PH needs credible defense capability, new Defense chief says

Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro has vowed to push for the Philippines to have a credible defense capability amid the continuous tension in the West Philippine Sea over territorial dispute.

Teodoro emphasized the need for defense build-up in order for the Philippines to defend itself both against foreign threats and in maintaining sovereignty over all the country’s territory.

“There’s no strong country in the world with weak armed forces, and even civil defense, to defend itself. This is for purely defensive purposes and deterrent purposes,” said Teodoro in a press briefing in Malacanang.

Since the standoff between the Philippine Navy and the Chinese Coast Guard happened in 2011 at the Scarborough Shoal, the Philippine government has started its procurement spree of military hardware.

These include fighter jets from South Korea which were already delivered, warships and missile and radar systems.

While the Philippines won the case it filed against China over the West Philippine Sea, the latter won’t recognize the international tribunal ruling and even stepped up the construction in the area.


Amid the continuous presence of Chinese ships in the West Philippine Sea, Teodoro, however, maintained the need for the Philippines to “de-conflict” the area.

“It’s not de-escalation, I meant de-confliction because we are not the aggressor. We are prohibited from being the aggressor under the Constitution,” said Teodoro.

“The de-confliction is a balance against those that wanted to abuse our territorial integrity. If there’s the need to talk, then let’s talk. But the Secretary of National Defense must not bargain with our territory in any discussion,” he added.

Message to China

As the Philippines continue to file diplomatic protests over incursions in the Philippine territory, Teodoro said China should walk its talk in discussing regional peace and stability in the region.

“As a stronger country, it has the bigger obligation to be magnanimous and show trust, and to earn the trust of the Filipino people by conforming its activities to recognized norms of international law, which in our case is UNCLOS,” said Teodoro.

UNCLOS stands for the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

“It is not only important to take into consideration what the specifics of the arbitral tribunal said, but the process by which it was done. It was done by an independent arbitral tribunal of experts in International Law, where had China participated, it would have had a chance to demonstrate its legal position in a fair and impartial proceeding,” said Teodoro.

“In that same vein, we have to follow transparent procedures and that is the best way to build trust, that being said, relations between two countries are not mono-dimensional; there are other relationships that we need to build up. China is a big market for this country and we realize that and, I think the United States realizes it too,” he added.