Philippine Independence Day

Groups renew calls to defend sovereignty over West Philippine Sea

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Groups renew calls to defend sovereignty over West Philippine Sea

ATIN ANG PINAS, US-CHINA LAYAS. To commemorate the proclamation of the 125th Independence Day, different groups gather on Monday, June 12 to collectively express calls to defend the Philippines’ sovereignty amidst the intrusion of US and China. (Photo from League of Filipino Students)

Sectoral groups led protests in Metro Manila, Bacolod, and Davao, reiterating their calls to the government to defend the country’s sovereignty over the West Philippine Sea

MANILA, Philippines – Various sectoral groups on Monday, June 12, called on the government to address issues between Philippine-China relations and defend the country’s rights over the West Philippine Sea.

Groups such as Pamalakaya, Katribu BAYAN, Gabriela along with youth organizations League of Filipino Students and Kabataan Partylist, gathered at the Chinese Consulate in Makati, Metro Manila as early as 9 am to raise their calls. They later proceeded to the US Embassy in Manila to continue the protest.

Metro Manila

During the protest, the group Pamalakaya asserted the rights of the Filipino fisherfolk amidst Beijing’s continued presence in the West Philippine Sea. They also urged the government to stop reclamation and seabed quarrying in Manila Bay and other areas.

Fishers group Pamalakaya joins Independence Day protest at the Chinese Consulate in Makati on Monday, June 12 to call out Beijing’s continued occupation of the West Philippine Sea and demand China to respect the rights of Filipino fishers in PH. Photo from Pamalakaya

Despite Chinese assertiveness in the West PH Sea, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. remains optimistic over the ties between the two countries

Earlier, the President attended a flag-raising and wreath-laying ceremony at the Rizal Monument in Luneta Park, where he again called for unity. This marked his first Philippine Independence Day as President.

Katribu, an indigenous peoples (IP) group, also expressed its strong opposition to the construction of China-funded dam projects such as the Kaliwa Dam, which will cause environmental damage and possible displacement of communities. The Kaliwa Dam is a 12.2 billion project signed under the Duterte administration that has been collectively opposed by environmental groups and indigenous peoples organizations.

Indigenous peoples (IP) group Katribu joins Independence day protest to express their opposition to the construction of China-funded dams that will affect not just the IPs of Sierra Madre but also the nearby regions. Photo from Katribu

Kabataan Representative Raoul Manuel along with its other members also marched from the Chinese Consulate to the US Embassy despite police presence along the route. 

Sa ika-125 na Araw ng Kalayaan, ang Pilipinas ay patuloy pa ring humaharap sa matinding hamon at banta mula sa mga bansang naghahangad na supilin ang ating kalayaan. Ang Tsina at Estados Unidos ay nagtutunggalian para isa ang manaig bilang kapangyarihan sa Pilipinas,” the party-list Kabataan said in a statement.

(On the 125th Independence Day, the Philippines still faces many challenges and threats from countries that want to curtail our freedom. China and US are competing in order to reign over us.)

Despite a 2016 landmark Hague Ruling which invalidated Beijing’s claim over most of the vast South China Sea via the nine-dash line principle, China has maintained vessels within the West Philippine Sea.

The US, on the other hand, has been granted access to four new local bases where the American military will be allowed to build facilities and preposition defense assets. This was announced when US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin visited the Philippines on February 2. 

To mark the 125th Philippine Independence Day, activists hold a protest at the Chinese Consulate in Makati City to reiterate the call for the Chinese government to respect the West Philippine Sea territorial waters and for the Philippine government to assert its rights over the disputed islands, on June 12, 2023.

Militant youth group Anakbayan also expressed its opposition to the continued attacks on national sovereignty by the US and China.

Other church groups also urged the government to free former senator Leila de lima, reiterating that her continued detention showed that the country is not truly free. (READ: ‘Not truly free as a nation’: Rights advocates decry De Lima’s continued detention)


Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) and Anakbayan Southern Mindanao also organized a protest at Freedom Park in Davao. They urged the current administration to implement and keep an effective independent foreign policy in relation to the rising tensions between the US and China over the West Philippine Sea. 

Anakbayan Sothern Mindanao gathered at the Freedom Park on Independence day to amplify their call for national sovereignty and real independence. (Photo from Anakbayan- Southern Mindanao)
Bacolod City

Meanwhile in Bacolod City, sectoral groups also echoed the calls of the groups in Metro Manila and Davao. They also called for an immediate response of the government in certain issues including jeepney modernization, continuous oppression of local vendors and farmers, and privatization of Central Negros Electric Cooperative (CENECO)  vendor spaces. 

For us in the marginalized sector of the city, there’s no true and genuine independence in terms of our evidently [poor] living conditions,” secretary-general of Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap Ante Berlita told Rappler. 

Progressive groups in Bacolod City call to increase minimum wage, justice for farmers, and protest the incursion of China in the West Philippine Sea. Photo by Myrrh Flores

Bacolod City also organized a program featuring a military parade, flag raising ceremony, and a wreath laying at the monument of an unknown soldier. 

Members from various groups including the Girl Scouts of the Philippines, Boy Scouts of the Philippines, Drum and Bugle Corps of various participating schools, and PNP Bacolod also took part in the civic-military parade from Lizares and Araneta Streets to the public plaza. – with reports from Alexandria Grace Magno and Amiel Antonio/

Alexandria Magno is a Rappler Volunteer from the University of Santo Tomas.

Amiel Antonio is a Rappler intern from Bulacan State University — Main Campus. He is an incoming fourth-year journalism student.

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