NEW YORK—About a hundred members of the Filipino community in the Northeast USA picketed in front of the United Nations headquarters as part of the global day of protest and prayer to denounce China’s aggression and continued occupation of Philippine territory.
Led by the US Pinoys for Good Governance president Loida Lewis, the group chanted “China, out! Now, now, now!” and hoisted placards that read “Stand Up Against China’s Bullying,” “Our Soil, Our Oil,” and “Boycott China Goods.”
“Why do they want our islands? Because of what we have. Napakayaman ng Pilipinas. The Philippines is so rich and therefore China wants it, but we will not be bullied,” Lewis said.
“China has 12 submarines, 10 war ships, 24 jet planes and a million soldiers. We have zro submarines, zero jet planes and zero war ships, but we have worship. We believe that the Lord gave us all this oil and gas and we won’t allow China to get them,” she added.
The Philippines sought arbitration under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) last January to try to declare as “illegal” China’s nine-dash claim, which covers almost all of the South China Sea, including sections that have been declared as the West Philippine Sea.
According to Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez, the UN Arbitral Tribunal that has been appointed to hear the case of the Philippines under Annex 7 of the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), challenging China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, was formally constituted and held its first meeting on July 11 at The Hague, Netherlands.
At their first meeting on July 11, the president and members of the Tribunal designated The Hague as the seat of the arbitration and the Permanent Court of Arbitration as the Registry for the proceedings.
July 24 marks the first anniversary of the creation of “Sansha City” by the People’s Republic of China to “administer” the whole West Philippine Sea and the islands and terrestrial features that it claims belongs to China, among which are the Spratly Islands, the Paracels, Macclesfield Bank, Scarborough Shoal, Panganiban Reef, and Recto Bank.
Community leaders from Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Virginia drove all the way to New York to attend the protest rally.
“We believe that China has made a terrible mistake here. They have occupied an area which they claim belongs to them under their “Nine-Dash-Line” map. This is not correct,” said Ernesto Gange, one of the founding members of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations.
Beijing submitted a note verbale to the United Nations on May 7, 2009 which unilaterally asserted China’s “indisputable sovereignty” over all the islands in the West Philippine Sea and their “adjacent waters/relevant waters.”
Accompanying the note was the “Nine-Dash-Line” map, which shows that the nine Spratly Islands and terrestrial features that have long been a municipality of Palawan belong to China. The Kalayaan Island group is about 370 kilometers (230 miles) from Palawan and some 1609 kilometers (1000 miles) from China. According to this map, Bajo de Masinloc, which is 137 kilometers (85 miles) from the province of Zambales and is an integral part of it, also belongs to China, which is 700 kilometers (434 miles) away.
Earlier this year, the Philippines formally challenged China’s claim. The Philippines argues in its complaint that China’s vast territorial claim violates the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea and should be declared invalid. The 1982 U.N. convention was ratified by more than 160 countries sets territorial limits for coastal states and aims to govern the use of offshore areas worldwide.
“We are asking the UN tribunal to see that China’s nine-dash-line claim is contrary to the UNCLOS and is therefore invalid. We are also requesting the tribunal to require China to desist from activities that violate Philippine territorial rights,” said Joe Ramos, director of NaFFAA Region 1 and the Filipino American Legal Defense and Education Fund.
(NYNJ July 26 – August 1, 2013 Sec A pg.1)