Armed Forces of the Philippines
|Armed Forces of the Philippines
Sandatahang Lakas ng Pilipinas
Emblem of the Armed Forces of the Philippines
|Founded||December 21, 1935|
|Service branches|| Philippine Army
Philippine Air Force
|Headquarters||Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo, Quezon City|
|Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces||President Benigno S. Aquino III|
|Secretary of National Defense||Voltaire T. Gazmin|
|Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines||General Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr.|
|Military age||18–56 years old|
|Conscription||None enforced, optional through ROTC|
|25,614,135 (2010 est.)  males, age 15–49,
25,035,061 (2010 est.)  females, age 15–49
|20,142,940 (2010 est.)  males, age 15–49,
21,427,792 (2010 est.)  females, age 15–49
|Active personnel||220,000 (2013)|
|Reserve personnel||430,000 (2013)|
|Budget||$2.7 Billion/P 123.1 Billion (Est.) (DND 2014)|
|Percent of GDP||0.9% (2014)|
|Domestic suppliers||Steelcraft Industrial & Development Corporation|
|Foreign suppliers|| United States
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) (Filipino: Sandatahang Lakas ng Pilipinas; Spanish: Fuerzas Armadas de Filipinas) is composed of the Philippine Army, Philippine Navy and Philippine Air Force. The AFP is a volunteer force. In 2012 a senior AFP officer reported its manpower strength to be 125,000, of which 85,000 were in the Army and the rest in the Navy and Air Force. In 2012, the AFP Chief of Staff said that there had been no increase in the number of soldiers over a long period, and that the military aims to hire 20,000 troops in three-years.
- 1 History
- 2 Organization and branches
- 3 AFP Leadership
- 4 Military ranks
- 5 Philippine Defense Reform
- 6 Handling Threats
- 7 National Policies
- 8 Modernization
- 9 Recognitions and Achievements
- 10 Gallery
- 11 See also
- 12 References
- 13 External links
|This article's factual accuracy is disputed. (January 2014)|
In 1901, the United States established the Philippine Constabulary for purpose of assisting in combating the remnants of the revolutionaries, and after the war served as the state gendarmerie force composed of, from the start, both Americans and Filipinos. The AFP was formally organized during the American Commonwealth era through the National Defense Act of 1935. The new Philippine Army was initially organized from among former holders of Reserve Commissions in the United States Army, from among former officers of the Philippine Scouts and Constabulary, and others—forces involved in the defeat of the revolutionary forces which Ricarte led. Ricarte was the only revolutionary general who refused to take the oath of allegiance to the U.S. and that he lived in exile in Hong Kong and later in Japan. Ricarte was one of the leaders of an organization termed "MAKAPILIS", called Makabayan: Katipunan ng mga Pilipino, and characterized as having been a "fanatical pro-Japanese organization" during the Second World War Japanese occupation.
Philippine Commonwealth, the Cold War and Present
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (August 2011)|
During the Philippine Commonwealth era, President Manuel L. Quezon, the first president of the Commonwealth, renamed the Philippine Army to the Armed Forces of the Philippines on December 21, 1935, in accordance with the National Defense Act of 1935 (thus, December 21 of every year is designated as AFP Day) and asked General Douglas MacArthur to be its first commanding officer after the Philippines gained independence from the U.S. MacArthur accepted the offer and became the only person of foreign citizenship to be in the ranks of the AFP. MacArthur held the rank of Field Marshal, a rank no other person has since held in the AFP. As stated in the law, the AFP, under the Department of National Defense, would only be composed of a revitalized Philippine Army, with naval and air assets directly reporting to Army headquarters, and the Philippine Constabulary, later part of the ground forces proper as a division. But after 3 years, the PC in 1938 returned this time as a branch of the armed forces. MacArthur expanded the Philippine Armed Forces with the revival of the Navy in 1940 and the formation of the Philippine Army Air Corps (formerly the Philippine Constabulary Air Corps), but they were not ready for combat at the start of the Pacific War in December 1941 and unable to defeat the 1941–42 Japanese invasion of the Philippines.
During World War II, all soldiers of the Philippine military were incorporated in the U.S. Army Forces Far East (USAFFE), with MacArthur appointed as its commander. USAFFE made its last stand on Corregidor Island in the Philippines, after which Japanese forces were able to force all remaining Filipino and American troops to surrender. Those who survived the invasion but escaped from the Japanese formed the basis of guerilla units that continued the fighting against the enemy all over the islands. After Japan was defeated in World War II, the Philippines, in 1946, gained its independence at long last (its second independence – the Philippines recognizes Aguinaldo's declaration of independence in 1898 as its original year of independence). 1947 saw the birth of the modern day AFP with the upgrading of the PAAC into today's Philippine Air Force.
During the Korean War from 1951 to 1953, the Philippines sent various AFP battalions, known as the Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea (PEFTOK) to fight as part of the US-led United Nations forces in liberating South Korea from the invading North Korean troops, reinforced then by various units of the Communist Chinese People's Liberation Army. At the same time the armed forces, including the established Marine company under the PN, fought against Communist elements of the Hukbalahap (by then the Bagong Hukbong Bayan, the Philippine counterpart of the PLA) in Central Luzon, two Southern Tagalog provinces and several Visayan provinces, with great successes.
And in 1966, an AFP battalion was also sent into South Vietnam during the Vietnam War to ameliorate the economic and social conditions of its people there. AFP units were also sent in the same time to the Spratly Islands.
1963 would see the first women join the ranks of the armed forces with the raising of the Women's Auxiliary Corps.
Upon the declaration of Martial Law in 1972, then-President Ferdinand Marcos used the AFP, through the regime's secret police force, the National Intelligence and Security Authority to arrest, torture or kill his political opponents. Marcos politicized the officer corps with officers from his home province of Ilocos Norte being promoted to higher rank and given top command positions in order to further consolidate his control over the military. Therefore, the military had gained a bad reputation and in effect, served as Marcos' private army. The promotion system was based only on the loyalty to the President and the national government.
However, Marcos did good things for the AFP by instituting series of self-reliance programs for it to enable to construct its weapons, warplanes, tanks, ships and planes locally aside from buying from foreign sources. Missile program known as "Sta. Barbara project" was initiated by the AFP and soon it has its own missiles to meet an external threat and the AFP itself was undergoing an expansion program too.
In 1981, when Marcos' trusted military officer, General Fabian Ver became the AFP chief of staff, favoritism was attached to the military organization due to the fact that the general only placed his favorites in most sensitive positions, to the dismay of the qualified officers. Ver and Marcos also extended the tour of duty of those military officers who shall have been effectively retired, to the dismay also of the younger officers. Thus, discontent in the AFP ensued.
The AFP also at that time, waged a military campaign against the secessionist Moro National Liberation Front in the island of Mindanao and New People's Army units under the Communist Party of the Philippines nationwide, growing to a 200,000 strong force.
In 1986, a faction of AFP headed by then Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and AFP vice-chief of staff Lt. General Fidel V. Ramos took a stand against Marcos, ushering in the bloodless People Power Revolution that removed Marcos from power and installed Corazon Aquino as the new president of the Philippines.
During Aquino's term, most of the military units remained loyal to her as she dealt with various coup attempts against her by other military factions that remained loyal to the former dictator and those military officers who helped her to assume power. The 1989 coup attempt, the bloodiest of all coup attempts against her was crushed with US help. The AFP, during her term also launched a massive campaign against the CPP-NPA after a brief hiatus and also against the MNLF in the south.
In 1991, the major services of the AFP was reduced from four to three, when the Philippine Constabulary or PC, an AFP major service tasked to enforce the law and to curb criminality was formally merged with the country's Integrated National Police, a national police force on the cities and municipalities in the country attached to the PC to become the Philippine National Police, thus removing it from AFP control and it was civilianized by a law passed by Congress, therefore becoming under the Department of the Interior and Local Government as a result.
In 2000, then President Joseph Estrada ordered the AFP to launch an "all-out war" against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, a breakaway group of the MNLF that wants to proclaim Mindanao an independent state.
One year later, due to the political crisis the Philippines faced, Estrada was removed from power in the two-day Edsa Dos People Power revolt, in which the AFP played a key role. The revolution installed then Vice-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo into the presidency.
At the height of the Cold War, the Philippines was one of the most well-equipped militaries in Asia, because of a tight diplomatic-relationship with the United States in battling the threat of Communism. Since 2001, the Philippine armed forces has been active in supporting the War on terror.
Organization and branches
The 1987 Philippine Constitution placed the AFP under the control of a civilian, the President of the Philippines, who acts as its Commander-in-Chief. All of its branches are part of the Department of National Defense, which is headed by the Secretary of National Defense.
The AFP has three major services:
- Philippine Army (PA) – Hukbong Katihan ng Pilipinas
- Philippine Navy (PN) – Hukbong Pandagat ng Pilipinas
- Philippine Air Force (PAF) – Hukbong Himpapawid ng Pilipinas
These three major services are unified under a Chief of Staff who normally holds the rank of General/Admiral. He is assisted by a Vice Chief of Staff, normally holding the rank of Lieutenant General/Vice Admiral. Each of the three major branches are headed by an officer with the following titles: Commanding General of the Philippine Army (Lieutenant General), Flag Officer in Command of the Philippine Navy (Vice Admiral), and Commanding General of the Philippine Air Force (Lieutenant General).
The Philippine Constabulary (PC) was a gendarmerie type para-military police force of the Philippines established in 1901 by the United States-appointed administrative authority, replacing the Guardia Civil of the Spanish regime. On December 13, 1990, Republic Act No. 6975 was approved, organizing the Philippine National Police (PNP) consisting of the members of the Integrated National Police (INP) and the officers and enlisted personnel of the PC. Upon the effectivity of that Act, the PC ceased to be a major service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the INP ceased to be the national police and civil defense force. On January 29, 1991, the PC and the INP were formally retired and the PNP was activated in their place.
Units from these three services may be assigned to one of several "Unified Commands", which are multi-service, regional entities:
- Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM)
- Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM)
- Central Command (CENTCOM)
- Western Command (WESCOM)
- Eastern Mindanao Command (EASTMINCOM)
- Western Mindanao Command (WESTMINCOM)
Former Unified Commands
- National Capital Region Command (NCRCOM)
- National Development Support Command (NADESCOM)
- Southern Command (SOUTHCOM)
- National Capital Region Defense Command (NCRDC)
- Central Luzon Command (CELCOM)
- Home Defense Command (HDC)
AFP-wide support and affiliate units
Several service-wide support services and separate units report directly to the AFP General Headquarters (AFP GHQ), these include:
- General Headquarters and Headquarters Service Command (GHQ & HSC) (acts since 1990 as the fourth Major Service Command representing the support, technical and independent services of the Armed Forces)
- Technical and Administrative Service, Armed Forces of the Philippines (TASAFP)
- Presidential Security Group (PSG)
- Philippine Military Academy (PMA)
- Armed Forces of the Philippines Command and General Staff College (AFPCGSC)
- Armed Forces of the Philippines Reserve Command (AFPRESCOM)
- Intelligence Service, Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP)
- Armed Forces of the Philippines Medical Center (AFPMC)
- Armed Forces of the Philippines Commissary and Exchange Service (AFPCES)
- Communications, Electronics and Information System Service, Armed Forces of the Philippines (CEISSAFP)
- Civil Relations Service, Armed Forces of the Philippines (CRSAFP)
- Armed Forces of the Philippines, Dental Service Center (AFPDSC)
- National Defense College of the Philippines (NDCP)
- Armed Forces of the Philippines - Joint Special Operations Group (AFP-JSOG)
- AFP Peacekeeping Operations Center (AFP-PKOC)
- AFP Joint Task Force-National Capital Region (AFP JTF-NCR) - Replaced the deactivated NCR Command
- Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines - Pres. Benigno S. Aquino III
- Secretary of National Defense - Sec. Voltaire T. Gazmin
AFP General Headquarters (AFPGHQ) Leadership
- Chief of Staff Armed Forces of the Philippines (CSAFP) - Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr., AFP
- Vice Chief of Staff Armed Forces of the Philippines (VCSAFP) - Lt. Gen. John S. Bonafos, AFP
- The Deputy Chief of Staff Armed Forces of the Philippines (TDCSAFP) - Lt. Gen. Virgilio Domingo, AFP
- Sergeant Major of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (SMAFP) - FCMS Guillermo C. Francisco, PA
Major Services Commanding Officer
- Commanding General of the Philippine Army (CG-PA) - Lt. Gen. Hernando Delfin C. Iriberri, AFP
- Flag Officer-in-Command of the Philippine Navy (FOIC-PN) - Vice Adm. Jesus C. Millan, AFP
- Commanding General of the Philippine Air Force (CG-PAF) - Lt. Gen. Jeffrey F. Delgado, AFP
See also: Military ranks of the Philippines for the full set of ranks
Ranks of officers in the Philippine Military are usually pronounced in Filipino, in which they adapt the military ranks from the U.S. Military forces. The officer ranks are as follows:
- Himagat (Second Lieutenant/2LT)
- Pulimagat (First Lieutenant/1LT)
- Kamagat (Captain/CPT)
- Magat (Major/MAJ),
- Kalakan (Lieutenant Colonel/LTCOL)
- Lakan (Colonel/COL)
- Brigadyer Heneral (Brigadier General/BGEN)
- Magat Heneral (Major General/MGEN)
- Tenyente Heneral (Lieutenant General/LTGEN)
- Heneral (General/GEN)
These ranks are officially used in the Philippine Army, Air Force and Marine Corps. Also, the pronunciations of these ranks are actually adaptations from the Spanish and English languages except, for the words "pangalawang" and "unang" which came from original Tagalog pronunciation.
In the Philippine Navy however, the pronunciation in Filipino of the officer's ranks, is just the same as in English since these ranks were adopted from the ranks of U.S. and British navies. There are some ranks though (placed in parenthesis) that can be translated and officially pronounced in Filipino. The ranks are as follows:
- Ensign (Ensign (ENS))
- Tenyenteng Mabababa ang Baitang (Lieutenant (junior grade)/LTJG)
- Tenyente or Tenyenteng Mataas ang Baitang (Lieutenant or Lieutenant Senior Grade/LT or LTSG)- The latter rank of Lieutenant Senior Grade is a unique rank in the Philippine Navy, thus it is used instead of just Lieutenant.
- Tenyente Kumander (Lieutenant Commander/LCDR)
- Kumander (Commander/CDR)
- Kapitan (Captain/CAPT)
- Komodor (Commodore/COMMO) - The rank of Commodore instead of Rear Admiral (lower half) is used in the Philippine Navy
- Rir Admiral (Rear Admiral/RADM)
- Bise Admiral (Vice Admiral/VADM)
- Admiral (Admiral/ADM)
The alternative style of address for the ranks of Lieutenant Junior Grade and Lieutenant Senior Grade in Filipino is simply tenyente derived from the Spanish Teniente because it is too redundant if one addresses them fully in Filipino. It is also the same as Second and First Lieutenants in the Army, Air Force and Marine Corps.
The ranks of enlisted personnel in Filipino are just the same as their U.S. counterparts but, they never use the ranks of "Specialist", "Sergeant First Class", "First Sergeant" (for Philippine Army and Air Force except Marine Corps), "Lance Corporal", "Gunnery Sergeant" and "Master Gunnery Sergeant" in the Philippine Army and Marine Corps. They simply start to address their ranks from Private Second Class up to Sergeant Major. Sergeant Majors in the AFP are only appointments for senior ranked NCOs rather than ranks, examples of such appointment being the Command Sergeant Major, AFP (held by a First Chief Master Sergeant or a First Master Chief Petty Officer) and the Command Master Chief Petty Officer, Philippine Navy (held by an either MCPO or CMS or a SCPO or SMS).
In the Philippine Air Force, they also use Airman Second Class up to Chief Master Sergeant, the same as in its U.S. counterparts. (The PAF ranks of Senior Master Sergeant and Chief Master Sergeant are also now used as enlisted ranks in the Army and Marine Corps.)
In the Philippine Navy, they also use enlisted ranks which come from the U.S. Navy with their specialization, e.g. "Master Chief and Boatswain's mate Juan Dela Cruz, PN" (Philippine Navy).
In effect the AFP uses the pre-1950s US armed forces enlisted ranks, with several minor changes, especially in the Navy.
The alternative style to address the non-commissioned officers and enlisted personnel in Filipino are as follows
- from Privates up to Privates First Class, pribeyt or mga pribeyt for a group of privates, adopted from the English language.
- Kabo for corporals which is adopted from the word "cabo" in Spanish, but the most common is korporal (except air force they use airman or airmen and airwoman or airwomen from Airman up to Senior Airman).
- Sarhento for sergeants in the Army, Air Force and Marine Corps which is also adopted from the word "sargento" from the Spanish language.
In the Navy, the original Filipino alternative style for Seaman or Seawoman Apprentice up to Seaman or Seawoman First Class is mandaragat or mga mandaragat for a group of seamen and seawomen. For petty officers, they are called P.O.'s and tsip for Chief (Petty) Officers up to (First) Master Chief (Petty) Officers.
There are no warrant officers in between officer ranks and enlisted ranks.
The uniqueness of Philippine military ranks can be seen in the new ranks of First Chief Master Sergeant (for the Army, Marine Corps and Air Force) and First Master Chief Petty Officer (for the Navy) both created in 2004, and since then has become the highest enlisted rank of precedence. Formerly Chief Master Sergeant and Master Chief Petty Officer were the highest enlisted ranks and rates, the former being the highest rank of precedence for Army, Air Force and Marine NCOs. Today only the rank of First Master Chief Petty Officer is unused yet but the rank of First Chief Master Sergeant is now being applied.
Five Star General/Admiral
President Ferdinand Marcos, who acted also as national defense secretary (from 1965–1967 and 1971–1972), issued an order conferring the five-star general/admiral rank to the President of the Philippines, making himself as its first rank holder. Since then, the rank of five-star general/admiral became an honorary rank of the commander-in-chief of the armed forces whenever a new president assumes office for a six-year term thus, making the President the most senior military official.
The only career military officer who reached the rank of five-star general/admiral is President Fidel V. Ramos (USMA 1950) (president from 1992–1998) who rose from second lieutenant up to commander-in-chief of the armed forces.[not in citation given]
The AFP, like the military forces of Singapore and Indonesia, uses unitary rank insignia for enlisted personnel, in the form of raised chevrons increasing by seniority, save for the Philippine Air Force which uses inverted chevrons from Airman 2nd Class onward only since recently. In the Philippine Navy these are supplemented by rating insignia by specialty, similar to the United States Navy. Like the British and Spanish armed services, however, senior ranked NCOs (especially in the Philippine Navy) also wear shoulder rank insignia only on the mess, semi-dress and dress uniforms, and in some cases even collar insignia. Like the US military all NCOs wear sleeve stripes to denote years of service in the enlisted ranks. Sleeve insignia for enlisted personnel in the Army and the Navy are similar but are different from those used in the US while those in the Marine Corps mirror its US counterpart but with special symbols from Master Sergeants onward.
Officer ranks in the AFP are inspired by revolutionary insignia used by the Philippine Army after the 1898 declaration of independence. These are unitary rank insigina used in the everyday, combat, duty and technical uniforms both on shoulders and collars (the latter in the khaki uniforms of the Navy), but in the semi-dress, dress and mess uniforms are different: The Army, Air Force and Marine Corps use unitary rank insignia on the shoulder board but the Navy uses the very same rank insignia format as in the US Navy except for the star (for Ensigns to Captains) in almost all officer uniforms and all general officer and flag officer shoulder boards in the full dress uniform are in gold colored backgrounds with the rank insignia and the AFP seal (the star arrangement is the same in the Army, Air Force and Marines but is different in the Navy). The Navy uses sleeve insignia only on its dress blue uniforms. Lieutenants and Captains wear 1 to 3 triangles (and Navy Ensigns and Lieutenants (junior and senior grades) in their working, duty and combat uniforms) while Majors, Lieutenant Colonels and Colonels wear 1, 2, and 3 suns (both triangles and suns have the ancient baybayin letter ka (K) in the center) as well as Navy superior officers (Lieutenant Commanders, Commanders and Captains) in their working, duty and combat uniforms respectively.
Philippine Defense Reform
In October 1999, the Joint Defense Assessment (JDA) began as a policy level discussion between the Philippine Secretary of National Defense and the US Secretary of Defense. An initial JDA report in 2001 provided an objective evaluation of Philippine defense capability. During a May 2003 state visit to Washington DC, President Arroyo requested U.S. assistance in conducting a strategic assessment of the Philippine defense system. This led to a follow-up JDA and formulation of recommendations addressing deficiencies found in the Philippine defense structure.
The results of the 2003 JDA were devastating. The JDA findings revealed that the AFP was only partially capable of performing its most critical missions. Moreover, the results pointed overwhelmingly toward institutional and strategic deficiencies as being the root cause of most of the shortcomings. A common thread in all: the lack of strategy-based planning that would focus DND/AFP on addressing priority threats and link capability requirements with the acquisition process.
Specifically, the 2003 JDA revealed critical deficiencies in the following specific areas:
- Systemic approach to policy planning
- Personnel management and leadership
- Defense expenditures and budgeting
- Supply and maintenance
- Quality assurance for existing industrial base
- Infrastructure support
During a reciprocal visit to the Philippines in October 2003 by U.S. President Bush, he and President Arroyo issued a joint statement expressing their commitment to embark upon a multi-year plan to implement the JDA recommendations. The Philippine Defense Reform (PDR) Program is the result of that agreement.
The JDA specifically identified 65 key areas and 207 ancillary areas of concern. These were reduced to ten broad-based and inter-related recommendations that later became the basis for what became known as the PDR Priority Programs. The ten are: 1. Multi-Year Defense Planning System (MYDPS) 2. Improve Intelligence, Operations, and Training Capacities 3. Improve Logistics Capacity 4. Professional Development Program 5. Improve Personnel Management System 6. Multi-year Capabilities Upgrade Program (CUP) 7. Optimization of Defense Budget and Improvement of Management Controls 8. Centrally Managed Defense Acquisition System Manned by a Professional Workforce 9. Development of Strategic Communication Capability 10. Information Management Development Program
From the perspective of the Philippine Department of National Defense (DND), the framework for reforms is based on an environment of increasing economic prowess and a gradually decreasing threat level over time, and seeks to make the following improvements: 1. Address AFP capability gaps to enable the AFP to effectively fulfill its mission. 2. Implement capability for seamless interoperability by developing proficiency in the conduct of joint operations, eliminating crisis handleing by individual major services as done previously. 3. improve effectiveness of internal security operations. 4. Enhance capability to counter terrorism and other transnational threats. 5. Provide sustainment and/or long-term viability of acquired capabilities. 6. Improve cost-effectiveness of operations. 7. Improve accountability and transparency in the DND. 8. Increase professionalism in the AFP through reforms in areas such as promotions, assignments, and training. 9. Increase involvement of AFP in the peace process.
According to the goals stated in the Philippines Defense Reform Handbook:, "The PDR serves as the overall framework to re-engineer our systems and re-tool our personnel." The Philippine Defense Reform follows a three step implementation plan: 1. Creating the environment for reform (2004–2005); 2. Enabling the defense establishment (2005–2007); 3. Implementing and institutionalizing reform (2007–2010).
On September 23, 2003, President Arroyo issued Executive Order 240, streamlining procedures for defense contracts for the expeditious implementation of defense projects and the speedy response to security threats while promoting transparency, impartiality, and accountability in government transactions. Executive Order 240, creating the Office of the Undersecretary of Internal Control in the DND, mandated in part to institutionalize reforms in the procurement and fund disbursement systems in the AFP and the DND. On November 30, 2005, the Secretary of National Defense issued Department Order No. 82 (DO 82), creating the PDR Board and formalizing the reform organizational set-up between the DND and the AFP and defining workflow and decision-making processes.
The PDR is jointly funded by the U.S. and R.P. governments. from 2004 to 2008, funding amounted to $51.8 million from the U.S. and $514.0 million from the RP. Initial planning assumptioned that the 18-year span of reform would encompass a period of steady rise in economic growth coupled with equally steady decline in the military threat from terrorists and separatists. Neither of these projections have proven accurate. As of 2010[update], at the six-year mark of PDR, the Philippine economy was internally strong, but suffering during a period of recession that crippled Philippine purchasing power. Worse, the threat situation in the Philippines had not improved significantly, or as in the case of the Sulu Archipelago, was deteriorating.
During the Arroyo presidency, deliberate ‘Rolodexing’ of senior leadership within the DND and AFP constantly put U.S. PDR advocates in a position of re-winning previously won points and positions, and gave U.S. observers a ‘two steps forward, one step back’ impression of the program. As of 2010[update], U.S. observers were uncertain whether Arroyo's successor, Benigno Aquino III, chosen in Philippine Presidential elections on May 10, 2010, will continue the tradition of rapid turnover of senior leadership.
U.S. observers have reported that overall progress of the PDR is unmistakable and has clearly struck a wider swath of the Philippine defense establishment than originally hoped. However, they see some troubling signs that the depth of the PDR’s impact may not be as significant as originally desired. For example, the Philippine legislature continues to significantly underfund the DND and AFP, currently at .9 percent of GDP, compared to an average of 2 percent world-wide, and a 4 percent outlay by the U.S. Even with full implementation of all the PDR’s programs and recommendations, the defense establishment would not be able to sustain itself at current funding levels. While this can be made up by future outlays, as of 2010[update] observers see no outward sign the legislature is planning to do so. One U.S. observer likened PDR process to the progress of a Jeepney on a busy Manila avenue—explaining, "a Jeepney moves at its own pace, stops unexpectedly, frequently changes passengers, moves inexplicably and abruptly right and left in traffic, but eventually arrives safely." President Aquino has promised to implement the PDR program. As of 9 March 2011[update], a major Philippine news organization tracking performance on his promises evaluated that one as "To Be Determined."
The Mutual Defense Treaty between the Philippines and the United States has not been updated since its signing in 1951. As of 2013[update], discussions were underway for a formal U.S.-Philippine Framework Agreement detail how U.S. forces would be able to “operate on Philippine military bases and in Philippine territorial waters to help build Philippine military capacity in maritime security and maritime domain awareness.”  In particular, this Framework Agreement would which would increase rotational presence of American forces in the Philippines.
Longstanding treaties, such as the aforementioned 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) of 1982, are of great importance to the Philippines in supporting maritime security in particular; respectively, their legally binding nature provides long-term effectiveness for mutual defense cooperation and for the development of the Philippine maritime and archipelagic domain.
Philippine defense operations are supported in part through U.S. Section 1206 ($102.3 million) and 1207 ($16.02 million) funds. These funds are aimed at carrying out security, counterterrorism training and rule of law programs. Overall, the United States is increasing U.S. funding for military education and training programs in Southeast Asia. The most recent U.S. Department of Defense budget for the region includes $90 million for programs, which is a 50 percent increased from four years ago.
In 2007, The Jamestown Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, reported that the AFP is one of the weakest military forces in Southeast Asia, saying that as the country's primary security threats are land-based—separatist, communist insurgent and terrorist groups—the army has received priority funding, and that the operational effectiveness of the Philippine Navy (PN) and Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has suffered accordingly, leaving the country's sea lanes largely unprotected. In 2008, The Irrawaddy reported a statement by General Alexander B. Yano, then Chief of Staff of the AFP, that the Philippine military cannot fully defend the country from external threats due to a lack of weapons and a preoccupation with crushing the long-running communist and Muslim insurgencies. Yano went on to say that a more ambitious modernization of the ill-equipped navy and air force to better guard the country from external threats will have to wait, saying, "To be very frank with you, our capability as far as these aspects are concerned is a little deficient," and "We cannot really defend all these areas because of a lack of equipment."
Corruption within the higher ranks are believed to be one of the main reasons why modernization of the armed forces has remained stagnant for decades.
As reported by The Philippine Star in an op-ed piece, the Commission on Audit said in its 2010 audit report for the Philippine Air Force (PAF) that with only 31 aging airplanes and 54 helicopters, the PAF "virtually has a non-existent air deterrent capability" and is "ill equipped to be operationally responsive to national security and development."
The country is highly prone to transnational crimes and territorial disputes, environmental degradation, and disasters and crises, and there is a lack of cooperation to resolve these issues. Transnational crimes include international terrorism, drug trafficking, piracy, small arms trafficking, and human trafficking. Environmental degradation consists of hazardous waste and chemical spills and marine resource exploitation and pollution. Major disasters and crises include typhoons and floods.
The Philippines faces major technical and geospatial challenges in handling threats to maritime surveillance operations and external defense. Having the eighth longest coastline (33,000 km) in the world, the country is subject to highly porous borders and coastlines, which place constraints are posed on the acquisition of long-range radar systems, which require multilateral assistance due to limited defense funds. Additionally, the production, development, procurement and servicing of satellite technology is deemed as prohibitively expensive.
Recent national policies have shifted the strategic direction of the AFP towards external, territorial defense as opposed to previous, internal foci. Among some of the challenges with this change in strategic direction include the uneven distribution of maritime security resources among territorial, transnational, environmental, and humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR) conflicts. For example, Philippine Executive Order 57, signed in 2011 by President Benigno Aquino, established a central interagency mechanism for enhancing governance in the country’s maritime domain. Between 1990 and 2011, Navy and Navy Reserve Manpower (including Naval Aviation and Marines) in the Philippines totaled 24,000 (active) and 15,000 (reserve).
Conflicts over responsibility for maritime surveillance between armed forces continue to underscore the numerous challenges that the TBA faces. For example, following the expulsion of Ferdinand Marcos from the Philippines in 1986, the Philippine Coast Guard separated from the Philippine Navy, resulting in an uneven distribution of resources and jurisdictional confusion.
Republic Act No. 7898, approved on February 23, 1995, declared it the policy of the State to modernize the AFP to a level where it can effectively and fully perform its constitutional mandate to uphold the sovereignty and preserve the patrimony of the Republic of the Philippines, and mandated specific actions to be taken to achieve this end.
Republic Act No. 10349, approved on December 11, 2012, amended RA7898 to establish a revised AFP modernization program.“With this the AFP will be able to push for the acquisition of equipment … (and) will also provide greater opportunities and enough time for us to finally achieve a minimum credible defense posture which will help us in better fulfilling our mandate to protect the people and the state,” Burgos said.
The Philippines could receive some help in upgrading its military equipment from allies such as the United States, Japan, South Korea and Australia. Ricky Carandang, the presidential communications secretary, says that talks are being held with Japan to acquire 12 patrol boats for the coastguard.
As of May 2014 the following are confirmed assets under the AFP Modernization Act:
- 2 ex-US Coast Guard Hamilton-class cutters retrofitted and modified as Gregorio del Pilar-class Frigate.
- 6 Multi-purpose attack crafts.
- 1 Philippine-made, Large Landing Craft Utility designated BRP Tagbanua.
- 6 US-made small unit riverine crafts.
- 10 brand-new multi-role patrol boats from Japan (PCG).
- Will acquire the French P400 class patrol boat "La Tapaguese" (PCG).
- 2 Strategic Sealift Vessel ordered from PT PAL, based on Makassar/Banjarsamin-class LPD.
- 3 units out of 5 AgustaWestland AW109 as naval helicopters.
- 3 medium-sized refueling tankers for "RAS" or "replenishment at sea" capability.
- 12 FA-50 Golden Eagle to be delivered after 38 months from March 28, 2014.
- 2 Refurbished C-130.
- 2 S211 aircraft were refurbished and returned to service.
- 3 EADS CASA C-295 are on order.
- 2 EADS CASA/IAe NC-212 Aviocar are on order.
- 2 S-76 helicopters were refurbished and converted into air ambulance.
- 18 new-build SF.260F primary/basic trainers.
- 8 PZL W-3 Sokol helicopters.
- 8 AW109 Power helicopters ordered as attack helicopter.
- 21 Bell UH-1 Iroquois refurbished aircraft to be delivered.
- 8 Bell 412 aircraft are to be acquired from Canada.
- Introduction of the M69B 81mm Mortars.
- 12 Soltam ATHOS towed artillery pieces to be delivered.
- Awarding of the Assault Rifle Acquisition Project to Remington Arms for the R4 rifle.
- Introduction of M16A1 (enhanced) and M16A1 Dissipator from the Government Arsenal.
- Arrival of excess Armored Humvees M1114, and assorted trucks M939 and M35 series from the US.
- 6 ACV-300 Infantry fighting vehicle from Turkey.
- 23 Maxi-Ambulance from US.
- Multiple KIA KM series truck.
- 2 batch of US-made M113A2 armored personnel carriers from US Army excess stocks.
- Introduction of Raptor and Knight Falcon Unmanned Aerial System (UAS).
- Awarding of the National Coast Watch Center system to Raytheon
- Universal Weapon Rest procured from SABER of the United Kingdom.
- Weighing and Gauging Machine from Waterbury Farrel of Canada.
While specialized information sharing and professional training – such as those related to satellite imagery and communication, incidence warnings, and aerial imagery to assist in cueing, locating, assessing, interdicting, apprehending, and prosecuting maritime incidences - fleet acquisition, particularly for the transport of Armed Forces, support of Coast Guard search and rescue operations, as well as anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles, will take precedence in AFP modernization.
Recognitions and Achievements
The Philippine Army’s shooting team won as the overall champion in a two-week competition held in Australia 2013. Philippine Army shooting team has won 14 gold medals, 50 silver medals and two bronze medals in Australian Army Skills at Arms Meeting (AASAM)2014 by defeating the best shooters from the armed forces of the United States and 12 other countries. The 7th Philippine Contingent peacekeepers to the Golan Heights have been awarded the prestigious United Nations Service Medal for the performance of their mission.
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