CEBU CITY, Philippines–Cause-oriented groups gathered at the famous Colon Street here on Friday morning, July 12, 2019, to join the nationwide protest of the 3rd anniversary of Philippines’ victory in the arbitration case against China.
The groups, composed of BAYAN Central Visayas, Bayan Muna, Karapatan, Anak Bayan, Gabriela, Anak Pawis and Piston were calling on the government to fight for its sovereignty over the West Philippine Sea.
Jaime Paglinawan of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) Central Visayas said the continuous abuse of China of the Philippine territory is unacceptable and urged the government to put its foot down on the issue.
He said the words of President Rodrigo Duterte “condoning” the abandonment of a Chinese vessel of 22 Filipino farmers whose boat sank in the West Philippine Sea after a maritime accident was a huge disappointment for Filipinos who expected the President to defend his own people.
“Ang paghatag sa Presidente ug verbal nga pagtugot ngadto sa mga Insik nga makapangisda sa atong dagat, (The verbal consent of the President to allow the Chinese to fish in our seas), that is pure violation of our laws,” said Paglinawan.
On July 12, 2016, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) ruled that the Philippines has exclusive sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea (in the South China Sea) and that China’s “nine-dash line” is invalid.
Three years later, the victory remains on paper, as China continues to build on the disputed territories which includes the Scarborough shoals and the Spratly’s islands.
Paglinawan said the insistence of the President to take loans from China is stepping on the sovereignty of the country over its Western territories.
The groups want the President to seek the help of the United Nations with regards to the territorial conflict with China.
Paglinawan also suggested that the Philippine Navy should tighten its security in the West Philippine Sea without fear.
He believes that even if the country may not be able to defeat China with its own military power, the United Nations will surely stand between the two countries should tensions rise.
The cause-oriented group said that a victory in court is not enough if the national government cannot make China accept the ruling of the ITLOS three years ago, adding that the national government should have the political will to protect the country’s territory. /bmjo
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