Press Release
June 11, 2021

Statement of Senator Risa Hontiveros on the 123rd Independence Day of the Philippines

This year, Independence Day bears a deeper and more profound meaning for the Filipino people.

At the start of 2021, amidst a global pandemic, a deepening recession, and a worsening public health crisis for the Philippines, over 200 Chinese maritime militia vessels swarmed our waters in the West Philippine Sea -- blindsiding our government.

Worse, even several months later, this threat continues to threaten the country's sovereignty.

China continues to deny our vessels access to the WPS despite numerous diplomatic calls for her to comply with international law and leave. China has deliberately turned a deaf ear to the global community's demands that she comply with the internationally-recognized law of the sea and preserve the hard-won peace and stability in the region.

China's incursion into our waters will never be acceptable to the Filipino people and must never be normalized.

Our fisherfolk who venture out to their traditional fishing grounds are chased away by Chinese vessels.

Our Philippine Coast Guard who conduct legitimate maritime patrols are shadowed and blocked by China's Coast Guard ships.

Our government officials who condemn China's territorial ambitions are slandered with misinformation and falsehood.

These are an insult to Philippine independence, as well as an affront to our forefathers and mothers who fought and toiled for the freedoms we Filipinos enjoy.

It is a desecration of their memory.

We must always remember that the West Philippine Sea is part of the patrimony of the Filipino people, bequeathed to us by the valiant heroes who died defending the right of the nation to determine our own destiny.

Over a century has passed since the Philippines liberated ourselves and proclaimed our independence, and yet, history seems to be repeating itself.

But like the Filipinos of yesteryear were called to throw off the yoke of imperialism, this generation of Filipinos is called to defend our freedom by resisting the rise of a hegemon seeking to dominate a region and take our waters for herself.

This Independence Day, I call on every one of us, especially our own government officials, to take a united stand against the gradual erosion of our sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea.

I call on my fellow patriots to assert our nation's dignity, pride, and sovereign rights.

I call on all Filipinos to proclaim - so that China and the other world powers will hear - that the Philippines and the West Philippine Sea are ours.

No calling China our best friend; no downplaying our 2016 victory at The Hague; no kneeling to China.

The time to stand up is now.

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