Statement on PH’s promise to remove BRP Sierra Madre from Ayungin Shoal

President Bongbong Marcos Jr. has already spoken and declared last week that he had “rescinded” that arrangement or agreement, “if there was such an agreement,” concerning the removal of BRP Sierra Madre from Ayungin Shoal. This renders the debate about a possible promise made during former President Joseph Estrada’s tenure to the Chinese government irrelevant. 

During my phone conversation today with former Senator Orly Mercado, who held the position of Defense Secretary during my father’s tenure, he confirmed that there was “no agreement or promise” whatsoever made to the Chinese government. Any assertion of such a commitment contradicts the rationale behind the government’s decision at that time to station BRP Sierra Madre at the shoal. This move was primarily undertaken to assert our country’s claim and establish a presence in the area. 

As the chief architect of foreign policy, President Marcos Jr. is firmly committed to keeping the Navy ship at the shoal, which is unambiguously within the Philippines’ territorial boundaries. No other country should have the power to dictate our actions regarding this territory. 

President Marcos Jr.’s firm stance not to remove BRP Sierra Madre from Ayungin Shoal demonstrates his unwavering dedication to protecting the Philippines’ sovereignty over the area and our right to determine the ship’s fate. As the nation’s highest-ranking official, he is responsible for preserving and defending our country’s territorial integrity, particularly when faced with external challenges in maritime zones.