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National

AFP chief leads pledge to defend sovereignty amid internal, external challenges

InterAksyon.com
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines -- Armed Forces chief of staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista led soldiers Wednesday in renewing their pledge of “commitment to the Filipino nation. With honor and pride, we vow to fulfill our duties as the protectors and defenders of the Philippine sovereignty and integrity.”

“We will remain as this nation’s staunch catalyst of peace and development.  And we will continue to uphold the pillars of good governance, democracy and human rights -- ideals and values that hold us together as one people,” Bautista said on Independence Day.

A hundred and fifteen years since the declaration of Philippine independence, the AFP, which continues to battle a more than 40-year old communist insurgency, also finds itself facing increasing external challenges with China becoming more aggressive in pursuing its claim to territories in the West Philippine Sea, also known as the South China Sea.

This year, the New People’s Army has stepped up offensives that have claimed the lives of a good number of soldiers, policemen and militia members with the government seemingly undecided about resuming peace talks with the National Democratic Front, stalled since February 2011.

The government, which has sought United Nations arbitration on the territorial disputes, is also trying to fulfill its commitment to beefing up the military’s external defense with a start-up fund of P75 billion even as China has continued deploying military and civilian vessels to Panatag (Scarborough) Shoel and Ayungin Reef, with some reports suggesting they have begun building structures in the two areas.

The latest acquisition is the BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF16) which is homeward bound and, like the BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PF15), is a refitted US Coast Guard cutter more than 40-years old.

Sources say the Department of National Defense is also “in the thick of negotiations” for the purchase of ground-to-air missiles from Israel, reported for the Philippine Army.

 

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