Philippines to pursue peaceful resolution in South China Sea

Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has reiterated he wants a peaceful solution to conflicts with China in the South China Sea, but added his country will not back down.

The Filipino leader visited soldiers stationed in the western province of Palawan on Sunday.

He told them, "We are not in the business to instigate wars... but at the same time, we stand firm." He also said their calm and peaceful disposition should not be mistaken for acquiescence.

Marcos awarded medals to troopers involved in the June 17 altercation with Chinese coast guards in Second Thomas Shoal. Manila says the reef is within its exclusive economic zone, but it is also claimed by Beijing.
A Filipino soldier was heavily injured when Chinese coast guards intercepted and disrupted Philippine forces delivering supplies to a military outpost, a grounded ship, in Second Thomas Shoal last week.

China has defended its actions, saying they were necessary measures to safeguard its sovereignty.

But the Philippines' defense minister on Monday called the incident an illegal use of force.

This reflects a change in the government's view. The country's Executive Secretary said last week the incident was likely due to a misunderstanding or accident. He had also suggested a plan to announce the military outpost resupply schedule ahead of time, which observers viewed as Manila accepting Beijing's request.

But the defense minister said on Monday the president has rejected this plan.