By Priam Nepomuceno

Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. (PNA file photo)

MANILA – Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. on Friday said the military has adopted the new Comprehensive Archipelagic Defense Concept to defend Philippine territory including its exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

This, as Chinese President Xi Jinping called for coordination of military strategy at sea and prepare for potential maritime conflicts.

“In plain language, we are developing our capability to protect and secure our entire territory and EEZ in order to ensure that our people and all the generations of Filipinos to come shall freely reap and enjoy the bounties of the natural resources that are rightfully ours within our domain,” he said in a statement.

“I emphasize that this a strategic action and will not need constant directives to carry out. I, thus, urge our commanders and units in the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) to exert all efforts to operationalize the CADC,” he added.

In a forum in January, Teodoro said the defense concept would allow the military to protect and guarantee “Philippine nationals, Philippine corporations, and those authorized by the Philippine government the unimpeded and peaceful exploration and exploitation of all natural resources within our EEZ and other areas we have jurisdiction.”

This will also allow the Philippines to project its military power into areas that must be protected and preserved according to the country’s Constitution.

The Philippines and China are locked in a territorial dispute in the South China Sea, majority of which is being claimed by Beijing.

However, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in a 2016 arbitral ruling ruled in favor of the Philippines’ claims in the area located within its 200-nautical mile EEZ or the West Philippine Sea.

Early this week, four Filipino personnel were injured when a Philippine Coast Guard ship collided with a Chinese Coast Guard when the latter performed dangerous maneuvers in the West Philippine Sea. (PNA)