Department of Defense Part I: Mission and Goals

While the rest of you opinion mongers are dealing with elections, I’d like to get down and dirty with Philippine defense. How is this animal called the Department of National Defense (“DND”) put together and how ready is it to wage war? With respect to the last question, what is the relationship with the United States?

We will ask hard questions because defense is one area where pussy-footing around politely will not get the job done. Diplomacy is for diplomats. Waging war is for brutally frank truth-tellers.

“You idiot, Joe. We can’t wash our national secrets in the public laundry, and we can’t be calling China a bully in a government web site. Get real! Get a life!”

Ah, I stand corrected. We do need to be diplomatic, and we can’t reveal state secrets. But we should not blow smoke at our citizens or mislead them about their security.

The Department of National Defense has many subordinate functions and offices or bureaus. They are detailed below. These are very important functions, but one is inclined to ask, is the Department mainly administrative in focus, dealing with all the ancillary businesses of defense from veterans affairs to medical units and schools, or are these units in place to support a finely honed fighting force? Are efforts administrative and self-perpetuating with lots of nice jobs, with maybe a little corruption tossed into the mix. Or is DND ready to attack and defend? 

It is just a question.

Perhaps with a little bias written in.
The five crucial components that will be examined further using information that is available on the internet are:
  • Budget (e.g., allocations for admin vs. troops if available)
  • Defense Intelligence Security Group: purpose and activities
  • Plans and projects; strategy
  • Armed Forces of the Philippines
  • Relationship with the United States
In today’s article, we will set the scene by looking at the organization of the DND and its mission and goals. Original text from DND documents are italicized.
Here are key positions shown on the DND organization chart. Commentary is interjected now and then to raise important issues.
  • Office of the Secretary
  • Spokesmen and other administrative staff to Secretary of National Defense Voltaire T. Gazmin
  • The one non-administrative position is of considerable importance. It seems to be comparable to the US CIA: The Group Commander, Defense Intelligence Security Group (“DISG”), headed by Major Ramon Antonio E. Bello Pa.
  • Under-Secretaries
  • These are heads of a variety of functions: (a) defense, (b) finance and materials, (c ) legal and strategic affairs,  and (d) civil, veterans and reserve affairs.
  • They seem to duplicate other sets of leaders; it is difficult to distinguish their responsibilities from those of the Assistant Secretaries and DND bureaus that follow.
  • Assistant Secretaries (“AS”)
  • Functional heads: (a) personnel, (b) finance, (c ) plans & programs, (d) strategic assessment, (e) acquisition, installations & logistics.
  • The two functions that would seem to play crucial roles in defining the China situation and how to structure a U.S. role would be: AS Danilo Francia who heads plans and programs, and AS Raymund Quilop who heads strategic assessment.
  • Executive /Service Staff
  • Information management, public affairs, administrative services and legal services.
  • Other Directors in the DND Proper
  • Five directors whose roles are not stated in this document.
  • DND Bureaus
  • 13 Bureaus that do defense work: the military units, veterans affairs, civil defense, arsenals,  the National Defense College, and medical centers.
  • The Chief of Staff, Armed Forces of the Philippines, is General Emmanuel T. Bautista.
  • Others
  • DND Ombudsman, audit, shrine curator and CSC/DND field office.

If I read this correctly, the Secretary of National Defense has over 40 people reporting to him. That is unmanageable. Maybe they report in some chain of command, but that is not shown. My impression is “rat’s nest of overlapping responsibilities”.

There are separate statements for “Mandate”, “Mission”, and “Vision”. The mandate and mission say pretty much the same thing and the vision provides a future direction.

  • Mission: “to guard against external and internal threats to national peace and security, promote the welfare of soldiers, veterans and their families in order to attain national security, uphold sovereignty and territorial integrity, support socio- economic development and political stability”.
  • Vision: “A transformed National Defense establishment in the 21st century: a strategic partner of the International Community, capable and responsive, professional and competent, effective and efficient in meeting external and internal challenges to national security and domestic stability as well as contributing to the social and economic development of the Philippines”.
Those are excellent framing statements. The DND also sets forth clearly the Department’s values and objectives.
  • Core Valueselaborate by providing important performance standards:
  1. Efficiency, Effectiveness and Economy.
  2. Flexibility and Responsiveness.
  3. Professionalism and Respect for Civil Authority.
  4. The Rule of Law, Transparency and Accountability.
  • “The Defense Department advocates a consultative, collaborative, and participatory approach in its pursuit of its mandate and strives to communicate its efforts inside and outside the organization.”
  • “The Defense Department, likewise, adheres to the responsible use of power to advance national security interests. It recognizes that those who hold positions of public trust should account for their performance to the public.”
These, too, are excellent foundational values. Of note, there are Ombudsman and Audit functions within the Department to police matters. We’d have to explore these areas further to see what kinds of incidents have arisen.

National Defense and Security Policy Goals and Objectives

DND follows through on the mission by pursuing certain goals and objectives assigned by current law:
  1. Secure the sovereignty of the State and the integrity of the national territory (Sec 3, Art II, 1987 Constitution);
  2. Secure the Republic of the Philippines from direct armed aggression or invasion (RA 7898);
  3. Suppress insurgency and other serious threats to internal security (Section 3, RA 8551);
  4.  Protect and preserve life and property in times of war or other national emergencies of equally grave character (RA 7898);
  5. Assist in social and economic development (EO 292, s-87);
  6. Strengthen security alliance and partnership in the Asia-Pacific Region (RA 7898);
  7. Assist in fostering international peace and stability (Chapters VI and VII, UN Charter); and,
  8.  Modernize the Armed Forces of the Philippines to a level where it can actively and fully perform its constitutional mandate (RA 7898).
RA7898 is “The AFP Modernization Act” passed in 1995. Clearly DND takes its orders from the “larger government” of Executive Branch and the Congress. Laws tell it what to do.

DND’s Thrusts

This section outlines “the primary focus of this department to vigorously pursue the needed defense reforms for a transformed National Defense establishment . . .”
  1. Upgrading the AFP’s Capability to protect the people “against hostile internal and external forces (AFP’s foremost role) and added roles such as responding to disaster and International peacekeeping and humanitarian operations.”  The role assigned AFP to provide disaster relief and support UN initiatives is fairly new, formalized in 1995 via the AFP Modernization Act.
  2. Modernization the Government Arsenal
  3. Enhancing the Office of Civil Defense (disaster relief)
  4. Utilizing the Reserve Force to complement the AFP and the OCD (includes ROTC coordination with schools)
  5. Developing the National Defense College of the Philippines
  6. Cultivating Synergy with Local Government Units and the Private Sector.
  7. Ensuring the Welfare of Veterans

If I were to boil these down, it has two active planks, (1) upgrade defense capabilities and (2) strengthen disaster relief. And it has an administrative thrust. I get the idea that administrative is pretty intense.

The DND home page is a plasterwork of elements apparently added here and there over time. It is cluttered and some elements duplicate one another. It gives the appearance of comprehensiveness, but if you dig a bit through the various elements, you find it is mostly PDF files copied and thrown onto the page, sometimes outdated, generally not comprehensive (the financials), and occasionally informative. There are pictures of award ceremonies and lots of good words reading the patriotic flair, mom, peach pie, that kind of thing. In other words, publicity puff.
The plan for reform runs from 2004 to 2011 and nothing is there to bring it up to date.
You will find nothing about China or terrorism or NPA or UN peacekeeping or the state of readiness. You will find a lot about conferences and awards.
The Army web site, subordinate to DND, is cleaner but still features award ceremonies and self-tributes. This will be the subject of a separate blog: Army, Navy, Air Force capabilities. But for sure, the military is spending a lot of resources on web self-promotion, and I don’t think that contributes much to defense of the Philippines.
The most meaningful document I found on the web site was a 42 page “white paper” dealing with upgrading the AFP. It appears to have been last revised in 2011, but that is not clear. What is clear is the following statement from that document:
  • Modernization of the AFP Still Wanting
  • The need to “modernize the AFP to a level where it can effectively and fully perform its constitutional mandate to uphold the sovereignty and preserve the patrimony of the Republic of the Philippines” has been recognized with the passage of Republic Act 7898 (RA 7898) in late 1995 and the approval of the AFP Modernization Program through Joint Resolution No. 28 of both houses of Congress in February 1996. With a life of fifteen (15) years, the AFPMP has technically ended in 2011 without fully accomplishing the intent and purpose of modernizing the capabilities of the AFP. While the AFPMP required a total of 332 Billion Pesos to fully realize the envisioned capabilities for naval, air, ground, and joint command and control communications and information systems, only 33.9 Billion Pesos was provided up to the end of 2010.12

Evaluation and Conclusions to Part I

I am troubled in that the impression I have from the DND presentation is an organization that is not focused on the hard business of defending the Philippines, but on public relations and the academics and administrative folderol of proving its worth.
Without proving its worth.
I’d guess that the effort to prove worth probably employs way too many people and the business of defense analysis and hard-nosed assessments employs too few. We’ll try to get into this a little deeper in a future installment.

Very clearly the mandate set forth in RA7898, enacted in 1995, has not succeeded. It has failed. It was a lost battle. Maybe the expectations were too high for a nation not yet on its economic feet.

Maybe more is happening now, but it does not get transmitted through the clutter of the DND web site.
One gets a feeling of happy warriors from visiting the web site. Not accomplishment or confidence. Yet the facts would read “failure” of the 2004 to 2011 mission.
In reading the white paper on needs, it is clear that the “desires” for improvement are earnest, but they run headlong into the practicality that the Philippines is a poor nation. The allocated budget has amounted to only 10% of the perceived total need.

I simply don’t get the impression of “strong fighting force, focused on victory”. I get the impression of parades. And I have no idea what external threats are deemed significant by DND. Or how, practically, we will get improvements made when schools are so under-funded, too.

Maybe I’m wrong and continued investigation will shed some optimistic light on things.

34 Responses to “Department of Defense Part I: Mission and Goals”
  1. I see PMA-run Philippine Defense is taking a page from North Korea. Making bellicose rhetorics to exert their sovereignty against occupationist China. The DNDs propaganda machine proudly trumpeted two Hamilton-class 2nd-hand bottleships manned by bottled-hardened crew. It was just unfortunate that the PMA admiral before a gaggle of brilliant U.P. journalists told them that these bottleships only have 105mm howitzer and 50caliber machine gun. No surface-to-air nor surface-to-surface missles. Nice work from another ivy-school graduate of PMA spilling natonal secrets to the clueless media for China to know. Wheeeew !!!If these PMA commanders cannot know that loose lips sinks ships they might as well apply as security guard in Luang Prabang. The armed-less harm-less Hamilton-class ships should not be told of their martial incapabilities. Just send those poor pinoys to their doom so their families can collect life insurance from their carcass. Life Insurance? Does anyone know here how long the life insurance of combat pinoys takes to be released? Soldiering in the Philippines is employment-of-last resort. Patriotism and Nationalism are last in their mind.

  2. From the looks of it, Joint the U.S. will not, cannot entrust sensitive military matters because the PMAyers just divulged how vulnerable their bottleships are including dozen of flying bumbling bees.The bumbling bees and this bottleship are likely not intended against foreign threats but surely for transport of PMAyers families and subjogation of Filipino people.

  3. Edgar Lores says:

    1. I won’t say much about your impressions of the DND. I recognize the necessity for national defense, but I am a peaceful man and a pacifist.2. I note that the DND policy, apart from its external component, has also an internal component. I can understand the need for the latter in the face of NPA and Muslim insurgency, but disaster relief? Shouldn’t this be the concern of another department with perhaps the ability to liaise with the armed forces for help in emergencies? And shouldn’t emergency services be based primarily on formal and semi-formal (i.e. voluntary) civilian organizations that are already in situ?3. You briefly note the DISG may be the counterpart of the CIA. I am aware that the NBI is supposed to be a counterpart of the FBI when they are not busy masterminding kidnappings or extorting money from aliens, but a Filipino CIA, an MI6 group? Unheard of. I can’t recall there ever was a movie on a Pinoy James Bond (Juan Boldyak? Or Juan Bonjing?).4. As you point out, national defense is an important matter, of equal importance as a man learning some martial art like karate or aikido or jujitsu. From your impressions, I get the impression of the DND as capable of wielding a feather duster. (We must not forget that the Defence department was complicit in Enrile’s fake ambush and in Ninoy’s murder.) The NPA rebellion has been with us forever, despite internal purges and the god of communism having fallen many years ago. I recognize this is not a purely military matter, but part of the DND’s objectives is a strategy of social and economic development.5. Is ROTC still required? I did training in high school and in college, and remember playing toy soldier with a wooden rifle. I still have nightmares about not finishing college due to failing training.

  4. I gather life insurance payments take some time, eh? It's like that grand story about how the US abandoned Philippine Veterans after WWII. No, the US paid $200 million in 1946 to transfer the responsibility for veterans care to the Philippines. Then the $200 million kinda like just went away and vets were left empty handed. Want to guess how many stars and medals the recipients of the money had?

  5. 1. May your world be our world.2. The DND explicitly recognizes both internal and external threats. I think the military is commonly used for double duty (it is in the US), defense and disasters, because big manpower is readily available for quick on-site rescue. To have a lot of people standing by waiting for disasters would be a poor use of resources. I think it is a reasonable double duty.3. I'm researching that now. Actually, DISG is NOT like the CIA. It was stripped of authority after Marcos because of the dirty deeds done by his secret police. So it is not a night stalker.4. Air force without planes, navy without boats, army without discipline . . . The NPA is not a political organization, but is more a set of extortionist gangsters, like mob families, or terrorist cells, operating independently and merging with normal people. Very difficult to eradicate. I lay the blame for that more on poverty (ummm, and the Church) than the military's ineffectiveness. It is hard to eradicate the plague. New outbreaks occur here and there.5. I'd love to see you in combat boots with a rifle over your shoulder. ahahaha, boy I would. That would be like seeing Celdran in a priestly robe.

  6. Jetlag807 says:

    FYI: The Philippine equivalent to the CIA is NICA (National Intelligence Coordinating Agency).

  7. Jet, thanks for pointing me in that direction. I'm getting the impression that there are security forces tucked everywhere. I have no idea what they do. I suppose that's why they are SECRET.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Maybe it would be good if you can do a comparison between the organizational charts of the DoD and the DND. At least it would give us an idea of what an ally is doing. Sokor, Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand organizational charts would add greatly to our knowledge of how our allies are doing it. It's no good to look at Australia, NZ, and former Brit colonies because they follow the Brit model. Also the DND and the SecDef are not in the chain of command. The DefSec cannot issue direct orders to military commanders. He is a civilian. He handles policy not operations. The only civilian who can issue direct orders to military commanders is the president. He is commander in chief.I think the DISG collates intel from ISAFP and the various J-groups of the AFP. But the president also has his NSA. It would be good to know how military intel works its way up to the president's NSA which I assume collates not only military intel but also diplomatic, trade, economic and any other intel that has a bearing on national security and interest. Maybe a organizational chart comparison between US and other allies' intel flows and Phils would give us an idea of how the thing works. -mb

  9. That explains the administrative bent of the DND web site then, rather than the recording of weapons and forces we see in the Army site.You've offered some good suggestions. Let me see how practical the comparison idea is.Thanks.

  10. My advice to Americans AS IF THEY DO NOT KNOW ALREADY, Philippine military is leaking "national secret informatons" like a sieve. Please do not share military information to Philippine counterpart they will just tell their Philippine Media that makes FOI moot and academic. Why Filipinos wanted to not leak but tell the Philippine Media? So that the people knows that they are high up there tete-a-tete (please understnd this as french not tagalog and I intend it to be not tagalog but french in definition) that makes them appear important.Philippine Military are only for export to United Nations as blue-helmet guards. U.N. Blue-Helmet Filipino military is glamorized OFWs with arms … again, like all OFWs, they are led-commanded-controlled and they meekly follow to white commanders.

  11. "We maintain there must be accountability and we will enforce our existing laws," said Herminio Coloma, a spokesman for President Benigno Aquino."We will adopt needed measures to prevent a repetition (of the incident)," he said to American Navies invading the territorial waters of Tabutabutha as quoted from internationally circulated Time Magazine.They know how to pick their battle. Battle with least resistance, Americans.Shouldn't Americans make Philippines pay whenever they seek assistance against China?So, therefore, Philippines and America are even. No wait a minute, Philippines still has a lot to pay for rescuing Filipnios from Japanese.

  12. The top priority of Philippines should not be procuring military arsenals purported against external threats. The TOP PRIORITY should be excellent education and Ampatuanization of Philippine journalists and replacing them with really educated ones.I was dumb when I went to America. Now, without even going to their ivy-school except for extension classes, just by watching and reading news reports I became intelligent than Philippine Ivy-school graduates. What I have not learned from Americans is to speak and write like Americans.American media educates. Philippine media educate Filipinos not to think right. Graduating college is not the end of education. It is never ending pursuit of knowledge. This is where The Media comes in.

  13. Once we are educated we become economic powerhouse TOO BIG TO FAIL worth protecting by the 1st world. Presently, Philippines is not worth protecting and wouldn't even make a dent in world economy if we are swallowed by Chinese which is far fetched but the billions and billions needing to upgrade the military spent instead on education, infrastructure and fight corruption would put Philippines in the map as worth protecting. Currently, the mindset of Americans is protecting the people from armageddoom not the Philippines as physical country. Even Filipinos if given a chance to leave would want to leave hands down.

  14. Right now, America is throwing their toilets and kitchen sink to protect South Korea against North. This is not about America this is about protecting South Korea. Americans know that North Korea do not have nuclear delivery system unless sent by human corier or thru FedEx.

  15. Next WEDNESDAY! Dump American Democracy !!!What am I gonna do? Where else would I go. What can I do. Why Wednesday? Why not Monday? Wednesday is an internity!!! That is a long wait, Joe. I'll go insane which I already am.

  16. J says:

    Edgar and Joe,Jetlag is right. The CIA equivalent in the PH is the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (formerly National Intelligence Security Agency). An ex-general who headed this agency was a professor of mine back in college. It might not be on the same level as the other spy agencies, but it's not without achievements: I'm told (can't verify) that the driver of the Tunku Abdul Raman, the first PM of Malaysia, was a NISA agent. Considering Malaysia was seen by PH and Indonesia at that time as an enemy, and vice versa, getting an agent that deep into the Tunku's circle was a coup, considering further that the Malaysians were being protected by the British then.As for PH intelligence community in general, W Scott Thompson who served as Director of US Information Agency wrote once (in an FVR bio I think) about the NISA helped facilitate a defection of a high ranking (read: Politburo level) North Korean official that impressed the Western spy community. In the words of Thompson in his book: "(In the eyes of the Western intelligence community), The Philippines was coming of age" And of course, who would forget Bojinka? PH authorities knew about 9/11 ten years before it happened, told US about it, but Clinton thought it was too incredible to be true.

  17. "The Age of Enlightenment (or simply the Enlightenment or Age of Reason) was a cultural movement of intellectuals in the 17th and 18th centuries, which began first in Europe and later in the American colonies. Its purpose was to reform society using reason, challenge ideas grounded in tradition and faith, and advance knowledge through the scientific method. It promoted scientific thought, skepticism and intellectual interchange and opposed superstition,[1] intolerance and some abuses of power by the church and the state" – WikipediaIt appears that Philippines is still in the Dark Ages?

  18. I like spies myself. They do important work. Thanks for the interesting "tales".

  19. I don't think there is much to hide because there isn't much here in the way of armaments. S what's to keep secret? When the Philippines gets a cutter, that is like North Korea getting a nuke. It makes the enemy read the defense agreement with the US and recognize that an attack on that poorly armed boat would bring the big gorilla into the picture. So I agree with publicly announcing the gathering of tools that China must be wary of.

  20. The only way the government can do anything about journalism is to start regulating it. Given all the power-mongers who control the media, I'd say that one has a snowballs chance in Pinatubo of succeeding.

  21. Sleep easy, Mariano. American democracy is right for America . . . I think. (The partisan warfare is rather childish and economically stupid.) But American style democracy is a poor fit for the Philippines, I think. The Philippines has different needs than America.

  22. The Philippines is coming into the light. You are helping in that regard.

  23. J says:

    Also, the PH government isn't the only one running a spy network. Remember how the US was bewildered to find that Senator Lacson had a spy working in the White House itself?

  24. Obama's chef is from WHERE? And what are those little black disks that keep falling off the undersides of the plates and into diplomatic salads?

  25. Attila says:

    "Filipinos if given a chance to leave would want to leave hands down."That is what my wife told me also. She thinks that Filipinos don't have any sentimental feelings for their country. They just care about their families. No real concern for the future end the welfare of the Philippines. She thinks that Filipinos in general are selfish people. Generous only to their family and the world outside of their family is just ignored.

  26. Your wife is pretty hard on her country-mates. I can see how she concludes that Filipinos in general are selfish people, and the family is prominent among loyalties. But I think there is a clear national pride. It is based on an inward allegiance to self rather than an outward allegiance to community, but it is there. I think I need to blog to explain that, or think it through.

  27. Fascinating little tale, J. I wasn't familiar with it, but it sounds like the Philippines invented Wikileaks before that Assange character. Releasing documents that were classified because they were embarassing to the US. Not that accurate should be embarassing (unkind descriptions of Arroyo).I liked Estrada's reaction, "Hey, don't involve me in this thing!" I presume appropriate punishments were doled out on the matter.

  28. Boris says:

    I think this post is completely on target in identifying the problems the DND has right now. It's not really sure where it wants to go and how to get there, but it really wants to show how great it is at whatever it is it's supposed to do. It's one big mess, and I look forward to your take on the AFP itself.I'm curious though, are you planning to cap the series with recommendations?

  29. Thanks, Boris. Good of you to stop by and comment. I'll be making recommendations as I learn enough to take that risk. On Wednesday's blog I'll make a suggestion that may be too extreme for conventional people to handle, and would bet that a lot of status quo inertia would lead to hearty objection. Yet, I don't know how the Philippines ever gets to a credible military defense trying to emulate the organization and weaponry of the big boys. So I look for solutions that are NOT conventional. It's only for the bold, I suppose . . . not complacent. Check in Wednesday.

  30. Tokwa says:

    @AttilaThere are still some Filipinos that wishes to live in the Philippines, if it is possible I want to raise my children and grow old in the Philippines.

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