MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Monday urged the military to “adjust accordingly” in dealing with tensions in the highly contested South China Sea (SCS), citing how the Philippines is currently facing a “more complex foreign situation” compared to before.
“For many, many years, we were able to maintain that peace and maintain that understanding with all of our neighbors. Now things have begun to change and we must adjust accordingly,” he told the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Visayas Command (Viscom) at the Brigadier General Benito N. Ebuen Airbase in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu.
Marcos said the sea row might as well be the “most complicated geopolitical situation in the entire world.”
“Kahit na may giyera sa Ukraine ay dito sa South China Sea sinasabi ito ‘yung pinakamahirap na problema at pinakakomplikado na problema (Even if there is a war in Ukraine, here in the South China Sea, which is seen as the most difficult and most complicated problem),” he added.
Marcos said this new security landscape has changed the AFP’s mission.
“There was a time when we did not have to worry about these threats and the intensification of the competition between the superpowers,” he said.
“‘Yung mission ng AFP, ‘yung mission ninyo ay nagbago na. At kailangan natin bantayan nang mabuti ‘yung ating dating hindi kailangan masyadong isipin (The AFP’s mission has changed. And now we need to keep an eye on what used to be ignored),” he added.
Marcos, in an exclusive interview with The Wall Street Journal in January, said the Philippines was trying its best to strike a “precarious balance” between the US and China.
Commitment to peace
Meanwhile, Marcos reminded government troops of the administration’s foreign policy which is “guided by a commitment to peace and guided by the national interest.”
He expressed gratitude to the AFP for never failing to protect the country’s people and defend its territory.
He was also thankful for the role they played in the conduct of “a good, safe, peaceful and honest election” last year.
“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 (You need to know that every Filipino understands and is grateful for your service, sacrifices and the entire country knows how difficult your job is),” he said.
If not for the AFP’s efforts to ensure peace and stability, he said people would not be able to live good lives.
“…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 (We know that the Philippines is a small country but we need to defend our territory, we need to fight for the rights of every Filipino because), 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.
He also expressed confidence that they “will always stand up to the challenges”.
“Once again, we continue to see heroes being made in our military. Keep up the good work. The country thanks you. The country is counting on you,” he added.
During his visit to the air base, Marcos also witnessed the signing of a memorandum of agreement between the Provincial Government of Cebu and the Department of National Defense – AFP regarding the relocation and functional replication of the affected buildings/structures/facilities, including road nets, electric and water facilities of the Central Command from its present location at Camp Lapu-Lapu in Cebu City.
He also met with several AFP commanders where he was given a briefing on the recent accomplishments and other updates in the military, particularly in Viscom. (PNA)