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New AFP chief calls for continued protection of PH territories

Newly-installed Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff, Lt. Gen. Felimon T. Santos, Jr., ordered for the continued protection of the country’s territories.

This order is part of his guidance aimed at further enhancing the military’s operational effectiveness and organizational excellence.

“Similar to my predecessors, my tenure as Chief of Staff will be grounded on the realization of the AFP’s vision to be world-class armed forces that are a source of national pride,” Santos said in a statement late Thursday.

He called for the continued protection, defense, and security of the country against foreign intrusions, and the extraction and exploitation of natural resources.

The AFP chief called for the sustained support to national policy and defense agenda that aim to develop a credible force and strengthen capabilities on occupied features in the Kalayaan Island Group.

Santos also ordered the reinforcement of maritime and air domain awareness particularly in sea lanes of communications, Philippine Defense Area of Operations, and Philippine Air Defense Identification Zone.

“The AFP shall also continue to monitor developments in the Spratlys particularly the facilities and structures constructed and military hardware and defense systems installed/deployed in these areas,” he added.

To achieve this, Santos called for the creation of an intelligence network and communication system for timely reporting of the situation in the West Philippine Sea.

He added that AFP troops should support national efforts in territorial waters against illegal fishing, poaching, and island taking/building, and support law enforcement against transnational crime.

In the area of cybersecurity, Santos called for improved monitoring, defense, and security of the AFP’s communication facilities and command and control infrastructures by fortifying multiple layers of security.

The AFP chief also called for the expansion of existing international military engagements; strategically shape the security agenda, and promote defense and security cooperation through international defense and security engagements and peacekeeping operations.

This includes the enhancement of border security using existing cooperative agreements such as the TCA with Malaysia and Indonesia and increases coordinated patrols with other ASEAN militaries to prevent the use of common maritime borders for the transit of terror groups, transport of contrabands, and conduct of other illegal activities.

For internal security operations, Santos directed all AFP commanders to build upon gains of the Development Support Security Plan “Kapayapaan” and finish targeted goals related to the defeat of the communist terrorist group (CTG).

On this, he said the AFP’s five primary tasks: Decisively engage CTG armed groups; Clear priority guerilla fronts; Dismantle regional guerilla units; Neutralize key leaders, officers, and HVIs; and Conduct resource-control operations and increase the tempo of clearing guerilla fronts, pursue localized peace initiatives.

Meanwhile, Santos ordered the full commitment of AFP units and offices to the implementation of Executive Order Number 70 with Community Support Programs as the main tool of the military in clearing guerilla fronts.

The AFP was also directed to strengthen Joint Intelligence Task Groups and Legal Teams to counter communist red and white area operations through NTF-ELCAC.

Military defense attaches abroad were also tapped to help in countering CTG international solidarity works. On the other hand, he also called for the total destruction of local terror groups, the development of strong counter-narratives against violent extremism, and the prevention of IS resurgence in the country by addressing various areas of radicalization.

For this, he called for more focused intelligence efforts, intelligence sharing, and interagency coordination with all concerned government agencies and stakeholders.

To strengthen the resilience of communities against radicalization, Santos also ordered the AFP to uphold the primacy of the peace process with peace-inclined groups and support the Bangsamoro Organic Law and the Bangsamoro Transition Authority in the full realization of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

In its effort to build a world-class AFP, he also ordered the continued implementation of existing transformation and reform programs as well as the institutionalization of new concepts.

This includes the review and updating of existing doctrines as well as the inclusion of lessons-learned in recent campaigns in war-fighting doctrines.

He also called for the alignment of organizational development efforts with the AFP Transformation Roadmap and the review and revision of future force structure programs that shall guide AFP organizational development with the AFP modernization.

Further, he tasked all units and offices to ensure that their goals and budgets are aligned with AFP strategic goals and to strengthen engagement with the Multi-Sectoral Governance Council and Multi-Sectoral Advisory Board.

In line with this, he also directed the equipping of soldiers with skills for all-weather, all-terrain combat situations particularly in built-up areas and urban areas.

Moreover, he also emphasized leadership development, stressing the importance of moral ascendancy and integrity along with physical and mental fitness.

Lastly, he called for all AFP officers, enlisted personnel, and civilian human resources to maintain transparency in all actions, optimize utilization of resources, and discharge duties with utmost integrity, honesty, and responsibility.

“Let me emphasize that we must always work together as a team and aspire for institutional gains and not our individual interests in order to attain and secure lasting peace for the country,” Santos said.

“Together, and with the support of our Commander in Chief, we will push forward to work for a better, stronger, and smarter AFP in the service of God, country, and people,” he added. (PNA)

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