June 19, 2024

The Insider News

Direct from the source

Speaker reaffirms House support for PBBM’s PCG, AFP modernization plan amid latest WPS collision incident

SPEAKER Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez, today reaffirmed the full support of the House of Representatives to President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.’s initiative for the continuous enhancement of the Philippine Coast Guard’s (PCG) capabilities and the modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) amid tensions in the West Philippine Sea.

“We stand united in support of President Marcos, Jr.’s firm resolve to enhance our defense capabilities to uphold our country’s sovereignty and protect our national interest in the West Philippine Sea. The House of Representatives is solidly behind his decisive leadership and unwavering commitment to safeguarding our sovereignty and territorial integrity,” said Romualdez.

Romualdez, leader of the 300-plus strong House of Representatives, issued the statement on the heels of the collision incident Tuesday morning between the Philippine Coast Guard vessel escorting the rotation and reprovisioning operation of the AFP collided with a bigger Chinese Coast Guard ship. 

The incident occurred as Philippine vessels were on their way to the grounded ship BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal to deliver supplies to Navy personnel stationed on the ship. 

In his keynote address at the Lowly Institute in Melbourne, Australia, President Marcos said the Philippines will continue to upgrade the capabilities of the PCG and pursue the modernization of the AFP in line with his pronouncement that the Philippines shall never surrender even a square inch of its territory and maritime jurisdiction to any country.

“The House of Representatives pledges its full cooperation in the legislative process to ensure the timely implementation of measures to strengthen the Philippine Coast Guard and modernize the AFP to bolster our country’s defense posture in the face of emerging challenges,” stressed Romualdez, who is part of the President’s official delegation to the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit. 

President Marcos bared that he approved earlier this year the updated acquisition plan of the AFP called Re-Horizon 3, in line with the country’s Comprehensive Archipelagic Defense Concept.

Under the defense plan, President Marcos said Philippine forces must be able to guarantee, to the fullest extent possible, Filipinos, Philippine corporations, and those authorized by the Philippine government, unimpeded and peaceful exploration and exploitation of all natural resources in areas where the country has jurisdiction, including within its exclusive economic zone in accordance with international law.

He said that Philippine agencies, forces, and institutions are working to strengthen their capabilities,  noting the country is on the frontline of international efforts to preserve, defend, and uphold the rules-based international order.

On the other hand, President Marcos emphasized that in addressing its differences with China, Marcos said the Philippines will continue to engage with its giant neighbor bilaterally and through ASEAN-led mechanisms.

President Marcos added that the Philippines will continue to adhere to the 2002 ASEAN-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, and will remain committed to working with ASEAN and China towards an effective and substantive Code of Conduct (COC) based on UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea). 

“I am deeply concerned about this recent development in connection with the territorial dispute between our nation and China. The stability and prosperity of our region rely heavily on the principles of diplomacy and adherence to the rules-based order,” Romualdez said. 

“The Philippines remains committed to pursuing diplomatic channels to address this issue and seeks to foster a relationship with China based on mutual respect and cooperation. We believe that by working together in a spirit of goodwill, we can achieve a peaceful and equitable resolution to our territorial dispute,” he added.

According to the PCG, the collision between BRP Sindangan collided with China Coast Guard vessel 21555  resulted in minor structural damage to the PCG vessel.

The incident on Tuesday morning was the latest in several similar disturbing incidents that occurred between Philippine and Chinese coast guards in the disputed waters in the past several months, including other dangerous actions such as the pointing of military-grade lasers and water cannon firing on Filipino vessels.