(Bloomberg) -- Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said he plans a “stronger, bigger and effective” air force, as the Southeast Asian nation contends with territorial spats.

“A more modern aerial and surveillance capability is all the more felt given the territorial disputes that we in the Philippines are involved in,” Marcos said in a speech Friday at an Air Force event, among the first he attended as president. It would also help the fight against insurgents and extremists, he said.

Tensions between the Philippines and China have risen in the recent weeks, with Manila filing protests against Beijing’s presence in contested parts in the South China Sea. Marcos earlier said he’s considering a deal with China to address the territorial row, while also pledging to protect the Southeast Asian nation’s sovereignty.

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