Amid the harassment of Filipino fishermen by Chinese Coast Guard vessels, presidential aspirant Vice President Leni Robredo and her running mate, Senator Kiko Pangilinan, met with retired generals of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to discuss national security concerns.
“Had a comprehensive and fruitful discussion with several retired generals of the AFP on major aspects of national security,” Robredo posted on Facebook together with photos of the meeting that was held at the Quezon City Reception House.
“The expert views of these generals and respected military strategists are very much appreciated, as we recognize that with threats both present and evolving, we need an institutional, comprehensive, and deliberate approach to national security,” she added.
Among the issues discussed were governance issues, defense spending, internal and external security concerns, civil-military relations in a democratic society, as well as non-traditional security concerns such as climate change, disaster risk reduction and management, pandemic response, cybersecurity, and disinformation.
The retired military generals present were former AFP Chiefs of Staff Generals Eduardo Oban and Hernando Iriberri; former Navy Flag Officer in Command Vice Admiral Alexander Pama; and former Vice Chief of Staff Lt. Gen Salvador Mison Jr PAF.
Also included were former Navy Vice Commander Rear Admiral Rommel Jude Ong; former AFP Internal Auditor and Spokesperson Maj. Gen. Domingo Tutaan; and Maj. Gen. Arnold Mancita.
The meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 17, came after an incident on Nov. 16 wherein Chinese Coast Guard vessels blocked and water-cannoned two Philippine vessels on a resupply mission to BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. said that he had conveyed to China the Philippines’ “outrage, condemnation and protest of the incident.”
“This kind of treatment to Filipinos must stop. WPS (West Philippine Sea) is ours as the arbitration tribunal ruled in July 2016,” Robredo said, referring to the landmark ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague that invalidated China’s nine-dash line rule.
Robredo hinted that this will not be the last time she will hold a meeting with the retired generals who will help her come up with a national security agenda.
“We are committed to continue our consultations with them. Maraming salamat (Thank you very much), Sirs, for still looking out for the Filipino,” she said.
“As our generals put it aptly, the planning horizon for a national security policy and strategy must be long-term for sustained implementation, regardless of changes in administration. Coherence in national security planning and economic development planning is important,” she added.