FilAms protest ‘bullying’ by China in Asia
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WASHINGTON D.C. Filipino Americans picketed on May 11 the Chinese Embassy here and consulates around the United States to denounce China’s “ bullying” at Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal in the South China Sea.
Simultaneously rallies were held against Chinese consular offices in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle and Los Angeles in the US, and in other cities around the world where there are big Filipino communities. In Manila, the Chinese embassy asked its citizens to remain alert in case demonstrations erupt in the metro area. Travel agencies cancelled trips of Chinese tourists to Manila.
The demonstrations in the US were organized by the US Pinoys for Good Governance (USP4GG) led by FilAm leader Loida Nicolas Lewis in New York and president Rodel Rodis in California. .They were not stymied by the Philippine embassy's decision not to support rallies here or in other US cities.
FilAms take China protest to Capitol Hill
Eric Lachica, one of the organizers of the “Stop China’s Bullying of the Philippines, ASEAN and Mr. Chen & Family” lunch-break picket at the Chinese Embassy here, carried their protest to the US Senate, speaking before a large group of Vietnamese, Formosans, Tibetans and Chinese democracy activists.
About 30 people, most of them FilAms but also included Vietnamese and Taiwanese sympathizers, picketed the Chinese Embassy along International Place NW behind the University of District of Columbia (UDC) campus.
The protest also triggered heated exchanges among FilAms in the Metro DC region.
“I would not be surprised if China files a diplomatic protest for the obvious conspiracy between the government and its fronts in foreign lands,” fumed Ado Paglinawan who is better known for his anti-abortion advocacy.
On the eve of the demonstration, Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. said in a statement the Philippines does not endorse the anti-Chinese demonstration in the United States.
He said "Secretary of Foreign Affairs (Albert del Rosario) and I are not endorsing the rally which the US Pinoys for Good Governance (USP4GG) is organizing. If anyone is saying that, please make sure that that statement is corrected."
Cuisia stressed that while "we respect the right of each individual to freedom of speech, we would not want to contribute to any activity that would exacerbate the current tension between the Philippines and China."
The ambassador noted that Secretary del Rosario is pursuing a 3-track approach for a peaceful settlement of the conflict in the Scarborough Shoal, (Panatag Shoal). These are political, legal, and diplomatic. "So the Philippine Embassy and the Consulates in the US are committed to these modalities."
The ambassador issued the statement after some organizers of the demonstration were reported saying the rally is endorsed by Del Rosario and the embassy.
Paglinawan pointed out that Loida Nicolas Lewis is related to Mely Nicolas, chairperson of the Commission for Filipino Overseas (CFO), a Malacanang adjunct looking after 12 million Filipinos living and working abroad.
“These orchestrated protests from Malacanang are embarrassing our non-partisan nationals abroad especially those who have elected foreign citizenships. It is also exposing our OFWs, Filipino investors and tourists in China to retaliation,” Paglinawan complained.
Others believed the FilAm protests was an “exercise in futility”.
Lawyer Rodel Rodis, USP4GG president, lamented how the rift in the FilAm community was playing into the hands of “ China ’s divide and rule strategy”. He stressed the mass actions were intended to “mobilize world opinion on Scarborough Shoal issues from the point of view of the Philippines .”
“The Chinese will just laugh at us because we have no self respect. We are the worst kind of people because we are ‘duwag’,” chimed Cesar Lumba in a spirited email discussion. “What kind of a country gives up its territories without a fight? Only cowards
Gaitherburg, Md realtor Pio Cabrera said it was important for Filipinos to vent their anger against what China was doing in the South China Sea. “They (China) should listen and it’s important that the world hears what we’re saying, that we are against the things they are doing in the Spratly’s,” he told the Manila Mail.
Fairfax, Va-based Migrant Heritage Commission (MHC) also expressed solidarity with the protest against China. Lawyer Arnedo Valera, one of MHC’s executive directors, said Filipinos have the right to assert Philippine national sovereignty and territorial integrity, but must resolve the dispute peacefully and in a more practical manner.
“I support the protest,” said Germantown, Md resident Anthony Carongoi, “because we all know it is part of the Philippines. They gave us a warship but we also all know that the US is deep in debt to China so we really don’t know.”
In Vienna, Austria Volet Gerstl, one of the organizers of the protest, said they support the framework of the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea as a way to resolve the territorial impasse. “What we need now is to enjoin the leaders of our country and other signatories to move forward by establishing mechanisms to implement the intent of the declaration,” Gerstl said.