Duterte 'happily dancing to his master's tune' in West Philippine Sea – groups

MANILA, Philippines – Several groups hit the Duterte administration’s inaction in the West Philippine Sea on the second anniversary of the Hague ruling on Thursday, July 12. 

Church leaders, civil rights groups, and citizens gathered in front of the Chinese Embassy in Makati to denounce President Rodrigo Duterte’s appeasement policy on China.

Alam niyo ba yung airport na tinayo sa Spratlys, mas malaki pa kaysa sa NAIA, tahimik na tahimik ang Pilipino, ganyan tayo katanga, pagka’t yung presidente niyo, kaibigan daw ng Tsina, wala naman tayong magagawa,” Jimmy Regalario, chairperson of the Kilusang Makabansang Ekonomiya (KME), said. 

(The airport they made in Spratlys, it's bigger than NAIA. But the country is quiet because our President said he is friends with China, that they're not doing anything.)

"Sinong kaya mo, yung mga walang ilalaban sayo, pero iyong Tsina, hinihimod mo yung pwet," he added.

(Who can you handle, those who cannot fight but you're licking China's ass.)

He added that turning to China only gives the Philippines a new colonial master, and that Duterte is “happily dancing to his master’s tune,” through his inaction on the issue.

In July 12, 2016, an aribitral tribunal of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA)  ruled in favor of the Philippines in its historic case against China over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).  

However, Duterte has refused to enforce the ruling. He has instead overlooked China's transgressions in the area. He said the rapprochement with China has improved the flow of benefits and economic gains.  (TIMELINE: The Philippines-China maritime dispute)

Duterte's closeness with China has been criticized as the Chinese government undermines the rights of Filipinos – especially the harassment of fishermen and destruction of marine environment.

FIGHT. Activists participate on a protest in front of the Chinese Consular office in Manila on July 12, 2018, to mark the second anniversary of a UN-backed tribunal ruling in July 2016 saying there was no basis for China's claims to most of the South China Sea. All photos by Noel Celis/AFP

FIGHT. Activists participate on a protest in front of the Chinese Consular office in Manila on July 12, 2018, to mark the second anniversary of a UN-backed tribunal ruling in July 2016 saying there was no basis for China's claims to most of the South China Sea.

All photos by Noel Celis/AFP

Akbayan Youth chairperson JC Tejano meanwhile, slammed Duterte’s stance towards China since his “inaction" rendered the favorable decision of the international court as just a “piece of paper.”  

Dahil sa kawalan ng aksyon ni Pangulong Duterte, ano itong desisyon na ito ngayon, wala, walang silbi itong desisyong ito ngayon bukod sa pagiging piraso ng papel,” he said.  

Akbayan spokesperson Gio Tingson, meanwhile, said that the government’s decision not to enforce the Hague ruling “paved way for a Chinese victory”. 

“There is something definitely wrong if we have a government that can flex its muscles against its own citizens and not against foreigners who trample on our sovereignty,” he said in a statement.

"When our government is reversing its own victory in the Hague, the Filipino people stand to lose – the fishermen in Zambales, the families in Pag-asa Island, and thousands more when we surrender to China. This is a match that we cannot lose," Tingson added. – Rappler.com

Ken Leonardo is a Rappler intern.