Senator Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday urged the Department of National Defense (DND) to study a proposal that seeks to restructure the Armed Forces of the Philippines in the hopes of increasing the Philippine’s maritime defense.
The senator said that this may be worth exploring due to China’s continuous presence in the West Philippine Sea.
“Our armed forces primarily consist of land forces. While we still do have internal security threats on land, I think there is no harm in studying how we can better equip our maritime forces, especially since China is not leaving our waters. Lumalaki at dumadami ang banta na dala ng Tsina sa ating mga karagatan, kaya’t dapat maging handa tayo sa magiging implikasyon nito sa ating kinabukasan,” Hontiveros said.
Hontiveros cited Dr. Clarita Carlos, University of the Philippines professor and former National Defense College of the Philippines President, who said that our current armed forces is configured for a continental country rather than an archipelagic one.
Carlos proposed to alter the structure of the AFP to serve our national interests in the maritime domain, especially that the current AFP consists of 71% Army, 18% Navy (of which nearly half are Marines), and 11% Air Force.
“Our Philippine Marine Corps is getting a meager allocation for its equipment. Sa panahong walang tigil ang Tsina sa pagpwesto ng kanilang mga barko, pagtayo ng mga militarisadong isla, at pagtaboy sa sarili nating mga mangingisda, hindi pwedeng wala tayong panangga. Ilang beses na tayo naghain ng diplomatic protest pero hindi tayo pinapakinggan. A stronger maritime defense force sends China a clear message: we will not back down,” Hontiveros said.
When around 220 Chinese vessels were spotted in Julian Felipe Reef in March, DND chief Delfin Lorenzana vowed to increase vessels of the Philippine Navy and the Philippine Coast Guard in the WPS.
Hontiveros said she fully supported Lorenzana’s call, adding that she hopes the defense chief can now also consider assessing the proposed restructure that can further support our marine forces. The senator added that the DND’s long term strategic development plan should squarely address our China problem.
“China is a massive threat to our country. Let’s not deny that. Our national security, national interest, and national dignity are all at stake. Sa buong kasaysayan, ang pinakamalaking banta sa anumang bansa ay ang banta ng dayuhang mananakop. Ngayong linggo na ipinagdiriwang natin ang Araw ng Kalayaan ng Pilipinas, sana ang sakripisyo at giting ng ating mga ninuno ay magbigay inspirasyon sa ating lahat, opisyal man o mamamayan, para tunay na ipaglaban ang Pilipinas,” Hontiveros concluded. SENATE.GOV.PH