A fisherfolk group released their own version of a video greeting where the vice president was seen partly speaking Mandarin to greet the People’s Republic of China for its 73rd founding anniversary.
Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) on Tuesday posted a video of its national spokesperson, Ronnel Arambulo, speaking in Mandarin to tell China to “leave the Philippine waters.”
“China, out of the Philippine waters! Atin ang Pinas! China, layas!”
Arambulo was also surrounded by signs which read “ATIN ANG PINAS CHINA LAYAS. ”
“This is the message that needs to be delivered, not an insensitive greeting from a government official in the midst of Chinese aggression in our waters,” the organization captioned its post.
PAMALAKAYA is a national organization representing small fisherfolk whose livelihood depends on fishing in the Philippine waters.
The video of its spokesperson was a response to Vice President Sara Duterte‘s greeting to the PRC, which celebrated its 70th year of founding anniversary on September 26.
The official was heard partly greeting them in Mandarin, which is the language spoken in China’s capital and most of the country’s northern and southwestern parts.
Reports note that Duterte in her speech recognized China’s efforts in helping the Philippine economy recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are grateful that China is a generous neighbor. We look forward to forging more partnerships and collaborations with you as we journey together toward achieving our sustainable development goals and recovering from the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.
Duterte also recognized the “relentless efforts of the Chinese people under the leadership of the Communist Party of China” and lauded them for being the “fastest growing economic region in the world.”
“Philippines and China relations have soared and reached new heights under the guidance of former President Duterte and President Xi (Jinping),” she said.
“I am delighted to note that this positive momentum has made diplomatic engagement with our President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. and Ambassador Huang (Xilian) smoother, especially in the run-up to the 50th anniversary of our diplomatic ties,” Duterte added.
West Philippine Sea row
China has been aggressively claiming territories in the West Philippine Sea, which lies over the eastern parts of the South China Sea that are within Manila’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
The EEZ is an area where the coastal country has sovereign rights over the sea’s exploration and use of its marine resources. This is 200 nautical miles from the baseline.
China’s claims were made despite the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling in July 2016 which recognizes Philippines’ sovereign rights over the areas contested by Beijing.
Filipino fishermen have also been facing harassment from Chinese vessels despite staying within the Philippines’ EEZ.
Last March, the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement said that fishermen’s catches were getting smaller due to China’s supposed overfishing in Philippine territorial waters.
“Ang problema, humihina na ang huli. Ang isda naman, hindi nagre-recognize ‘yan ng boundary. Kapag nahuli ang marami ng malalaking Chinese vessels, humihina na rin ang makukuha ng mga mangingisda sa ating municipal waters,” its president, Edicio dela Torre, said before.
Last year, the Philippines filed a diplomatic protest against China’s “incessant and unlawful restriction” of Filipino fishermen from conducting fishing activities in Bajo de Masinloc or Scarborough Shoal.
The most controversial was when a Chinese vessel rammed Gem-Ver, a Filipino fishing boat, near Recto Bank in 2019.
The Filipino fishermen were abandoned at sea for at least two hours before they were rescued by a passing Vietnamese fishing boat.