‘We are steadfast in our determination’

House Speaker Martin Romualdez has reaffirmed his dedication to adequately funding the defense of the West Philippine Sea (WPS). He made this statement following his participation in the 88th anniversary celebration of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) at Camp Emilio Aguinaldo, Quezon City on Thursday, Dec. 21.

During the event, Romualdez emphasized the importance of ensuring a future where Filipino fishermen can operate peacefully in the WPS, and where natural resources are managed sustainably for the benefit of the Filipino people. He specifically mentioned the need to protect areas such as Scarborough Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc off Zambales and Pangasinan in the north, and Ayungin Shoal in Palawan in the south.

Romualdez also expressed the House’s alignment with President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s vision of a modern and well-equipped AFP, capable of effectively asserting territorial sovereignty and maritime rights. This comes after President Marcos recently signed into law the P5.768-trillion national budget for 2024, the largest in the country’s history, which includes significant funding for the expansion and development of infrastructure in the WPS.

In addition to the budget allocation for WPS development, Romualdez highlighted the House’s support for initiatives aimed at improving the welfare and compensation of AFP personnel. He mentioned a bill aimed at providing a guaranteed three percent annual salary increase for military and uniformed personnel for the first 10 years after its enactment, in order to ensure sustainability and equity for these service members and the national government.

In conclusion, Romualdez reiterated the commitment of the House and the Marcos administration to empowering the AFP, protecting territorial integrity, and fostering a brighter future for all Filipinos.

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