DND shifts focus to external defense under Faustino’s helm

Incoming Department of National Defense (DND) Officer-in-Charge (OIC) Jose Faustino Jr. vowed to continue the modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as the DND looks to give more emphasis now on territorial or external defense.

Retired general Jose Faustino Jr. (File photo courtesy of AFP Public Affairs Office)

Faustino, a retired AFP Chief of Staff, said the DND will set its sight from internal defense to external defense after the successful campaign against communist insurgency and local terrorism of the Duterte administration.

“We are now on the third horizon of the AFP modernization – building a more reliable and credible AFP in strengthening territorial or external defense capability. We will ensure the smooth implementation of the AFP modernization and will even enhance our capability in defending our territory,” Faustino said on Sunday night, June 19.

The AFP revised modernization program is divided into three “horizons” or periods. The first horizon was implemented from 2013 to 2017, the second from 2018 to 2022, and the third horizon from 2023 to 2028.

For the third horizon which will start next year, outgoing DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana had said that the procurement of “more sophisticated” assets will begin such as fighter planes and the country’s first unit of submarine.

Faustino said the acquisition of all of these capabilities will be crucial for the DND to be “constantly aligned” with President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s vision of a “stronger and better Philippines through nation-building, economic recovery, and national unity.”

“National security is synonymous to human security. That is why we will do our best that all programs of the department will focus on protecting and defending the sovereignty of the country, to respect human rights and international humanitarian law, address the root causes of internal conflict, and make sure to implement the order of the President that ‘not a single square inch of the territory is surrendered,’” Faustino said.

Aside from this, Faustino added that the DND will continue the campaign against communist armed conflict, terrorism and other major concerns and security challenges such as climate change and natural disasters, support to law enforcement to address criminality and illegal drugs, and cybersecurity.