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'Welcome to the Philippines, Province of China'
To commemorate the second anniversary of the ruling by the International Arbitral Tribunal invalidating China's claims over the entire South China Sea, pranks hung tarps on footbridges in major thoroughfares of Quezon City.
Today marks the second anniversary of the landmark case the Philippines won versus China on the disputed islands in the South China Sea.
On July 12, 2016, The Hague ruled in favor of the Philippines' claim over the reefs and islands in the Spratly's and the Scarborough Shoal, located within the country's exclusive economic zone, 124 nautical miles off Zambales.
But Rodrigo Duterte undermined the ruling with his kowtowing to Beijing. And he even made a joke about it in a speech before prominent business people in the Chinese community. He wanted the Philippines to become a province of China. However, it did not bode well with the public.
On Thursday morning, pranksters hung tarpaulins on footbridges in Quezon City. The signage read: "Welcome to the Philippines, Province of China."
When I saw the pictures posted on Facebook that went viral, I found the banners funny. The message is plain and simple: It takes a shade at the government's failure to adhere to the International Arbitral Tribunal's ruling.
The mixed public reaction made the prank more entertaining. Although it was fun to a lot of people, there are those who took offense and found it insulting. One of them was the former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, who took to social media and called the Metro Manila Development Administration (MMDA) officers to take the tarps off. Even some of my contacts on Facebook agreed with Hilbay.
Duterte supporters joined the fray. They said the "Yellows," or the perceived enemies of the president, did it to shame the government. According to them, it was political maneuvering by the Liberal Party.
But to whoever did the prank/protest, it was brilliant. And the timing excellent.
The Philippines must assert its sovereignty. Duterte's argument that Xi Jinping would go to war over the issue if Manila adhere to the ruling does not hold water. In rational international relations, there is always a diplomatic way to resolve conflicts. That is why we have the Department of Foreign Affairs. It is the job of the foreign affairs secretary to figure out a diplomatic solution to the disputes than wage a senseless war.
Sadly, incompetence characterized Duterte's government, a charge he used to describe the vice president who stands in the way and leads to uniting the opposition.
With high inflation rate, low business confidence and soaring unemployment, it won't take long until the public gets fed up and overthrow this corrupt regime. Filipinos are fun-loving. We love to oust presidents in peaceful protests. It happened in 1986 and 2001, though the last was a farce.
The Philippines will remain a sovereign nation. To those who take offense at the prank, get a life, folks. And if you're serious at your protestation, then do something to persuade Duterte to take action and make a stand on the country's claims.
Sometimes we need pranks like this to awaken us from slumber.
Welcome to the Philippines, China. We're friends. Not enemies.
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte makes a speech during the Philippines - China Trade and Investment Fourm at the Great...