MANILA, Philippines – Marimi de la Fuente quietly held up a homemade poster Wednesday, July 24, as groups swelled in front of the Chinese consulate in Makati City to protest China’s incursions in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
“Bad feng shui to take what isn’t yours,” her poster said.
De la Fuente wasn’t among the groups that organized the rally, but she came anyway to protest “Chinese aggression and their imperialism.” (Watch Rappler’s video report below.)
She joined hundreds who trooped to the World Center, which houses the Chinese consulate, at noon on Wednesday.
The newly formed West Philippine Sea Coalition led the protest, which stretched until past 1 pm.
De la Fuente said: “I have nothing against the Chinese people. I have everything against the Chinese government. They’re bullying our government. That’s why I’m here. I want them to know that they cannot bully the Filipino people.”
The rally came as the Philippines and China engaged in a word war over their territorial dispute.
The Philippine government on Wednesday disowned the protest. “No, we do not have a hand on this,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.
In an apparent reaction to the rally, the Chinese consulate on Wednesday closed its visa section “for security reasons.”
Like Jericho’s walls
Singing the Philippine national anthem twice, protesters considered the rally a show of patriotism.
Several times during the two-hour event, a Christian group also blew horns to reenact the biblical story of the fall of Jericho.
In the Bible, the Israelites conquered Jericho after priests marched for 6 days and, on the 7th day, blew their horns. Jericho’s walls collapsed – which protesters also want to happen to China in its territorial row with the Philippines.
Wearing a collarless shirt, former Sen Rene Saguisag said he attended the rally as an “ordinary citizen” to support the movement against China’s claims.
He said it’s time the Philippines put its foot down, after China’s incursions in the Ayungin and Scarborough Shoals.
“We have to take a stand, dahil ‘yung Ayungin, Scarborough, pinipitik na lang tayo eh. It’s our own self interest. Hindi sa Kano, hindi sa Intsik, hindi sa Hapon, kundi kung anong ikabubuti ng Pilipino, dahil ayoko na paglaki ng mga apo ko, problema pa rin ito,” Saguisag said.
(We have to take a stand, because in Ayungin and Scarborough, China is picking on us. It’s our own self-interest. Not for the Americans, not for the Chinese, not for the Japanese, but for Filipinos, because I don’t want my grandchildren to grow up with this problem unresolved.)
War? So what?
Saguisag deflected concerns that the protest could worsen the rift between Manila and Beijing.
“Kaysa naman pipi tayo na hindi natin pinapaano ang ano natin. Eh ano kung lumala? Giyera sa Tsina? Ang ikinakatakot ko pag nagkagiyera sa Tsina, baka manalo tayo eh,” the former senator said.
(That’s better than keeping quiet about this. So what if it worsens? War with China? My fear is that if we’re caught in a war with China, we could even win.)
He said the rally will make China “pay a little attention. This will be noticed, I’m sure.”
Organizers said similar rallies were scheduled in other countries, such as Australia, Canada, and the United States.
One of the protest leaders, former Interior Secretary Rafael Alunan III, said Filipinos should use social media and other means to protest against China.
“We’re asking Filipinos to take leadership wherever they are,” Alunan said. – Rappler.com