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AFP’s Mission Has Changed Amid Rising Tensions in South China Sea

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said the mission of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has changed amid the rising tensions in the South China Sea and the intense rivalry between superpowers.

Speaking to AFP officials and troops in Cebu on Monday, Marcos said the South China Sea issue is a “more difficult and more complex problem” than the Russia-Ukraine war.

Kaya’t sinasabi ko ‘yung mission ng AFP, ‘yung mission ninyo ay nagbago na. At kailangan natin bantayan nang mabuti ‘yung ating dating hindi kailangan masyadong isipin,” he added.

[Translation: This is why I am saying the mission of AFP, your mission has changed. And we need to monitor what we didn’t have to think much about before.]

In his previous speeches, Marcos said his administration’s foreign policy was to maintain peace. On Monday, he said the Philippines must adjust to any change.

“For many, many years, we were able to maintain that peace and maintain that understanding with all of our neighbors. Now things have begun to change and we must adjust accordingly,” he said.

The Philippines has filed another diplomatic protest against China after a Chinese vessel pointed a military-grade laser, called a dazzler, at a Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) ship near the Ayungin Shoal.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the protest was sent to the Chinese embassy, condemning the “shadowing, harassment, dangerous maneuvers, directing of military-grade laser, and illegal radio challenges by CCG vessel 5205 against PCG vessel BRP Malapascua on 6 February 2023.”

The DFA also said the actions by the Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) was a threat to sovereignty and security.

China described the situation in the contested Ayungin Shoal as generally “calm,” adding that the foreign ministries of both nations have begun discussions on the matter.

China also insisted that Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea is part of its Nansha Islands, refusing to acknowledge the 2016 arbitral ruling in The Hague, which concluded that China has no legal basis to claim historic rights to the bulk of the South China Sea.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin also said the arbitration case was “pure political drama” orchestrated by the United States, which has backed the Philippines amid the laser incident.

Source : CNN