By DEE AYROSO
MANILA — In the face of rising tension in the West Philippine Sea, Jose Maria Sison, the chairperson of the International League of Peoples’ Struggles (ILPS), called on the Filipino people to “unite to build national strength” to counter aggression by the two “imperialist powers,” China and the United States.
“The people and their revolutionary forces must rise up against the imperialist powers and their local reactionary agents,” Sison said, in a statement as head of the ILPS, a global body with 350 anti-imperialist member-organizations in 40 countries.
Calling China “a full-fledged imperialist power,” Sison said its reclamation of reefs and shoals in the West Philippine Sea within Philippine territory is “an act of piracy and aggression.”
At least seven reefs in the Kalayaan (Spratlys) group of islands, within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) had undergone reclamation by China: the Panganiban (Mischief), Mabini (Johnson South), Gavin (Gaven), Calderon (Cuarteron), Hughes (Kennan), Malvar (Eldad) and Kagitingan (Fiery Cross) Reefs.
The maritime dispute should be resolved within the framework of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Sison said.
The US and the Aquino administration had engaged China in a verbal tussle, with US President Barack Obama expressing “concern” over the issue. The US Navy had also been patrolling the international waters in the West Philippine Sea.
Sison, however, said the US only watches over its own “interests,” mostly in China.
“The US has expressed neutrality and interest, only in its freedom of navigation. It has overlooked China’s violations of the UNCLOS and has, in fact, shown partiality to its larger interests in relations with China than in those with the Philippines,” he said.
Sison added that the US pivot to Asia mainly favors “the pro-US big bourgeoisie in China.”
Sison said the US has taken advantage of the issue and has entrenched itself militarily in the country, as it is set to re-establish its military bases under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).
“It is clear that the US and China are conniving by a significant measure to dominate and divide the Philippines, very much like the time when China was divided into spheres of influence and Anglo-American and Japanese imperialists at certain times competed and collaborated in dividing and dominating China,” Sison said.
Sison also criticized the Philippine leadership, past and present, which had “pretended” to oppose China and defend Philippine sovereignty and territorial integrity.
“But they have in fact allowed the Chinese state and private enterprises to plunder the natural and human resources and to exploit a wide range of business opportunities at the expense of the Filipino people and Filipino entrepreneurs who uphold political and economic sovereignty and desire national industrialization,” Sison said.
“We cannot allow China to do its own aggression against the Philippines and the Filipino people, just as we cannot allow the perpetuated aggression of the US against them,” Sison said.
Sison, who lives in exile in The Netherlands, is also political consultant to the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, and founding chairperson of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
“The anti-imperialist and democratic forces in the Philippines should unite to build national strength and develop relations with friendly countries that are truly helpful and are not hostile to the Filipino people’s aspirations for full national sovereignty, people’s democracy, industrial development, social justice, scientific and cultural progress and peace,” he said.