WATCH: Gesture of patriotism by Filipino soldiers in West PH Sea caught on video
MANILA, Philippines—A small group of soldiers has planted a Philippine flag and sung the national anthem on Secret Island, one of the sandbars between Pag-asa (Thitu) Island, which the Philippines occupies, and Chinese-occupied Zamora (Subi) Reef in the West Philippine Sea.
An undated video of the gesture of patriotism was played out at the start of an online program of the National Youth Movement for the West Philippine Sea (NYMPS), a group advocating the preservation of the Philippines’ territorial sovereignty and integrity.
In the clip, four Filipino soldiers saluted the Philippine flag they planted on the island while singing “Lupang Hinirang.” After the video was played, the seminar’s host thanked “our military men” for the display of patriotism.
The NYMPS on Monday (Aug. 30), National Heroes’ Day, launched its first online talk show, “The West Philippine Sea CATCH,” a weekly information campaign seeking to raise awareness on the Philippines’ struggle against China’s continuing baseless drive to assert ownership of Philippine waters.
In 2017, Filipinos tried to put up shelters on one of the sandbars between Pag-asa and Zamora but China protested the move. President Rodrigo Duterte, who has repeatedly refused to confront China for its intrusion in Philippine waters, ordered a stop to the shelter construction.
Since then, China coast guard and militia vessels have kept its eye on the sandbars, driving away Filipino fishermen whenever they came near. The nearest sandbar is about 4 kilometers from Pag-asa Island.
The Philippine government had protested the swarming of Chinese boats off Pag-asa and the sandbars. But the Philippine military earlier refuted claims that China is already in control of the sandbars, which only emerged in recent years and are part of Pag-asa’s territorial sea.
Pag-asa, the biggest and most strategically important Philippine outpost in the Kalayaan Island Group, is 400 kilometers from mainland Palawan province. It is the only Philippine-held feature with a civilian community, while eight other islands and reefs are occupied by Filipino troops.
Just some 26 kilometers from Pag-asa is Zamora Reef, a Chinese man-made military base with a 3-kilometer airstrip and an area which China grabbed from the Philippines.
In 2020, the Kalayaan municipality in Palawan gave Filipino names for the six sandbars and coral reefs near Pag-asa Island, in a move to assert the Philippines’ rights over the West Philippine Sea.
China and the Philippines, along with Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei and Vietnam, have been disputing ownership of the resource-rich waters for years. Beijing, however, claims to own almost the entire South China Sea using as basis its fictitious nine-dash line tale.
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