By Priam Nepomuceno

DND officer-in-charge Undersecretary Jose Faustino Jr. (PNA file photo) 

MANILA – A peaceful, stable and secure Philippines. This will remain the main thrust of the Department of National Defense (DND) as it joins the Filipino people in welcoming the New Year.

DND officer-in-charge Undersecretary Jose Faustino Jr. emphasized this and said they will build on the progress they made in 2022, guided by their 10-point Defense Agenda.

“As we enter the New Year, the Department remains resolute in working towards our vision of providing a peaceful, stable, and secure environment conducive to national development, aptly guided by our 10-point Defense Agenda. To this end, I am confident that the trust and support of the Filipino people will continue to inspire us to sustain this noble pursuit of the Department,” Faustino said on Saturday.

“To this end, I am confident that the trust and support of the Filipino people will continue to inspire us to sustain this noble pursuit of the Department,” he added.

The DND’s 10-point defense agenda includes sovereignty and territorial integrity; internal security and stability; disaster resilience and climate change adaptation; cyber defense; modernization, capability and capacity development; security cooperation and engagements; Reserve Force development; welfare of soldiers, veterans and civilian human resource; legal and legislative agenda; and protection of cognitive domain.

Faustino reiterated the DND is always committed to defend and protect the country and its people from any dangers and security threats. “Nawa’y sama-sama nating salubungin ang taong 2023 nang may pag-asa at pagmamahal para sa bayan (May we all greet 2023 with hope and love for the country),” he said.

He noted the selfless contribution of the men and women of the DND made possible the “significant strides in our strategic thrusts and operational goals” for this year.

In 2022, the DND weathered the challenge of helping maintain national stability amid the change in administration following the May 2022 elections as well as uncertainties in the domestic and global security landscapes.

Also, some of the DND’s modernization programs bore fruit in 2022, including the arrival and commissioning of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)’s first ground-based air defense system, acquisition of the first two out of nine missile boats from Israel, and deliveries of another set of two Turkish-made T-129 attack helicopters.

Progress was also made in the campaign against the New People’s Army (NPA), as only 23 of the 89 guerilla fronts reported in 2016 are still existing. Of the 23, only five are capable of conducting any action.

“In 2022, we continued to ensure internal security, upheld our sovereignty and territorial integrity, pursued the organization’s modernization and capability development, advanced disaster resilience systems, and enriched our defense and security partnerships in the international arena,” Faustino said.

Earlier, AFP chief-of-staff Lt. Gen. Bartolome Vicente Bacarro said “external security operations” are always a cornerstone of sovereignty and are done to protect the country from “pressure and aggression from the outside”. (PNA)