Filipinos will not yield

by Ambassador B. Romualdez

| Photo by iSawRed on Unsplash

In a statement issued by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and posted on X last Thursday, he unequivocally affirmed the sentiment of Filipinos that “…we will not be cowed into silence, submission or subservience” in the face of relentless bullying and harassment by Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) and maritime militia vessels in the West Philippine Sea.

We received hundreds of messages worldwide expressing full support for the Philippines, inspired by the President’s message, which all found inspiring and powerful. So let me share President Marcos’ post in full:

“Over the past few days, I have met with and spoken to our country’s National Security and Defense leadership. They have made their considered recommendations, and I have given them my directives through exhaustive consultations.

“I have also been in constant communication with representatives of relevant allies, partners, and friends in the international community.

“They have offered to help us with what the Philippines requires to protect and secure our sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction while ensuring peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific.

“I have given them our requirements, and we have been assured that they will be addressed.

“Over the succeeding weeks, the relevant national government agencies and instrumentalities shall implement a response and countermeasure package that is proportionate, deliberate, and reasonable in the face of the open, unabating, illegal, coercive, aggressive, and dangerous attacks by agents of the China Coast Guard and the Chinese Maritime Militia.

“We seek no conflict with any nation, more so nations that purport and claim to be our friends, but we will not be cowed into silence, submission, or subservience.

“Filipinos do not yield.”

While we will continue to do whatever we can to find ways and means to resolve the situation in the West Philippine Sea peacefully, the latest incident involving a civilian charter boat on a mission to deliver food and other provisions for troops stationed at the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal that was hit by CCG water cannons – resulting in heavy damage to the boat and injuries to three navy personnel aboard the vessel – shows the hypocrisy of our neighbor in the north who claims to be “professional, restrained, reasonable and lawful” when its actions demonstrate otherwise.

The continuing aggression displayed by China has caused the gravest concern among members of the international community who have strongly voiced their overwhelming support for the Philippines, among them Australia’s Ambassador Hae Kyong Yu, who said her country shares “serious concerns” about the “dangerous conduct by China’s vessels” and noting that this is “part of a pattern of deeply concerning behavior.”

Like Ambassador Yu, French Ambassador Marie Fontanel and German Ambassador Andreas Michael Pfaffernoschke also expressed their concerns. They called for all parties to respect and uphold international law, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), “the basis for peace and stability in the South China Sea.”

Japanese Ambassador Endo Kazuya reiterated that “Japan stands in solidarity with the Philippines,” while European Union spokesperson Peter Stano called for restraint while expressing concern that the “succession of repeated dangerous maneuvers, blocking and water-cannoning from Chinese Coast Guard vessels and Maritime Militia against Philippine vessels… constituted a dangerous provocation” that “put human lives at risk, undermine regional stability and international norms and threaten security in the region and beyond.”

“The President has taken a firm stand – we will not yield or give up even one square inch of our territory. Now more than ever, true Filipinos should unite and stand behind our beloved country.”

UK Ambassador Laure Beaufils also condemned the harassment, saying it has endangered lives and resulted in significant damage to a civilian vessel. At the same time, US Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Carlson reiterated US support for the Philippines, saying China’s “interference with the Philippine freedom of navigation violates international law and threatens a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

Canadian Ambassador David Bruce Hartman urged a peaceful resolution of disputes by international law and, at the same time, spoke against “dangerous maneuvers and the repeated use of water cannons” that “endangered lives and pose a serious threat to regional peace and stability.”

India’s top diplomat, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, expressed his country’s willingness to support the Philippines in upholding its sovereignty and recognized the validity of the July 2016 arbitral tribunal ruling that invalidated China’s sweeping claims in the South China Sea, including its so-called nine-dash-line, as without legal basis.

Members of the media – in particular the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) – also called out China and condemned the “false, baseless claims” that journalists are being made to “manipulate” videos “to make sensational news and project the Philippines as a victim” – calling the accusation a “barefaced lie.”

FOCAP said it “takes deep offense at the insinuation that the press is a ‘troublemaker’ and in cahoots with the government to forward a political agenda,” saying that the statements by the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson and embassy are “an insult to the integrity of journalists and an alarming attempt to muzzle an independent press.”

Over the centuries, the Philippines has faced many challenges, carving its own destiny as a nation that can take its rightful place among other countries.

As we continue to face these severe challenges to our sovereignty and sovereign rights, we should all take pride in the indomitable spirit and determination that our forefathers displayed, calling to mind the blood they shed and the sacrifices they made to give us the freedom and independence that we are enjoying today.

The President has taken a firm stand – we will not yield or give up even one square inch of our territory. Now more than ever, true Filipinos should unite and stand behind our beloved country.

God bless the Philippines!


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