Ejercito calls on military to boost defense capability in WPS

December 16, 2022 Camille P. Balagtas 62 views

BAKA ‘yung Palawan ma-annex na nila.”

This was the reaction of Senator Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito as he urged the government to expedite its build-up of defense forces and military equipment in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) as China’s military assets appear to be “moving closer” to the Philippines’ coastline.

In his manifestation of Senator Francis Tolentino’s delivered privilege speech on the WPS, Ejercito said the country needs to improve its minimum defense posture “to protect its territorial integrity.”

“This is already a clear and present danger. Hindi na ito puwedeng balewalain. If you saw the most recent pictures of the disputed islands, full-blown military bases na. Ang dami na. It’s like a city already,” he said.

“Baka magising tayo, ‘pag pinabayaan pa natin ito, if we continue to be a laggard, baka yung Palawan ma-annex na nila,” he added.

To bolster the country’s defense against external threats, including China, Ejercito asked his colleagues to increase funding for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and its modernization program in succeeding years.

Recently, the lawmaker from San Juan helped restore P10 billion worth of funding for projects and procurements under Horizon 2 of the AFP modernization program.

“I’m quite proud that we have a Senate that is really fighting for our sovereignty. So, again, next year, maging makulit man tayo, uulit-ulitin ko, dadagdagan natin ang AFP modernization so that we will have the minimum defense posture that China will respect,” he said.

Ejercito urged the national government to procure missiles, advanced combat aircraft, submarines, and naval assets to force China to “think twice” before violating the country’s territorial integrity.

“Ito lang yung wishlist ko, para malaman nila na hindi tayo puwedeng i-bully. We will have anti-aircraft missiles, surface-to-surface missiles, surface-to-air, para ‘di nila tayo basta-basta papasukin ng kanilang aircraft intrusions,” he said.

“Dapat malaman nila na magkakaroon tayo nito, na hindi sila makakapasok. Magdadalawang-isip sila,” he added.

While the national government has many priorities to consider, Ejercito argued that the country’s territorial integrity is “priceless” and should be defended “at all cost.”

“The past few years, the AFP modernization program has always suffered one of the biggest cuts in the budget. Siguro, there are priorities. We are a poor nation. We have to probably fund poverty alleviation programs,” he said.

“But our sovereignty or territorial integrity, this is priceless. We have to fight for it. This is even our sworn duty as public officials: to fight for our territorial integrity and protect our sovereignty at all cost,” he added.