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Monday, June 24, 2024

Marcos to PMA grads: Stand up vs. intruders

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President vows PH to ‘vigorously defend what is ours’

The Philippines will “vigorously defend what is ours,” President Marcos said on Saturday, as Manila’s maritime row with Beijing over the West Philippine Sea escalates.

The President likewise ordered graduates of the Philippine Military Academy to “keep our people safe in their homes, our territory secure, our defenses against threats strong, and our democracy stable.”

“Against intruders who have been disrespecting our territorial integrity, we will vigorously defend what is ours,” Mr. Marcos said in his speech that came on the heels of media reports saying that Beijing has issued a regulation empowering its coast guard to detain foreigners trespassing in the South China Sea.

He said the PMA “Bagong Sinag” Class of 2024 graduates have answered the call “to serve at a crucial time” in the country’s history.

“What we are facing now is a blatant disregard of internationally accepted principles and deployment of weapons of mass destruction by parties who seek to drive a wedge between a united citizenry. But people are not fooled. They can see through such schemes,” Mr. Marcos said.

His remarks follow a series of incidents involving Philippine and Chinese vessels near disputed reefs in the South China Sea that have strained diplomatic ties.

In a report published by the South China Morning Post on Thursday, the China Coast Guard warned that under the new regulation that will take effect in June, they can detain trespassers in the South China Sea without trial.

Philippine Coast Guard spokesperson for the WPS Commodore Jay Tarriela immediately denounced China’s directive, calling it “illegal.”

Beijing claims most of the South China Sea, brushing off rival claims from other countries, including the Philippines, and an international ruling that its assertion over the waterway has no legal basis.

To press its claims, Beijing deploys coast guard and other boats to patrol the waterway and has turned several reefs into artificial islands that it has militarized.

China Coast Guard vessels have used water cannons against Philippine boats several times in recent months in the contested waters, where there have also been collisions.

To address the emerging challenges, the President ordered the Department of National Defense and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to review the curriculum and ensure that cadets are equipped with “21st century skills” to counter “conventional and asymmetric threats.”

The President said amid the digital battlefield, necessary tools are needed to combat attempts at disinformation and infiltration.

“The PMA has long been a reliable institution in nation-building. However, in this time of great complexity, the PMA needs to step up and take on the task of ensuring that the next generation of leaders in the country are ready for the emerging and future challenges,” Mr. Marcos said. With AFP

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