President Benigno “P-Noy” S. Aquino III, in his meeting today with the country’s military top brass on his second day in office, said he will make sure that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is modernized, increased in size and harmonized with civilians.
The new Chief Executive, who assumes right away the constitutional responsibility as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, said he wants the new military leadership to be decisive and innovative in driving the reforms in the armed forces to achieve effective and efficient realization of the country’s defense and security thrusts.
The President aired these early policy messages as he installed today Lt. Gen. Ricardo David as AFP Chief of Staff during the formal change-of-command ceremony in Camp Aguinaldo.
In his message to the military, Aquino said he will ensure that the AFP’s modernization is sustained and made an instrument of AFP stability and strength so that it could serve the people more.
He said he has issued instructions to the new Secretary of National Defense Voltaire Gazmin to focus on the modernization efforts.
But he gave the advise that allocating more resources to the military should be based on the principles of professionalism and utilitarianism.
“Tell us what you need and we will give it to you, as long as they are based on principles of professionalism and utilitarianism; as long as they will benefit the whole institution and not only the interests of a few. If we use and allocate our resources efficiently, we will not only be able to improve the well-being of our armed forces but also that of our citizenry. With a livelier and more responsive economy, we will be able to further address your needs,” the President said.
Along with the modernization, the President added that there will be efforts to expand the AFP, which has not grown in years, even if the country’s population has doubled. AFP is 120,000 strong, with three major services: army, navy and air force. A P50 billion modernization law has been enacted in l995, but the lack of budgetary support and reported misuse of funds have distressed the program.
President Aquino added: “The things I expect of you, and which you can expect of your Commander in Chief, are things necessary to undertake the modernization of our armed forces. If all of us follow the rules, and insist on professionalism, integrity is enhanced. If we undertake our tasks with discipline, we can confront all challenges with the valor the history of our country has proven we all have. If we all work hard, we can find creative solutions to our problems, assured of strategic harmony within the armed forces, and between civilians and the military.
Early in his message, the President reiterated to the military his vow during his inaugural speech Wednesday that he will lead by example and provide the country the right leadership.
“I expect of you professionalism, integrity, discipline, valor, and hard work. You can expect the same of me,” he said, reminding the troops of the principle of civilian authority over the military. He made reference to his appointment of Gazmin, a long retired armed forces general but now a civilian, to the defense post which is a civilian post.
The President also said he believes civilian military cooperation should be in strategic context.
“I say strategic harmony because we must confront the reality that over the past years, strategy took a back seat to tactical considerations. I believe that the military functions best when the civilian and military leadership all share a clear understanding of the national security, and have crafted a clear plan which in turn can properly inform tactical decisions.
The President commended the military for the successful conduct of the first automated national elections last May.
He said he expects the entire Armed Forces to be the vanguard of the government’s quest to reform itself, to clean up its own backyard and serve as a model and inspiration for other government agencies.
“With your long tradition of sustaining the high military ideals of honor and discipline, sacrifice and dedication to serve the people and country, I am certain that the Armed Forces will once again take the lead in delivering our country and our people lasting peace and stability, development and social progress,” the President said.