Defense chief Teodoro: A legal mind for nat’l defense and military matters
MANILA, Philippines — The appointment of Defense Secretary Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro came in the midst of increased territorial tensions in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
A political analyst and a lawmaker believe Teodoro has the legal expertise to tackle the issues.
Stratbase ADR Institute President Dindo Manhit said Teodoro’s appointment in the Department of National Defense (DND) provided a sense of professionalism to the cabinet of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
Teodoro already held the Defense portfolio during the term of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
He was offered the same position by former president Rodrigo Duterte.
“There is [less of a learning] curve. The Secretary is ready to take over, and is familiar with these issues because he is somebody that has connections with the military even after his stint,” Manhit told INQUIRER.net.
Asked for his thoughts on why it took nearly a year for Marcos to appoint a DND head in a permanent capacity, the analyst pointed to the lifting of the one-year appointment ban on losing election candidates.
Marcos may have been eyeing Teodoro for a cabinet post since the latter ran for senator under the President’s UniTeam in the 2022 presidential polls.
Manhit noted, “the cabinet secretary simply reflects the policy of the president.”
Teodoro, who is a civilian, took over a post previously held by retired Philippine Army general Carlito Galvez Jr.
Manhit pointed to Teodoro’s legal proficiency, saying “he’s Western educated, with strong training in law and the legal process. This is what we need, because in the end, the military will be there to provide more strategic advice and guidance.”
Teodoro is assuming the DND chief at a time when geopolitical tensions are high in the WPS.
Manhit has a suggestion for Teodoro:
He said the Defense chief must not allow government to be dragged by the rivalry between the United States and China.
He explained Philippine government should build relationships with all nations that share Filipinos’ high regard for a rules-based international order.
Manhit said this meant looking at the views of other countries like Japan, and Australia.
Meanwhile, Albay 2nd district representative Joey Salceda vouched for Teodoro.
The lawmaker had previously worked together with the new cabinet member in the House of Representatives,
He said, “everyone always regarded him to be formidable.”
Teodoro served as Tarlac first district representative for three terms from 1998 to 2007.
Salceda believed the new Defense chief’s civilian status was an edge.
“Gibo carries with him a resolutely civilian – and therefore broader – perspective on the country’s defense situation,” he said.
“As a middle-power in global affairs, our national defense is necessarily more complex than simply (about) military firepower,” he added.
Salceda has this to say to the new secretary as he handles the sea dispute:
“Might should not make right, but a strong defense coupled with moral upper hand in international affairs are formidable guarantees of peace and territorial integrity.”
Marcos is taking a decisive stance on maritime disputes, vowing that not one inch of the Philippine territory would be lost.