August 8, 2023 Jester P. Manalastas 259 views

THE House of Representatives supports the increased spending for the defense sector under the proposed P5.768-trillion 2024 national budget to bolster our capability in protecting the country’s territorial integrity.

Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez said the House of Representatives is fully backing to President Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr.’s decision to consult military leaders on the illegal use of water cannons by Chinese ships on Philippine Coast Guard and civilian vessels resupplying a platoon of Filipino soldiers stationed in Ayungin Shoal off Palawan.

Romualdez issued the statement while in Jakarta, Indonesia as head of the Philippine delegation to the 44th AIPA (ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly) General Assembly.

“Our commitment to safeguarding our territorial integrity and ensuring the safety of our citizens remains unwavering. As a nation, we must take proactive measures to enhance our defense capabilities and ensure that we have the necessary resources to effectively protect our sovereign rights,” Romualdez said.

He noted that under the proposed 2024 budget, the allocation for the defense sector is P282.7 billion, or 21.6 percent more compared to the P203.4 billion allocation under the 2023 budget.

According to the President’s budget message, this fund will support the Land, Air, and Naval Forces Defense Programs, totaling P188.5 billion, as well as the UN Peacekeeping Mission, among others, to ensure domestic security.

“This allocation demonstrates our dedication to maintaining a strong and credible defense posture, one that sends a clear message that we will not compromise when it comes to safeguarding our national interests,” Romualdez said.

“We must remember that a strong defense is not merely a tool for confrontation, but a means to uphold peace, stability, and the rule of law,” he added.

He said it is the duty of the entire government that our nation is adequately equipped to face any challenges that may come our way.

“By prioritizing our defense sector in the budget, we are making a commitment to our people, to our allies, and to the international community that reflects our unwavering resolve to protect our sovereignty and promote regional stability,” Romualdez said.

The Speaker also expressed his support for diplomatic actions the government is taking in relation to the harassment of Coast Guard and civilian ships on a resupply mission last Saturday.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has sent a diplomatic note to Beijing protesting the Ayunin water cannon blast incident.

Romualdez commended the President for his firm stand on the issue of Philippine sovereignty over the West Philippine Sea.

“We support his position that we should continue to assert our sovereignty there and that we should defend every inch of our territory,” he said.