MANILA -- Overall, the Philippines is safe as far as security in 2018 is concerned and the future looks bright for an even secure country in 2019, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said.
"The National Security Council and the security sector succeeded in adequately managing national security in the face of numerous issues and concerns that continue to challenge the security of the nation," Esperon said in a statement released on Sunday.
Esperon cited the creation of the National Security Strategy (NSS) and the issuance of Executive Order 70 establishing a National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) as President Rodrigo R. Duterte's initiatives to fulfill his promise in providing a safer and better future for Filipinos.
"The NSS that was issued by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte in May was instrumental in integrating the country's major security policies, defining responsibilities, and coordinating the actions of all concerned agencies, to effectively address security threats, issues, and concerns both within and outside the country. The President himself is leading the way by taking the role of National Task Force Commander (in NTL-ELCAC)," he said.
Esperon expressed optimism that the country will be "brighter, continually stable, and more secure" in 2019, as he cited various security concerns such as trans-boundary crimes posed by international syndicates and terrorist groups, threats from local terrorist groups, illegal drugs and the overlapping territorial claims in the West Philippine Sea as some issues which the country faced and addressed this year.
"The security sector will become more robust in addressing future security challenges. We are optimistic that as we are able to provide continuing stability, more developmental prospects, small and big -- such as our 'Build, Build, Build' projects -- will see fruition," he said.
Esperon reiterated the need to address local communist and extremist terror groups such as the Abu Sayyaf, Maute, and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), saying these groups hamper the country's full economic potentials.
"The operations will be relentless. More security forces will be deployed, as necessary. The government remained persistent in implementing the Enhanced Comprehensive Localized Integration Program (E-CLIP), wherein rebel returnees have found alternatives to a life of crime and violence," he said.
Esperon said trans-boundary crimes "are being addressed through the strong collaborative mechanisms within the ASEAN framework."
He said the campaign against illegal drugs will be "more intensified to eradicate the menace."
Meanwhile, Esperon said the Duterte administration has adopted a "middle ground" approach in the West Philippine Sea issue where the Philippines is a friend to all and an enemy to none in order to secure the country's territorial integrity and sovereignty.
"We continue the use of diplomatic engagements with China and other claimant states without compromising Philippine national interest. The improvement of facilities in the Philippine-occupied features in the West Philippine Sea were also undertaken," he added.
Peace and order is one of the major campaign promises by President Duterte when he ran for office in 2016. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency