Saturday, January 8, 2011

Definition and Evolution of Philippine National Security as a Concept

by Rommel C. Banlaoi

(This piece is culled from the author's article, “The Philippines” in Caroline Ziemske Dickens and Julian Droogan (eds), Asian Transnational Security Challenges:  Emerging Trends, Regional Visions (Sydney:  Macquarie University and the Council for Asian Transnational Threat Research, 2010), pp. 123-136.)

The National Security Council (NSC) defines Philippine national security as “a state of condition where our most cherished values and beliefs, our democratic way of life, our institutions of governance and our unity, welfare and well-being as a nation and people are permanently protected and continuously enhanced.”[1]  Though some Filipino writers erroneously attribute this definition from the National Defense College of the Philippines (NDCP), the definition actually evolved from the concept of national security developed by the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) in 1964.   NICA defines it as “the state of condition wherein the people’s way of life and institutions, their territorial integrity and sovereignty, as well as their welfare and well-being are protected and/or advanced.”[2]  The NSC continues to use this definition[3] though it is being contested by scholars in the academe and  non-government sector.[4]

The DND provides a more coherent analysis of Philippine national security concept.  The DND recognizes the complex linkages of internal and external security concerns.  It regards Philippine national security as a fusion of internal security and external security.  Though internal security is the priority of the Philippine government, external security is also part and parcel of Philippine national security because external security also affects the pursuance of internal security.  To advance  external security concerns of the Philippines, the DND promotes defense diplomacy with the outside world.  The DND asserts:

 The country’s national security, as a responsibility of the Philippine government, is no longer preserved and enhanced within its borders, but well beyond them through its first line of defense—diplomacy. The Philippine government stands ready to work with its friends and neighbors with the nation’s interest as its underlying beacon. Thus, Philippine foreign policy must be timely, responsive and driven by a desire to bring about change that makes foreign policy work directly for the benefit of generations of Filipinos.[5]

The Philippine military regards internal security threats as the most pressing concern of the government as the country “faces no immediate threat of aggression from other countries.”[6]  This is based on the policy perspective of the Philippine defense establishment  asserting  that “The Philippines is unlikely to be confronted with invasion or direct-armed aggression in the near to the medium-term.”[7]  According to the DND, internal security threats will continue to shape Philippine security policy, strategy and plans.[8]  Thus, the cornerstone of Philippine national security policy is Internal Security Operation (ISO), which is embodied in the implementation of the expanded National Internal Security Plan (NISP). 

Yet, the DND is mindful that external developments also affect the pursuance of Philippine national security interests.  Thus, it adopts the Defense International and Security Policy (DISP) to provide “strategic direction to bilateral and multilateral defense engagements with strategic security partners including regional and international organizations with a view to furthering the security aims of the state.”[9]   Based on this policy, the DND formulates the International Defense and Security Engagement Plan (IDSEP) to set the direction for the country’s international security engagement activities.

From various defense and security policy directives, the AFP identifies the following threats to Philippine national security: [10]

·         Internal Security Threats
o   Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG)
o   Local Communist Movement (LCM)
o   Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)
o   Renegade Faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF)
·         Potential External Threats
o   China Threat over the issue of the Spratlys
o   Malaysia Threat over the Issue of Sabah and Spratlys
o   Threats from Other claimants in the Spratlys
o   Threats from Flashpoints in the Korean Peninsula and Taiwan Straits
o   Threats of International terrorism and other Non-Traditional Security Threats

Having identified the current security threats facing the Philippines,  which are likely to continue under the presidency of Benigno Simeon Aquino III, what are the emerging security threats and challenges that the country has to confront in the years to come?.

[1] Office of the National Security Council Secretariat, Our National Security Strategy: A Reference Paper (Quezon City:  National Security Council, 1999). 
[2] National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, Problems of National Security (Manila:  National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, 1964), p. 2. 
[3] National Security Council Secretariat, “Organization for National Security in the Philippines”  (Briefing Manuscript, 2009).
[4] See Rommel C. Banlaoi, Philippine Security in the Age of Terror:  National, Regional and Global Challenges in the Post-9/11 World (New York and United Kingdom:  CRC Press/Taylor and Francis Group, 2010).
[5] Department of National Defense, Defense Strategic Policy Framework (Quezon City:  DND, 2006).
[6]The Strategic Direction of the AFP International Military Affairs (Quezon City:  AFP Headquarters, 2008), pp. 6.
[7] Strategic Defense and Security Outlook (Quezon City:  Department of National Defense Office of Strategic Assessment, 2007), p. 2.
[8] Ibid.
[9] International Policy:  Engaging our Strategic Defense and Security Partners in the Asia-Pacific Region and Beyond (Quezon City:  Department of National Defense, Ma7 2007), p. 2.
[10]The Strategic Direction of the AFP International Military Affairs (Quezon City:  AFP Headquarters, 2008), pp. 7-10.

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