The new Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff, Lt. General Noel Clement, wants the dispute over the South China Sea resolved peacefully among claimant countries.

“We continuously provide support to our troops assigned to secure those areas. The AFP abides by the tenets in our [1987] Constitution, as a national policy, that war is not a primary instrument in resolving international conflict,” Clement told members of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines.

The AFP continues to monitor the situation in the South China Sea and results from the activity are forwarded to civilian authorities including the Department of National Defense, Clement said.

The military is also coordinating with the civilian-led Philippine Coast Guard and the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, he said.

“We support the [national] government’s strategy in resolving this conflict through peaceful and diplomatic means, so as to prevent the escalation of tension between countries,” he explained in his opening remarks.

On threats from different armed groups in the Philippines, Clement confirmed the presence of at least seven foreign terrorists in southern Philippines. He said these were terrorists from different countries.  

The AFP, he said, was working with other national government agencies as well as foreign governments in dealing with threats from violent extremists.

Addressing the recent kidnapping of British national Allan Hyron and his Filipina wife Wilma in Zamboanga del Sur last Friday, Oct. 4,  he said military personnel from the AFP Western Mindanao Command were doing the follow-up operations.  (Melo M. Acuña)