in the transitional rule included in the aforementioned Decree-Law”.
This impasse has practical consequences and will be bothering senior leaders in the EMGFA and in the Branches.
“All this has a huge impact. Formally there are officers performing duties irregularly, as the new structures are not yet legally approved. Without the decree, the new structures, positions and respective competences cannot be implemented. That is, everything is as before even with the new law passed. Were some new structures were created but without the holders formally having the new Skills. No EMGFA case, for example, the Information, Cyberspace and Space Communication Center was created. There is already the General Officer who leads but has no legal powers assigned. And there are many other examples. Even though the new structures have been activated their bosses have no legal powers assigned“, a Defense source explains to DN.
PSD: “It is unacceptable and is another factor of devaluation of the Armed Forces”
The PSD regrets this blockage to the completion of a reform that has generated so much controversy. Remember, for example, the deep disagreement of all 28 former heads of branches and CEMGFA (with the exception of Valença Pinto), expressed in a public letterwith President Ramalho Eanes at the head.
“Although they were not as ambitious as we would like, the laws approved go in the direction advocated by the PSD, hence their support, obviously on the assumption that the reform was materialized, which objectively is not happening. This delay unfortunately represents an obstacle for the reform to be materialized, for what can only deserve the our censorship“, underlines the Coordinator for Defense of the Social Democrat Parliamentary Group, Jorge Paulo Oliveira.
“Unfortunately, this is a government incapable of meeting deadlines, programs and calendars. It’s in its DNA. Madam Minister of Defense is no exception, this is also his watermark and, like other members of the government, believes that the absolute majority of the PS will give it the necessary support and protection to justify everything and overcome everythingr, even if your delays, as is the case, represent a violation of the rule of law“, criticizes the deputy.
Jorge Paulo Oliveira recognizes that “there were legislative elections in January of this year and that this circumstance caused constraints, but the Government is the same, the matter in question is not new to anyone in the Ministry of Defense and more than three months have passed since the deadline for the publication of regulatory decrees”.
“All this it is unacceptable and it is another factor of devaluation of the Armed Forces in addition to many others practiced by the Ministry of Defence, with the already known harmful results. We hope and demand that the Minister reconnect with legality and do what should already be done. The Armed Forces deserve another attention and another care“, concludes.