The Duterte administration remains focused on protecting the country’s national territory and sovereignty.
This was emphasized by National Security Adviser (NSA) Hermogenes Esperon during the “Tatak ng Pagbabago” Pre-SONA Forum held at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City Wednesday.
Esperon said this is demonstrated by the continuous maritime and air patrols conducted by the military in various parts of the country.
“To ensure maritime domain awareness, the Department of National Defense-Armed Forces of the Philippines (DND-AFP) conducted naval surface patrols to cover more than 180,000 nautical miles of our maritime domain and more than 2,400 flying hours of maritime air patrol,” Esperon stressed.
Augmenting these patrols are the littoral monitoring stations, installed in various parts of the country, which help in the detection and monitoring of more than 66,000 foreign and domestic vessels in Philippine waters.
“To maintain effective occupation over Philippine islands and features, our Armed Forces deployed personnel to these areas. Further, the DND began rehabilitation of structures in these islands. The construction of the beaching ramp and repair of runway in Pag-asa Island are now ongoing,” he added.
Esperon also noted that the government continues to engage China regarding the Philippines’ concerns in the West Philippine Sea, through high-level visits and meetings, including the bilateral consultation mechanism.
“These efforts seek to improve the ability of both sides to manage developments in the WPS so as not to escalate tensions; to widen access of Filipino artisanal fishermen in Scarborough Shoal; and to protect our environment and marine ecosystem,” the NSA stressed.
Boosting these efforts are the Philippine government’s active participation in the ASEAN-China processes for the peaceful management and resolution of disputes in the South China Sea.
Esperon said this underscores the importance of the full implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in its entirety and the Conclusion of an Effective Code of Conduct (COC).
And to ensure that the military has the capability to fully secure the country, the NSA chief said the AFP has completed a total of 27 modernization projects from the start of the Duterte administration in 2016 up to March 2018.
“Meanwhile, a total of 13 projects are ongoing under the Horizon Two list of the Revised AFP Modernization Program,” he added. PNA