President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Friday urged new Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. to make sure the military is prepared for “any contingency.”
“Given your extensive experience in safeguarding peace in conflict-affected areas, I urge you to recalibrate our internal security operations, so that we can deliver public services in geographically isolated and disadvantaged communities,” Marcos said during the turnover ceremony for the new AFP chief at Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.
Marcos expressed confidence that Brawner’s leadership would lead to a safer and more secure nation with rebels returning to the fold of the law and becoming productive citizens.
He also urged the entire AFP to be prepared for “any contingency” as he assured them that the military organization will be modernized.
“At this juncture, allow me to urge you all to work towards an Armed Forces that is agile and prepared for any contingency. As your commander-in-chief, I assure you that this administration is firm in reinforcing this noble pursuit by modernizing the AFP,” he said.
With the efforts to boost the country’s external defense capacity, Marcos asked the military to keep working with government agencies and civilians to form an “archipelagic consciousness” among Filipinos.
“This will help champion our country’s territorial integrity and sovereignty,” he said.
“I have faith that under the supervision of General Brawner, the Armed Forces will continue to ensurethe security of Filipinos and the national sovereignty of the country amid the challenges ahead,” he added.
Brawner replaced General Andres Centino, who will now serve as Presidential Adviser on the West Philippine Sea.
Brawner said he would work on unifying a solid and professional AFP that follows the chain of command as well as integrating former rebels with the mainstream community.
“We have to give special attention to the normalization process in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, particularly in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former fighters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front as stipulated in the Bangsamoro Organic Law,” Brawner said in his speech.
The new AFP chief also noted that modernization will make the AFP a “lethal and competent fighting force capable of defending our territory from external aggression.” He said these efforts would also include cyber warfare. (See full story online at manilastandard.net)
“We shall also actively pursue our international defense and security engagements to strengthen our relations with our allies and partners. We shall actively participate in the United Nations missions to enhance our country’s reputation as a peace-loving nation” Brawner said.
Brawner is a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1989. Before his new designation, he served as the commanding general of the Philippine Army.
Also on Friday, the Department of National Defense (DND) said it is also looking at “non-traditional sources” of weapon systems and platforms to support the ongoing modernization of the AFP.
“We are also looking (at) ‘non-traditional sources’ to fill in the gaps, particularly in technology and other capabilities,” Defense Secretary Gilberto C. Teodoro Jr. said in a press briefing, referring to countries that normally do not supply the Philippines with military equipment. He did not identify these countries, however.
“Rest assured that we are doing our level best day and night trying to fill in the gap(s),” he said, adding that these “gaps” in the first two Horizons or phases of the AFP Modernization Program needed to be addressed immediately to ensure that Horizon 3 would not be “marginalized.”
The military modernization program’s Horizon 3 is slated for 2023 to 2028 while Horizon 2 is from 2018 to 2022 and Horizon 1 is from 2013 to 2018.
All these horizons are geared toward acquiring equipment and weapon platforms that would enable the AFP to carry out its external defense mandate.
Some of the platforms being eyed in these upgrades are the multi-role fighter and diesel-electric submarines.
Teodoro also said the AFP has submitted its “wish list” for Horizon 3 and these are all for beefing up the military’s deterrent capabilities.
On Thursday, the President told the National Security Council (NSC) and the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) that upholding the country’s interest and ensuring Filipinos’ security remains the government’s top priorities.
“We know that you are the silent guardians who protect us against all manner of national threats, the steadfast vanguards who keep our enemies at bay, and the faithful watchers ensuring that we do not veer to disorder and to chaos,” he said during the joint anniversary celebration of the NSC and the NICA at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City.
“With this, let us continue to prepare for the tasks that lie ahead and continue to uphold our national interest and ensure the security of the Filipino public and that should remain at the top of all of our priorities,” Marcos added.
The NSC and the NICA are celebrating their 73rd and 74th founding anniversaries, respectively.
Marcos hailed the two agencies’ “boundless service,” being at the forefront of protecting national security for over seven decades.
Despite this, Marcos acknowledged that the country continues to face pressing issues of national concern, including threats to territorial integrity and sovereignty; terrorism and local communist insurgency; threats in cybersecurity; and dangers of climate change.
Marcos stressed the vital role of the NSC and the NICA in ensuring that the country remains on top of its national security concerns, as well as of other global developments and shifts.
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