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Sunday, July 14, 2024

Gordon wants strong Philippines capability in sea dispute

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Senator Richard Gordon on Tuesday noted that unless the Philippines showed readiness to help itself by investing in building up a credible defense capability, nobody will help it in connection with the South China Sea dispute.

Gordon reiterated his call for substantive increases in the budget of the Armed Forces of the Philippines because undermining the country’s defense capacity could not continue.

“It is a folly for the Philippines to remain weak, dependent and reliant. To continue to undermine our defense capacity is an absolute folly and makes allies and ill-minded countries to look at us with derision. It makes us lose our dignity and self-respect,” said Gordon.

“Let’s be friends with our neighbors, build up our alliances in Asia, but build up a credible defense capability,” he added.

Gordon said no other country will help us if they see we are not serious about helping ourselves with a reliable defense in the air, and naval assets,” he said.

He stressed that by investing in strengthening the military, the government was fulfilling the Constitutional provision which mandates that the AFP is the protector of the people and its goal is to secure the sovereignty of the state and the integrity of the national territory.

“We cannot continue to afford making a mockery of our Constitution’s claim that the AFP is the protector of the people and its goal is to secure the sovereignty of the state and the integrity of the national territory. I am not saying we go to war. Far from it. But it is a condition sine qua non for every state to have a capable defense force,” Gordon said.

He said the government could make all its allies near and far realize that by investing in the country’s defense forces with the modicum of credible equipage the Philippines would be showing its preparedness to fulfill the Constitution’s mandate.

“He cited the need to be prepared to do everything and more for the sake of national security. “We must do this ourselves,” he said.

“By doing so, the whole world will respect us and prospective supporters will support us because we are showing our commitment to help ourselves,” he added.

Other countries—Singapore, Israel, Taiwan, South Korea, among others—built up their defense forces and capabilities early in their development.

China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Brunei are claiming, in whole or in part, groups of islands in the South China Sea, which include the Paracels and the Spratlys.

Aside from the island chains which may have reserves of natural resources around them, there are dozens of rocky outcrops, atolls, sandbanks, and reefs, such as the Scarborough Shoal.

The sea is also a major shipping route and home to fishing grounds that supply the livelihoods of people across the region.


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