Remain united to fight ‘new threats’ to PH sovereignty, DND tells Filipinos

Gilberto Teodoro.jpg
Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. (File photo)

As the country commemorates the 126th Independence Day on Wednesday, June 12, the Department of National Defense (DND) urged Filipinos to be united against “new threats” to the country’s sovereignty.

Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. expressed gratitude to the heroes of the past who have sacrificed their lives to liberate the country from foreign colonizers, and the modern heroes who continue to secure the nation from domestic and foreign threats.

“Sa gitna ng panibagong banta sa ating kalayaan at soberanya, at ng mga hamon ng modernong panahon, ang Kagawaran ng Tanggulang Pambansa ay inyong maaasahan na mananatiling matatag sa paninindigan sa pambansang karapatan sa ating mga kapuluan at sa pagtitiyak ng ating kinabukasan (Amid new threats to our freedom and sovereignty, and the challenges brought by the modern times, the Department of National Defense will continue to be firm in its stand to defend our national sovereignty over our archipelago and ensure a better future for us),” Teodoro said on Tuesday, June 11.

“Ngayon higit kailanman, ating paigtingin ang pagkakaisa ng sambayanan upang iwaksi at pabulaanan ang mga kasinungalingan at maling impormasyon na pinalalaganap ng mga naglalayong tayo ay supilin at magkabaha-bahagi (Now more than ever, let us remain united to fight the lies and misinformation being spread which aim to suppress and divide us),” he added.

Last week, Teodoro blamed China’s expansionist claims in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) as the source of tension in the larger South China Sea (SCS) during the celebration of the Swedish National Day and reception for Swedish Defense Minister Pål Jonson.

 “China wants us to go to the small details to forget the main message. The main message is: The ten-dash-line is the provocation. And everything flows from that,” Teodoro said. “They have no business being anywhere in the West Philippine Sea and other areas where we have jurisdiction.”

The defense chief stressed that narratives are being whittled down to the tactical level to distract the Filipino public and the international community from focusing on the root cause of the tensions in the WPS.

“They are trying to bait us by straying from the main points and dragging us into an action-drama debate, where we focus on minor details which stray us from the main message,” he added. “Let’s stick to the message.”

Teodoro further disclosed that efforts to manage the tensions in the WPS are continuously being undertaken by the government through the Department of Foreign Affairs. 

However, he said that no discussions at the defense level are underway, and underscored that any agreement or talks should be open, rooted in international law, and uphold Philippine national interests.

“Kailangan open and transparent, (dahil) kailangan katanggap-tanggap (sa) mga Pilipino, makatarungan, ligal, at pabor sa interes ng Pilipinas. Kung hindi, itatakwil ito (It should be open and transparent because it should be acceptable to the Filipinos, should be just, legal, and in favor of the Philippines’ interest. If not, this should be rejected),” Teodoro said.