This latest WPS image from the PCG shows Chinese maritime militia vessels (CMMVs) anchored near cays in Pag-asa Island, Kalayaan municipality.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said it is reorienting its priority towards external defense activities through the Western Command in light of the increasing complexity in the security environment in the West Philippine Sea.

WESCOM explained this Monday in a statement to the media as a response to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s call for the AFP to refocus its external defense operations.

It said that, in carrying out its solemn duty, it would continue to operate in the WPS with vigilance, dynamism, and commitment to safeguarding Philippine sovereignty, territorial integrity, and the rights of the nation and people.

“WESCOM welcomes the opportunity to work with friends and allies in patrolling our waters, building on existing partnerships, forging new ones, strengthening military interoperability, and developing indigenous capabilities to respond to threats that may arise within our area of operations,” it added.

“WESCOM also appreciates and supports the ongoing efforts of our brothers and sisters in the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in making known the realities faced in the WPS – incidents of harassment, coercion, and provocations that challenge our legitimate entitlements as upheld by the 2016 Arbitral Award. These efforts have highlighted the need to promote adherence to a rules-based order in the WPS and strengthen established bilateral and multilateral mechanisms to avoid conflict and maintain peace and stability,” it added.

But while emphasizing its defensive stance in the region, the military’s unit in the western frontier also underscored the importance of adhering to rules-based order and strengthen established bilateral and multilateral mechanisms to avoid conflict and maintain peace and stability.

Furthermore, WESCOM also affirmed commitment to its mandate following the trust and confidence given by Marcos to the AFP, expressing its readiness to carry out its missions.