THE Commission on Appointments confirmed the appointments of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Romeo Brawner, Jr. and 29 military officers, Wednesday, August 30, 2023.
Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri expressed his appreciation to Brawner for their loyalty to the Philippine flag and their willingness to make sacrifices for the country. “Once again, you are the vanguards of democracy in our country.
“We cannot have hearings today, we cannot have these institutions in place without the brave men and women of the Armed Forces,” Zubiri said.
During the deliberations on the confirmation of Brawner’s appointment, Senator Jose Jinggoy Estrada asked the general on his stance on the proposed military and uniformed personnel (MUP) pension reform bill which he authored.
Estrada mentioned Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr.’s opposition to the mandatory contribution of MUPs and in response, Brawner noted that soldiers are always willing to sacrifice a portion of their pay for the country’s benefit.
He also added that the Defense Department has developed a plan that would enable the AFP to generate pension funds, including utilizing available real estate assets.
Sen. Francis Tolentino asked the AFP Chief if the Philippines is still sending military personnel to study in China.
Tolentino clarified that he is not against the military studying in China.
In response, Brawner said exchange military students are covered by the Memorandum of Agreement on Defense Cooperation of 2004.
However, because of the escalating tension in the West Philippine Sea, the AFP temporarily stopped sending military students to China.
Deputy Majority Leader Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito stressed the need to modernize the AFP because of the situation in the West Philippine Sea.
Ejercito recalled that under the modernization program, the AFP has outlined Horizon 1, which was supposed to implement 53 projects from 2013 to 2017, but only 36 projects were implemented.
Under Horizon 2 (2018–2022), which would place the country under the minimum credible defense posture, only 19 out of 97 projects were completed.
He said there is also Horizon 3 which would supposedly complete the modernization program.
“How important is it that we will be able to catch up on our modernization program which has been hampered by budget cuts and revolving door policy, among others?” Ejercito asked, as he noted the situation in the disputed West Philippine Sea.
Brawner Jr. said he believes that to be a strong nation, the Philippines needs a strong AFP.
Sen. Imee Marcos, for her part, pushes for the local production and procurement of firearms and equipment for the Philippines’ armed forces to lessen the country’s dependence on foreign suppliers for its national defense.
Marcos pitched the revival of the government’s Self-Reliant Defense Posture (SRDP) Program initiated by her father, former President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. in 1974.
“I am a great crusader for our self-reliance program,” Marcos said.