While the nation marked National Heroes Day on Monday, about 500 people from various sectors massed outside the Chinese consulate in Makati City and condemned China’s “territorial aggression.”
Led by former National Security Adviser Roilo Golez and businesswoman Loida Nicolas Lewis of the group US Pinoys for Good Governance, the demonstrators called their gathering a “Global Day of Prayer for Peace and Victory in the West Philippine Sea.”
They were joined by members of Movement and Alliance to Resist China’s Aggression (Marcha) composed of groups like Jesus Is Lord Church, Intercessors of the Philippines, Christian Men’s Ministry of the Philippines and Knights of Columbus.
They occupied a stretch of Makati from Tordesillas Street to Nicanor Garcia (Reposo), braving the heat of the late-morning sun, and carried banners reading, “No to China’s Bullying, Yes to the Rule of Law.”
The demonstration ended with a candle-lighting ceremony symbolizing, they said, the Filipinos’ hope for a peaceful resolution of the West Philippine Sea conflict.
In his message, Golez said the United Nations arbitral tribunal would soon “decide the question of jurisdiction” in the arbitration case filed by the Philippines challenging China’s claim on parts of the South China Sea claimed by Manila.
Golez said this would be a very important decision since it would create an impact on Philippine territory, national security and natural resources.
Warship vs worship
“We should continue to pray for our case,” Golez said. “I talked with international lawyers and they expressed confidence that the merits of our case are really strong.”
In any confrontation, Filipinos should remember that while China had a warship, the Philippines “has worship,” Lewis said.
Quoting the psalm, Lewis said the Filipinos “will see the goodness of the Lord.”
“Have you not seen how the Lord is working His mighty power? Last month, China’s market fell 40 percent and lost trillions of dollars in value,” she added.
Lewis said that if China would only agree, the Philippines would be willing to split 60-40 the wealth from the West Philippine Sea, with the bigger percentage going to Filipinos.
“But they want it all,” Lewis said. “We cannot let them steal our wealth.”
Marcha said there were also simultaneous prayers for peace in New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Paris.
“We encourage Filipinos around the country and the world to organize similar rallies,” said Marcha secretary general Eufemio Agbayani III.
The group said it would continue to fight through various means “Chinese territorial, economic, political and social aggression in our country.”