Marcos orders northern troops to prepare for external threats

Marcos orders northern troops to prepare for external threats

PRESIDENT Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. said the Philippines should be prepared against any external threats amid the heightened geopolitical tension in the Indo-Pacific.

In his speech during his visit to the Philippine Army’s 5th Infantry Division at Camp Melchor dela Cruz in Gamu, Isabela, Marcos raised the need for the northern part of the country to be well-prepared for any eventuality noting that the Philippines’ proximity to Taiwan puts it in China’s area of interest.

“And that is why — the external threat now has become more pronounced, has become more worrisome. And that is why we have to prepare,” the President said.

“So, that is the mission that you have before you. Now, you have two missions, whereas before it was only internal security,” he added.

Marcos was referring to territorial defense from external threats as an added mission to the troops.

While the Philippines isn’t taking territory, Marcos said its leadership has to reorient its thinking and must adopt full commitment to defend its territory and to engage in various efforts to maintain peace in the region such as through continued diplomacy.

“We are not trying to take territory. We are not trying to redraw the lines of sovereign territory, the EEZ, the baseline,” he said.

“Hindi natin binabago anything na kahit isang — not even one inch. Ngunit hindi tayo puwedeng pumayag na kukunin naman ‘yan sa atin,” he added.

The Philippine government earlier included Cagayan as Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) site through the collaboration with the United States, its closest military ally, amid the changing geopolitical landscape and emerging new threats.

Marcos also earlier stressed the ongoing modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) through the acquisition of equipment, training of personnel and development of facilities to make it a highly capable force.

Joint Task Force (JTF) Tala covers parts of Ilocos and Cagayan Valley regions and the entire Cordillera Administrative Region, supervising the 501st, 502nd, and 503rd Infantry Brigades, Joint Task Group Baguio,Philippine Air Force (PAF) Tactical Operations Group 1, and Tactical Operations Group 2.

Among the current domestic security threats are the Ilocos-Cordillera Regional Committee (ICRC) and Komiteng Rehiyon Cagayan Valley (KRCV) groups.

In October 2022, the province of Quirino was declared insurgency-free followed by Nueva Vizcaya in December 2023.

Government forces have dismantled four communist terrorist group (CTG) operating units: two KRCV in September 2022; one KRCV and one Komiteng Larangan Guerilla-ICRC in December last year.

In a press conference, AFP spokesperson Colonel Francel Margareth Padilla reiterated the AFP’s commitment to respond to any internal or external threat as they take comprehensive measures to enhance the country’s defense capabilities.

“Kasama lahat yan as we transition from internal security operations to external defense, with his guidance of course, we modernize our equipment, our armaments and of course training of troops,” she said.

“We are dealing with present contemporary security challenges so malawak na ‘yung mga challenges that we are facing today to include ‘yung different domains of operations that is why ‘yung AFP are trying to keep up with the times as you can see, we also transition to having cyber as a fourth domain of operations,” she added. (TPM/SunStar Philippines)


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