My distinguished colleague and chairperson of the Philippine Army MSAB Governance Committee, Sen. Manny Pacquiao; Philippine Army Commanding General Lt. Gen Cirilito Sobejana; Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Assistant Secretary Alexander Macario; Davao de Oro Governor Tyron Uy; Vice Commander of the Philippine Army Reynaldo Aquino; members of the Philippine Army Multi-Sector Advisory Board; men and women of the Hukbong Katihan ng Pilipinas, a pleasant morning to all.
Mr. Chairman, this representation as one of the Vice-Chairpersons of the Committee on National Defense, presided over a public hearing this morning to deliberate on the ad interim appointments of 29 Senior Officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the nomination of one (1) officer to the rank of General.
Your Committee, after deliberating on their qualifications and fitness during the said public hearing, determined that all of the 29 appointees and one nominee are fit and qualified to the ranks which they are respectively promoted or nominated, and has therefore ruled to recommend to the plenary their respective appointments and nomination for the confirmation and consent of this august body.
It is my honor and privilege to recommend that this body give its consent to the nomination of LT. GEN. GILBERT I. GAPAY to the rank of GENERAL.
We have passed a strong Anti-Terrorism Law for our security forces to better address terrorism in Mindanao and the rest of the country. Unfortunately, amidst the numerous petitions against the measure, the agencies tasked to craft the implementing rules and regulations of the law have not yet issued the same which could have given our law enforcement agencies and the AFP the impetus to fully implement the law with efficacy and confidence, even proactively as we have included even “inchoate offenses” punishable for even at the stage of planning and preparation.
With all that said, another declaration of martial law in Mindanao or Sulu may not be necessary.
Mr. Chairman, this representation as one of the Vice-Chairpersons of the Committee on National Defense, presided over a public hearing to deliberate on the ad interim appointments of 14 Senior Officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the nomination of one officer to the rank of Lieutenant General.
Your Committee, after deliberating on their qualifications and fitness during the said public hearing, has determined that all of the 14 appointees and one nominee are fit and qualified to the ranks which they are respectively nominated or appointed, and has therefore ruled to recommend to the plenary their respective nomination and appointments for the consent and confirmation of this august body.
In an interview on DWIZ, Sen. Lacson answered questions on:
* Anti-Terror Bill to be questioned before the Supreme Court [10:01]
* goals of Senate inquiry into Jolo incident [34:24]
* PH warning vs China over military exercises [40:34]
* special session for Bayanihan 2 [42:39]
While I can easily relate to Philippine Army Commanding General Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay and understand how he feels about the Army officers slain in Sulu, emotions running high at this point is the last thing they need.
For all they know, their common enemies such as the terrorists and armed insurgents are already celebrating the Sulu incident – and even making plans to exploit it.
These enemies of the State and our people, through their legal fronts, are very capable of fanning the flames of animosity between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police by creating intrigues to further divide the country’s two major security forces.
A speedy but thorough determination of the facts that led to the tragic shooting of four Army officers by police in Sulu is critical and cannot be emphasized enough.
It is wise and proper that both Philippine National Police Chief P/Gen. Archie Gamboa and Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Gen. Felimon Santos Jr. have agreed that the National Bureau of Investigation take full control of the criminal investigation, and allow the evidence to dictate the findings.
But the NBI’s investigation results notwithstanding, and more than making fully accountable all those responsible for the incident, the ground commanders of both sides must be in full control of the situation to avoid an escalation of the situation.
Our security forces already have their hands full in their fight against their common adversaries such as terrorism and insurgency in Mindanao. Allowing disunity in any form would give the enemy an unwanted advantage that could prove fatal for our nation.
The Filipino people are resilient and our soldiers are no different. We will survive, no doubt. We know how to improvise and we can adapt to crises the way we did many times before.
But in the meantime, we remain exposed to terrorist threats, both domestic and foreign, not to mention the continuing security threat in the West Philippine Sea posed by China, and even the need for timely humanitarian response and assistance that the US is capable of deploying during disasters, natural or man-made. Also affected by the VFA’s abrogation is the maintenance and repairs of military hardware, mostly air assets provided by the US under the AFP modernization program.
Exploring other options like inking similar defense treaties with other nations as posited by the AFP Chief of Staff is fine but the reality is, it doesn’t happen overnight. It will take a series of back-and-forth negotiations in pursuit of the concerned parties’ self and national interests before going through lengthy deliberations for ratification by the Senate.
While admittedly, the VFA is not perfect for the Philippines as far as equitability is concerned, the timing and reasons for its abrogation are way off the mark.
The thing is, it is not the smartest move of the President to expose ourselves naked first before looking for other options for cover.
From Alfred Dalizon’s column in People’s Journal: During his tenure, Gen. Lacson ordered the relief of a police general who was caught playing golf in Baguio City despite his directive. That directive from Gen. Lacson made the headlines then.
Sen. Lacson sponsored the proposed PhP191,340,253,000 budget of the Department of National Defense for 2020. The amount is about 4% of the 2020 budget. The key security strategy for 2018 indicated a minimum of 2% of the budget for the DND.