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Residents of PH Island Facing Taiwan Urged to Join Military

The residents of an island province in the northernmost Philippines are being urged to join the military as the government plans to expand its defenses near Taiwan.

Philippine Army chief Lt. Gen. Roy Galido said eligible men and women of Batanes, an island province facing Taiwan, could become reservists to defend their hometown in case of conflict.

The island has a population of around 19,000, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.

“We are encouraging our fellow Filipinos [in Batanes] to volunteer, to be a patriot, and be a reservist,” he said during a press conference. “We don’t need to deploy them because they are already residents in the area.”

Earlier this year, the Philippine military said it is considering conducting a joint exercise with the US on the uninhabited island of Mavulis, just 140 kilometers (87 miles) from southern Taiwan.

The move is seen as a strategic move for the US as it prepares to defend the small island nation against a potential Chinese invasion.

‘Playing With Fire’

Last week, Philippine Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. ordered an increase in military presence and facilities on Batanes.

He said the island is the “spearhead of the Philippines as far as the northern baseline is concerned,” without directly linking the move to the increasing China-Taiwan tensions.

The directive immediately irked Beijing, which issued a stern warning to Manila not to “play with fire.”

“The Philippine side should have a clear understanding of it, act prudently, and refrain from playing with fire on the issue of Taiwan, so as to avoid being exploited by others and leading to their own detriment,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said.

Teodoro shrugged off Wang’s comments, saying a military buildup in Batanes is none of China’s business.

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