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GET READY VS EXTERNAL THREATS, PHL ARMY TOLD; Marcos still tries peace efforts amid ‘more worrisome’ China

By ALFRED GABOT and CLAIRE MORALES TRUE

Editor in Chief and Managing Editor

MANILA — The Philippines must be prepared against more pronounced and more worrisome external threats and “any eventuality” as a result of the heightened geopolitical tension in the Indo-Pacific, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. told the Philippine Army and the nation on separate occasions this week.

Meanwhile, Philippine Navy (PN) spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea Commodore Roy Vincent Trinidad said military personnel aboard the BRP Sierra Madre (LS-57) in Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) are prepared to respond to any incidents, including the possibility of those who might try to take over the ship.

Trinidad said the PN and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are regularly holding patrols to prevent these actions.

This as the number of Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) vessels spotted in various WPS features increased to 22 from 11 from June 4 to 10.

During the Philippine Independence Day celebration, Marcos Jr. urged Filipinos to show the world the country’s might through their patriotism and unity to defend Philippine territory.

“Ang ating mga ninuno ay hindi umurong sa digmaan, kaya’t tayo ay hindi rin tatalikod sa tungkuling ipagtanggol ang ating nasasakupan (Our ancestors did not back down from war, so we will also not turn our back on our duty to defend our territory),” Marcos said as the country marked 126 years of its independence.

Earlier on Monday. Marcos addressed the Philippine Army’s 5th ID at Camp Melchor dela Cruz in Gamu, Isabela, stating the Philippines’ proximity to Taiwan puts it in China’s area of interest and it is important that the northern part of the Philippines is well-prepared for any eventuality.

“And that is why — the external threat now has become more pronounced, has become more worrisome. And that is why we have to prepare,” President Marcos told the members of the 5th ID at the base considered part of the EDCA agreement with the United States

.“So, that is the mission that you have before you. Now, you have two missions, whereas before it was only internal security,” Marcos told the Army soldiers.

The President, however, clarified that the Philippines would not take territories and would only defend its own while engaging in various efforts to maintain peace in the region through continued diplomacy.

“We are not trying to take territory. We are not trying to redraw the lines of sovereign territory, the EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone), the baseline,” the President said


“Ipakita natin sa buong daigdig na ang tunay na kapangyarihan ay hindi nasusukat sa lakas o yaman, kung hindi sa tunay na kahulugan at katuwiran ng ating ipinaglalaban, sa alab ng pag-ibig sa bayan, at sa di-matatawarang pagkakaisa ng ating mga mamamayan (Let us show the whole world that true power is not measured by strength or wealth, but by the true meaning and integrity of what we are fighting for, in the flame of love for country, and in the immense unity of our people),” Marcos said.

“Mananatili tayong matatag at hindi tayo matitinag (We will stand firm and we will not be shaken),” he said.

With this, the President said the Philippines would not just look back on the past but also live on with its lessons to build a better and freer future.

The Chief Executive called on Filipinos to continue being proud of their race.

“Lagi lamang po nating tandaan: Ang kasaysayan ang siyang susi natin tungo sa wagas at tunay na kalayaan, at sa kinabukasang puno ng pag-asa, kaliwanagan, at kasaganahan (Let us always remember: History is our key to pure and true freedom, and to a future full of hope, clarity, and abundance),” he said.

Meanwhile, National Security Adviser Eduardo Año reaffirmed the government’s commitment to safeguarding the nation’s sovereignty and security “despite the complexities and uncertainties of today’s world.”

Año, likewise, maintained that defending our sovereignty over the West Philippine Sea remains a paramount priority.

“We stand firm in upholding the 2016 Arbitral Award and adhere to a rules -based international order to ensure our maritime entitlements are respected. The quest for peace and security remains at the forefront of our national agenda. We work tirelessly to ensure the safety and well-being of every Filipino, countering both internal and external threats to uphold our nation’s sovereignty and freedoms,” he added. 

Marcos said the 5th ID’s mission now includes territorial defense from external threats, on top of the existing internal security concern brought by the communist terrorist group (CTG).

Among the current domestic security threats are the Ilocos-Cordillera Regional Committee (ICRC) and Komiteng Rehiyon Cagayan Valley (KRCV) groups.

The provinces of Quirino and Nueva Vizcaya were declared insurgency-free on Oct. 10, 2022 and Dec. 18, 2023, respectively, as well as other parts of Isabela.

Government forces dismantled four CTG operating units: two KRCV (September 2022); one KRCV and one Komiteng Larangan Guerilla-ICRC in December last year.

Ahead of the country’s 126th Independence Day, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr.  said the military remains resolute in its mandate to protect the country against security threats.

“As one sovereign nation, established by the steadfast perseverance of our predecessors, we shall remain resolute in upholding our pledge to public service, loyalty, and solidarity for the country, our people, and the flag,” Brawner said in his message for the occasion.

He also added that patriotism and unity remain the military’s strength in fulfilling its commitment to building a “strong Philippines” for future generations.