The Philippines has the right to build up its credible deterrents without any question coming from any other nations, newly appointed Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Gilberto “Gibo” Teodoro Jr. said.
“The job of the Secretary of the National Defense is first and foremost building up our credible deterrent, and that will, and the way that we build up our credible deterrent is our business and nobody else’s business and whether we partner with country X or Y in order to build up our own core strength is a question for the Philippines,” he said in a television interview.
Also, Teodoro said other countries should not question this right as the Philippines does not call out other nations engaged in the buildup of defensive and even offensive capabilities.
“Just like we do not question the buildup of not even defensive capabilities but offensive capabilities of other countries, they should not question ours and they should not tie up our buildup of our capabilities to any question of whether it’s Taiwan or whatnot. The Philippines is for the Philippines and we leverage that and I think other countries want to help us because they view it as an integral (part of) standing strong with democratic values,” he added.
The DND chief also said that the Philippines is not a pawn of anyone in the ongoing “geopolitical battle” in the region.
“And so the Philippines is a value (proposition) as we call it by its own self and not a pawn of anybody else in the geopolitical battle that’s raging within our area now,” he stressed.
As this developed, Teodoro said he was not expecting any role in President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s administration as he was already concentrating on his private sector responsibilities.
“Yes because I was already concentrating on my private sector responsibilities like, which I was concentrating only yesterday, resigning from, all my major responsibilities which I continued to do, resumed rather after the election,” he added.
Teodoro ran for senator and lost under the banner of Marcos and Sara Duterte who both won in the May 2022 elections.
He added that he was only informed that he would be appointed to the DND following a meeting with Marcos.
“The President, we had a meeting and we both agreed that this is the best way I can help his administration,” Teodoro said.
He also added that national defense is everybody’s business and the most important thing is to communicate about its importance.
“You know the enormous expense that’s required for it but any country worth its salt requires a robust defense because there’s no country that can have any integrity whatsoever unless it is able to enforce its laws within its own territorial boundaries,” Teodoro noted.
While he is not new to the DND portfolio having served as defense chief from August 2007 to November 2009 under then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Teodoro said manning the post is more challenging now as we are all now living in a different world.
“It was not merely the relationship with China which was different then, during that time there was no Middle Eastern implosion yet, there was no Arab Spring, there was no tension between Russia and Ukraine and the relationship between China and the United States was different, even in the semiconductor and technology sector there was cooperation so now we live in a vastly different world,” he added.