MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Friday assured the Western Command (Wescom) that its “very difficult and important” job to keep peace in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) will be matched by government efforts to modernize the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Marcos met with the Wescom troops at Camp General Artemio Ricarte’s Lawak Gymnasium in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan and instructed them to maintain heightened military presence in the WPS at all times.
“Nandito po ang inyong Pangulo na sinasabi sa inyo na ang civilian government ay nasa likod na ninyo… Upang [maging] maganda ang inyong trabaho ay gagawin natin at ipagpatuloy natin ang modernization ng AFP, ang pagkakaibigan sa iba’t ibang bansa sa Asya, sa Southeast Asia (Your President is here telling you that the civilian government is behind you… For you to keep up your good work, we will continue the modernization of the AFP and the friendship with different countries in Asia, in Southeast Asia),” he said.
The Commander-in-Chief lauded the Wescom for being at the forefront amid continuing tensions in the WPS.
“Kahit papaano, doon sa maliit nating presence, in comparison doon sa mga ibang nakakatagpo natin doon sa West Philippine Sea ay kahit na maliit lang ang na-ihaharap natin na puwersa ay maganda naman ang nagiging resulta dahil kahit papaano ay nagagawa natin na nagiging maliwanag (Somehow, in our small presence, in comparison to the others we meet in the West Philippine Sea, even though we just have a small force, the result is good because somehow, we are able to make things clear),” he told the Wescom.
“Kahit na paano nandiyan na ‘yan (Somehow, it’s already there), and the Western Command is playing a very, very important part in keeping the peace. That is the most important part. And equally important is to defend the sovereign territory of the Republic of the Philippines,” he added.
Marcos’ latest instruction came in the wake of China’s provocative actions in the WPS and release of its new map that extends its claim.
Known as the “Defenders and Patriots of the Last Frontier,” the Wescom has jurisdiction over the country’s maritime territory, particularly the WPS.
Before the meeting with the troops, Wescom commander Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos briefed Marcos about the military units’ accomplishments and ongoing initiatives, according to a statement posted on state-run Radio Television Malacañang’s official Facebook page.
Marcos also received assurance that Wescom continues to occupy and establish an effective presence around nine Philippine-held islands, including Ayungin Shoal.
“They also regularly launch intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance flights to achieve wider coverage and better common operating picture in the West Philippine Sea,” the statement read. (PNA)