PH flag on Pag-asa Island municipality flies half-staff for Noynoy Aquino
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine flag is now flying at half-staff on Pag-asa (Thitu) Island in the West Philippine Sea to honor former president Benigno Aquino III, who is being remembered for standing up to China.
“We join the entire nation in mourning the passing of former President Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III. We will never forget how he confronted China in the international tribunal over the West Philippine Sea issue,” said Roberto del Mundo, mayor of Kalayaan municipality on Pag-asa, in a statement.
Pag-asa is the largest and the only Philippine-occupied feature in the Kalayaan Island Group with a civilian community.
The Aquino administration brought China to court to contest China’s massive claims in the West Philippine Sea, after a standoff in Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal.
The ruling, which was largely favorable to the Philippines, invalidated China’s nine-dash line and is recognized by many countries.
China continued to ignore the ruling, however, and went on with its campaign to steal territory inside the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. Aquino’s successor, President Rodrigo Duterte, described the ruling as a worthless piece of paper that should be thrown in a trash can.
Duterte, during the 2016 presidential campaign and at the onset of his administration, declared an independent policy but pivoted instead to China, publicly declaring China as his best friend and Chinese ruler Xi Jin Ping as his protector.
The shift was supposedly in exchange for massive economic investments from Beijing, which have yet to materialize five years into the Duterte presidency.
Duterte declared a 10-day period of national mourning for Aquino—from June 24 to July 3.
Flags will be flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on all government buildings and installations here and abroad.
Aquino will be buried at the Manila Memorial Park on Saturday (June 27) beside the graves of his parents—former senator Benigno Aquino Jr. and former president Corazon C. Aquino.