Groups plan worldwide protest vs Chinese territorial incursions
MANILA—A newly formed coalition of various Filipino groups plans a series of demonstrations here and in a number of major cities around the world on July 24 to protest Chinese incursions into parts of the South China Sea the Philippines claims to be part of its territory and refers to as the West Philippine Sea.
In the Philippines, the demonstrations will focus on the Chinese Consular Office in Makati, according to Rafael Alunan III, a former interior and local government secretary and one of the convenors of the West Philippine Sea (WPS) coalition.
July 24 has been declared a “global day of protest,” Alunan said at a news conference in Quezon City on Wednesday.
“We protest the belligerent and blatant disregard of international laws in the West Philippine Sea,” Alunan added. “We ask China to respect the rule of law and be a good neighbor.”
The WPS coalition is a recently formed group of former government officials, youth leaders, netizens and even Filipino-Americans fed up with China’s encroachment on Philippine territory.
The rally in Makati City will be held from noon to 2 p.m. on July 24 and is expected to draw 5,000 people, with similar actions outside Chinese embassies and consular offices in other parts of the world.
Vonz Santos of the US Pinoys for Good Governance said his group will lead protests in Washington DC, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Houston, Denver, Atlanta, and Saipan.
A press statement said similar demonstrations are planned in Rome, London, Sydney, Copenhagen and Phnom Penh.
These actions are separate from a rally of Filipino-Americans and Vietnamese-Americans on the same day at the United Nations headquarters in New York.
“Filipinos should stand as one united nation in dignified defiance to uphold national honor by protesting China’s unacceptable bullying,” Alunan said.
The protests were inspired by the plan of the US Pinoys for Good Governance to hold rallies on July 24, which Alunan and other netizens saw on Facebook two months ago.
“Even though they already swore allegiance to another flag, they are still Filipinos at heart,” he added.
WPS coalition co-convenor and former congressman Roilo Golez said next week’s rallies will be “the start of something bigger” and that they intend it “to make this go viral.”
“We support calls protesting China’s presence and intrusion in our exclusive economic zone,” said Golez, who also leads the Di Pasisiil Movement, a nationalist citizens group under the coalition.
Aside from protesting China’s bullying, the WPS coalition also appealed to the Chinese people.
“We are not against you, but against your government’s policy of intimidation and intrusion into our exclusive economic zone,” the group said in a statement.
Alunan said the coalition also backs efforts to modernize the country’s military to protect and uphold the country’s sovereignty, which he said were long overdue.
He clarified, however, that this was not necessarily because of China’s threats.
“If you are asking me if we are doing this because of China, not necessarily. We still need to have a credible defense program. It is not meant to oppose China in a future war, and I don’t think the government has that in mind,” Alunan said.
The July 24 protest in Makati City will also feature a collaboration of Filipino artists who call themselves the F.U. Movement or Filipinos Unite. Popular figures such as Charice Pempengco, Billy Joe Crawford, Anne Curtis, Jay-R, Kitchie Nadal, Kris Lawrence, and several others are recording a “peace protest song” as their contribution.
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