Philippines’ Marcos boosts maritime security as China tension rises By Reuters


MANILA (Reuters) – Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr has ordered his government to strengthen cooperation on maritime security to address “serious challenges” related to integrity and peace, as tensions with China escalate.

The order, which was signed on Monday and announced on Sunday, does not specifically mention China but follows a series of maritime disputes and territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

Beijing claims almost all of the South China Sea, a trade route of more than $3 trillion a year. China’s claims extend to the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei. The Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2016 ruled that China’s claims had no legal basis.

The latest explosion occurred last week, when China used a water cannon to disrupt the Philippines’ recovery efforts at Second Thomas Shoal for the military in charge of a warship that was deliberately sunk 25 years ago.

“Despite efforts to promote stability and security in our maritime areas, the Philippines continues to face several challenges that threaten territorial integrity, as well as the peaceful existence of the Filipino people,” Marcos said.

The president vowed on Thursday to follow up on “illegal, coercive, aggressive and dangerous” measures by China’s coast guard.

His order expands and restructures the government’s Maritime Administration, adding a national security adviser, attorney general, head of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency and a South China Sea force.

The law appears to expand the role of the military by naming the Armed Forces of the Philippines, not just the military, among the agencies supporting the organization.

The National Maritime Council called the National Maritime Council will be the main body to develop mechanisms to ensure “coherent, coordinated and effective” maritime security in the Philippines and the region’s knowledge.

Marcos increased the number of agencies supporting the council to 13 from nine, including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the University of the Philippines’ Institute for Maritime Affairs and the Law of the Sea.

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