Senate of the Philippines

‘Hanggang t-shirt lang’: Senators in ‘West PH Sea’ shirts during FIBA match vs China slammed

Bonz Magsambol

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‘Hanggang t-shirt lang’: Senators in ‘West PH Sea’ shirts during FIBA match vs China slammed

Senators wear 'West PH Sea' shirts during FIBA match vs China

Office of Senator Joel Villanueva

Senator Francis Tolentino defends his colleagues, saying it was their ‘way of showing unity’

MANILA, Philippines – Filipinos online were not having any of what they called a “performative” stunt of some senators during the FIBA World Cup match between Gilas Pilipinas and China on Saturday, September 2, as the legislators wore shirts with “West PH Sea” printed in them.

In photos shared by Senator Joel Villanueva, he and senators Migz Zubiri, Bato dela Rosa, and Bong Go were seen wearing the shirt, as they cheered for Gilas win over China, 96-75, at the Araneta Coliseum on Saturday.

Netizens did not mince words against them, saying “hanggang t-shirt ata tong mga to eeeeh (they don’t do anything, aside from just wearing t-shirts),” alluding to the lukewarm response of senators to the bullying of China to the Filipino fishermen in the West Philippine Sea.

China has been harassing Filipino fishermen and calling on the Philippines to remove the BRP Sierra Madre, which is manned by only a small team of Philippine Marines, in the West Philippine Sea. 

On August 5, Chinese Coast Guard and militia vessels harassed and sprayed water cannons towards Philippine ships en route to the BRP Sierra Madre for a routine resupply mission.

In an interview with Teleradyo Serbisyo on Sunday, September 3, Senator Francis Tolentino came to the defense of his colleagues, saying that there was “nothing wrong” with wearing the “West PH Sea” shirts.

“Walang masama doon sa nagpapakita ng kanilang personal political belief na atin ang (There’s nothing wrong with showing their political belief that we own the) West Philippine Sea even if in a sports that is FIBA. I don’t see anything wrong with that,” he said.

“It is one way of showing our unity,” he added. –

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Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler.