Protecting PH sovereignty, territory key goal of Duterte admin

by Philippines News Agency | July 22, 2020

MANILA – Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Wednesday said defending the country’s sovereignty and territory is a priority of President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s administration.

“Defending national sovereignty and protecting territorial integrity is a paramount priority of this administration,” Lorenzana, head of the Security, Justice, and Peace Cluster, said in a pre-SONA forum aired over state-run PTV-4.

Lorenzana said this is now possible as the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has improved its identification, detection, and interdiction efforts through its newly-installed air defense surveillance radars along with the conduct of wider air and maritime patrols.

These efforts were further aided by the construction of additional detachments in strategic locations, he added.

With these improvements, Lorenzana said the Philippines can now monitor its airspace and maritime territories against encroachments.

He added that the country is continuing to boost its defense capabilities through the ongoing AFP Modernization Program of which the highlight for this year is the acquisition of the Navy’s first-missile frigate, the BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150), which was commissioned last July 10 in Subic Bay, Zambales.

The ship is capable of conducting surface, sub-surface, anti-air, and electronic warfare operations.

Lorenzana also said that additional combat support aircraft are now for delivery to the Philippine Air Force within the year.

Also, AFP personnel are expected to get more training with their American counterparts as Duterte has ordered the deferment of the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States.

“This allows our Armed Forces to continue engaging the US forces in joint military exercises,” he added.

The decision to suspend the abrogation of the VFA was officially communicated by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to the United States Embassy in Manila on June 1.

The VFA, established in 1999, provides a framework for a defense forces cooperation that allows joint exercises between the Philippines and the US, the country’s top military ally.

On February 11, the Philippine government officially sent the notice of VFA termination to the US Embassy in Manila.