Territorial defense a priority of Duterte administration

MANILA — Territorial defense is one of the priorities of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s administration.

This was stressed by newly-appointed Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Friday.

“Territorial defense is one of the priorities of the Duterte administration. It is very important as we need to protect our territories against encroachment by other parties,” he said in Filipino.

In line with this, Lorenzana said the Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program will continue as planned.

“The 15-year modernization program of the AFP will continue as scheduled,” he stressed.

Some of the equipment acquired so far under the program include the two Hamilton-class cutters, six multipurpose assault craft, 114 armored personnel carriers, three brand-new C-295 medium lift aircraft, two C-130 heavy transports, two FA-50PH light-interim fighter aircraft, five utility versions of the AgustaWestland AW-109 helicopters, eight of its attack versions, five landing craft heavies, three multipurpose attack craft, and two strategic sealift vessels, to name a few.

Lorenzana said the DND will continue to honor contracts, especially those in the pipeline.

“We will study it and if there are no problems, then we will approve it,” he added.

But the DND chief said that there will be some “redirection” as the Duterte administration aims to crack down hard on criminality, especially the Abu Sayyaf Group menace, as the latter is starting to give the Philippines a bad name due to the series of kidnappings of Malaysian and Indonesian sailors off the Sulu Sea. Priam Nepomuceno/PNA/northboundasia.com