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The military policy of the Republic of the Philippines. A brief overview
Material posted: Publication date: 15-01-2017

In recent months, in the information agenda more often appear Philippines and odious President Rodrigo Duterte. The Western media even in the summer, has started an information campaign against the elected in may 2016 the leader in connection with the brutal methods of combating drug trafficking, which proclaimed and began to apply Duterte. In Russia the attention to the island nation especially actively began to pay in the past few months due to the projected intensification of bilateral cooperation in the military sphere. So, in early January in Manila on a friendly visit arrived large anti-submarine ship of the Russian Navy "Admiral Tributs" the tanker "Boris Butoma". Previously held talks on expanding military cooperation at the meeting of the two presidents at the site of APEC summit in Peru, and on 5 December the matter was discussed during the talks, Deputy defense Minister of Russia Anatoly Antonov, Minister of national defence of the Republic of the Philippines Delfinom Lorenzano. In this regard, it appears relevant to give a brief description of the policy of the Philippines in the field of military development, defence and security.


The development of the armed forces of the Republic of the Philippines, a set of factors that influence the decision of military-political leadership of the country in the field of defense and security. The island nature of the Philippines, the complexity of the ethno-religious composition of the population combined with a difficult socio-economic situation in the country, and the regional neighborhood with such countries as Taiwan, China, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia largely determine the military strategy of the state. Philippines is not subjected to external aggression since the Second world war, the US military presence ensured the independence and security of the country.

According to the Plan of the policy of national security for 2011-2016 (National Security Policy – main document defining strategic development priorities of the country)[1], which was prepared during the presidency of Aquino Beningo and, in fact, represents the current national security Strategy, among the main external threats and challenges to Philippine include international terrorism, drug trafficking, piracy, the threat of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in the region. External invasion and the possible participation of the country in international conflicts, according to this document, are to date unlikely. However, the growing military power of China in combination with the claims of Beijing's dominance in the South China sea (which in the doctrinal documents of the Manila calls the West Philippine) creates a point of tension in this shipping region.

South China sea is a strategically important region from the point of view of navigation and resource potential, and with the military, creating tension in relations between the US and its allies on the one hand, and China on the other. In addition to the Philippines, claim to control the waters is also pushing Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia, but the most decisive steps in this respect, commits Beijing. So, in 2012, China seized control of Scarborough reef, starting strengthening the coral reefs and construction of artificial Islands with accommodation on the territory of the military facilities (including missile defence systems, radar systems, military airfields, etc.).[2] Despite the fact that the Philippines, following the declared principle of the peaceful resolution of conflicts, appealed for the solution of the dispute in the Arbitration court in the Hague, which granted the petition of Manila, in the medium and long term Philippine military-political leadership will have to take into account this regional contradiction in building its military policy. It can be argued that these external threats and challenges will be reflected in the new national security Strategy of the Philippines, which is engaged in the command of the President of Duterte and publication of which is expected in the near future.

For decades, the armed forces of the Philippines, the national police and other paramilitary forces are fighting the rebel movements, terrorist organizations, and with groups of drug traffickers. The difficult socio-economic and political situation in the country, combined with the complexity of the ethno-religious composition of the population influence the formation of the operating environment in which they must operate, government forces in the confrontation with the specified enemy that uses guerrilla tactics of warfare.

The greatest threat to the security of the country are Islamist terrorist groups operating mainly in the South (Mindanao island), home to the Muslim minority Moro and where a strong separatist sentiment. By far the largest of the groups is Abu Sayyaf, which in 2014 have sworn allegiance to ISIS. Abu Sayyaf has links with many international Islamist terrorist organizations, among which are the Indonesian Jamaa Ansharut Tauhid and Jemaah Islamiyah training the militants in camps in the Philippine territory. [3]

Government forces in the southern regions of the confront and other Islamist terrorist groups of different sizes and with different capabilities. In 2016, the Group Maute (Maute Group), the Islamic Caliphate Mindanao (Khalifah Islamiyah Mindanao), Assistants of the Caliphate (Ansaral-Khilafah in the Philippines), the Islamic freedom fighters, Moro (Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters) together with the Abu Sayyaf announced the creation of the Philippine "province" of ISIL. [4] these groups, acting autonomously, act as allies and coordinate their actions in the fight against the army and police of the Philippines. Thus, according to some experts, these organizations at the local level, support communication with and participating in the political process of the National liberation front and Moro Islamic liberation front Moro. [5]

In addition to Islamic terrorists and separatists a serious problem for the Philippine government forces to date, has been the armed rebel group of Maoist Communists. The new people's army (New People's Army) and the National democratic front (National Democratic Front) act as the combat organizations of the Communist party of the Philippines, while saving a significant degree of independence and autonomy of action. 26 August 2016 in Oslo was signed the Declaration of the indefinite cease-fire between the Communists and the government. [6] in Spite of lengthy attempts to resolve the decades-long conflict by political means via third countries (e.g. Norway and China), Communist guerrilla groups up to the present time retain the ability to conduct armed struggle. Given the presence of radical fighters of the Communist movement, the possibility of renewed attacks by separate groups of the New people's army remains. Its fighters mainly, and carried out attacks in 2015-2016.

The fight against drug trafficking is also today one of the priority task of the Philippine government, which under President Duterte has become the main. While drug trafficking, hostage-taking for ransom, piracy and other crimes are the source of earnings as Islamic terrorists and Communist guerrillas, and therefore requires a comprehensive solution with a combination of preventive and coercive methods.

The main instrument for ensuring military security of the state are the armed forces of the Philippines. Their total number is 125 thousand people: the army – 86 thousand; the Navy – 24 thousand (including 8.3 thousand Marines); air force – 15 thousand. [7] the Security of Maritime borders except the Navy provides the Coast guard (Philippine Coast Guard). Subordinated to the Ministry of national defence of the Philippines are the civil militia (Citizen Armed Force Geographical Units), numbering up to 50 thousand people that can be involved in the execution of auxiliary functions (for example, the cordon area).

Strategic management of the armed forces is carried out through the organization on the territory of the country of the United commanders (Unified Command). According to the territorial principle are organized into the following command (OK): OK Northern Luzon (North Luzon Command NOLCOM); OK South Luzon (South Luzon Command – SOLCOM); OK West (Western Command WESCOM); OK Center (Central Command); OK Western Mindanao (Western Mindanao Command); OK Eastern Mindanao). [8]

A special role in the implementation of fight against internal threats is played by the special operations Command, which comprises: a regiment scout-Ranger (Scout Ranger Regiment); the airborne regiment (Special Forces Regiment); the regiment rapid reaction (Light Reaction Regiment).[7] Each of these special forces has its own specifics, but the General is the active use of their use of the tactics of counterinsurgency unconventional fighting in jungle environments.

In addition to the special operations Command is allocated within the structure of the Navy naval special operations group (Naval Special Operations Group).[7] the Group consists of a marine special forces unit, a detachment of frogmen and other special operations units attached to the compounds of the Navy and stationed at different points throughout the country. Created under the influence and with the direct participation of American special forces teams of the naval special operations group of the Philippines is capable of conducting reconnaissance and sabotage operations, have extensive experience in counterinsurgency and counter-terrorism activities and is also responsible for conducting psychological operations (PsyOps). In the structure of the Navy of the Philippines is also a reconnaissance battalion of the Corps of infantry capable of performing a wide range of tasks and having, like other special purpose units, high level of training combined with experience in counter-insurgency activities.

In the fight against insurgents, terrorists and criminals in the country plays a big role, the national police, the number of personnel which is 45 thousand people. [9, 7], the national police is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of internal Affairs and local government. SWAT like units of the armed forces for decades have been acting to counter threats in the country. Force special operations (Special Action Force) are the main tool of the police and Philippine intelligence agencies in the confrontation with the mafia, terrorists and rebels.

Power resource also have the Philippine intelligence services. This applies in particular to the National Bureau of investigation (National Bureau of Investigation), one aspect of which is the implementation of counter-terrorism activities, as well as the Agency for combating drugs (Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency). However, power units serve as the auxiliary tool, as the main tasks of these departments are in the areas of identification, prevention and suppression of threatening national security illegal acts through the implementation of operative-investigative activities.

As shows the analysis, despite high losses of personnel in the fight against the internal enemy, the armed forces of the Republic of the Philippines have great potential and experience of counter-insurgency operations and are quite efficient in solving these problems. However, the potential of the Philippine army to repel foreign aggression is very low. Although compared to the 1998 military budget of the Philippines has tripled in 2015 amounted to 3.8 billion dollars [10] the readiness of the armed forces of the country to confrontation with other States is estimated by the American experts as low. [11] this is Especially true of the Navy and Coast guard of the Philippines.

Partly this situation is caused by the imbalance in funding (basic funds go to the army and special purpose units), because of objective reasons and due to the priority of internal over external threats. In the end, are armed with obsolete equipment production in different countries. In the army, for example, light tanks Scorpion (UK), infantry fighting vehicles YPR-765 (Belgium) and ACV 300 (Turkey); armored personnel carriers M113, M113A1, LAV-150 Commando (USA) and Simba (UK); 105 mm howitzer M101/M102/M-26/M-56 (USA); 155 mm howitzer M114/M-68 (USA); mortars 81 mm M29 and M30 107mm (United States); recoilless M20 75 mm, M67 90 mm and 106 mm М40А1 (USA), etc. [7]

Technical equipment of the Navy is mainly due to the transfer of other States obsolete ships. So, in the Philippine fleet are 4 frigate, which conveyed the Manila U.S. frigate Rajah Humabon (built in 1943) and 3 type frigate Gregorio del Pilar (1965, 1966 and 1967 construction). There are Australian BDK type Balikpapan, as well as other types of ships and boats production of different countries. Most of them are not equipped with missile weapons and air defense system. However, in this area differently. So, in October 2016, a contract was signed with South Korea for the supply of two new frigates, the first of which will be transferred to the Philippines in 2020. [12]

The capabilities of the Philippine air force also extremely limited. Park, presents the air force patrol aircraft (F-27-200MPA Dutch production; N-22SL Nomad Searchmaster – Australia); American light reconnaissance aircraft OV-10; a transport C-130 (USA) and others. In addition, the arms are training aircraft S211 (Italy), T-41 (USA) and others. Armed also a multi-purpose and transport helicopters American (AUH-76, Bell 412, MD-520MG, etc.), Polish (W-3 Sokol), Italian (AW-109), German (Bo-105) production etc. of the Israeli Blue Horizon UAV is currently being replaced with drones of its own production.

A full-fledged fighter aircraft in the Philippines missing. To date, procure light fighter FA-50 manufactured by South Korean company Korean Aerospace Industries. In the previously concluded contract to the Philippine air force has already delivered 4 aircraft ordered from 12, but the President Duterte questioned the feasibility of such a procurement, stating that it was a "waste of money" that could have been spent to fight the drug mafia and terrorists. [13]

It should be noted that the Philippines has participated actively in peacekeeping operations of the United Nations, which established themselves from the best side. In 2013, the Philippine military, police and experts participated in 8 UN missions. The total number of Filipinos involved in operations amounted to 730 people. In 2014, in Syria (the UN operation UNDOF) militants of the "Front EN-Nusra" captured 44 peacekeepers from Fiji, and also blocked in the Golan heights 72 Filipino peacekeepers. It was surrounded by Filipinos, was successfully released and withdrawn with the aid of a rapid reaction force UNDOF. While surrounded Filipino peacekeepers in accordance with the order from Manila (and contrary to the orders of the force commander UNDOF) refused to surrender and repulsed the attacks of the Islamists up to that moment had been withdrawn to safe areas in Israel. [14] since then, the Philippines ceased to participate in the mission in the Golan, withdrawing its contingent (351 people). In addition, in 2014 134 Filipino peacekeeper from Liberia (UNIMIL) due to the spread of Ebola. As of December 2016, the Philippines are taking part in two UN missions: MINUSTAH in Haiti (12 police officers and 137 military) and in the monitoring group for monitoring the observance of the cease-fire UNMOGIP (5 experts). [15]

The main partner of the Philippines in the military sphere is the United States. Relationships of Manila with Washington in the field of defense regulate 3 main agreements: the mutual defense Treaty of 1951 (Mutual Defense Treaty), the Agreement on forces of the presence of 1998 (Visiting Forces Agreement) and signed in 2014 year Agreement on expansion of cooperation in the defense sector (Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement). [16] In the country located 5 American military bases. Presumably, employees of American private military companies are involved for training the Philippine military and police forces, as well as to perform certain other functions. Despite a number of loud statements Rodrigo duterte about the intention to suspend military contacts with Washington in 2017 258 planned joint US exercises, which is 5 less than in 2016. Manila also develops the relationship in defence with Australia, Japan, South Korea and other countries, but the level of cooperation with them is much lower than the USA.

Thus, in the medium and long term policy of the Republic of the Philippines in the field of defense and security will continue to evolve to meet the challenges of internal nature, which will remain the main strategic priority of Manila. However, if the conflict with the Communist rebels can be solved by political means, the fight against Abu Sayyaf and other radical Islamists suggests the possibility of negotiation.

In the face of increasing external threats (for example, the expansion of China), and also because the problem of Islamic terrorism, drug trafficking and piracy, transnational, military-political leadership of the Philippines will conduct a balanced foreign policy and to seek opportunities for military cooperation with other States. Despite the deterioration of relations with the United States at the level of rhetoric, Washington will remain the main guarantor of security and territorial integrity of the country. The role of third countries will grow, creating opportunities for Russia.

First of all, this opportunity is the buildup of military-technical cooperation and arms exports, taking into account the deplorable state of military equipment in the possession of the Philippine army. Manila may be of interest for the supply of armored vehicles (BMP, BTR), drums, transport and multipurpose helicopters, fighters, attack planes, bombers and transport aircraft. A promising direction is to conduct joint exercises and exchange of experiences between soldiers of the two countries.

Given the geographic location of the Philippines, Moscow is interested in using this country as a logistics point. The creation of a full base or supply point would strengthen Russia's position in the region in relation to the United States and China. However, such proposals should be investigated more with the financial and other components. The interest of the Philippines to establish a military cooperation with other States, it is expedient to use for forming the framework of a defensive Alliance, which could include other States (e.g., Vietnam). At a relatively low cost to build such a structure could have a significant geopolitical effect.


Sources and literature

  1. National Security Policy 2011-2016. Securing the Gains of Democracy <>
  2. China Spratly Islands's New Defenses // Asia Maritime Transparency International 13.12.2016 <>
  3. Natalia Rogozhina Abu Sayyaf is the most militant theorganization the Philippines. // Internet magazine "New Eastern Outlook". 19.05.2016 <>
  4. Efimova, L. M. Province of the "Islamic state" in the southern Philippines – religious or political reasons? // Article on the website of MGIMO University 20.01.2016 <>
  5. Natalia Rogozhina Radical Islamism in Southeast Asia // the Article on the RIAC website <>
  6. Alister Doyle of the Philippine government, communist rebels sign ceasefire deal // Reuters 26.08.2016 <>
  7. The Military Balance 2016 // International Institute for Strategic Studies.
  8. Information from the official website of the armed forces of the Philippines
  9. Information from the official website of the Philippine National police
  10. SIPRI Military Expenditures Database <>
  11. Ian Storey The Triboarder Sea Area: Maritime Southeast Asia's Ungovned Space // Article on the website of the Jamestown Foundation <>
  12. Richard Tomkins Philippines orders South Korean frigates // articles on sitecom <>
  13. Sebastien Roblin FA-50 Golden Eagle: The Low-Cost Fighter that Might See Some Serious Combat // Article on the website of The National Interest 11.09.2016 <>
  14. Louis Charbonneau and Manuel Mogato How U. N. troops defied orders, opened fire and escaped Syrian rebels // Article on the Reuters site 12.09.2014 <>
  15. UN Mission''s Summary detailed by Country // Report from the official website ООН2016 <>
  16. Eleanor Albert The Now and Future of US-Philippines Military Alliance // Article on the website Defense One 29.06.2016 <>

RELATED MATERIALS: Defence and security