Written by Junelie Anthony Velonta
May 1, 2020
Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental
If a friendship requires a person to give up what is theirs, then that is not friendship. In the same vein, if friendly relations with other states requires giving up what is rightfully owned by the Filipino people, then those relations aren’t friendly, but manipulative. Over the course of generations, from the times of our grandparents to our times now, the Chinese government has gone around and disregarded Philippine sovereignty. First, it was by patrol boats. Then, military installations were built over reefs. Now it is through harassment. Every step of the way, the Filipino people get the bad end of the bargain.
Every step of the way, we lose something, and we gain nothing from it. What good are favorable trade and diplomatic relations with an oppressor? Many of our fisherfolk in our Western waters have lost their ways of income. Some, have suffered life-threatening circumstances. Waters teeming with marine life are habitually destroyed for the militaristic interests of the Chinese government. The oppressor thinks that what meager aids and loans they provide are enough to erase their offenses on the Filipino people, and our public “servants” are all too happy to receive and forget. We are given scraps while they get rich from our territories, from our resources. Where is the accountability? Who is to answer for these offenses and incursions?
Both questions have connected answers. Those answers point their fingers to one entity: the oppressive Chinese government. They rely on our division as different peoples, speaking different languages and practicing different cultures, on the divide between the common people below and those who rule on top, so that we could not retaliate against their offenses. We are, after all, living in an archipelago. The politics of one island does not concern the inhabitants of another, and that sets us far apart from each other. However, between the islands, the sea runs blue and alive. It links all the islands and those that live on them, regardless of language, culture, and belief. We are all connected by one sea:
“Iisang Dagat” na pagmamay-ari ng mga Pilipino.