A number of San Beda graduates called on their fellow alumnus President Rodrigo Duterte to take a clear stand against China's encroachment in the West Philippine Sea.
In a "fraternal statement of concern" released on Sunday, May 16, at least 129 San Beda alumni urged Duterte to retract his statement belittling the historic 2016 Hague ruling that gave the Philippines a legal victory against China's claims to its waters.
They also told Duterte to retract his repeated claims that China is in possession of the West Philippine Sea, and to "categorically, demonstrably, and publicly" uphold the 1987 Philippine Constitution which lays out the state's responsibility to protect the country's marine wealth for Filipinos.
"When a part of our country's territory is taken against our will by the People's Republic of China and our countrymen, particularly the fishermen, are threatened with force from exclusively enjoying our nation's marine resources, the President is solemnly bound to uphold, defend, and protect his countrymen and the integrity of our national territory," San Beda alumni said.
Former Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board chairperson Winston Ginez, one of the signatories, told Rappler that those who have signed so far are concerned Bedans from the school's grade school, high school, College of Arts and Sciences, and College of Law.
Duterte obtained his law degree from San Beda in 1972.
"This fraternal appeal is respectfully made in answer to [a] clarion call for San Beda, our country, and God," the statement read.
The alumni join a chorus of groups and individuals who have called out Duterte for his defeatist stance on issues related to China's actions in the West Philippine Sea.
The ruling released by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2016 invalidated China's claim to waters within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.
Carpio on Friday, May 14, started a signature campaign urging Duterte to retract his statements which are "detrimental to the country's sovereignty and sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea."
Read the full statement by San Beda alumni:
Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and also hosts the weekly podcast Newsbreak: Beyond the Stories. She joined Rappler in 2014 after obtaining her journalism degree from the University of the Philippines.