By Filane Mikee Cervantes

DISPUTED AREA. Chinese vessels are seen trespassing in Iroquois Reef within the West Philippine Sea in this photo taken June 30, 2023. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Friday (May 10, 2024) said international support for the Philippines in asserting its sovereign rights over the WPS ensures stability in the maritime domain. (Photo courtesy of Philippine Navy)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Friday said the international support for the Philippines in asserting its sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea (WPS) is vital in ensuring stability in the maritime domain.

In a media interview in General Santos City, President Marcos said he remains thankful for the global support amid China’s aggression in the disuputed waters.

“Kami’y nagpapasalamat sa lahat ng mga iba’t ibang bansa kahit na nanggagaling sa malayo pa ngunit sila ay handang tumulong sa atin (We are grateful to the various countries, even those from afar, for their willingness to support us),” he said. 

Marcos particularly welcomed intentions of the French government to join the military exercises in the WPS to uphold the freedom of navigation.

President Marcos said support from the international community will also guarantee that the global economy will not be impacted.

“Kaya’t lahat ng tumutulong sa atin, lahat ng tumutulong sa Pilipinas, kami’y nagpapasalamat at ito ay magiging malaking bagay, malaking tulong para mapayapa at maging stable ang West Philippine Sea (We thank everyone supporting the Philippines because this would be a significant help to ensure peace and stability in the West Philippine Sea),” the President said.

Around 16,000 Filipino and American soldiers took part in the “Exercise Balikatan” drills from April 22 to May 10.

The first multilateral maritime exercise (MME) among the Philippines, United States, and France ended on April 30.

The five-day MME culminated in a series of demonstrations, including a photo exercise showcasing professionalism and coordination in a simulated formation sailing scenario, and documenting operations through proper photographic techniques for military purposes. (PNA)