Department of National Defense

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The Department of National Defense (DND; Filipino: Kagawaran ng Tanggulang Pambansa) is the executive department of the Philippine government responsible for national security. Its main functions are to defend the state against internal and external threats and maintain law and order. Philippine Army veteran Delfin Lorenzana is the current secretary of the department.


Philippine Revolution

The Katipunan is considered to be the first military government in the country and a predecessor to the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Andres Bonifacio, founder of the secret society, appointed Teodoro Plata as the secretary of war, and later on he was replaced by Emilio Riego de Dios as the director of war when Emilio Aguinaldo usurped the presidency on 22 March 1897 during the Tejeros Convention.

The revolutionary government of Aguinaldo demonstrated Filipinos’ capability to organize an army to fight colonial masters until the arrival of the United States forces.

American Period

The Philippine Commission adopted Act No. 175 on 4 July 1901, creating an insular police force in charge of maintaining peace and order. The next month, the Philippine Constabulary was officially constituted. Its main function was to track down the guerilla leaders and other remnants of the Revolutionary Army.

During his presidency, Manuel L. Quezon presented the National Defense Act formulated by General Douglas MacArthur to the National Assembly of the new Commonwealth government. The land defense at that time consisted only of a professional Philippine regular army of some 350 officers and 5,000 men. On 11 January 1936, President Quezon appointed Brig. Gen. Jose delos Reyes as acting chief of staff of the Philippine Army by virtue of Executive Order No. 11. This also paved the way for the inclusion of the Philippine Constabulary in the regular Army of the Philippines, only to be withdrawn again in 1938.

The Department of National Defense was formally created on 1 November 1939 via Executive Order No. 230, limiting Gen. MacArthur's powers in ordering munitions, enrolling trainees and entering into contracts for the construction of military facilities without the approval of President Quezon and National Defense Secretary Teofilo Sison.

World War II and the Japanese Occupation

In January of 1941, the intelligence officer (G-2) of the Philippine Department, the US Army organization tasked to defend the Philippines during World War II and train the Philippine Army, had recommended to his superior in Washington D.C. that a Far Eastern Command be created, with the commander of the Philippine Department as the designated commander. It does not appear that this idea was seriously considered until Douglas MacArthur suggested to the Army Chief of Staff that such a command be created with himself as the Far Eastern Commander.

The United States Armed Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) was a military command formed by the United States in the Philippines during World War II to counter the threat posed by the Imperial Japanese Army. Major General MacArthur served as its commander. Its headquarters was established on 26 July 1941, the same time as the Presidential Order (6 Fed. Reg. 3825) was issued by the President  Franklin D. Roosevelt. This called the Philippine Commonwealth Army into the service of the Armed Forces of the United States.

During World War II, Several Filipino and American soldiers suffered in the Death March. On 5 July 1945, Gen. MacArthur came back to the Philippines and liberated the country, declaring the end of war in the Philippines.

Gen. MacArthur turned over the powers and functions of the government to President Sergio Osmeña Sr. after the war. Osmeña began investigations on collaboration charges with the help of Tomas Confessor, wartime civil governor of Iloilo and a guerilla leader of Panay, who had become his interim secretary of defense. Eventually, all the accused were granted amnesty.

Post World War 2 to Present

On August 31, 1950, President Elpidio Quirino appointed Ramon Magsaysay as the new Secretary of Defense. His strategy in making the Hukbong Bayan Laban sa Hapon (HUKBALAHAP ) made him so popular that Magsaysay won the Presidential elections in 1953.

The 1987 constitution mandates civilian control of the military and establishes the president as commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. The president also heads the National Security Council, the policy-making and advisory body for matters connected with national defense.

Functions and Responsibilities

The main functions of the Department of National Defense are to defend the state against internal and external threats and maintain law and order. The department's primary bureau, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), is mandated to uphold the sovereignty, support the Constitution and defend the territory of the Republic of the Philippines against all enemies, foreign and domestic; promote and advance the national aims, interests and policies; and plan, organize, maintain, develop and deploy its regular and citizen reserve forces for national security.

DND is also tasked with the responsibility of providing the necessary protection of the State against external and internal threats; directing, planning and supervising the National Defense Program; maintaining law and order throughout the country; and performing other functions as may be provided for by the law.


In 1999, the Department of National Defense had begun conceptualizing the Philippine Defense Reform Program (PDR) as recommended by the Joint Defense Assessment (JDA). In December 2008, a new PDR Management and Execution System was instituted. The performance objectives and timelines of the 11 programs (which later became 12 with the inclusion of the integration of the Defense System of Management) as well as three high priority projects were approved.

Secretary of National Defense Voltaire Gazmin took a direct hand in implementing systemic reforms in the defense establishment by taking charge of the PDR. He called on defense senior leaders and PDR Program Managers to complete the development of all reform projects within the year and to proceed as soon as possible to their full implementation and institutionalization in the whole defense establishment. Among the secretary's reform priorities was the institutionalization of DND’s integrated, multi-year defense planning system called Defense System of Management (DSOM).

Attached Bureaus

  • Armed Forces of the Philippines
  • Government Arsenal
  • National Defense College of the Philippines
  • National Security Council
  • Office of Civil Defense
  • Philippine Aerospace Development Corporation
  • Philippine Veterans Affairs Office

List of secretaries of national defense

Name Term Began Term Ended
Director of War
Emiliano Riego de Dios March 22, 1897 December 15, 1897
Minister of War and Public Works
Baldomero Aguinaldo July 15, 1898 January 2, 1899
Secretary of War and Public Works
Baldomero Aguinaldo January 2, 1899 May 6, 1899
Mariano Trías May 7, 1899 March 23, 1901
# Name Term Began Term Ended President
Secretaries of National Defense
1 Teofilo L. Sison November 1, 1939 July 15, 1941 Manuel L. Quezon
* Manuel L. Quezon July 16, 1941 December 10, 1941
2 Jorge B. Vargas December 11, 1941 December 22, 1941
Secretary of National Defense, Public Works, Communications and Labor
3 Basilio J. Valdes December 23, 1941 August 1, 1944 Manuel L. Quezon
Secretaries of National Defense and Communications
Basilio J. Valdes August 1, 1944 February 6, 1945
Sergio Osmeña Sr.
4 Tomas L. Cabili February 27, 1945 July 11, 1945
Secretary of National Defense and the Interior
5 Alfredo Montelibano,Sr. July 12, 1945 May 27, 1946 Sergio Osmeña
Secretaries of National Defense
6 Ruperto Kangleon May 28, 1946 August 31, 1950 Manuel Roxas
Elpidio Quirino
7 Ramon Magsaysay September 1, 1950 February 28, 1953
8 Oscar Castelo March 1, 1953 December 19, 1953
* Ramon Magsaysay January 1, 1954 May 14, 1954 Ramon Magsaysay
9 Sotero B. Cabahug May 14, 1954 January 2, 1956
10 Eulogio Balao January 3, 1956 March 17, 1957
March 18, 1957 August 28, 1957 Carlos P. Garcia
11 Jesus M. Vargas August 28, 1957 May 18, 1959
12 Alejo S. Santos June 11, 1959 December 3, 1961
13 Macario Peralta, Jr. January 1, 1962 December 30, 1965 Diosdado Macapagal
* Ferdinand E. Marcos December 31, 1965 January 20, 1967 Ferdinand Marcos
14 Ernesto S. Mata January 21, 1967 February 3, 1970
15 Juan Ponce Enrile February 9, 1970 August 27, 1971
* Ferdinand Marcos August 28, 1971 January 3, 1972
Juan Ponce Enrile January 4, 1972 June 30, 1978
Minister of National Defense
Juan Ponce Enrile June 30, 1978 February 25, 1986 Ferdinand Marcos
February 25, 1986 March 25, 1986 Corazon C. Aquino
Secretaries of National Defense
Juan Ponce Enrile March 25, 1986 November 23, 1986 Corazon Aquino
16 Rafael M. Ileto November 23, 1986 January 21, 1988
17 Fidel V. Ramos January 22, 1988 July 18, 1991
18 Renato S. De Villa July 20, 1991 June 30, 1992
June 30, 1992 September 15, 1997 Fidel V. Ramos
19 Fortunato U. Abat September 16, 1997 June 30, 1998
20 Orlando S. Mercado June 30, 1998 January 20, 2001 Joseph Estrada
January 20, 2001 January 25, 2001 Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
* Eduardo Ermita January 25, 2001 March 19, 2001
21 Angelo T. Reyes March 19, 2001 August 29, 2003
* Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo September 1, 2003 October 2, 2003
22 Eduardo Ermita October 3, 2003 August 24, 2004
23 Avelino J. Cruz, Jr. August 25, 2004 November 5, 2006
* November 30, 2006 February 1, 2007
24 Hermogenes E. Ebdane, Jr. February 1, 2007 July 2, 2007
* Norberto Gonzales July 2, 2007 August 7, 2007
25 Gilberto C. Teodoro, Jr. August 7, 2007 November 15, 2009
* Norberto Gonzales November 15, 2009 June 30, 2010
26 Voltaire T. Gazmin June 30, 2010 June 30, 2016 Benigno Simeon Aquino III
27 Delfin Lorenzana June 30, 2016 Incumbent Rodrigo Duterte