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PBBM as Commander-in-Chief and chief foreign policy architect

President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.’s speech at the alumni homecoming of the Philippine Military Academy was remarkable not just because of its brevity – the main text was only 499 words – but by the clarity of the messages he conveyed.

He said that in the past seven months of his nascent presidency, “we have been working hard to steer the country to a high-growth trajectory” amid an “uncertain” and “increasingly complex environment.” He emphasized the need to “develop our internal resources” by seeking to attain “prosperity that contributes to goals shared with the international community.”

He then reported that because of the strengthening of bilateral relations with allies, partners and friends, the country has attracted investments that the government seeks to translate into “material benefits for our people.”

He called attention to the imperative to “preserve the security and the safety of our nation,” especially in light of “heightened geopolitical tensions that do not conform to our ideals of peace and threaten the security and stability of the country, of the region, and of the world.”

At this point, he delivered his main message:

“This country will not lose one inch of its territory [applause]. We will continue to uphold our territorial integrity and sovereignty in accordance with our Constitution and with international law. We will work with our neighbors to secure the safety and security of our peoples.”

As President, he is also the Commander-in-Chief of all the armed forces of the Philippines with the power to “call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion.”

When he spoke of “heightened geopolitical tensions,” he was referring to the recent incident that prompted him to summon the ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Malacañang Palace. This action was described by his office as an expression of his “serious concern over the increasing frequency and intensity of actions by China against the Philippine Coast Guard and our Filipino fishermen in their bancas, the latest of which was the deployment of a military grade laser against our coast guard vessel.”

In diplomatic practice, for the President or head of state to summon another country’s ambassador is one of the highest levels of protest against a foreign government.

That the President opted to speak on the matter at a major event in the Philippine Military Academy signifies that, from his perspective as Commander-in-Chief, this recent development deviates from the path of cooperation that he and Chinese President Xi Jinping had mapped when they met in Beijing last month. Recall that both leaders agreed to set up direct channels of communication to ensure that incidents or issues pertaining to the West Philippine Sea or to the South China Sea are threshed out and cleared promptly.

Under the Constitution, the President is also the chief architect of foreign policy. The President’s series of moves reflects his determination to chart a path that asserts the country’s sovereignty in no uncertain terms.

Credit belongs to : www.mb.com.ph

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