PH again on front line like in WWII, says Marcos | Global News

PH again on front line like in WWII, says Marcos

/ 05:30 AM March 01, 2024

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (left) walks with President Marcos

PARTNER DOWN UNDER Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (left) walks with President Marcos after the latter’s address at the Parliament House in Canberra on Thursday. Mr. Marcos repeated his vow not to allow any foreign power to get even a square inch of Philippine territory. —PHOTOS BY AFP

Today, that peace, that stability, and our continued success, have come under threat President Marcos told Australians that Filipinos were again “on the front line” as they were during World War II when their countries fought on the same side against a common enemy to defend regional peace and stability.

Marcos said in a speech to the Australian Parliament on Thursday that he was thankful for Australia’s support in the Philippines’ maritime dispute in the South China Sea, clearly referring to the conflict with China without naming the Asian superpower.


“We have long known that our prosperity and development are anchored on the peace and stability of the Indo-Pacific. Today, that peace, that stability, and our continued success, have come under threat,” Marcos said.


With its nine-dash-line demarcation, China claims nearly the entire South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea, waters within Manila’s 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

A July 2016 arbitral tribunal ruling nullified China’s claims and upheld Philippine sovereign rights over its EEZ, but Beijing rejected the award. Over the years, China has increased incursions into Philippine waters and imposed control over vast Filipino fishing grounds, including the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal.

The President said that the Philippines will continue to defend its maritime sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction.

‘Not one square inch’

He likened the current Philippine situation to World War II, as the country “now finds itself on the front line against actions that undermine regional peace, erode regional stability and threaten regional success.”

“I shall never tire of repeating the declaration that I made from the first day that I took office: I will not allow any attempt by any foreign power to take even one square inch of our sovereign territory,” he said to loud applause. “The challenges that we face may be formidable, but equally formidable is our resolve. We will not yield.”

Australia, one of the Philippines’ Indo-Pacific defense allies, is fully aware of Chinese activities in the South China Sea.


Canberra has been among the most vocal critics of China’s sweeping claims to the strategic waterway and the actions of Chinese ships that undermined the safety of Filipino vessels in the West Philippine Sea, including those involved in the resupply of Philippine military outposts in those waters.

“We draw strength from the consistent and unequivocal support of Australia and the international community for the lawful exercise of our rights, which have been settled under international law,” Marcos said.

“On behalf of the Filipino people, I thank you, Australia, for standing with the Republic of the Philippines.”

He stressed that the security and continued prosperity of the Indo-Pacific, including Australia, relied upon the establishment and protection of a rules-based international order.

“The protection of the South China Sea as a critical global artery is crucial to the preservation of regional peace. And I dare say of global peace,” Marcos said.

He said nations must “uphold, preserve, and defend” the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) as the “constitution of the oceans.”1 of only 2 VFAs

The President pointed to the strategic partnership of Australia and the Philippines forged last year as vital to protecting peace and stability in the region.

Australia is one of only two countries with a visiting forces agreement (VFA) with the Philippines that facilitates joint military and humanitarian aid operations. The other is the United States, the Philippines’ defense treaty ally.

The three countries conducted joint military exercises last year where Australia’s biggest warship, the HMAS Canberra, participated.

“We must protect the peace that we fought for during the war and have jealously guarded in the decades since. We must oppose actions that clearly denigrate the rule of law,” Marcos said.

Peter Dutton, the leader of opposition lawmakers in Australia, praised the President’s defense of the “rules-based international order.”

“These words of yours encapsulate an imperative for all nations who cherish peace, prosperity and preservation of civilization itself,” Dutton said.

Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese agreed that Unclos was “not an abstract notion or a theoretical question.”

“Freedom of navigation is fundamental to our sovereignty, our prosperity, our security and our territorial integrity,” Albanese said.

The President spoke to the Australian lawmakers before flying back to Manila from a two-day state visit highlighted by the signing of three memorandums of understanding (MOUs) on maritime cooperation, cybersecurity and competition laws.

Marcos said the MOUs were in addition to more than 120 deals with Australia on defense cooperation, air services, education, research, and scientific and cultural cooperation.

Marcos said his talks with Albanese centered on ways “to maximize the enhanced status of relations between our two countries” in defense, maritime cooperation, nontraditional security concerns, trade and investment, development cooperation, multilateral collaboration, and people-to-people linkages.

‘Strategic partner’

“Defense and security remains a key area of cooperation between the Philippines and of Australia. We look forward to amplifying our joint activities and the capacity-building efforts in this regard,” he said.

Albanese expressed optimism for what the two nations “can achieve together” under their strategic partnership, adding that Australia was “honored to count the Philippines as a close friend and strategic partner.”

“I’m pleased that we are working actively to build a peaceful region where international law is respected and waterways are open for trade,” he said in a joint press statement.

Ties between the Philippines and Australia have expanded in recent years.

According to Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong, Australia’s official aid to the Philippines would increase to over A$89.9 million from 2023 to 2024 to support programs on inclusive economic growth, education, training and scholarships, disaster and climate resilience, and peace and stability in Mindanao.

During his visit to the Philippines in September last year, Albanese announced a five-year program to help reduce violent conflict in Mindanao and improve livelihood in the area with a A$64.5-million peacebuilding fund.

In November 2023, Canberra and Manila held their first joint sea and air patrol of the South China Sea.

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Military ties between the two countries date back to June 1943, when eight Australian servicemen helped Filipino guerrillas in Tawi-Tawi. —WITH A REPORT FROM INQUIRER RESEARCH AND AFP

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