Senators alarmed over AFP cadets training in China amid territorial dispute
Senators alarmed over AFP cadets training in China amid territorial dispute
Senators alarmed over AFP cadets training in China amid territorial dispute
by Mary Antalan08 August 2023
Photo Courtesy: Senate of the Philippines

Senators have expressed their concern after learning that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has an ongoing military exchange program with China amid its aggression in the West Philippine Sea.

Aside from sending AFP cadets to China, the Philippine National Police Academy is also sending cadets to the Beijing Military Academy and other People's Liberation Army (PLA) training facilities, according to Defense Senior Undersecretary Irineo Espino.

This urged Senators Francis Tolentino, Raffy Tulfo, and Jinggoy Estrada to reach an agreement that the AFP should explain the program and why the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) has 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?" Tolentino said on Monday 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 stated that he has yet to confirm whether PMA cadets were also training at the Chinese military academy. According to him, only AFP officers with the rank of lieutenant colonel or higher are eligible for the yearlong training in Beijing.

Tulfo noted that the act promotes Chinese influence globally.


He believes the program could even allow the PLA to "infiltrate" the Philippine military hierarchy.

"There must be a reason why they stopped sending cadets from the United States," said Tolentino regarding PMA’s non-acceptance of US cadets since 2008.

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