Members of militant groups held a protest rally in front of the Chinese Embassy in Makati City on Wednesday to protest China’s bullying in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea.)
The West Philippine Sea Coalition, an umbrella-organization of about 30 cause-oriented groups, said the demonstration was part of the second “Global Day of Protest” against China.
Around 2,000 people carrying Philippine flags and streamers joined the rally to protest China’s occupation of Philippine reefs and shoals, and demand that China act responsibly and follow the rule of law.
“Whatever our political or ideological differences, now is the time to stand as one nation so we can show to the Chinese government and to the world that we are united and we are determined to defend our country’s honor, dignity and sovereignty, ” former Interior and Local Government secretary Rafael Alunan 3rd said in a statement.
Alunan, former Paranaque City congressman Roilo Golez and Nick Sotelo are the lead convenors of the West Philippine Sea Coalition.
Alunan said they held the rally to mark the first anniversary of China’s occupation of the Ayungin Shoal, which the Philippines regard as an integral part of its national territory.
He said they are protesting China’s supposed violation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos).
Golez, head of the “Di Ka Pasisiil” Movement and a former naval officer and National Security adviser, said that “today’s rally is just the start of a series of activities here and abroad aimed at drawing together the diverse sectors of Philippine society and engaging them in the campaign to thwart China’s illegal designs on the country’s territorial and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).”
He emphasized that through these rallies, “we want to show that we fully support the government’s goal to modernize and professionalize our military forces. We must attain the means to present a credible defense posture at the soonest possible time that would enable us to protect our EEZ, defend our territorial integrity and uphold national honor.”
Emman Hizon, a member of Akbayan and spokesman of the West Philippine Sea Coalition, said Ayungin Shoal has been used by China as “a garrison to launch their fishing vessels into our territory.”
On May 11 last year, the coalition led the first Global Day of Protest at the Chinese Consular Office, calling on the Chinese government to halt its occupation of Scarborough shoal, which is part of the Philippines’ 200-mile exclusive economic zone.
Malacañang denied it had anything to do with the ongoing protests of Filipinos against China here and abroad.
“All the actions taken by the individual citizens wherever they are from, whether here or abroad, these are the actions taken by the Filipinos on how they view the situation,” Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a press conference.
Lacierda said that the case regarding the country’s territorial row with China is now before the arbitral tribunal.
“We have not spoken on China [because], as Secretary Voltz Gazmin said, it’s already in the process of being arbitrated,” he said. “So do we need to say anything more than that? It’s already before the Unclos arbitral tribunal.”
Simultaneous with the Makati rally were demonstrations staged by the U.S. Pinoys for Good Government (USP4GG) in several cities in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and by other Filipino organizations in the cities of Rome, Copenhagen, London, Adelaide, Brisbane, Vienna and in Cambodia.
The Makati rally saw representatives from NGOs, religious, student and civic organizations speak against China’s bullying and aggressive presence in Philippine waters.
Other speakers at the rally were Walden Bello, former Akbayan party-list representative Riza Hontiveros, Leah Navarro of the Black and White Movement, Gibby Gorres of the Student Alliance of the Philippines, Bishop Mike delos Reyes of the Philippine for Jesus’ Movement, and columnist Jarius Bondoc of the Philippine Star.
A big number of religious organizations also joined the rally, such as the CamSur All Pastors Group (CSAPG), March For Jesus Movement (MFJM), Jesus Is Lord Manila and Bulacan chapters, Philippines for Zion, Prayer for Jerusalem, Grain New Wine and Oil Ministries, Shofar Blowers of Grain New Wine and Oil Ministries (GNWOM) , Word for the World Makati City, World for Christ Fellowship Laguna, Christians in Media, Every Nation Church of Vietnam, and members of the Iglesia ni Cristo and El Shaddai.