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Government hit for preventing ‘Freedom Voyage’ to Kalayaan Islands

Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star) - December 19, 2015 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Some 100 young volunteers of the Kalayaan Atin Ito (KAI) movement are questioning the government’s efforts to prevent them from carrying out their planned “Freedom Voyage” to Kalayaan Island in the Spratlys.

Setting up camp in a village in Puerto Princesa City following their arrival in Palawan last Dec. 4, the group is seeking clarification from the government on why the military and the police are guarding them. 

The village where the KAI volunteers have established camp is near Ulugan Bay, a new naval unit fronting the West Philippine Sea.

“If there’s nothing left out there for us to peacefully fight for maritime and sovereign rights, we will go home,” said Vera Joy Ban-eg, co-convenor of KAI. 

Ban-eg is acting as the guardian of the volunteers, all students who came from across the country.

Originally scheduled to last from Nov. 30 until Dec. 30, the volunteer trip was delayed because of the continued refusal of the military and Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) to give them clearance to set sail to the disputed territories.

National Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said going to the islands by boat at this time of the year is very risky because of unfavorable sea conditions.

The same reason was given by the AFP-Wescom Command, saying the Palawan-based military could not guarantee the safety of the volunteers.

Kalayaan Mayor Eugenio Bito-onon Jr. also suggested to KAI that if they really intend to sail, they must carefully plan the trip due to numerous uncertainties associated with the voyage.

The young volunteers, however, are not backing out.

They said they have gone this far and have prepared for the Freedom Voyage for more than a year.

They went around the country enlisting young volunteers to do their patriotic duty in response to China’s continuing aggression of the region.

“We would like to ask the Filipino people, especially President Aquino, if the country has already given up our country’s maritime and territorial rights in the Kalayaan islands.

If the answer is yes, then we will all go home,” Ban-eg said.

If the answer is no, Ban-eg said the more they are determined to proceed with their “Freedom Voyage,” to peacefully defend the country’s sovereign rights in the disputed region now being wholly claimed by China. Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei also having overlapping maritime claims.

 

 

 

ACIRC FREEDOM VOYAGE KALAYAAN ATIN ITO KALAYAAN ISLAND KALAYAAN MAYOR EUGENIO BITO MALAYSIA AND BRUNEI NATIONAL DEFENSE SECRETARY VOLTAIRE GAZMIN PALAWAN PHILIPPINE COAST GUARD PRESIDENT AQUINO PUERTO PRINCESA CITY
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