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Despite external threats, Philippines not declaring war – Marcos Jr.

MANILA, Philippines — While emphasizing that the Philippines is not declaring war on anyone, President Marcos yesterday vowed to enhance the military’s external defense capabilities as Manila and Beijing continue to trade barbs over their longstanding maritime dispute.

During his visit to the Army’s 10th Infantry Division in Mawab, Davao de Oro, Marcos cited the need for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to boost its capabilities as it transitions from internal security operations to external defense posture.

“I am sure that all of you are aware that the internal threat has been reduced. We now have to also think about the external threat, and that again is a different strategy that we will have to employ,” Marcos was quoted by the Presidential Communications Office as saying.

“We will do everything so you will have the capability. You have the capability to do the job, that is this new job that you have to face. You have the capability. You have the training. You have the equipment and that we will be able to present at least a deterrent force,” he added. 

Marcos made the remark as tensions continue to surround the West Philippine Sea because of Beijing’s aggressive behavior, including its brazen efforts to block Manila’s resupply missions to the Ayungin Shoal.

West Philippine Sea refers to the part of the South China Sea that is within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone and continental shelf. In 2016, an international arbitral court nullified China’s expansive maritime claim in the South China Sea but the Chinese government refused to recognize the landmark ruling.

Chinese ships have resorted to water cannon attacks and dangerous maneuvers to stop Philippine vessels from providing supplies to Filipino soldiers stationed on the BRP Sierra Madre, a rusty ship that serves as a navy installation in Ayungin Shoal. On Tuesday, the military released a video showing Chinese boats chasing after food supplies airdropped for Filipino troops in the shoal.

Marcos said the civilian government and the AFP commanders are doing all they can to make sure that soldiers are “completely capacitated,” but clarified that the goal is not to pick a fight.

“We are not