Joint Filipino-Vietnamese civil society confab at Ateneo on China’s sea claims
MANILA — A joint conference by Filipino and Vietnamese opponents of China’s territorial claims in the West Philippine/South China Sea will be held on Friday, March 27, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Bernas Center of Ateneo Law School at Rockwell, Makati to plan a continuous education and public awareness drive on the South China Sea disputes.
The parley will try to establish the first Vietnam-Philippines “civil society working group” comprising initially of the organizers: VOICE, US Pinoys for Good Governance ( USP4GG); Di Ka Pasisiil Movement; Hop Mat Dan Chu; Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea, University of the Philippines.
The co-organizers as well as the international experts aim to find solutions and determine issues free from government constraints. Guests speakers and experts from Vietnam, the Philippines and other countries will be featured in open forums.
Hoi Trinh, a lawyer and executive director of the Vietnamese Overseas Initiative for Conscience Empowerment (VOICE), a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization, whose mission is to advocate for Vietnamese refugees and help develop civil society in Vietnam, initiated the joint conference, collaborating with groups in the Philippines and overseas.
“We would like to recognize the role of civil society with regard to the issues on the South China Sea disputes, and we reject China’s nine-Dash line claims,” Trinh said. The long-term goal is to have a yearly forum, and we intend to invite other civil society groups from other countries including China, he added.
VOICE Counsel Long Trinh said, “Civil Society should play a significant role to promote peace and security in the South China Sea internationally. I hope this conference can provide an opportunity for civil society organizations in the Philippines, Vietnam and other countries to start a platform and a long-term process to address the dispute in the sea area.”
The US Pinoys for Good Governance, a nonprofit organization in the US chaired by attorney Loida Nicolas Lewis, a prominent civic leader in the US, businesswoman and philanthropist, has initiated protests in front of China’s consulates in the US, the Philippines and other countries against China’s “aggression” since July 2011. It held an essay contest on West Philippine Sea in November 2012 with a theme, ” The West Philippine Sea and its impact on the future of the Philippines. ”
“I am hoping that we can define solutions in achieving peace and resolutions in the West Philippine Sea/South China Sea disputes,” stated Dr. Celia Lamkin,USP4GG representative, and the chairperson of the US Pinoys for Good Governance Marianas chapter ( CNMI and Guam).
One of the co-organizers, Hop Mat Dan Chu (The Democracy Forum) is a group of Vietnamese intellectuals and activists formed to promote freedom and democracy in Vietnam. Some 25 of them will fly to Manila from Europe, Australia, North America.
Roilo Golez, a former six-term congressman, founder of the Di Ka Pasisiil Movement and a former Philippine National Security Adviser, said, “We in the Di Ka Pasisiil Movement are honored to be a co-organizer of the Joint Conference on the South China Sea. This is a very timely conference in the light of many fast moving developments that, if unchecked, could alter the balance of power and security complexion in the Asia Pacific Region and even the world.”
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