Independence day marchers stand against bullying, and celebrate modern-day Filipino courage against foreign aggression.
By BETTINA CATLI
Many patriotic Filipinos demonstrated their unity on June 12, Philippine Independence Day, marching under the hot sun and crying out in unison: “Atin ang Pinas, China layas!” (The Philippines is ours, China get out.)
China has been claiming parts of the West Philippine sea (South China sea), as its territory, in accordance with their “nine dash line” argument.
“Their argument is madness because they do not have any basis in reclaiming these islands. They only want to further their territory and economic interests.” said Aries Gupit, secretary general of the League of Filipino Students.
Various groups marched to the Chinese Consulate, with “Hands Off” placards boldly raised high. It was a statement to China’s reclamation, which many described as bullying.
“It is bullying. They are testing the waters saying, kaya ba natin to? (Can you assert your claim.) That is why our answer is, magpapakaya ba tayo?” (Are we going to allow this?) said Bibeth Orteza.
Many Filipinos are angered.
“It is clear that China is being arrogant, because they refuse to recognize the legal claim of the Philippines,” said Anakpawis partylist Fernando Hicap.
Renato Reyes Jr., secretary general of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) called it “aggression.”
“Just because it is named South China sea does not give them an automatic claim. Because if that’s how they see it, then India could claim the whole Indian Ocean, if it wants to. It does not follow,” Reyes said.
In the last couple of years, tension between the Philippines and China steadily intensified and the latter’s aggression likewise brought it to cross swords with powerful countries such as the United States and Japan.
“The U.S and Japan exploit this issue with China just so they can push for the opening of their bases here in the country, which is what the Aquino government relies on to help face China,” said Satur Ocampo, Makabayan president, referring to the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) and the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States.
Recently, the government said it is working out a VFA with Japan.
“There will never be true democracy and true freedom in a country, as long as there is another country butting in the affairs of the other,” said Hicap.
The protesters said that the return of military bases slowly brings us back to where we were hundreds of years ago: under the imperialist power of foreign countries. But this time, we are the frogs who knowingly stepped into the pot of boiling water.
Commemorating the day our heroes fought for freedom, the Filipino people rise again to claim what is theirs and fight for the sovereignty of the country.
“The unity of all the Filipino people will be the power that defends and saves the country against the cheat that is China, not the American government,” said Lito Fadriquelan, president of the IBM-KMU.