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ON 120TH INDEPENDENCE DAY

Lawmakers assert PH sovereignty from China, slam militarization in West PH Sea

/ 09:46 AM June 12, 2018

RISKY WATERS A Filipino fisherman in a banca moves away from a Chinese Coast Guard vessel at Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal in the West Philippine Sea. —REM ZAMORA

As the country commemorates the 120th anniversary of the proclamation of Philippine Independence, lawmakers asserted on Tuesday the nation’s sovereignty from China and criticized anew Beijing’s militarization in the West Philippine Sea.

Senator Bam Aquino said that while the nation remembers the Independence Day, Chinese coast guards block access of Filipino fishing vessels in the West Philippine Sea.

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“Ninanakawan na at inaapi ang ating mga kapatid na mangingisda ngunit tila walang ginagawa ang pamahalaan para protektahan ang kanilang kapakanan,” Aquino said in a statement.

The opposition senator was referring to claims by several fishermen, during a press conference in Malacañang, that China is dictating the movement of vessels over the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal as ships of Chinese Coast Guard patrol the area.

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The fishermen believed that China controls the Scarborough Shoal.

In a separate statement, Senator Francis Pangilinan questioned why were administration leaders “kowtowing to a neighbor at the expense of our own people, our own waters, our own self-respect.”

“We are the cradle of the courageous, and our oath is we won’t allow oppression, so why do the leaders behave like slaves before China? Why are they casting off the needs of our fishermen? Where is the realization of the avowed duty to nurture and protect our rights as citizens who are source of their power?” he asked.

Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano meanwhile, noted that “today, China, an emerging world superpower, has been trampling on our sovereignty with their incursions in our territory in the West Philippine Sea.”

Alejano said the government’s response has been “wanting, resorting to secret diplomacy which is characterized as inaction and silence to China’s transgressions.”

“This could very well make Independence Day celebration of the Philippines as a sovereign state merely a ceremony devoid of spirit given the rapid fashion of Chinese encroachment into our territory and our economy; the continuous bullying and harassment done to our fishermen and troops; and the blatant selling out of the Duterte administration to its Chinese masters,” he stressed.

Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, for his part, called on Filipinos to celebrate the country’s Independence Day by reaffirming their commitment to nation building.

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He said “bold solutions” like federalism “can only do so much.”

“Ultimately, bringing our country from the Third World to the First World requires constant effort on our part to select good leaders, to always put the interests of the country first, and eternal vigilance in holding our leaders accountable for their actions,” Pimentel said.   /kga

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TAGS: Independence day, June 12, message, senators
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