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Speech: Resilience in the Age of Global Insecurity

August 16, 2018

Speech of Senator Loren Legarda
“Resilience in the Age of Global Insecurity”
Launch of “The AFP in the Humanitarian Space: Building Resilience, Fostering Resilient Communities” Book
16 August 2018 | Manila Hotel

Since the enactment of the Climate Change Act of 2009 and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (NDRRM) Act of 2010, which I both authored, the Philippines has made significant gains in terms of mainstreaming climate change adaptation and mitigation (CCAM) and disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) into the different plans and programs of the government.

Climate change is an important inclusion in military security planning because for one, it accelerates conflict that contributes to instability and loss of harmony in various sectors. There is a need to know how resilient the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is against the current and imminent risk environments, and to see how the armed forces can expand its traditional resilience framework to include CCAM and DRRM, enhancing risk management, and adding value to its sustainability and resilience building efforts.

As a long-time advocate for environmental protection, and as an AFP reservist, I believe that building resilience is a shared responsibility. Traditionally, the military’s role in nation building has been limited to upholding national security, and humanitarian and disaster response (HADR). As key players in the humanitarian sphere, locally and internationally, the armed forces are now being progressively engaged in building resilient systems across all spaces, to include CCAM and DRRM.

As a former media practitioner, I see the role of information as a vital element in ensuring the effectiveness and sustainability of reforms.

Information empowers the public to demand more from the government. Because I want to elevate the level of involvement of the AFP in the nation-building process, the first step is to let the people know the important role of the AFP on this crucial issue of resiliency in relation to CCAM-DRRM. You can only communicate your plans to the public if the institution itself is certain and convinced of its expanded role, and this is what I want to achieve in this book – to emphasize the role of the AFP as a partner in national development and security.

It is a great pleasure and honor to be with you today to launch my Command and General Staff Course (CGSC) research paper, turned into book, titled: “The AFP in the Humanitarian Space: Building Resilience, Fostering Resilient Communities.”

This book is about codifying the relevance of military resilience building of the AFP as an institution, inclusion of CCAM and DRRM in the AFP’s practice and governance framework, and fostering resilient communities in response to risks caused by climate change to the community and the environment.

This emphasizes that building resilience not only means responding to threats brought by climate change and natural hazards, but also involves reforms to strengthen the adaptability of institutional structures and systems. In this case, the AFP, in performing its expanded role in supporting national and local agencies, should pursue the objective of co-managing and building more resilient communities.

Resilience, as a concept, is applied in making sense of how to respond to contemporary threats. Such response can be approached in different levels: individual, familial, institutional, national, regional and global. Because resilience is not inherent to communities and institutions, it needs to be developed and harnessed to ensure that threats are squarely addressed to prevent them from escalating into disasters.

The military has a similar concept of resilience. The Australian Army defines it as the “capacity of individuals, teams and organizations to adapt, recover and thrive in situations of risk, challenge, danger, complexity and adversity.” The US Air Force defines resilience as “the ability to withstand, recover, and grow in the face of stressors and changing demands.”

For many years, I have looked for any work or document that defined resilience from the point of view of the Philippine military. While various statements issued by the Office of Civil Defense and AFP referred to the need to build resilient communities in the context of Disaster Risk Reduction and Management, the AFP HADR Concept of Operations never referred to resilience building as a key component of the HADR strategies.

This is one of the reasons why I chose this topic for my CGSC paper. As an AFP reservist and, at the same time, appointed Global Champion for Resilience by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), I saw the need to have a concrete framework which will establish the link between the AFP and the national CCAM and DRRM efforts. I believe that AFP’s resilience as an institution is just as important as building resilience in communities. You can find the detailed framework on Chapter 2 of this book.

I also included in this book essential inputs in developing the proposed action agenda for building resilience, and fostering resilient communities:

1)   First is adopting an AFP Resilience Scorecard that will provide a set of metrics upon which the AFP may base specific measures and actions it needs to achieve within a targeted time frame. Having this management tool will provide a benchmark for monitoring progress and prioritizing actions in terms of creating a more resilient AFP.

2)   Second, develop a Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Roadmap for the AFP since climate change and its accompanying hazards have significant impacts on the infrastructure and operations of the military.

The AFP should follow suit with other military institutions in many other countries that have already recognized that climate change affects everyone and that their facilities and infrastructure are in the same way exposed to the dangers of climate change which may result in mission vulnerabilities.

3)   Third, conducting a Climate and Disaster Risk Assessment on AFP installations is also imperative especially since there is an absence of an AFP-wide and integrated initiative to identify the effects of climate change and disaster impacts on the AFP. This assessment should include the use of specific metrics and science-based data. Until now, not even a baseline survey to assess the risks of all its military installations has been undertaken despite the fact that disaster impacts on military installations have been experienced in varying degrees over the past years. This exposes the AFP and its facilities to unforeseeable risks which the institution may not even be capable of dealing with. The lack of such assessments makes credible planning for different disaster scenarios difficult, if not impossible.

4)   Another recommendation is to develop an AFP Climate and Disaster Resilience Toolkit that would address the issue of the lack of a deeper understanding of the relationship among climate change, disaster risks and national and human security.

The toolkit would also address the concerns that were raised regarding the limited reach of a comprehensive learning experience on these vital issues across the ranks of the AFP. In addition, this toolkit shall also address the need for improvement on the quality and depth of knowledge being imparted since many of the pieces of information are just sourced by the AFP from the internet.

5)   Lastly, incorporating CCAM and DRRM in key guidance and planning documents like the AFP Transformation Roadmap (AFPTR) and Defense Planning Guidance will also be crucial in achieving resiliency within the AFP. Given that the AFPTR is geared towards capability development and professionalization of all ranks, the inclusion of resiliency building as an element of capability development would not only be relevant but would also address the strategic nature of the AFPTR.

In closing, I would like to present to you this book as my humble contribution to the AFP and to the defense community.

The AFP has been and will always be there when the Filipino people need them. But in order to carry out its duties to the country more effectively, especially in times of calamities, the AFP must work towards raising the visibility of climate change in its policies, particularly in the AFPTR. Climate change must be considered in the formulation of the AFP’s resiliency plan and not just an incidental factor in assisting other agencies and the general public.

A resilient AFP is a more effective AFP, thus, it must also be able to look after itself and allow itself to first address its shortcomings in terms of institutional resiliency so that it may perform its HADR operations, one of its many duties, more efficiently.  Through this publication, I hope that the AFP will be guided on how we can work towards a resilient, dependable and capable armed forces.

Thank you.