PRESIDENT Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. should be credited for upping the ante with regard to the West Philippine Sea issue because it raises public awareness and created an urgency for the nation to strengthen its military capability, a political analyst said on Saturday.
Expressing his views on the recent developments in the West Philippine Sea in a Quezon City news forum, Prof. Renato de Castro, a political analyst from the De La Salle University, said that the Philippines has prepared for China’s future moves as it seeks to take control of the West Philippine Sea or the water within the first island chain.
“Kaya dapat paghandaan natin ito. Ang pinaka-ano talaga diyan is we have to come out with a blueprint on how we can prepare the whole nation, it’s a whole-of-nation approach. We have to build up,” he told the forum.
“Of course, we have to give also credit to the President ‘no? Every time he delivers a speech sa Armed Force of the Philippines, sinasabi niya ang threat natin nasa labas na, the Armed Forces of the Philippines would have to focus on geopolitics, kasi ang challenge naman talaga sa labas. So, ayan iyong challenge natin we have to tell the Filipino nation that the challenge would be long. It will be primarily maritime in nature, and our goal is to ensure that the Philippines develops a powerful maritime capability.”
The Philippines has to build up the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine Coast Guard, he said, underscoring, however, that in order for the nation to do that, it must have a very stable economy, industries, and power generation capacity.
Basically, the government has to convince every Filipino on the need to invest more on defense, the political analyst pointed out.
“Kasi iyan talaga ang isyu natin eh. Noong panahong na nandito iyong (US) bases, we could afford na hindi gaanong kataas iyong defense budget, until now tayo pa rin ang mayroon pinakamaliit na defense budget sa buong Southeast Asia, less almost—ideally supposed to be 2 percent ngayon, less than 1 percent (of GDP).”
This should be incorporated in a national security strategy, which, in the case of the current administration, can cover about five to six years, he said, saying that “but it will be the beginning, kaya sabi nga ng mga Chinese ‘a thousand miles journey begins with a single step.’”
“The first single step is, of course, to prepare the nation, to tell every Filipino, saan ba iyong challenge?dito pa ba sa loob threaten, pa ba tayo ng communist insurgency kung nadi-deal na ito or ang nangyayari na sa labas,” De Castro said.
“Katulad nga palagi kong sinasabi, the Philippines is an archipelagic state. The Filipino nation is a maritime nation. Ang future ng ating bansa is, of course, developing our maritime capabilities and, of course, harnessing our maritime resources.”
President Marcos made a pronouncement in the past that he won’t preside over any process that will abandon even a square inch of territory of the Republic of the Philippines to any foreign power.
The Philippines will continue to be a friend to all and an enemy to none, he said.