Fil-Am civic leader calls for May 11 protests before Chinese embassies
MANILA, Philippines—As China deployed more vessels to Scarborough Shoal, prominent Filipino-American civic leader Loida Nicolas-Lewis rallied on Wednesday all Filipinos around the world to mount a global rally against Chinese incursions into the shoal on May 11.
US Pinoys for Good Governance, chaired by Lewis, is mobilizing rallies in front of Chinese embassies and consulates in Manila, and key cities in the United States, Canada and Australia, and Asian cities on May 11 to pressure Beijing into abandoning the shoal.
“This is a matter of Philippine sovereignty. Somebody is stepping on our shore. We should tell them ‘Get out,’” Lewis said, calling on Filipinos as well as Philippine-loving citizens to join the street protests against the Chinese government.
Lewis, who is leading the rally in New York, said the Philippines has been exercising jurisdiction over the Shoal, also known Bajo de Masinloc or Panatag Shoal, since the 17th century, and has effectively owned it.
“I’m totally aghast that something that has been effectively under the jurisdiction of the Philippines is being claimed by China. If it’s claiming to be world power, it should be the first one to follow international law,’’ she told reporters at Makati City’s Rockwell Center.
The rally in front of Chinese consulate in Makati City is set for noontime of May 11.
Similar rallies are being organized in New York, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and Houston; Toronto and Vancouver in Canada; Sydney in Australia as well as in some Asian cities on the same day, Lewis said.
“We’re still talking to Filipino groups in Germany, Italy, Japan and also Thailand,’’ she said, adding that the idea was for Filipinos to put pressure on China to leave Scarborough Shoal.
As for the possible impact of the protests on Beijing, she said: “You know China is also Asian. They could lose face.’’
Filipino-Chinese businessman Jackson Kan said Beijing would be forced to react if 500,000 Filipinos massed up in front of its consulate in Makati, but said: “We don’t need them to react. We need international community.’’
“If we can call on everybody just to stand up on May 11 we can make a dent to international community,’’ he said.
Akbayan party-list spokesperson Rissa Hontiveros, who would lead the rally in Makati, said Beijing could not ignore protests like this.
“With this expression of public opinion, China will realize… that it would be a costly mistake to continue bullying and thumbing its nose,’’ she said. “Being an emerging global power, they can’t afford to be a rogue state.”
But should the global rally fail, Lewis said US-based Filipinos would link up with nationalities of other Southeast Asian countries with claims to the disputed Spratly islands to bring the matter to the United Nations.
“We will try to get the Vietnamese-Americans, Malaysian-Americans, Indonesian-Americans, and all the countries to stage a rally once the Philippines has formally filed a complaint with the UN tribunal on the law of the sea. Then we will have a united front,” she said.
Kan also proposed that the Philippine impose higher taxes on Chinese goods and re-think its one-China policy.