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Marcos asserts PH rights over WPS, denounces ‘assertive actions’ from other states

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President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Friday asserted the Philippines’ rights over the West Philippine Sea (WPS), denouncing aggressive actions in the tightly contested maritime area.

In his speech at the 2024 Shangri-La Dialogue, the President reiterated his oath as the country’s leader to uphold the nation’s sovereignty and expressed his determination to defend it to the last square inch.

“The life-giving waters of the West Philippine Sea flow in the blood of every Filipino. We cannot allow anyone to detach it from the totality of the maritime domain that renders our nation whole,” Mr. Marcos said.

“As President, I have sworn to this solemn commitment from the very first day that I took office. I do not intend to yield. Filipinos do not yield,” he added.

The President slammed assertive actions that propagate excessive and baseless claims through force and intimidation in the maritime region, citing the country’s continued adherence to rules-based international order in the WPS.

“We have defined our territory and maritime zones in a manner befitting a responsible and law-abiding member of the international community. We have submitted our assertions to rigorous, legal scrutiny by the world’s leading jurors,” Marcos said.

The President underscored the 1982 UNCLOS and the binding 2016 Arbitral Award, which affirmed the Philippines’ maritime rights. He emphasized the country’s role in asserting the integrity of UNCLOS, particularly in the West Philippine Sea.

Tracing the roots of the Philippines’ territorial definition, Marcos also referenced the establishment of the Commonwealth in 1935 and the Constitution that delineated the nation’s territory according to international treaties.

He cited the Treaty of Paris and the Treaty of Washington as pivotal agreements that established the country’s archipelagic unity and sovereignty.

Tension in the contested maritime region has continued to escalate in the past few weeks following recent developments as China ramped up its territorial assertion over the waterway.

Beijing has reportedly issued a new policy, allowing the Chinese Coast Guard to detain “foreign trespassers” in the South China Sea for up to 60 days. Marcos, however, expressed concerns over China’s regulation, calling it unacceptable.


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