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Marcos says PH should prepare due to external threats

Marcos says PH should prepare due to external threats

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Monday said the Philippines should be prepared as more external threats arose due to heightened geopolitical tension in the Indo-Pacific.

Speaking before members of the Philippine Army's 5th Infantry Division at Camp Melchor dela Cruz in Gamu, Isabela, Marcos said the Philippines' location — which is near Taiwan — puts the country in China's area of interest.

Thus it is important that the northern part of the Philippines is prepared for any eventuality, he added.

“And that is why — the external threat now has become more pronounced, has become more worrisome. And that is why we have to prepare,” Marcos said.

The President said the 5th ID's mission now also covers territorial defense from external threats.

“So, that is the mission that you have before you. Now, you have two missions, whereas before it was only internal security," he added.

Marcos said although the Philippines is not taking any territory, its leadership has to think about and fully commit to defend its territory.

The country also has to pursue various efforts, including continued diplomacy, to maintain peace in the region, he added.

“We are not trying to take territory. We are not trying to redraw the lines of sovereign territory, the EEZ [exclusive economic zone], the baseline,” the President said.

“Hindi natin binabago anything na kahit isang — not even one inch. Ngunit hindi tayo puwedeng pumayag na kukunin naman 'yan sa atin," he said.

(We are not changing anything, not even one inch. But we cannot agree that [any territory] will be taken away from us.)

On the eve of the 126th anniversary of Philippine independence, several groups conducted a protest in front of the Chinese Embassy to protest China's actions in the West Philippine Sea. 

Protesters wore boat costumes made of paper. 

“Gusto nating ipakita at iparinig sa China na kung nanalo tayo noong nakaraan at nanindigan tayo sa ating kasaysayan, patuloy pa rin tayong maninindigan laban sa mga nananakop sa atin ngayon,” said Akbayan president and Atin Ito co-convenor Rafaela David in a ''24 Oras'' report by Dano Tingcungco on Tuesday.

(We want to show and let China hear that even as we won in the past and defend our history, we will continue to fight against those who are trying to colonize us now.)

'Comprehensive measures'

In response to Marcos’ statement, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said that it is taking comprehensive measures to enhance defense capabilities.

“Kasama lahat ‘yan [that’s all included] as we transition from internal security operations to external defense with his guidance. Of course, we modernize our equipment, our armaments, and of course, also train our troops,” AFP spokesperson Colonel Francel Padilla said at a press briefing.

The AFP official also affirmed that they are dealing with present contemporary security challenges, thus the need to “keep up with the times.”

“Malawak na ‘yung mga [there are broad] challenges that we're facing today to include even different domains of operations. That's why the Armed Forces of the Philippines is trying to keep up with the times. As you can see we also transition to having cyber as a fourth domain of operations along with land, air and sea,” she added.


Due to the changing geopolitical landscape and emerging new threats, Cagayan was included in 2023 as one of the sites covered by the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the US.

Signed in 2014, EDCA grants US troops access to designated Philippine military facilities, allows them to build facilities, and pre-position equipment, aircraft and vessels. Permanent basing is prohibited.

In particular, the Naval Base Camilo Osias in Sta Ana, Cagayan was identified as an EDCA site.

The President on Monday also stressed the importance of providing the Armed Forces of the Philippines with the equipment, training, and facilities it needs.

According to the Presidential Communications Office, Joint Task Force Tala covers parts of Ilocos and Cagayan Valley regions and the entire Cordillera Administrative Region, supervising the 501st, 502nd, and 503rd Infantry Brigades, Joint Task Group Baguio, Philippine Air Force (PAF) Tactical Operations Group 1, and Tactical Operations Group 2.

The Ilocos-Cordillera Regional Committee (ICRC) and Komiteng Rehiyon Cagayan Valley (KRCV) groups pose domestic security threats, it added.

Meanwhile, Quirino, Nueva Vizcaya and parts of Isabela (Ilagan City and several municipalities) were declared insurgency-free in 2023.

Four communist terrorist groups (CTG) operating units were dismantled by government forces, the PCO said. These are two KRCV groups in September 2022; and one KRCV group and one Komiteng Larangan Guerilla-ICRC group in December last year. —with Jiselle Anne Casucian/KG/RSJ/VBL, GMA Integrated News