Philippines won't instigate war in West Philippine Sea — Marcos

Kristine Daguno-Bersamina - Philstar.com
Philippines won't instigate war in West Philippine Sea � Marcos
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. hails the Western Command troops for exercising restraint when they were engaged by hostile Chinese sailors during their recent resupply mission to Ayungin Shoal.
Presidential Communications Office

MANILA, Philippines — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. assured the nation on Sunday that the Philippines will not resort to war in addressing issues in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

He said that the country will address issues related to the disputed region through "peaceful means."

“We are not in the business of instigating wars – our great ambition is to provide a peaceful and prosperous life for every Filipino. This is the principle that guides us,” the Marcos said.

“We refuse to play by the rules that force us to choose sides in a great power competition. No government that truly serves its people will invite danger or harm to lives and livelihoods,” he added.

The president made the remarks during a Talk to Troops event at the headquarters of the Western Command in Camp General Artemio Ricarte in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, the closest major landmass to the shoal.

A Philippine Navy servicemember, Seaman First Class Underwater Operator Jeffrey Facundo, lost a thumb during the clash in the West Philippine Sea.

Facundo was honored with the Order of Lapu-Lapu Rank of Kampilan, which is awarded to government officials and personnel, as well as private individuals, in recognition of their invaluable or extraordinary service in furtherance of the President’s campaign or advocacy," the Presidential Communications Office said.

Marcos awarded the Order of Lapu-Lapu Rank of Kamagi to 79 sailors who took part in the resupply mission, urging them to "continue to fulfil your duty of defending the nation" even as he said the situation has become "dangerous."

“And that is why, in defending the nation, we stay true to our Filipino nature that we would like to settle all these issues peacefully. And in the performance of our duties, we will not resort to the use of force or intimidation, or deliberately inflict injury or harm to anyone,” he said.

The confrontation took place on June 17 off Ayungin Shoal as the Chinese sailors foiled an attempt by Philippine forces to resupply marines stationed on Philippine Navy vessel BRP Sierra Madre that was deliberately grounded atop the disputed shoal in 1999 to assert Manila's territorial claims.

Ayungin Shoal lies about 200 kilometers (120 miles) from Palawan and more than 1,000 kilometres from China's nearest major landmass, Hainan island.

The resupply mission resulted in injuries to at least eight Filipinos, including Facundo.

Philippine Coast Guard spokesman Commodore Jay Tarriela previously said that Facundo’s injury happened during a "high-speed ramming incident" between Chinese and Filipino rigid-hull inflatable boats, describing it as an "accident."

The June 17 incident was the latest and most serious incident in a series of escalating confrontations between Chinese and Philippine ships in recent months as Beijing steps up efforts to push its claims to nearly all of the strategically located waterway.

The government on Friday said the June 17 confrontation could not yet be considered an "armed attack" as defined under the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty, and the incident does not trigger the Philippines' defense pact with the United States. — with reports by Ghio Ong and Agence France-Presse

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