The Armed Forces of the Philippines’ shift to external defense will revolve around the operationalization of the country’s “comprehensive archipelagic defense concept,” a senior navy official said.

Commodore Roy Vincent Trinidad, the Navy spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea (WPS), said Thursday afternoon that this approach will enable the country to extend its military influence into areas that need protection and preservation, in accordance with the Constitution.

He stated that following directives from higher headquarters, the Navy is tasked with implementing the concept as part of its transition towards external defense.

He further elaborated that with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) pivoting to an external defense orientation, both the Western Command (Wescom), located in Puerto Princesa City, and the Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom), situated in Tarlac, are now positioned as key players in spearheading these operations.

“Wescom is responsible for the West Philippine Sea while Nolcom is responsible for Bajo de Masinloc and our northern islands in Batanes province and Benham Rise,” Trinidad said in a press briefing after the Philippine Navy’s (PN) first quarterly command conference held in this city this year.

“So here in Palawan, nakatutok ang Wescom and of course the Naval Forces West (Navforwest) sa nine island detachments natin. Because we have troops here, we need to regularly support them, resupply them, rotate them. We have a mandate to ensure that our sovereignty and our sovereign rights are not violated,” he added.

Trinidad further mentioned that the command conference was held in Palawan, the province leading the AFP efforts in the WPS.

They are also continuously developing their capabilities, he said, to ensure that maritime patrol operations in WPS will be further improved to secure and protect the country’s sovereignty and sovereign rights in the region.

“It is the staging area for all our forces in sustaining and reprovisioning of our deployed troops in the nine detachments. The thrust of the Philippine Navy (PN) right now is to show the AFP that we are making a strong stand when it comes to protecting our sovereignty in WPS,” he explained.

“Without going into details, rest assured that the PN continuously develops its capabilities. And these capabilities are provided to the operational commanders, for this case, the Naval Forces West (Navforwest) as the naval component of Wescom, and let them employ the capabilities developed by the country

The operational mix is determined by the operation commander, who has a variety of assets at his disposal, including different ships—such as navy gray ships, coast guard vessels, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) boats, local government unit (LGU) assets, and aircraft. The decision on which resources to utilize is left to the discretion of the operational commander, he added.

In addition to operational and capability enhancements, infrastructure improvements are also underway, especially on Pag-asa Island, to enhance its multi-functionality.

“The development of our detachments is not only for military use. It is to ensure that our troops deployed there are safe and secured. And these facilities will be for inter-agency use. It will also be available for fisherfolks who are plying that area,” he said.

Previously, Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. declared that the AFP is initiating a comprehensive archipelagic defense strategy to guarantee the country’s utilization of the natural resources within its exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Teodoro emphasized the evolution of a defense strategy that not only looks forward but also actively projects Philippine military power within its sovereign territories.

He highlighted the critical necessity of safeguarding Philippine interests and the welfare of its citizens against the backdrop of a global landscape marked by volatility and unpredictability.