PH pressed to bolster maritime capacity amid rising conflicts among states
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government should strengthen the country’s maritime capacity and protective measures in light of evolving security risks.
The independent analyst group Stratbase issued the call amid rising and continuous non-traditional conflicts among nations such as between Russia and Ukraine.
According to Stratbase president Dindo Manhit, strengthening the capacity of the Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine Navy, and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources is imperative especially since there are already signs of conflict in the country’s sea territories.
“We need to strengthen the capacity of our civil maritime, that means our coast guard, our own bureau of fisheries, and our own navy,” he said.
“It’s not simply traditional. I always used the term asymmetric – it is not what is in front of you. You see fishing boats; you see harassment by Chinese coast guards in our territory. That’s not war. But that’s actually coercion of our people, coercion of our fisher folks,” he added.
He pointed out that the country needs inter-agency coordination to prevent conflict and push protection of national interest, which ensures that people can freely extract resources from the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, and sovereign territory.
To elaborate, Manhit used overfishing in Philippine waters by foreign countries as an example of conflict.
“Then the overfishing, that might be affecting our own marine resources. That is basically stealing from the resources of another nation – that’s actual war. But there’s no bombing, there’s no killing,” he said.
Manhit then urged the government to look for ally nations outside of China and the United States.
“This is what I believe is a truly independent foreign policy, when you engage other countries and not limit yourself to either the China way or the American way. If America is part of that liberal democratic order, I’ll go with that, the institute goes for that.”
“But not only the US, but the European Union, the United Kingdom, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand and other strong democracies [like] India, which is part of this broad Indo-Pacific that will drive the world economy in terms of trade and investment,” he added,
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. had said that the country has already made it clear to China what the Philippines felt about the territorial dispute in the seas.
“The events in the last few months really have pointed out that those problems had not really gone away. They’re just bubbling under the surface and they now have come above the surface. And we have to face those challenges and we have to deal with them,” Marcos had said.
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