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Brace for external threats—Marcos

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
Charles Dantes & Vince Lopez

Risks ‘more pronounced, more worrisome’

The Philippines must brace for increased external threats due to heightened geopolitical tensions in the Asia-Pacific region, President Marcos said on Tuesday.

“The external threat now has become more pronounced, has become more worrisome. And that is why we have to prepare,” President Marcos said during his visit to the Philippine Army’s 5th Infantry Division at Camp Melchor dela Cruz.

The commander-in-chief highlighted the country’s proximity to Taiwan and the resulting need for enhanced preparedness in the northern region.

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

The President clarified the Philippines is not seeking to alter territorial boundaries, but stands ready to defend its sovereignty.

Department Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr., for his part, urged Filipinos to stand united against the proliferation of misinformation aimed at undermining the country’s sovereignty.

“Now more than ever, let’s reinforce national unity to ditch and refute lies and misinformation which aim to suppress and divide us,” Teodoro said.

“Amid new threats to our freedom and sovereignty and the challenges of the modern times, the Department of National Defense will stay strong in its commiment to safeguard the country’s rights on our islands and our future,” he added.

Teodoro said tensions in the West Philippine Sea and the larger South China Sea emanate from China’s so-called ten-dash-line.

“China wants us to go to the small details to forget the main message. The main message is: The ten-dash-line is the provocation. And everything flows from that,” he said.

“They have no business being anywhere in the West Philippine Sea and other areas where we have jurisdiction,” Teodoro added.

Last week, the President said the Philippines is in a “defensive posture” amid external threats, but is not gearing up to wage any war.

During the defense summit in Singapore, President Marcos also warned the death of any Filipino in the West Philippine Sea due to illegal and coercive acts of other states would be “very, very close” to an act of war.

“If a Filipino citizen is killed by a willful act, that is, I think, very, very close to what we define as an act of war and therefore we will respond accordingly,” he said.

Mr. Marcos said the death of any Filipino would be the point where “we would have crossed the red line.”

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