Philippine leader urges military to focus on South China Sea

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine president said the primary mission of his country’s armed forces has changed to ensure territorial protection. Dispute with China And the conflict between the United States and China intensified.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. stressed the urgency of shifting the military’s focus to foreign defense in a speech in front of the military on Monday afternoon. He made the speech two weeks after summoning the Chinese ambassador to protest. Use of Military Lasers by the Chinese Coast Guard Some crew members of a Philippine patrol vessel temporarily lost their sight in the South China Sea.

The Philippines has condemned the Feb. 6 incident as one of more than 200 diplomatic protests it has filed against Beijing’s increasingly aggressive behavior since last year in the disputed waterway.

China accused the Philippines of encroaching on its territory and said its coast guard used a harmless laser to track the Philippine vessel. China claims almost all of the South China Sea.

“I’m saying that your mission at AFP has changed,” Marcos told the military, referring to the Philippine military. “For many years we have been able to maintain that peace and maintain understanding with all our neighbors. Now things are starting to change and we have to adjust accordingly.”

He said the country’s borders were being called into question, saying, “With so much going on, the Air Force has a very big mission to fully protect the Philippines.” Intensifying competition between major powers.”

Marcos did not provide details or mention China in his speech in central Cebu, but emphasized that the Philippines’ foreign policy remains committed to peace.

Despite being a relatively small country, “the Philippines is a sovereign state and we have a functioning government, so we have to fight for the rights of all Filipinos,” he said. Told.

After decades of fighting Muslim and communist insurgency, the military began focusing on defending the country’s maritime borders. We have started to modernize.

Many of the weapons and equipment are aimed at improving air and sea patrols to protect the archipelago’s extensive coastline and to build a minimal deterrent.

Under a 2014 defense pact with the United States, Marcos recently expanded the U.S. military presence in the Philippines by rotating additional batches of U.S. troops to stay in four Philippine military camps. approved. This is a sharp turn from his predecessor Rodrigo Duterte, who feared a US military footprint could anger Beijing.

China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei have been engaged in increasingly tense territorial disputes in the South China Sea, with US naval vessels and fighter jets patrolling to promote freedom of movement and Beijing’s extensive claims. Allies like the Philippines that are challenging and reassuring the

The controversy has intensified after China turned seven disputed coral reefs into missile-protected island bases to shore up its claims. The disputed waters could become a flashpoint in Asia and have been viewed as a delicate frontier for US-China conflict in the region.