Philippine President Vows ‘Response’ to China’s Actions in South China Sea

The US is strongly backing the Philippines in its maritime

On Thursday, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. vowed a “response” to China’s actions in the South China Sea as tensions in the disputed waters continue to grow.

In a statement on X, Marcos said that he has been meeting with members of the country’s “National Security and Defense leadership” to craft a plan to “protect and secure our Sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction while ensuring peace and stability in the Indo-pacific.”

Marcos continued, “Over the succeeding weeks there shall be, implemented by the relevant national government agencies and instrumentalities, a response and countermeasure package that is proportionate, deliberate, and reasonable in the face of the open, unabating, and illegal, coercive, aggressive, and dangerous attacks by agents of the China Coast Guard and the Chinese Maritime Militia.”

Since coming into office in 2022, Marcos has taken a much harder line against China’s sweeping claims to the South China Sea, breaking from the more Beijing-friendly policy of his predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte. Marcos has been emboldened by the US, which is increasing its military presence in the Philippines and is stepping up patrols in the South China Sea.

Map showing the overlapping claims to the South China Sea

The US has also repeatedly vowed that the US-Philippine Mutual Defense Treaty applies to attacks on Philippine vessels in the South China Sea, meaning the US is willing to intervene if the maritime dispute turns into a shooting war. The US formalized this war guarantee last year by adding new guidelines to the treaty.

Over the past few years, there have been frequent encounters between Chinese and Philippine coast guard vessels near disputed reefs, which sometimes end in collisions. The latest incident occurred while a Philippine supply boat was trying to resupply a grounded ship on Second Thomas Shoal, which Manila uses as a base of operations for the region.

A Chinese Coast Guard vessel fired a water cannon at the Philippine boat, which Manila said caused “significant damage” and injured several crew members. The US responded to the incident by repeating its warning about the Mutual Defense Treaty.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.