Lorenzana enumerates 3 security challenges for PH

By Francis Wakefield

Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana expressed the belief that the Philippines must continue to act prudently, deftly balancing competing powers, enhancing partnerships, and pursuing independently its national interest, to “shape a future where we are stable, secure and prosperous.”

In his keynote speech delivered at the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) Prospects Forum held in Makati City on Thursday, January 17, Lorenzana identified three key security challenges that the Defense Department deals with, namely, the Communist insurgency, violent extremism and terrorism in Mindanao, and the ongoing territorial dispute over the West Philippine Sea with China.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (Czar Dancel/ MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO) Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (Czar Dancel/ MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

The defense chief further enumerated measures or opportunities that can help address these concerns.

With the pursuit of local peace talks, strengthened call for reintegration, and intensified military operations in stronghold areas of the Communist terrorist group, Lorenzana said he was optimistic that the insurgents will be severely weakened this year.

"We are receiving encouraging results. The Communist terrorist group is hemorrhaging. More rebels and their supporters now see the insincerity, duplicity, and cunning of the  CPP-NPA top leadership," Lorenzana said.

In addition, Lorenzana urged businesses and the private sector to stop providing “protection money” to the CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army) and encouraged them to work closely with the military and police stationed in the area to combat these groups.

"I support the call of the Secretary of the Interior and Local Governments,  General  Ed  Año.  to local candidates, show your love for our country. Do not pay any permit to campaign fees.   Stop funding the communist insurgents who do nothing but sow terror and anguish within our communities," Lorenzana added.

Meanwhile, Lorenzana expressed optimism that the extension of martial law in Mindanao will bring significant progress in addressing violent extremism and terrorism.

“Martial law enables law enforcement agencies, local officials and the Armed Forces to coordinate, collaborate and communicate efficiently and effectively," he said.

Moreover, according to the defense chief, the successful rehabilitation  of  Marawi  City, the  outcome  of  the Bangsamoro  Organic  Law  plebiscite, and the operationalization of the trilateral partnership with Malaysia  and Indonesia will be essential in enhancing the government’s overall strategy against violent extremism and terrorism, thereby preventing  the  resurgence  of  radical sentiments and bolster  efforts  in addressing  transnational  crimes  in the Sulu-Sulawesi Sea, respectively.

Lorenzana also emphasized that the Philippines continues to view the arbitral tribunal ruling on the West Philippine Sea as valid and legitimate.

“We have not, and we will not surrender any part of our territory," he stated.