Hontiveros urges DND to study AFP restructuring with more maritime forces
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday urged the Department of National Defense (DND) to look into a proposal that seeks to restructure the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in the hopes of increasing the Philippine’s maritime defense.
Citing Dr. Clarita Carlos, University of the Philippines professor and former National Defense College of the Philippines President, Hontiveros said that our current armed forces is configured for a continental rather than an archipelagic country.
Carlos proposed to alter the structure of the AFP to serve our national interests in the maritime domain, noting that the current AFP consists of 71 percent from the Army, 18 percent from the Navy, and 11 percent from the Air Force.
“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,” Hontiveros said in a statement.
“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,” she further said.
(The threat of China is getting larger in our waters, so we need to be ready for any implications of these to our future.)
Hontiveros noted that the Philippine Marine Corps is getting insufficient budget support to procure equipment to help in its defense of Philippine seas.
“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.
(At a time when China is not stopping in placing their ships, building militarized islands, and shooing away our own fishermen, we cannot go on without a defense. We have filed numerous diplomatic protests but they are not listening.)
In March, the Philippines increased its presence at the Julian Felipe Reef in the West Philippine Sea amid China’s incursions in the area.
Back then, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana vowed that more ships would patrol the West Philippine Sea, as he repeated his demand that China withdraw its fleet there immediately.
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