By Priam Nepomuceno

National Security Adviser Eduardo Año (PNA file photo)

MANILA – The National Security Council (NSC) on Tuesday welcomed the results of a recent survey showing Filipinos supporting stronger military action and diplomatic approach to the West Philippine Sea (WPS) issue.

“Filipinos, are a people of peace but at the same time, we know how to stand up for what is right, and for what is ours. Heeding our people’s call, the Marcos Jr. Administration is determined to progressively build our defense capabilities to effectively deter any and every threat to our nation’s peace and security,” National Security Adviser and NSC chair Eduardo Año said in a statement.

Citing results of the OCTA Research “Tugon ng Masa” survey for the 1st quarter of 2024, Año said 73 percent of respondents want the government to prioritize military action when there are threats to the country’s territory and sovereign rights.

Meanwhile, 68 percent of survey respondents support the ongoing modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to make it more capable of protecting the country against foreign aggression.

“We thank the Filipino people for their support and they can be assured that, guided by the President, we will continue to assert our rights and push back against illegal, coercive, aggressive, and deception tactics,” he added.

The poll asked respondents about the “measures that the Marcos Administration should prioritize to effectively address the issues related to the conflict in the West Philippine Sea.”

“The Philippine Government continues to push for peaceful, diplomatic means to resolve any dispute with other (countries). Simply put, war is not an instrument of our national policy. However, under international law, we have the inalienable right to defend our people, our territorial integrity, and sovereign rights,” Año noted.

Based on the survey results, the NSA said the Filipino people understand that “there can be no peace without security, and that there will be no security without peace.”

Año also stressed that the Philippines’ military modernization is not only for military defense purposes but also to upgrade its readiness and capabilities to conduct humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations.

He also appealed to the Senate and the House of Representatives to support all programs to fast-track AFP modernization to allow the Armed Forces to fully focus on territorial defense and secure the territorial integrity of the country.

“We hope that Congress will continue to allocate the necessary funds to implement Horizon III of the Armed Forces modernization program which is critical in the implementation of the Comprehensive Archipelagic Defense Concept recently approved by the President,” he said. (PNA)