Incoming Department of National Defense (DND) officer-in-charge Jose Faustino Jr. has vowed that not a single inch of the country's territory would be surrendered under his leadership.
In a message to the media Sunday, Faustino said the DND will “make sure to implement the order of [President-elect Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr.] that ‘not a single square inch of the territory is surrendered’.”
The priorities of the DND will include the protection of the country’s sovereignty, respect for human rights and international humanitarian law, and solution for the root causes of internal conflict, he added.
“While we are protecting our territory, as instructed by the President, we will continue to engage our regional neighbors,” said Faustino, who is a former Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff.
China has declared massive territorial claims in the resource-rich South China Sea, where the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan have overlapping claims.
Manila has renamed parts of the waters that fall within its territory as West Philippine Sea.
Earlier, Marcos said he would not "allow a single millimeter of our maritime coastal rights to be trampled upon.”
The DND will also address climate change, natural disasters, terrorism, law enforcement support against criminality and illegal drugs, cyber security, and local communist armed conflict.
According to Faustino, the department will continue the peace agreements with former rebel groups Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
“We are now on the third horizon of the AFP modernization—building a more reliable and credible AFP in strengthening territorial or external defense capability,” he said.
“We will ensure the smooth implementation of the AFP Modernization and will even enhance our capability in defending our territory,” he added.
According to Press Secretary-designate Trixie Cruz-Angeles, Faustino will serve as senior undersecretary and officer-in-charge and later on secretary of the DND.
Faustino would assume the Defense secretary post on November 13, 2022, in compliance with the one-year ban on the appointment of retired military officers under Republic Act 6975.—Joviland Rita/AOL, GMA News