By DEE AYROSO
MANILA – A newly-formed patriotic group called on all Filipinos to join mass actions against the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) leaders’ summit, calling it a rare chance to send a message to heads of the superpowers who will be coming here in November.
The Pilipinong Nagkakaisa para sa Soberanya (P1nas) said it will be part of various protests to assert the people’s sovereignty and freedom, particularly against countries competing for supremacy in the resources-rich West Philippine Sea.
“In this Apec leaders meeting, we have a rare opportunity to tell the leaders of these countries that we will not allow their intervention, encroachment and intrusion,” said Renato Reyes Jr, secretary general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan and P1nas convenor, at the group’s general assembly and public launch in Quezon city today, Oct. 20.
“It was business, monopoly capitalism or the Imperialist US which drove it to occupy the Philippines in 1899. The US needed natural resources and labor, as well as new dumping ground for its surplus products and profits. It is business which also drives China to encroach in our seas and islands. And their competition, their rivalry gets stronger here in the Asia-Pacific region,” Reyes said.
Bayan Muna Representative and senatorial candidate Neri Colmenares said the Asia-Pacific is of special importance to the US, because of its $651 billion investment in the area, which makes up 60 percent of its trade. The West Philippine Sea is of great importance to China, because of the rich natural resources, particularly lime, phosporous, ores, oil and gas.
P1nas gathered various nationalist personalities in its general assembly, held at the Miriam College in Quezon City today, Oct. 20. Among the P1nas conveners present were former Senator Leticia Ramos-Shahani, Bayan Muna Representative and senatorial candidate Neri Colmenares, Makabayan coalition President Satur Ocampo, Bayan chairperson Dr. Carol Araullo, Bayan spokesperson Teddy Casiño anti-US bases expert Dr. Roland Simbulan, whistleblower and former Army Col. George Rabusa, and leaders of various sectoral groups.
Writer-actress Bibeth Orteza and former Senator Rene Saguisag, who are also convenors but could not make it to the gathering, sent video and written messages. Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio, a staunch campaigner against Chinese aggression in Philippine territories, also gave a message of support to the group and its cause.
P1nas was formed in June this year, amid rising public concern over China’s increased aggression in the West Philippine Sea on one hand, and increased US military presence on the other hand, because of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca).
The group has since led mass actions in the country and abroad, in protest against both US intervention and Chinese aggression.
“We decry the fact that the West Philippine Sea is emerging as the arena for the two superpowers’ dangerous game of one-upmanship,” said P1nas convenor and former Gabriela Women’s Partylist Rep. Liza Maza. “These two imperialist countries want to control that part of our exclusive economic zone and extended continental shelf for their own economic and military agenda and without regard to Philippine sovereignty,” she said.
Maza, who is also the spokesperson for the People’s Campaign against Apec and Imperialist Globalization (Pcaig), had earlier announced the group will be holding massive protests culminating in the People’s Caravan against Apec on Nov. 18 to 19, in time for the leaders’ summit.
Foreign relations expert and former Senator Shahani, enjoined the youth to join P1nas and take a stand in the West Philippine Sea issue, “because your future depends on it.
“Please join P1nas, because it’s a patriotic movement where we will try to get our best people, our best patriots who really love this country,” she said. The 86-year-old Shahani was part of the national fact-finding mission in the affected fishing communities Zambales in September.
Shahani said that because the Philippines is an archipelago, Filipinos are “united by water,” and should take pride in being a maritime nation.
“We have a very big stake in the West Philippine Sea, our domestic livelihood, our fishermen, our way of life, our security, so please, wake up,” she said.
This article was originally published in bulatlat.com