‘AFP training in China a slap on our face’

Cecille Suerte Felipe - The Philippine Star
�AFP training in China a slap on our face�
The 185 new personnel of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division are to perform anti-COVID-19 frontline missions.
Philstar.com / John Unson

MANILA, Philippines — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has an ongoing military exchange program with China, as confirmed by Defense Senior Undersecretary Irineo Espino.

Even the Philippine National Police Academy is sending cadets to the Beijing Military Academy and other training institutions of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

Some senators find the situation baffling amid China’s aggression in the South China Sea.

Senators Francis Tolentino, Raffy Tulfo and Jinggoy Estrada have agreed that the AFP should explain the program and why the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) stopped accepting cadets from the United States since 2008.

“This is indeed very alarming. This has to be explained. We have not been accepting cadets from our (military) treaty ally while we have been sending (our soldiers) to the country harassing us in the West Philippine Sea… What’s the rationale behind this? How did this happen?” Tolentino said yesterday during the public hearing of the Senate committee on national defense and security on the proposed National Defense Act.

“This has to stop. It’s a slap on our face because while China is bullying us, our military could not retaliate,” Tulfo said, urging the Department of National Defense to stop the program.

“This is the first time I heard this… I find it very alarming that we are sending or encouraging our cadets and senior military officers to Beijing,” Estrada said.

Espino said he has yet to validate if PMA cadets were also training in the Chinese military school. Only AFP officers with the rank of lieutenant colonel or higher may avail themselves of the yearlong training in Beijing, he noted.

“That’s part of Chinese promoting influence globally,” Tulfo noted. He believes the program could even allow the PLA to “infiltrate” the Philippine military hierarchy.

As for the PMA’s non-acceptance of US cadets since 2008, Tolentino said “there must be a reason why they stopped sending cadets from the United States.”

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