'Help us return to our waters,' fisherfolk ask Duterte
MANILA - Over a hundred activists from the militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan "invaded" the steps leading to the Chinese embassy in Makati Tuesday morning as they called on President Rodrigo Duterte to ensure that any future relations with the Asian giant uphold the national interest.
The international tribunal hearing the Philippine protest on China's unilateral move to impose a Nine-dash line over disputed waters is expected to release its decision today.
Present were fisher folk from Masinloc, Zambales, who the Chinese have barred from entering waters that have fed generations of their families.
"One day in 2012, the Chinese blocked us from fishing in Bajo de Masinloc, said Alexander Manzano. "I had been fishing there for more than 40 years and suddenly, I could not."
There were more than ten bancas that faced the onslaught of water canons from Chinese vessels. The fishermen could also see guns, Manzano added.
"We had no choice, they would have rammed their boats at us," he said in Filipino.
Filipino fishermen pin hopes on arbitration case
STOP THE PLUNDER
From a catch averaging a ton on good days, Manzano, a father of seven, said his livelihood was reduced to a few buckets of fish from shallow waters.
No aid was offered by the government of former President Benigno S Aquino III, he said.
"Mandarambong ang Tsina (China plunders our waters)," said Buddy France of Pamalakaya.
"Ang gusto lang namin ay magkaroon ng pagkain ang aming mga pamilya. Magtulungan tayo President Duterte."
Manzano said he did not want any arrangement that would require Filipinos seeking the permission of China to fish in national waters.
"Atin ito, President Duterte. Tayo dapat mauuna dito."
Former Bayan Muna congressman and convenor of the foreign-policy alliance Pinas, Neri Colmenares, said any future bilateral arrangements with China should take advantage of the expected tribunal victory.
He said an international victory should send a message that even the mighty Asian dragon could not always demand its terms.
But Colmenares also stressed that standing up to China should not mean groveling before the United States and other powers.
"The US doesn't care for our interest," he said. "It looks out only for its interests."
The Pilipinong Nagkakaisa Para da Soberanya said it expects the permanent court of arbitration (PCA) "to disregard China's ridiculous 9-dash claim over the entire South China Sea."
Colmenares told China to stop the unreasonable demand for countries to accept its "indisputable sovereignty" because it makes it hard for nations to consider parity in dealing with the Asian giant.
The group also warned against the US' own efforts to impose the same maritime power status across Asia-Pacific waters.
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary-general Renato Reyes said a strong mass movement would allow President Duterte to resist the worst of China's pressures.
South China Sea case lights up world's oldest tribunal