West Philippine Sea Coalition to China: Be A Good Neighbor

Protest rally held by West Philippine Sea Coalition in front Chinese Consular Office along Buendia, in Makati City. (JRR)
Protest rally held by West Philippine Sea Coalition in front of Chinese Consular Office along Buendia in Makati City. (JRR)

Hundreds of protesters from different groups forming the West Philippine Sea Coalition (WPSC) staged a protest in front of the Chinese consular office along Buendia in Makati City earlier today, July 24.

WPSC is a coalition of different cause-oriented and people’s organizations calling for peaceful resolution on the issue of the West Philippine Sea and protesting Chinese incursions inside the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

The protest was conducted peacefully with statements from leaders, cultural performances, a moment of silence, and a signing of a manifesto on the West Philippine Sea.

Protesters during the WPSC rally. (JRR)
Protesters during the WPSC rally. (JRR)

According to Rafael Alunan III, one of the convenors of the coalition, China is enforcing a “cabbage strategy” on the country’s three reefs – Panganiban (Mischief), Panatag (Scarborough) and Ayungin – where three layers of Chinese ships enforce security and require Filipino fishermen to ask permission to fish.

Alunan said, “We want China to be a good neighbor, we want China to turn back while there is still time to avert the clash of arms.”

Alunan also said that the coalition calls for mutual respect and the common good and also “to scrap the nine-dash-line which is causing the region so much trouble.”

Meanwhile, Risa Hontiveros, chairperson of Akbayan, the only left-leaning political party which joined the coalition, called out to the Chinese government to stop intrusion into the West Philippine Sea and act like a good neighbor. She has also outlined five points to becoming a good neighbor, which include respect for international law, the stop of intrusions, stop of resource-gathering in disputed areas, stop of bullying, and the use of diplomacy.

The visa office of the Chinese consulate was closed for the day for security purposes. Anti-riot police were present to secure the front of the consulate.

Anti-riot police secure the front of the Chinese consulate building. (JRR)
Anti-riot police secure the front of the Chinese consulate building. (JRR)

According to the coalition, similar protests were staged by Filipinos in various Chinese embassies and consulates in cities around the world.

The protest coincided with the first anniversary of China’s establishment of the Sansha Prefecture. The said prefecture was established last year as a province occupying disputed territories which include EEZs of different neighboring states including the Philippines. The establishment was met with diplomatic protests from the Philippines and other claimant states.

Leaders of the coalition holding the signed manifesto. (L to R) Rene Saguisag, Risa Hontiveros, Nick Sotelo, Rafael Alunan III, and Roilo Golez (JRR)
Leaders of the coalition holding the signed manifesto. (L to R) Rene Saguisag, Risa Hontiveros, Nick Sotelo, Rafael Alunan III, and Roilo Golez. (JRR)