MANILA (Reuters) – Philippine presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr. mentioned he desires his nation to have a army presence within the South China Sea, “to not fireplace upon” vessels however to defend its waters in a long-running dispute with China.
Marcos, son of the late autocrat of the identical identify, is main in opinion polls forward of the Might 9 election and seems poised to finish a exceptional rebranding of the household identify 36 years after a “folks energy” rebellion ended his father’s rule.
Within the first televised debate of the marketing campaign, with simply 4 of 10 candidates collaborating, Marcos floated the concept of deploying navy ships or coast guard vessels within the disputed strategic waterway to permit fishermen to fish freely.
Marcos, 64, mentioned he is not going to prioritise a army decision to the South China Sea dispute and would proceed the “right method” of pursuing a coverage of engagement with China.
“The explanation why I spoke about placing army presence there’s so the federal government has a presence there to point out China that we’re defending what we take into account our territorial waters,” Marcos mentioned.
China’s assertive pursuit of its claims within the South China Sea has drawn repeated complaints from the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and Taiwan, which all have competing claims. The US has additionally repeatedly condemned China’s coverage.
A global tribunal in 2016 invalidated China’s declare to virtually the entire resource-rich South China Sea, which can be a serious commerce route, however Beijing doesn’t recognise the ruling.
Marcos described the Philippines’ relationship with longtime defence treaty ally america as particular and “essential”, including that he must “stroll a really, very nice line” between China and america.
Marcos confronted off in opposition to three different contenders within the debate. There are 10 candidates in complete, however solely 4 different main contenders, none of whom attended.
(Reporting by Karen Lema; Enhancing by Kanupriya Kapoor and Nick Macfie)