CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 8 December 2018

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Protesting the Philippines kowtow foreign policy

MANILA (UCAN): Protesters in Manila marked the country’s 120th Independence Day on June 12 marching against what they described as the Philippine government’s continuing “subservient foreign policy” to both China and the United States of America (US).
 
Only a week earlier, Chinese Coast Guard personnel drove Filipino fishermen out of their traditional fishing grounds at Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea. A video report released by GMA News showed the fishermen watching helplessly their catch was seized.
 
In 2012, the Philippines renamed a small area off the country’s western seaboard, well within its Exclusive Economic Zone and continental shelf, the West Philippine Sea to assert its territorial claim. 
 
“The Philippines cannot be truly free, not when foreign powers collude to take advantage of our people and resources,” the New Patriotic Alliance said in a statement.
 
Tirso Atiga, the leader of a fishermen’s organisation in Calapandayan village in Subic town, complained that the government had not acted on the incident.
 
“Are we slaves of China?” the fisherman asked.
 
In a press briefing in the presidential palace on June 11, the fishermen said they were scared to refuse the Chinese Coast Guard personnel. They have repeatedly complained of harassment and the confiscation of their catches.
 
On June 12, the Chinese Embassy in Manila said in a statement, “China has made appropriate arrangement for the Philippine fishermen to fish in relevant waters out of goodwill.” 
 
It also assured that “China has a clear and firm determination to commit itself to consolidating and strengthening China-Philippines relations.”
 
“We cannot be truly free if China continues to claim most of the West Philippine Sea, regulates the movement, and practically bullies our fishermen,” the protesters said on June 12.
 
The demonstrators also assailed what they described as the continued treatment of the United States of the Philippines as its “neo-colony and foot stool in Southeast Asia.”
The country’s Catholic bishops also lamented the erosion of the country’s independence under Duterte.
 
“This president is very subservient to China. He seems not to mind that China is encroaching on our clear territory,” said Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon.
 
“Imagine our own fishermen are asking, ‘Are we China’s slaves?’ I thought that the president is a strong man. But he seems to be a weakling in dealing with the Chinese,” the bishop said.
 
Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila, said the country’s independence is “being chipped away.”
 
The bishop, a critic of Duterte, said, “We have the creeping subservience to China.” 
 
Youth organisations defied heavy rains and wind brought about by thunderstorms and led protests in several areas of Manila on June 12. 
 
Einstein Recedes of youth group, Anakbayan (Children of the land), said freedom in the country “remains an illusion under the helm of a cheap dictator-wannabe who shamelessly kowtows to foreign superpowers like China.”
 
The group joined hundreds of other protesters outside the Chinese consulate in Makati chanting: “PH (Philippines) not for Sale, we are not for Sale” and then proceeded to the US Embassy in Manila.
 
A handful of protesters from Bayan Southern Tagalog were able to break through a police cordon and interrupt the speech of president, Rodrigo Duterte, speech at the Emilio Aguinaldo Museum in Kawit, Cavite.
 
“We condemn Duterte’s inaction (in the face of) Chinese incursion in the West Philippine Sea depriving Filipino fishermen their livelihood,” said Recedes.

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