Killing of Pinoy at sea an act of war – President Marcos

Helen Flores - The Philippine Star
Killing of Pinoy at sea an act of war � President Marcos
President Marcos discusses further enhancing relations between the Philippines and Singapore during a meeting with Senior Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday.

SINGAPORE — The “willful” killing of any Filipino, whether military or civilian, in the country’s sovereign waters will be close to an “act of war,” and the Philippines and its security allies will act accordingly, President Marcos said last night.

It was Marcos’ reply to a question from a delegate on what he would deem to be “crossing the red line” amid incidents of the China Coast Guard blasting Philippine vessels with water cannons in the West Philippine Sea.

“Thank God we have not yet gotten to the point where any of our participants, civilian or otherwise have been killed,” Marcos answered during the brief Q&A at the end of his keynote speech at the 21st International Institute for Strategic Studies-Shangri-La Dialogue defense summit. 

“But once we get to that point, that is certainly, we would have crossed the Rubicon, certainly crossed the Rubicon. Is that the red line? Almost certainly it’s going to be a red line,” he said.

Marcos gave a similar response when asked at a forum hosted by the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines in April in Manila what could trigger the country’s Mutual Defense Treaty with the United States.

In his speech here, Marcos denounced illegal, coercive and aggressive actions in the South China Sea. He urged respect for “legally settled” maritime rights based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Marcos said that the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries had a vision for “peace, stability, and prosperity” in the South China Sea, but he added this was being undermined by other actors, without naming China.

“Unfortunately, this vision remains for now a distant reality. Illegal, coercive, aggressive, and deceptive actions continue to violate our sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction,” he said.

Encounters between the Philippines and China in Asia’s most contested waters have grown more tense and frequent during the past year as Beijing presses its claims to shoals in waters that are well within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

China’s coast guard has stepped up so-called “grey-zone” activities such as use of water cannons, collisions and ramming tactics to try to stop Philippine resupply and patrol missions. It has also deployed fishing boats that the Philippines and its allies consider militia.

The Philippines, a sprawling archipelago with strong historical ties to the United States and close geographical proximity to China, is at the center of an intensifying power struggle between Washington and Beijing.

Earlier yesterday, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and China’s defence minister, Dong Jun, met in Singapore on the sidelines of Asia’s premier defence summit.

During the meeting with Dong, Austin underscored the importance of freedom of navigation under international law, especially in the South China Sea, according to a Pentagon statement released after the meeting.

Dong responded by telling Austin that the United States was stoking tensions through its military presence in the region, his spokesperson told reporters.

Marcos said tensions between the United States and China were destabilising for Southeast Asia, calling on Washington and Beijing to work harder to resolve disputes.

“Their rivalry is constraining the strategic choices of regional states. Their contest is exacerbating flashpoints

and has created new security dilemmas,” Marcos said.

“The continued stability of this region requires China and the United States to manage their rivalry in a responsible manner,” he said.

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