Marcos vows PH won't give up its territory; focus on defense upgrade

President Marcos reiterated that the Philippines will not give up any part of its territory amid the dispute in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) as he stressed the need for the country to upgrade its defense capability.

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President Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jr. arrives at the United States Indo-Pacific Command Headquarters in Honolulu, Hawaii on Nov. 19, 2023. (Photo courtesy of Malacañang)

Marcos made the statement during the Daniel Inouye Speaker Series at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies in Honolulu, Hawaii, Monday, Nov. 20 (Manila time).

"As I have said before, and I will say again, the Philippines will not give up a single square inch of our territory to any foreign power.  The law is clear as defined by UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) and the final and binding 2016 Award on the South China Sea Arbitration,” he said.

"Supported by the rules-based international order and our growing partnerships, both time-tested and new ones, we will insist on the preservation of the sovereignty and integrity of the country, while working closely with international partners in the bilateral, regional, and multilateral settings in developing rules and processes to address these challenges," he added.

The President also stressed the need to upgrade the Philippines’ defense and civilian law enforcement capabilities not only to defend itself but also to enable it to become a reliable partner in regional security.  

“That will require greater substantial infusions into funding streams needed for our armed forces and coast guard modernization plans, including lines of effort to enhance cyber cooperation,” he said, expressing optimism that through recent engagements with American counterparts, including US legislators, the US and the Philippines could elevate their partnership.

Over the past week, he said both teams have been working on a bilateral planning and tracking mechanism that is expected to fast track concrete and substantial capability development investments and activities to meet the shared defense and security objectives over the next five years.  

He said he appreciates the concrete manifestations of the US and other partners of their support for the Philippines’ position, stressing that factual messaging in support of lawful exercise of rights under international law demonstrates the strength of the alliances.
 and will continue to adhere to international rules-based order and strengthen alliances with its partners.

Aside from his event in Indo-Pacific Command, Marcos will have a barge tour, and attend a wreath-laying ceremony and a roundtable meeting while in Hawaii.

Marcos, who is on official visit to Hawaii, will thereafter depart for Manila with the members of his delegation later in the day.