Youth coalition urges Marcos to uphold Philippine WPS rights │ GMA News Online

A coalition of youth groups on Monday called on President “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to keep his promise to defend the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

In a statement, the West Philippine Sea Coalition (WPSC) said that the Marcos administration should “not sail in the same direction as the previous administration.”

“There is no unity without sovereignty. The Filipino youth will hold President Marcos Jr. to his promises. If he decides to follow the Duterte administration’s defeatist policy on China, and if he crumbles before Beijing’s bullying and abandons our fisherfolk, the Filipino youth will make sure that he regrets it,” said WPSC Spokesperson Nathalie Walker.

The group’s statement comes on the eve of the sixth anniversary of the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s ruling in favor of the Philippines’ claims in the WPS.

On July 12, 2016, the Tribunal concluded that there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the “nine-dash line.”

The 501-page ruling was handed down in The Hague, Netherlands, more than three years after the Aquino administration filed the case in January 2013.

Earlier, Marcos said that his administration would defend the country’s sovereignty by talking to China “with a firm voice.”

Foreign policy

Akbayan Youth Chairperson Dr. RJ Naguit, who is also a co-convenor of the coalition, said that they are pushing the new administration to:

  • craft a foreign policy that is fully consistent with the nation’s victory in the Court of Arbitration and based on constant dialogue and consultations with stakeholders;
  • challenge China’s recent fishing ban within our territory and protect our fisherfolk in the area;
  • maximize all regional and international multilateral platforms to build alliances with nation-states that share our principles and values in the region and;
  • review all China-funded infrastructure projects and rescind all those that undermine the Philippines’ sovereignty and national security.

Meanwhile, the Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (SCAP) urged Vice President and Department of Education Secretary Sara Duterte to include the comprehensive and mandatory teaching of the historical, legal, and environmental aspects of the West Philippine Sea in students’ curriculum.

“The lesson to impart here is that the West Philippine Sea is not some arbitrary spot on a map. It is part of our home, and a living, breathing piece of this nation,” said SCAP leader Kandhalvi Asaali. — DVM, GMA News