Press Release
July 12, 2019


*Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros on the third year anniversary of the arbitral ruling in the West Philippine Sea

It has been three years since our historic victory at The Hague. And for three years this government has defaulted on that victory.

Instead of defending our territory and standing by our fisherfolk, it continues to bow to China. This government's brand of selective sovereignty is on full display. Whenever the international community holds the Duterte government accountable for the human rights abuses under its watch, it falsely invokes sovereignty to avoid them. But when an actual issue of sovereign rights and territorial defense is literally at our shores, it is as silent as a watery grave.

Despite our historic triumph at the arbritral ruling, President Rodrigo Duterte has refused to find ways to stop the harassment of our fisherfolk and the plunder and destruction of our natural resources. Instead, it kowtows to the Chinese government's agenda in the region.

This is appalling.

I once more call for an audit of this administration's clearly pro-China foreign policy. Over the last three years we have seen China become more belligerent in the region, and if we do not reverse course now, future generations of Filipino fisherfolk will pay the price; twenty-two of them, the men of the Gem Ver 1, almost paid with their lives.

Let us burn this image in our collective memory. Twenty-two fishermen were left at the mercy of the sea by the very crew of the Chinese fishing boat that rammed them. There has been no accountability, no justice. And the first line of our fishermen's defense should have been this government.

I say that we will not leave our fisherfolk to fend for themselves. We will not allow our nation's resources to be exploited no end.

We reject the false choice that the only options we have are silence or war. And I call upon this government to work with other nations in the region to stem the tide of Chinese aggression.

Let us stand up to the bullies, here and elsewhere, not only because this country is ours, but because it is right.

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