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We won’t go to war over WPS, says Marcos

CAPABILITY BUILDING. President Marcos Jr. troops the line during his visit to the 10th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army in Mawab, Davao del Norte. The President affirmed the importance of strengthening the military’s capabilities as it shifts its operations from internal operations to external defense. PCO
Charles Dantes

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

“We will not wage any war. We are not out to storm any territory,” Mr. Marcos told members of the Philippine Army’s 10th Infantry Division in Mawab in Davao region on Thursday.

“We are just in a defensive posture and we are just defending our country,” he said.

During last week’s defense summit in Singapore, President Marcos 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.

Mr. Marcos, after delivering his keynote address during the 2024 IISS Shangri-La Dialogue, was asked how the Philippines would respond if a Chinese water cannon attack resulted in a loss of life.

“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 replied.

“And our treaty partners, I believe, also hold the same standards (that) when joint actions will be undertaken in support of such incidents in the Philippines,” he added.

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

In Davao yesterday, Mr. Marcos told the troops to brace for “the new threat we are facing.”

“Just like what I said, if you were able to win over internal threats, I’m confident that you can also do that whenever the external threat comes,” the President said.

He vowed to equip the Armed Forces of the Philippines with its needs to strengthen its shift from internal security to external defense.

“We will do everything to ensure you have the capability. You have the capability to do the job, that is this new job that you have to face. You have the capability. You have the training. You have the equipment and that we will be able to present at least a deterrent force,” the President said.

Meanwhile, Beijing accused Philippine military personnel of destroying and removing fishing nets installed by Chinese fishermen within the vicinity of Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.

Over 2,000 meters of Beijing’s fishing nets were damaged while more than 100 meters were confiscated, China’s official news agency Xinhua said.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines did not give a detailed response, but said the very presence of Chinese ships within the country’s exclusive economic zone was illegal.

“The Philippines has sovereign rights over these waters, as recognized under international law, specifically the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,” AFP spokesperson Col. Francel Margareth Padilla told ABS-CBN News.

Beijing’s statement came on the heels of the Philippine military’s own accusation that Chinese boats illegally “seized” food and medicine airdropped to a Filipino outpost in Ayungin Shoal on May 19.

The AFP accused Beijing of “aggressive and unprovoked interference” when two Chinese rigid-hulled inflatable boats allegedly came within 10 meters of the BRP Sierra Madre vessel grounded in Ayungin and seized an airdropped package meant for Filipino troops.

“This action of getting or confiscating our supplies is illegal. You’re not supposed to confiscate the supplies of another country, even in war,” AFP chief of staff Gen. Romeo Brawner said.

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