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Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr Reaffirms Commitment to Peace Amid Escalating Maritime Disputes with China

By Karen Lema

MANILA (Reuters) -Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr reiterated on Sunday that his country is not in the business of instigating wars and will always aim to settle disputes peacefully, especially amid escalating maritime confrontations with China.

In a speech delivered to troops of the Western Command unit overseeing the South China Sea, Marcos emphasized the importance of upholding the Filipino values of seeking peaceful resolutions to conflicts. “In defending the nation, we stay true to our Filipino nature that we would like to settle all these issues peacefully,” Marcos stated.

The recent clash between Philippine navy personnel and the Chinese coast guard during a routine resupply mission in the South China Sea has raised tensions between the two nations. The Philippine military reported that a sailor was severely injured and vessels were damaged during the incident, where Chinese Coast Guard personnel allegedly looted firearms and damaged Philippine boats.

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China has disputed the Philippine account of the clash, asserting that their actions were lawful and professional. Despite the escalating tensions, Marcos praised the troops for exercising restraint “amidst intense provocation”, reaffirming the Philippines’ commitment to upholding freedoms and rights in line with international law.

As the South China Sea continues to be a highly strategic and contested region, with conflicting claims from multiple countries including the Philippines, the United States has condemned China’s actions and reaffirmed its defence commitments to its treaty ally in Southeast Asia.

While the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled in 2016 that China’s claims in the South China Sea had no legal basis, China has rejected the decision. In his speech, Marcos emphasized that the Philippines is focused on pursuing peace and prosperity for its citizens, rejecting the idea of being forced to take sides in global power competitions.

The Philippines’ stance on resolving disputes peacefully and upholding international law in the South China Sea remains steadfast, even as tensions with China continue to escalate.

(Reporting by Karen Lema; Editing by William Mallard)

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