Lorenzana says he’ll be leaving behind stronger, modernized PH military
MANILA, Philippines — Outgoing National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana is proud to establish a modernized and more functional defense setup that will help protect the country.
“I want to be remembered as the Secretary of Defense who was able to make a difference: the improvement of the Defense organization for the good of the country,” said the retired Army general, who will formally step down as DND Chief on June 30.
During the last six years, the DND was able to acquire two multi-role guided missile frigates, the BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150) and BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151), which were commissioned in 2020 and 2021 respectively; six units of Embraer A-29B Super Tucano close air support aircraft and 16 units of S-70i Black Hawk combat utility helicopters; air surveillance radars, drones, missile systems, and various force protection and weapons systems.
“These new assets will further strengthen our humanitarian assistance and disaster response, air, maritime, and land defense as well as joint command and control capabilities,” said Lorenzana.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines also conducted 6,958 naval surface patrols and 6,432 air patrols in the country’s territory and borders, including in the highly-contested West Philippine Sea (WPS).
Under Lorenzana’s watch, the National Defense also built new structures on Pagasa (Thitu) Island in Kalayaan Island Group, Palawan. This includes a beaching ramp which was inaugurated in 2020, and an airstrip which is set to finish this month.
There were also improved structures in six other Philippine-occupied islands in WPS namely in Kota, Parola, Panata, Likas, Lawak, and Panguan to assert the country’s sovereignty and fortify the military’s defenses of the said areas.
“With these modern and multi-role assets added to the AFP’s inventory, as well as the capacity development and reforms we have instituted, we are hopeful that the defense sector’s trajectory will continue its upward momentum and lead to sustained peace and stability for the nation,” said Lorenzana.
Counter insurgency, anti-terrorism efforts
Lorenzana added that the Philippine military was also able to sustain its counter-insurgency operations, even as it encouraged thousands of rebels to return to the fold of the law.
“Perhaps one of the biggest accomplishments of the DND is the liberation of Marawi where we made accountable all of those who attacked the city in 2017. We were able to prevent the ISIS from establishing their base here in our country,” said Lorenzana, referring to the five-month war between the Philippine military and local and foreign terrorists led by the Maute Group and Abu Sayyaf Group.
Even the kidnappings perpetrated by the notorious ASG in Mindanao have been prevented by the AFP. In 2016, the ASG had 21 hostages but it has since gone down to zero as of 2022 after they were rescued by the military.
Some 1,500 ASG members, 971 members of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), and 1,427 members of Dawlah Islamiyah (DI) were also neutralized by the AFP.
On top of that, he claimed the AFP dismantled 56 out of 68 guerilla fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army, and National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) from June 2016 to April 2022.
A total of 25,772 communist rebels and 2,290 violent extremists were either killed, arrested, or surrendered to authorities as of April 30.
As of April 30, a total of 9,326 former rebels were provided with financial assistance; 30,009 surrenderers and their dependents have graduated in skills training; and 978 others have received housing assistance through the Enhanced Comprehensive Livelihood Integration Program (E-CLIP).
The President also signed the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 on July 3, 2020, to provide a stronger legal instrument for combating terrorism, along with the Executive Order No. 70 in 2018, which harmonizes all efforts towards a united national peace framework via the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
“This is what we have accomplished. This is what we will pass down to the people and to the next administration. This is the legacy of President Duterte,” said Lorenzana.