Marcos Jr. tells AFP: Protect PH interests in South China Sea

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 27 2023 08:36 PM

CEBU CITY — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Monday ordered government troops to continue protecting the Philippines’ interests in the South China Sea as tensions continue to arise in the strategic waters.

The Philippines needs the commitment and service of its Armed Forces now that the country is confronted by a “more complex foreign situation,” he told the Air Force in Cebu.

“Kung dati ay mayroon tayong sinasabi na maliwanag na boundaries sa ating bansa, ngayon ay kinukwestiyon ‘yan at maraming nangyayari kaya’t napakalaking mission ang ginagawa ngayon ng Air Force para tuluyang bantayan ang Pilipinas,” he said.

“Alam naman natin na ang Pilipinas ay maliit lamang na bansa ngunit kailangan pa rin natin panindigan ang ating teritoryo, kailangan pa rin natin ipaglaban ang karapatan ng bawat Pilipino dahil tayo naman, the Philippines is a sovereign nation, the Philippines has a functioning government and that functioning government includes the members of the military and that is why it remains to be our duty to protect the country, to protect our citizens,” he said.

“Kaya’t sinasabi ko ‘yung mission ng AFP, ‘yung mission ninyo ay nagbago na. At kailangan natin bantayan nang mabuti ‘yung ating dating hindi kailangan masyadong isipin,” he said.

China as been claiming nearly the entire South China Sea and militarized several shoals within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone despite a 2016 Hague ruling that invalidated Beijing’s sweeping claims in the area.

In January, Marcos flew to Beijing to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping and urged him to establish direct communication lines with Manila to avoid “miscalculations and miscommunications” in the disputed waters.

Despite this diplomatic gesture, Chinese vessels continued to claim parts of Philippine waters, and even used military-grade lasers of Filipino ships.

While the Philippines was “able to maintain that peace and maintain that understanding with all of our neighbors” for many years, “things have begun to change and we must adjust accordingly,” the President said.

“There was a time where we did not have to worry about these threats and the intensification of the competition between the superpowers,” he said.

“But I know in my heart, I know that our men, our officers, our men, our women in the military will always stand up, will always stand up to the challenges that the Philippines faces in the best tradition of the military, in the best tradition of our heroes that have gone past,” he said.

The President ended his message by thanking the Armed Forces for its service to the nation.

“Madali naman sigurong makita sa nakaraang ilang taon that the Armed Forces has never failed the country and a grateful Philippines knows that,” he said.

“Ngunit kailangan niyong malaman na bawat isa sa kanila ay nauunawaan at nagpapasalamat sa inyo sa inyong serbisyo, nagpapasalamat sa inyo sa inyong mga naging sakripisyo at nalalaman ng buong Pilipinas kung gaano kahirap ang trabaho ninyo at nararamdaman ng buong Pilipinas ang malaking pasasalamat sa inyong pagserbisyo,” he said.

“Keep up the good work. The country thanks you. The country is counting on you.“