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Stay ready, Marcos urges Filipino soldiers amid rising geopolitical tensions in Indo-Pacific

Manila Standard

President Marcos urged members of the Philippine Army on Monday to enhance their defense strategies in response to escalating geopolitical tensions in the Indo-Pacific region.

Speaking to members of the 5th Infantry Division (ID) at Camp Melchor dela Cruz in Gamu, Isabela, the Commander-in-Chief highlighted the growing external threats, considering the Philippines’ strategic proximity to Taiwan and China’s expanding area of interest.

President Marcos emphasized the need for the northern regions of the Philippines to be well-prepared for any potential conflicts.

“The external threat now has become more pronounced and worrisome. That is why we must prepare,” he asserted.

The President noted a shift in the military’s focus from purely internal security to encompassing territorial defense against external threats. He underscored that their mission now includes safeguarding our sovereignty.

Mr. Marcos likewise emphasized the importance of diplomatic efforts to maintain peace in the region, reiterating that the Philippines is committed to upholding its sovereign territories without redrawing boundaries or engaging in expansionist activities.

In light of the evolving geopolitical landscape, the government has expanded its cooperation under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the US, designating Cagayan as a new site. This move aims to fortify the Philippines’ defense capabilities through improved training, equipment, and facilities.

The 5th ID, under Joint Task Force Tala, is now tasked with a broader mission that covers parts of the Ilocos and Cagayan Valley regions, and the entire Cordillera Administrative Region. Their responsibilities include overseeing multiple infantry brigades and Air Force tactical groups.

On the domestic front, the Commander-in-Chief highlighted the significant progress in combating insurgency within the country. Notably, Quirino and Nueva Vizcaya provinces were declared insurgency-free in recent years, along with several areas in Isabela.

The government has also successfully dismantled several units of communist terrorist groups operating in these regions, including two units in the Cagayan Valley last September and additional units in December 2023.

Mr. Marcos reaffirmed his administration’s commitment to strengthening the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), ensuring they are equipped and trained to meet the challenges posed by both internal and external threats.

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