[The Hague, 07 July 2015] The Philippines may be small compared to China, but its message to the Chinese government is loud and clear: Stay away from Philippine waters!
Patriotic Filipinos under the banner of Tindig P1NAS Netherlands mounted a protest picket today in front of the Peace Palace in The Hague, the Netherlands as the hearings by the Arbitral Tribunal began on the case filed by the government of the Republic of the Philippines against the People’s Republic of China.
Protesters carried streamers which read: China out of Philippine waters!, Neither China nor the US: We stand for a truly independent Philippines! and Defend the sovereignty and territory of the Motherland!
In their manifesto distributed at the protest picket, Tindig P1NAS Netherlands declared: “We denounce in the strongest terms these aggressive incursions of China!”
“We have observed how China has committed blatant acts of aggression by imposing its baseless and arrogant claim of owning 90% of the South China Sea, grabbing the Philippines’ entire Extended Continental Shelf and 80% of our Exclusive Economic Zone. It has occupied the shoals off Masinloc, and is doing intensive reclamation work on reefs, shoals and islets in the Kalayaan group of islands (Spratlys).
“China has robbed the Filipino people of bountiful fishing grounds and vast amounts of mineral wealth, and gravely damaged the marine environment. These crimes violate Philippine sovereignty, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, conventions on the environment, and the freedom of navigation in the high seas.”
At the same time, Tindig P1NAS Netherlands scored the US for using the dispute to advance its geopolitical interests in the region, its so-called “pivot to Asia” playing a big power game with China at the expense of the Philippines.
“We have also observed that the US government is exploiting this territorial dispute in order to increase its military presence in the Philippines and the entire Asia-Pacific Region. It has schemed and maneuvered to reacquire the military bases that it lost in 1991 when the Philippine Senate terminated the RP-US Military Bases Agreement. In clear violation of the 1987 Constitution banning foreign military bases and nuclear weapons, the Aquino government has been illegally granting the US with military basing rights in Philippine territory.”
The group explained, “Even with its increased military presence, the US has only stood by and allowed China to commit these acts of aggression against the Filipino people and their territories.”
Interviewed by a Philippine journalist, the group’s spokesperson Grace Punongbayan exhorted the Manila government delegation to take seriously their work on the case. “The sovereignty of the Philippines, its dignity and territorial integrity are at stake,” she said. “Many patriotic Filipinos, even those abroad, are keenly watching developments in the case and are angry over this, one more case of foreign aggression.”
The Arbitral Tribunal announced “commencing the hearing on jurisdiction and admissibility in the arbitration submitted by the Republic of the Philippines against the People’s Republic of China under Annex VII to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.”
Although the hearings are not open to the public, the Arbitral Tribunal permitted the governments of Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and Japan to send “small delegations as observers”.
The Philippine delegation includes Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, House of Representatives Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, and Department of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.
Tindig P1NAS Netherlands is spearheading information and mobilization campaigns among the Filipino community here to press the country’s case against China. The group is optimistic of a favorable decision from the Tribunal, and vowed to return to the Peace Palace in the Hague when the Tribunal hands down its decision next week.
In the Philippines, P1NAS (Pilipinong Nagkakaisa para sa Soberanya, People’s Unity for National Sovereignty) was convened by a large alliance of personalities and organizations, including former Senators Rene Saguisag, Leticia Ramos Shahani and Victor Ziga; artists Bibeth Orteza and Heber Bartolome; PML College of Law Dean Ernesto Maceda, Jr.; Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN), National Union of Students of the Philippines, and the College Editors’ Guild of the Philippines.
Tindig P1NAS Netherlands
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