By Priam Nepomuceno
MANILA – The National Security Council (NSC) on Wednesday assured it is one with President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. in upholding the country’s sovereign rights and territorial integrity.
“We join the President in his declaration that the Philippine government will continue to uphold its sovereign rights and preserve our nation’s territorial integrity. Guided by the President, the National Task Force – West Philippine Sea will underscore the importance of unity and social cohesion among the Filipino people, assuring them that the government will not lose any of its territory,” National Security Adviser Eduardo Año, who also heads the NSC, said in a statement.
Año’s remarks came in response to the Chief Executive’s vow to protect the country’s sovereign rights and preserve its territorial integrity in his second State of the Nation Address.
He vowed that they would never waver in upholding the implementation of the 2016 Arbitral Award regarding the country’s rights in the West Philippine Sea, in defense of a rules-based international order, under the Marcos administration.
“Our position is clear: The award is final and indisputable. And we firmly reject attempts to undermine it but guided by the President, we will always pursue constant dialogue and diplomatic approaches with other claimants towards the resolution of any issue that may arise,” he said.
The NSC also said they support the Chief Executive’s directive to relentlessly continue the fight against illegal drugs, as well as the arrest and prosecution of smugglers and hoarders.
“Towards this end, the National Intelligence and Coordinating Agency will provide actionable intelligence to law enforcement agencies to ensure that the days of these drug syndicates, hoarders and smugglers are numbered,” he added.
Año hailed the President’s commitment to strengthening and modernizing the police and armed forces.
“We also welcome the President’s directive to include climate change as an important criterion in our integral national policies, in planning, decision-making, up to the implementation of programs,” he added.
The NSC said this is a critical component of the country’s National Security Policy 2023-2028, which he recently approved.
“We vow to continuously support the President’s aspiration of peace and progress for our country. Guided by the National Security Policy, we commit to stand behind and beside the President in his pursuit of a more peaceful, more progressive, and more united Philippines, thus attaining the aspirations of Bagong Pilipinas,” he said.
“Indeed, as mentioned by the President, the Philippines and the Filipino people are now moving together toward peace and development. Abot kamay na natin ang tunay na kapayapaan at kaunlaran (genuine peace and progress are within our reach).”
The NSC also lauded the President for his continuing support for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict’s (NTF-ELCAC) flagship programs.
Año was referring to the Barangay Development Program, which brings much-needed development projects to barangays recently cleared of the influence of the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army – National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF), and the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP), which supports the reintegration of rebel returnees into mainstream society.
The Chief Executive’s commitment to these programs, he said, means he is truly determined to address the root causes of armed conflict in the countryside.
“We thank the President for his announcement that he will be issuing a proclamation granting amnesty to all rebel returnees as this highlights the government’s commitment to achieving peace. The issuance of this presidential proclamation will be an important step to finally end communist terrorism in the country because this will pave the way for the mass surrender of the NPA remnants in the remaining guerilla fronts of the CPP-NPA-NDF,” Año said.
He added that this reinforces the call of the NTF-ELCAC for the remaining armed combatants to lay down their weapons, and embrace the path to peace.
“It also makes the E-CLIP more comprehensive and engaging to the remnants of the CPP-NPA-NDF as this will help them rebuild their lives and finally contribute to our nation’s development,” the NSC said. (PNA)