‘West PH Sea dispute may be behind surge in naval force reservists’
MANILA, Philippines — The patriotic fervor due to China’s actions in the West Philippine Sea could be one of the factors behind the surge in the number volunteers joining the Philippine Navy’s reserve force, said Major General Joseph Ferrous Cusion, commander of the Naval Reserve Command.
“These past few years, we’ve seen a resurgence of volunteers to join the reserve force,” Cusion said in a press conference in Camp Aguinaldo to mark the National Reservists’ Week.
“Maybe they are aware of the news on the WPS, that could be one of the factors.”
Cusion said the Navy even doubled the total number of classes in their eight training centers nationwide.
“Despite that, the volunteers are still overflowing, we could not accommodate them all,” he said.
As of June 2023, the Armed Forces of the Philippines reserve force is 1,248,009 – strong, with 245,758 from the Navy.
“Encouraging volunteers is not a problem for us; there are so many volunteers even us without telling them the benefits of joining the service. Just for the sake of patriotism, they are volunteering,” said Cuison.
The China Coast Guard last February aimed military-grade lasers at Philippine Coast Guard vessels and last month fired a water cannon at PCG and resupply ships en route to the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal in the West Philippine Sea
China’s actions are based on its assertion that it owns almost all of the areas in the South China Sea, including the WPS through its so-called 10-dash line.
But the Philippines challenged the then-nine dash-line before the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which later invalidated Beijing’s claim.