“One major failure under Aquino is the continued failure of the government to address human rights violations”
The constantly shifting national security environment in the Philippines requires ongoing assessment and adaptation of our approaches to ensure the preservation, advancement, and resilience of our nation. Given the intricacies and transformations we encounter, it is of utmost importance to develop a unified and all-encompassing strategy that can proficiently tackle emerging threats to our national security while concurrently advancing our well-established developmental objectives.
In this four-part series, we shall examine the national security policy of the Philippines in three administrations, namely, 2011-2016 (Benigno Aquino), 2017-2022 (Rodrigo Duterte), 2018 (also by Duterte), and 2022-2028 (Ferdinand Marcos Jr.)
During the administration of President Benigno Aquino III, the NSP centered on the following main pillars, namely:
1.Governance: This element emphasizes the importance of effective and accountable governance as a foundation for national security.
2.Delivery of Basic Services: Ensuring the provision of essential services to citizens, such as healthcare, education, and infrastructure, is vital for national security and stability.
4.Sustainable Development: Promoting economic growth and development while ensuring sustainability is a key aspect of national security, as it can reduce vulnerabilities and promote stability. 5. Security Sector Reform: This pillar highlights the need to reform and strengthen the security sector to better address internal and external threats to the nation’s security.
Collectively, they shape the National Security Policy’s (circa 2011-2016) approach to safeguarding a nation’s security and well-being.
The NSP during this period also recognized seven facets of our national security that enhanced our national interests.
Each of these facet took into account the psychological and social dimensions of national security, including how people perceived and believed, social norms, and the character that impacted their understanding of government policies and initiatives.
As mentioned, these are:
Socio-Political Stability: pertained to achieving peace and unity among all Filipinos, irrespective of their beliefs, ethnic backgrounds, or social statuses.
It involved both the government and the citizens participating in nation-building within the framework of the rule of law, constitutional democracy, and the full protection of human rights. Simultaneously, the government must be accountable to the people and, as such, ensure social and political stability through effective governance, clear roles, and efficient performance.
Territorial Integrity: referred to maintaining the integrity of the country’s land and maritime territories under the effective control of the government.
It involved ensuring the permanent inviolability of the national territory and its control by the government and the state, including safeguarding the Exclusive Economic Zone from illegal incursions and resource exploitation.
Economic Solidarity: entailed collectively pursuing and strengthening the economy, making it capable of supporting national endeavors.
It relied on the unity of the people, who have a vested interest in the economy through participation and ownership.
This core national interest aimed to ensure Filipinos become stakeholders in economic and business enterprises, enabling them to collectively defend, protect, and enhance the economic system for themselves and future generations.
Ecological Balance: focused on effectively conserving the natural environment amidst industrial and agricultural expansion and population growth. It seeks to support environmentally sustainable development for the benefit of the nation and its people.
As the country experienced economic growth, it faced threats to ecological balance from natural disasters and human-made destructive activities.
The responsibility for maintaining this balance fell on all Filipinos, as individuals, families, and communities.
Cultural Cohesiveness: implied that Filipinos shared a collective commitment to principles of freedom and human dignity, as evidenced by historical figures like Lapu-Lapu, Jose Rizal, Apolinario Mabini, Andres Bonifacio, Jose Abad Santos, Senator Benigno Aquino Jr., and Corazon Aquino.
It also signified the Filipino people were bound by a common set of values and beliefs derived from their cultural heritage, transcending differences in socioeconomic status, religion, ethnicity, and language.
Moral-Spiritual Consensus: emphasized Filipinos must be motivated by a shared national vision rooted in patriotism, national pride, and the advancement of national goals and interests.
National unity was pivotal for survival, where people took pride in their country, culture, traditions, and history.
This consensus inspired citizens to actively engage in programs promoting the country’s security and development objectives.
Peace and Harmony: As a democratic nation, the Philippines was dedicated to global peace and the maintenance of world order. National security thrives through harmonious relations with neighbors and allies.
To achieve this, the country must cultivate positive relationships with all nations and people, free from external control, interference, or threats of aggression.
This begins with fostering harmonious engagement with ASEAN member countries.
The 2011-2016 NSP identified diverse challenges and concerns in the security environment, which included:
A borderless world had emerged with an increasing flow of goods, services, capital, and human resources across national boundaries.
The shift of focus by economies from ideological concerns to trade and technological priorities.
The shift of demographics, economic and political centers of gravity, and attention from the US and Europe to Asia-Pacific countries.
Meanwhile, new and more complex areas of security, as well as aspects of enduring problems, had become part of a much-expanded agenda of national security concerns, such as:
Ethnic conflict and belligerent states that threatened domestic and regional stability.
Organized crime and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction were global concerns that transcended national borders.
Conventional arms races
Environmental damage and ecological degradation that undermined economic prosperity and stability.
Transnational crimes such as terrorism and the proliferation of illegal drugs.
It was during the Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino Administration (2010-2016) that the Philippines obtained a favorable ruling against China in its territorial dispute in the South China Sea, which includes the West Philippine Sea.
The Philippines initiated arbitration proceedings against China under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in January 2013.
The primary objective of this arbitration was to seek a legal resolution to the disputes and clarify the maritime entitlements of the parties involved.
The administration also scored high on the good governance front.
President Benigno Aquino III took a strong stance against corruption and initiated investigations into the pork barrel scam scandal.
Several high-profile politicians, including senators and members of the House of Representatives, were implicated in the scam.
Some were arrested, tried, and convicted for their involvement.
Despite positive economic developments, challenges persisted during Aquino’s presidency.
Income inequality remained a concern, and poverty levels endured in certain parts of the country. Additionally, some critics contended economic growth did not equally benefit all segments of society.
Overall, the Aquino government made earnest efforts at fiscal responsibility, infrastructure development, and efforts to enhance the Philippines’ economic stability and global competitiveness.
One major failure under Aquino is the continued failure of the government to address human rights violations.
That impunity would characterize every administration and haunts us up to today.