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Philippines ready to lead peacekeeping in region – Marcos

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
Philippines ready to lead peacekeeping in region â Marcos
President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. delivered a speech upon his arrival at the NAIA on Sunday (September 25, 2022).
STAR / KJ Rosales

MANILA, Philippines — As the world faces uncertainties due to geopolitical tensions, the Philippines is ready to take a lead role in maintaining peace in the region by protecting its territory and people, President Marcos said.

Marcos said that while it is not enough for one country or head of state to spearhead peacekeeping efforts, the Philippines hopes to be among those in the lead, citing security concerns affecting the region.

“I do not think we have a choice. We must play a leadership role because it is in our interest. And if we do not do it, we are not doing our jobs as the protectors of our country, of our state, of our territory, of our people, if we do not take that leadership role,” the President told officers and members of the Manila Overseas Press Club in Pasay on Wednesday night.

“I think it has been thrust upon us. And as good Filipinos, we face up to challenges and we face up to responsibilities so we will face up to this one as well,” he added.

Marcos bared plans to propose measures for addressing regional conflicts in next month’s meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

“In the upcoming ASEAN conferences that are coming up in November, I intend to propose several actions that ASEAN can take specific to the different conflicts that we are seeing in our region. And if the Philippines can play a part, then that would certainly be a good thing,” Marcos said.

He cited the “push and pull” between China and the US over Taiwan, the threat posed by North Korea, the Rohingya issue confronting Myanmar, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

He called for the strengthening of the ASEAN, saying the regional bloc can do more in addressing the tensions.

“But again we must present a united front and that is something that I believe is the best way forward simply because the moral suasion at the very least of several member countries of ASEAN is probably in many ways more effective than just a single country,” Marcos said.

“Although we don’t dismiss bilateral contacts, bilateral negotiations, multilateral negotiations outside of ASEAN, within ASEAN. Again, I think we should continue to try and push our member neighbors to present that united front and to move that united front forward so that we can say that ASEAN as a political, geopolitical aggrupation, economic aggrupation, has certainly shown that it has a function to do in the normal scheme of the geopolitics,” he added. “And that again is something wherein I believe the Philippines can play a large part.”

No nukes

Marcos reiterated the need to abandon the idea of having a stockpile of nuclear weapons as deterrence, a message he delivered during his address before the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) last month.

“We should remove that kind of Cold War thinking already from our geopolitics and remove and lessen, lower the stockpiles... And finally to at some point, to remove from the face of the earth any nuclear weapons,” the President said.

Marcos warned that if Russia uses tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine and it becomes acceptable, other nuclear powers might be encouraged “to think in that direction” and start using their nuclear stockpiles.

“So we have a very important part to play in that because we have a great interest. It must be a subject of central concern in our foreign policy and in the defense of the nation in the Philippines,” he added.

Marcos also cited the need to discuss the Rohingya issue with Myanmar’s military government.

“We have as yet been unable to bring Myanmar to the table. And I think it’s time to put forward some concrete proposals on what we can do to at the very least bring... at least representatives of the military government to the table so we can begin to talk about these things,” Marcos said.

“I’m a great believer in engagement. And I think once the lines of communications have closed, then any hope of a compromise has ended. And so let us continue with that,” he added.

In his address before the UNGA, Marcos reiterated that the Philippines would be “a friend to all and an enemy to none” and highlighted the need to resolve disputes peacefully through international law. He has also called on UN member-states to support the Philippines’ bid for a non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council.

Meanwhile, another resupply mission to BRP Sierra Madre at Ayungin Shoal proceeded smoothly on Wednesday without military escorts despite the presence of Chinese coast guard and militia vessels in the area, according to the Western Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The Sierra Madre was a World War II era landing ship deliberately grounded at the shoal to serve as outpost for a handful of Filipino soldiers. –  Ralph Edwin Villanueva, Robertzon Ramirez, Pia Lee-Brago

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