MANILA – As he formally assumed the helm of the Department of National Defense (DND), newly appointed defense chief Gilberto "Gibo" Teodoro Jr. said one of the challenges is finding ways to fund the buildup of a credible deterrent force.
"Well the balance is really important in terms of sustainability, it’s a question of resource and fiscal management and finding innovative ways of financing the much-needed and unavoidable expense of building a credible deterrent force," he said in a press briefing at the DND main office in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City Wednesday.
And while a lack of funding could postpone investment in national defense, these upgrades will eventually be done once the necessary funds are found and allocated.
"You know the experience is if you postpone an investment in national defense today, it took five times in a few years, but you are going to have to spend it anyway, so what is necessary is to find the funding mechanism together also with the welfare and one of the jobs of the Secretary of (National) Defense to attend to the welfare of our veterans and our retirees and our current plantilla whether in the Armed Forces, the non-uniformed personnel and our employees to balance all those requirements and to make hard choices as to what goes, where and how much," Teodoro said.
Asked for a rough estimate on how much the budget of the DND and Armed Forces of the Philippines need for external defense, the defense chief estimates it to be around 2 to 3 percent of the Philippine gross domestic product (GDP).
"Based on rough percentages, actually defense spending should be about 2 to 3 percent for a growing country. However, we realized that maybe, 2 to 3 percent of GDP, but that is an ideal number and we’ll try to get as much as we can ano, right now the how much is something I have to learn yet after due consultation with everyone here," Teodoro pointed out.
Also, the newly appointed DND chief declined to comment on how he will handle or manage the defense portfolio saying he needs to listen and learn for the next few weeks.
"The first thing I would do in the first few weeks is to listen and to learn, I can't come in here with preconceived notions of what to do because national security is at stake, so I'm here to listen and to learn and then consult with the national security cluster and then we shall evolve the security policies," he added.
Teodoro also said he will take into account President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.s' defense pronouncements.
"Number one is that national defense shall transition of course without sacrificing the gains in internal security to external defense and number two our territory is our territory and, UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea), the basis of that cannot be changed by the passage of time nor changes in the administration," he added.
Teodoro previously served as DND chief from August 2007 to November 2009 in the administration of then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
He was also the former congressman of Tarlac (1st District). Teodoro also served as the chairperson of the National Disaster Coordinating Council during his tenure as DND chief.
He has a Bachelor's Degree in Commerce, majoring in Financial Institutions from the De La Salle University-Manila.
Teodoro completed his law degree, graduated at the top of his class at the University of the Philippines, and was the topnotcher in the 1989 Philippine Bar Examinations.
Teodoro also has a Master of Laws degree from Harvard University and is a licensed commercial pilot. (PNA)