MANILA, Philippines – Various groups marked the third anniversary of the Philippines’ historic victory against China over the West Philippine Sea with protests in Metro Manila on Friday, July 12.
A protest movement comprised of groups including Katribu, Let’s Organize for Democacy and Integrity (LODI), Kilusang Mayo Uno, Anakbayan, Bahaghari, and Pilipinong Nagkakaisa para sa Soberanya (P1NAS) urged the government to uphold the Philippine victory in the arbitral tribunal outside the Chinese Consulate in Makati City.
Protesters waved small Philippine flags and displayed banners denouncing the “incursions” of China in the West Philippine Sea. This comes more than a month since a Chinese vessel rammed a Philippine boat with 22 fishermen.
The administration earlier dismissed the Philippine boat sinking as a mere “maritime incident,” with President Rodrigo Duterte cautioning how challenging China means going to war with the Asian giant.
Bayan Muna chairperson Neri Colmenares pointed out how other countries were able to assert their rights and defend their fishermen against China without a war. (READ: Unlike PH, Vietnam defends its fishermen vs China)
“Mayroong foreign policy si President Duterte na walang aral. Kwentong barbero ang kanyang batayan, kasi ang Vietnam, Taiwan, at iba pang bansa nilalabanan ang panghihimasok ng Tsina sa South China Sea,” Colmenares said.
(President Duterte has a foreign policy that is uneducated. His basis is old wives’ tales because Vietnam, Taiwan, and other countries are fighting against the intrusion of China in the South China Sea.)
Colmenares added that it was time for Filipinos to take a stand and assert the Philippines’ sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea.
“Huwag naman tayong pumayag. The Philippines is not for sale. Ipaglaban natin ang ating karapatan. Ipaglaban natin ang ating sambayanan. Mabuhay ang sambayanang Pilipino,” Colmenares added.
(Let’s not accept this. The Philippines is not for sale. Let’s fight for our rights. Let’s fight for our nation. Long live the Filipino.)
The Makati Police said around 600 people attended the protest.
Meanwhile, Anakbayan staged a rally at Mendiola in Manila to press the government to act on offenses committed in the West Philippine Sea, and stop concessions to China.
The protesters burned an image of the Chinese dragon and an image of Duterte to cap the protest.
On June 12, 2016, The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in Hague, Netherlands, ruled in favor of the Philippines in its historic case against China over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
Philippines’ lead counsel against China, Paul Reichler, claimed this win as a victory not only for the Philippines but also for the rule of law and international relations.
Three years since the Philippines’ victory at the Hague, most Filipinos still want the government to assert the country’s rights to the islands in the West Philippine Sea. – with reports from John Philip Bravo/Rappler.com