President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. assured the public on Monday that his administration is actively responding to the increasing presence of Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea (WPS). Speaking to Filipino journalists in Tokyo, President Marcos emphasized the need for caution and careful consideration in the actions taken by the Philippines.
President Marcos stated, “We are exerting all efforts, but we have to be very careful. We do not overreact that we do not make mistakes that might be misinterpreted by anyone. We need to be very careful because if that happens again, if we heighten the tensions, it won’t lead us to good results.”
The concerns raised by President Marcos come after reports from Ray Powell, director of SeaLight and Project Lead for Project Myoushu at Stanford University’s Gordian Knot Center for National Security Innovation. Powell shared that satellite imagery revealed an unusually high number of Chinese vessels in the Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal.
Powell explained, “It’s quite rare to see Chinese vessels enter the shoal’s interior at all, but 11 is certainly the highest number we’ve yet observed. This highly unusual invasion of the shoal’s interior appears to have been a calculated show of force by Beijing.”
In response to the incident, President Marcos clarified that he would not seek the recall of Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian, despite a recent confrontation with Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Romeo Brawner Jr. over the West Philippine Sea issue.
President Marcos acknowledged, “Well, he is the ambassador of China, so he will always take the Chinese position. Again, if we were discussing my personal feelings, maybe I would be upset, but we are not talking about me; we are talking about the Philippines. It does not serve any purpose for us to lose our temper or overreact.”
Regarding Ambassador Huang’s role, President Marcos stated, “I think Ambassador Huang is just doing his job; he is continuing to state the Chinese narrative. Of course, we won’t agree with that narrative, but I cannot see him doing anything else, so we just keep trying.”
When asked if he would have preferred a different approach to asserting the country’s position in the West Philippine Sea, President Marcos expressed his desire for peaceful dialogue, saying, “Yes, of course, I wish we could talk about it [at] the table as opposed to colliding with each other’s ships in the open sea. I will always prefer the less confrontational method of trying to resolve these issues, but it is what it is.”
President Marcos’ remarks highlight the Philippines’ commitment to addressing the Chinese presence in the West Philippine Sea while emphasizing the importance of diplomacy and avoiding unnecessary escalation. The situation in the WPS remains a topic of concern, and the government continues to navigate this complex issue with caution.
Source: The Manila Times