By Darryl John Esguerra

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. (Presidential Communications Office File Photo)

MANILA – Although the Philippines is not going to war, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Thursday vowed to provide the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) with the necessary resources, training, and equipment to enhance its external defense capabilities.

During his camp visit to the Army’s 10th Infantry Division in Mawab, Davao de Oro, Marcos cited the need to boost the AFP’s capabilities as it transitions from dealing with internal security threats such as the communist insurgency to a more outward-looking defense posture.

“Now, I am sure that all of you are aware now that the internal threat has been reduced. We now have to also think about the external threat and that again is a different strategy that we will have to employ,” Marcos was quoted as saying in a Presidential Communications Office (PCO) news release.

“But we in the civilian government and together with the military commanders are doing all that we can to make sure that our men and women [in military] are completely capacitated,” he added.

The Philippines is adopting a paradigm shift in the country’s defense strategy through the Comprehensive Archipelagic Defense Concept (CADC) which was adopted by the Marcos administration amid China’s aggression in the West Philippine Sea.

The Commander-in-Chief assured the military that it would have ample support from the civilian government in its quest to beef up its forces.

“Gagawin natin ang lahat para may kakayahan kayo (We will do everything to ensure that you have the capability). You have the capability to do the job, that is this new job that you have to face. You have the capability. You have the training. You have the equipment and that we will be able to present at least a deterrent force,” the President said.

But Marcos clarified that the Philippines was not seeking war with any nation, stressing that the AFP would only be in a “defensive” mode when it comes to the country’s territories.

“Hindi naman tayo nakikipag-giyera kahit na kanino. Wala naman tayong gustong pasukin. Tayo ay defensive lang naman tayo at dinedepensahan lang natin ang bansa natin (We’re not seeking war with anyone. We don’t intend to conduct any offensive. We’re just on the defensive, and we’re only defending our country),” Marcos told the soldiers.

“Kaya’t ‘yan ang ating bagong threat na hinaharap ngunit kagaya ng sabi ko, kung nagawa ninyo ito dahil sa internal threat, ako’y malakas ang loob ko na kaya rin ninyong gawin pagka dumating sa tinatawag na external threat (So that is the new threat that we are facing; but like what I said, you’ve succeeded in addressing the internal threat, that’s why I’m confident that you can do it again with this external threat),” he added.

In his message, the President also congratulated the troops of the 10th Infantry Division for their successes through hard work, skills, and courage, and urged them to be peacekeepers by encouraging communist insurgents to return to the fold of the law.

Barbaric acts

Meanwhile, Surigao del Norte 2nd District Rep. Robert Ace Barbers said criminal complaints should be filed against China for recently attacking Philippine vessels and intercepting supplies for soldiers stationed at the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.

He condemned the “barbaric” acts that have no place in an already civilized world.

“The latest uncalled for barbaric and inhumane attacks by the trespassers that are all caught on video deserves the highest condemnation from the international community,” the lawmaker from Mindanao said on Thursday.

He said it did not only show unprovoked aggression, but it placed the lives of Filipino people in grave danger as well.

Barbers considered the incident quite worse than the illegal water cannon aggression because it was almost like hand-to-hand combat with the Philippine personnel scrambling to get back the air-dropped supplies that were snatched by the Chinese, unmindful of their safety.

“These Filipinos deserve the highest commendation from our government for their heroic deeds. They are willing to risk their lives to bring food supplies to their fellow Filipinos and uphold the interest and honor of the country against all odds,” he said.

“I strongly urge the President through the appropriate departments and agencies to initiate the filing of criminal complaints before the international bodies with jurisdiction over such criminal behavior, especially committed within our internationally recognized territory. We should not let this pass,” he added. (Zaldy De Layola/PNA)