OLD soldiers never die, they just fade away but they will return to heed the clarion call for them to fight again.
Retired senators Rene Saguisag, Leticia Ramos-Shahani and Victor Ziga on Monday epitomized the statement partly taken from the speech delivered by General Douglas Macarthur four months before Washington signed a mutual defense treaty with Manila in 1951 as they joined the leaders of a people’s alliance that vowed to defend Philippine sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Though they belonged to rival camps when the Senate voted on the RP-US Bases Agreement, the three senators found themselves united in a cause to push Manila to forge an independent foreign policy.
Saguisag, a Manila Times columnist, and Ziga were among the so-called “Magnificent 12” or the senators who voted against the extension of the RP-US Bases Agreement in 1991 while Ramos-Shahani was on the side that supported the first Aquino government’s position to extend the infamous agreement.
Ramos-Shahani, a former UN deputy secretary-general, said diplomacy alone will not help the Philippines stop China’s expansionist moves.
“We need a mass movement … citizen diplomacy is needed to thwart the power play in the West Philippine Sea [South China Sea],” she said at Monday’s launch of the Pilipinong Nagkakaisa para sa Soberanya (Pinas), a people’s initiative spearheaded by Saguisag, Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares , writer/actress Bibeth Orteza and activist-singer/songwriter Heber Bartolome.
Ramos-Shahani said the people, especially the women, should set out to the disputed areas and bravely face China’s warships
“Let us wake up Filipinos… let us rely on ourselves,” she added.
Saguisag said the government should pursue an independent foreign policy as mandated by the 1987 Constitution.
Pinas is organizing a massive demonstration against China at the Chinese Embassy in Makati City and the US Embassy in Manila on June 12, Independence Day.
The group also plans protest actions nationwide.
“In the last few years, we have seen how China has committed blatant acts of aggression by imposing its baseless and arrogant claim of owning 90 percent of the South China Sea or the West Philippine Sea,” Pinas said in a statement.
The alliance called on the public to join the demonstration in front of the Chinese Embassy “to show the Chinese government that we are united against their occupation and reclamation activities in Panatag Shoal and the Kalayaan Islands [Spratlys].”
The group also called on the public to rally at the US Embassy “to show our objection to US plans to use the Philippine-China dispute as a pretext to bring back their military bases and facilities in the country.”
“Even as we vehemently oppose China’s actions in the West Philippine Sea, we are wary that this will be used by the Americans to reverse the legacy and gains of the historic 1991 vote against the US bases. If we don’t want Chinese bases in the Spratlys, we certainly don’t want the return of US bases in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao,” the group said in a statement.
“The two big powers should not underestimate the power of our people,” it added.