President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. stated on Friday that the Philippines is not seeking conflict in the South China Sea. However, the country will continue to protect its territory and the rights of its fishermen with a strong defense.
“We will persist in protecting the Philippines, its maritime territory, and the rights of our fishermen to fish in areas that they have been doing so for centuries,” he stated to journalists.
He expressed confusion about the current disagreement with China regarding access to the contested Scarborough Shoal.
The Chinese coastguard has challenged the Philippine’s account of the situation. In contrast, the United States has shown support for its ally Manila, as a high-ranking defense official described the action as a “courageous move” and emphasized their treaty responsibilities to protect their previous colony.
Mr. Marcos stated: “There are many operational matters that I am unable to discuss.”
“However, I am unsure of any other methods that would effectively remove the obstacle.”
Relations between the Philippines and China have worsened recently, mainly because of efforts by Mr. Marcos to strengthen their defense connections with the United States. This includes allowing greater access for American troops, under the guise of training and humanitarian aid.
China has accused the United States of provocative actions in the region, citing Scarborough Shoal as its own territory.