Philippines must prepare amid ‘more worrisome’ external threats – Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr

2024 June 11

CAMP VISIT. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. visits the Philippine Army’s 5th Infantry Division at Camp Melchor dela Cruz in Gamu, Isabela on Monday (June 11, 2024). In his message, the President pressed the need for the country to be prepared amid what he described as “more worrisome” external threats brought by the geopolitical tensions in the Indo-Pacific such as the rising China-Taiwan conflict. (Presidential Communications Office photo)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has emphasized the need for the Philippines to be prepared for “any eventuality” amid what he described as “more pronounced” and “more worrisome” external threats in the region heightened by geopolitical issues, including the flaring tensions between China and Taiwan.

Marcos, in his visit to the Philippine Army’s 5th Infantry Division at Camp Melchor dela Cruz in Gamu, Isabela on Monday, said the Philippines’ “proximity to Taiwan puts it in China’s area of interest,” highlighting the importance of the northern part of the country to be “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,” Marcos said as quoted by the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) in a news release.

“So, that is the mission that you have before you. Now, you have two missions, whereas before it was only internal security,” he added.

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.

“Hindi natin binabago anything na kahit isang — not even one inch. Ngunit hindi tayo puwedeng pumayag na kukunin naman ‘yan sa atin (We’re not changing anything, not even one inch. But we will not also allow that our territory to be taken from us),” he added.

This changing geopolitical landscape and emerging new threats, according to the President, prompted the government to include Cagayan as a site for the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the United States, the country’s closest military ally.

China has recently increased military activities near Taiwan after it swore in a new leader. It considers the self-ruled Taiwan as a breakaway province.

Internal security

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.

Resolute in defending PH

Ahead of the country’s 126th Independence Day, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. on Tuesday 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

Darryl John Esguerra (PNA)