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Groups mark second ‘Global Day of Protest’ vs China

MANILA, Philippines - Some 2,000 protesters from 30 groups led by the West Philippine Sea Coalition converged at the Chinese consular office in Makati City yesterday to mark the second "Global Day of Protest" against China.
Bearing placards printed with "Our Soil, Our Soil" and "China Respect Philippine Sovereignty," the protesters began gathering in front of the Chinese consular office along Gil Puyat Avenue for the kick-off of the global day of protest at noon.

They accused China of "gunboat diplomacy," demonstrating against the Asian giant's moves to stake its claims in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

Riot police cordoned off the entrance to an office building housing the Chinese consulate as an estimated 1,000 demonstrators took Beijing to task for "bullying" the Philippines.

Emman Hizon of Akbayan and spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea Coalition said the protest was staged simultaneously with similar protest actions in the United States, Saipan and Rome.

"It is a global day of action to oppose China's aggression on the integral territory of the Philippines and to defend our territory and national sovereignty," Hizon said.

Malacañang, for its part, said it had no hand in the protest actions against China.

"Those protests are being done by the Filipino citizens themselves on how they view their relation or their current situation with China on the ongoing row at Panatag Shoal," presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.

Lacierda also pointed out President Aquino precisely did not mention China in his State of the Nation Address last Monday.

He said the proceedings against China's claims are already in the international tribunal.

"We have not spoken on China because it's already in the process of being arbitrated. So do we need to say anything more than that?" he explained.

"And so, some people are saying: Do we have a hand in these? No, we do not have a hand in these," Lacierda said.

Hizon said the second global day of protest against China was held to mark the first year of China's occupation of Ayungin Shoal.

"We held it because this is the first anniversary of China's occupation of the Ayungin Shoal which is an integral part of Philippine territory. China is using it as a garrison to launch their fishing vessels into our territory," he said.

"Our simple message for China today is to stop your intrusions, and stop your bullying of other claimant countries," said Risa Hontiveros, former Akbayan representative and one of the protest leaders.

The demonstrators, who included politicians, former military officers and church officials, accused China in a statement handed out at the protest of implementing "gunboat diplomacy in the region."

They put up a portable stage on the street, snarling traffic as they sang patriotic songs, blew horns, danced and hoisted anti-Chinese slogans.

Former Interior secretary Rafael Alunan said Filipinos would not back down despite the country's weak armed forces.

"We have a long history of resistance and China is best forewarned," Alunan told his fellow demonstrators.

Alunan said Beijing's aggressive claims have brought it bad publicity and led to a US decision to reassert its presence in Asia.

"It's important for China to understand that if it is not seen as a troublemaker and as a country that is out to dominate other nations, effects like the (US) Asian pivot and the building of coalitions to deal with China on territorial disputes will not be happening, including our protest," Alunan said.


Filipinos in LA join global protest vs China's aggression in West Philippine Sea

By Mico Letargo

LOS ANGELES - On July 24, Filipinos in Los Angeles trooped to the Chinese Consulate offices in Shatto Place in Koreatown to protest the China's aggression in the heated West Philippine Sea/South China Sea territorial dispute.

Led by US Pinoys for Good Governance (USPGG), Filipino Angelenos clad in yellow shirts and carrying anti-China placards marched in front of the Chinese Consulate chanting "Our soil, our oil."

During the demonstration, some Chinese consulate workers were seen exiting the building . However, they did not give any comments on the protest.

Rocio Nuyda, a board member for USPGG, said that their peaceful rally is in protest of the most recent violation of China of the sovereign rights of the Philippines.

Nuyda said that in May 2013, three Chinese naval ships entered Ayungin Reef - a gateway to the oil, marine, and mineral-rich Recto Bank.

Nuyda pointed out that Recto Bank (located 105 nautical miles from Palawan) is well within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines, based on the International Laws of the Seas.

There are a dozen marines based in Ayungan Reef who are watching over Philippine waters. However, the Chinese vessels blocked the Philippine Navy from delivering food and supplies to the marines at the reef, Nuyda said.

Nuyda cited a US Energy Information Administration report stating that the reefs and banks of the Spratly Islands (where Philippines have sovereign rights) are rich with 213 billion barrels of oil and two quadrillion cubic feet of natural gas, aside from the vast and rare marine life.

"Clearly there is vested interest [on the part of China]," Nuyda told the Asian Journal.

Not withstanding the rich deposits of natural resources, Nuyda emphasized that the presence of the Chinese vessels in the region is a clear violation of the United Nations Convention of the Laws Of the Seas (UNCLOS).

PH government's stance on protests

In a recent statement, Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesperson Raul Hernandez said that the Philippine government is not involved in any of the global protests held on Wednesday. Hernandez, however, clarified that the government will not stop Filipinos from peacefully voicing out their sentiments on the West Philippine Sea issue.

Nuyda said that it is understandable that the Philippine government did not come out publicly in support of the mass actions because of their own efforts to resolve the issue through diplomatic channels.

"They're trying to follow the course of bilateral agreement," Nuyda said.

The Philippines filed a complaint with the United Nations, appealing for intervention on the issue. China, however, ignored the UN, said Nuyda.

While there are talks about diplomatic resolution of the dispute, Nuyda said that it is still good for Filipinos all over the world to simultaneously hold rallies to voice out their stance.

In places as far as Rome, Australia, and Canada, mass action movements were held by Filipinos in protest of China's encroachment in Philippine territory.

For Filipino veteran actor and comedian Bernardo Bernardo (who is also an active Filipino rights advocate) Filipino-Americans should use every single platform they have to express their concern over the current plight of the motherland.

"Every single platform where a Filipino can voice his concerns is very important. It doesn't matter where you are. Filipino ka, mahalaga sa iyo ang mga kababayan mo, mahalaga sayo ang bayan mo, kumibo ka," Bernardo said.

Bilateral talks necessary

For Art P. Garcia of Alliance Philippines and Bantay Pilipinas, the Philippine government should be blamed.

With its lack of concrete military might to defend itself, the Philippine government allowed the Chinese to build their own structures and facilities in the Spratlys region as early as 1995, Garcia said.

"Even Secretary [Raul] Alunan of the Interior and Local Government under the Ramos administration [has] complained about this — that the Philippine government is not doing anything about it," Garcia said.

For Garcia, Manila has yet to engage with Beijing in bilateral talks to settle the dispute.

While Garcia acknowledged that the Filipino government has already raised their qualms to the UNCLOS, they have not entered into bilateral talks with China.

"Although China and the Philippines have signed into it [UNCLOS], they have not talked bilaterally," he said.

"Ayaw makipag-usap ng Pilipinas sa China. Ang China nag-aalok. Ano ba ang masama sa makipag-usap sa China?," Garcia opined.

Looking to grow the movement

On Wednesday, only a handful of Filipinos joined the protest. Nuyda explained that Filipinos are known as "very busy working people" and thus, are unable to join a weekday protest.

Nuyda also admitted that she had been nursing an injury to her right foot, which had hampered her personal efforts to drum up support for the movement.

"Sometime next month, I will be mobilizing a core group, so that the next time around when we need to cry out and protest against this kind of bullying, I have a core group who can support and back me up," Nuyda said.


300 Filipinos in Rome protest China 'intrusion'

By Albert Dilao Madrigal

ROME-Some 300 Filipinos in Rome, Italy took a time out from their work Thursday to hold a protest rally against China's "intrusion" in the West Philippine Seas (South China Sea).

Organized by various Filipino communities in Rome, the peaceful rally was held at the historic plaza of Piazza Del Popolo, which is one of Rome's main tourist spots.

China claims nearly all of the West Philippine Sea, even waters approaching the coasts of neighbouring countries.

Asean members the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia also have competing claims to parts of the sea, as does Taiwan.

The rivalries have for decades been a source of regional tension, with China and Vietnam fighting battles in 1974 and 1988 for control of some islands in which dozens of Vietnamese soldiers died.

Tensions have again grown in recent years with the Philippines, Vietnam and some other countries expressing concern at increasingly assertive Chinese military and diplomatic tactics to stress control over the sea.