Banners welcome visitors to 'Philippines, province of China'

Banners welcome visitors to 'Philippines, province of China'
The red banners bore the Chinese flag, with the words written in both English and Mandarin.
@rexxjffrsn / Twitter

MANILA, Philippines — Tarpaulins bearing the words “Welcome to the Philippines, province of China” were seen hanging from several footbridges in Metro Manila Thursday, two years after the country won its arbitration case against China.

The red banners bore the Chinese flag and Chinese characters.

It is unclear who installed the tarpaulins, which are possible reference to a “joke” by President Rodrigo Duterte that the country can be a province of the Asian giant.

“He (Xi Jinping) is a man of honor. They can even make us ‘Philippines, province of China,’ we will even avail of services for free,” Duterte said in apparent jest before an audience of Chinese-Filipino business leaders earlier in 2018. “If China were a woman, I’d woo her.”

Chinese-Filipinos are of Chinese descent but are Filipino citizens and it is incorrect to assume that they are pro-China.

In a Palace briefing, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said enemies of the government are behind the tarpaulins.

A report on ANC said that the Metro Manila Development Authority already took the banners down.

The tarpaulins sparked outrage among social media users.

One of those who were not amused by the banners was former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay.

“Whatever the motives may be, it’s not funny, especially on this particular day,” Hilbay said in an interview on CNN Philippines. He was a member of the legal team that won the case against China with the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in 2016.

On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration under the United Nations ruled in favor of the Philippines in its arbitration case against China over the South China Sea.

The Hague-based tribunal ruled that China’s nine-dash line claim over the disputed waters has no legal basis.

The government, however, opted to play down the verdict and focus on improving political and economic relations with China.

READThe verdict: Philippines wins arbitration case vs China

In a forum marking the second anniversary of the ruling, former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario said that the Philippines had missed an opportunity "to take advantage of its position to develop and obtain the support of many countries whose principles are aligned with our own and with whom our own voice could be magnified."

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: July 12, 2021 - 8:32am

Social media users, including former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, are reporting seeing banners saying "Welcome to the Philippines, Province of China" hanging from overpasses in parts of Metro Manila.

The sightings coincide with the second anniversary of an arbitral tribunal ruling that China's sweeping nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea has no legal basis. The Philippines has opted to play down the ruling and focus on nurturing better political and economic relations with China.

It is unclear who put up the banners, which are a possible reference to a "joke" that President Rodrigo Duterte told Chinese-Filipino business leaders in February. 

"He (Xi) is a man of honor. They can even make us 'Philippines, province of China," we will even avail of services for free," Duterte said in apparent jest. "If China were a woman, I'd woo her."

The Palace said the remark was meant to impress the audience, who were Filipino citizens of Chinese descent.

July 12, 2021 - 8:32am

On the fifth year since the historic arbitral ruling in the South China Sea, the Philippines has yet to take full advantage of it to pursue its national interests, Vice President Leni Robredo says.

"Our fisherfolk remain unable to enter areas that have been the source of livelihood for generations of Filipinos. Alliances that could have been strengthened were allowed to erode, while those who bully their way into our waters have been treated with deference, and at times, subservience. The dream of a regional architecture founded on respect and mutual prosperity has become even more elusive," she says in a statement.

"The Hague ruling is now a definitive part of international law. It cannot be erased from the history books, and cannot be denied despite the unending lies spewed forth by a formidable machinery of disinformation. Filing the case before the tribunal— standing up for what is right, against the economic and military might of a world power— yielded the admiration and respect of the entire world." 

"Today’s commemoration is a reminder, a challenge, and a promise: That if only we can remember, if only we can unite, if only we can rediscover our spirit and once again stand for what is right— we will find, beneath the rubble of cowardice and neglect, our courage, our dignity, and our national pride."

July 11, 2021 - 3:07pm

As the Philippines commemorates the fifth anniversary of the July 2016 arbitral ruling, the Liberal Party expresses gratitude to the late president Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III for his "good, brave, strong governance."

The opposition party stresses that the Philippines needs a leadership that will uphold the country's rights.

"As we commemorate this landmark ruling, so too do we commemorate the kind of leadership that makes victories like this possible: A leadership founded on the belief that 'The Filipino is worth fighting for,' as opposed to one that cowers and yields to bullies," the LP says in a statement released Sunday, a day before the anniversary of the landmark ruling.

July 12, 2018 - 3:25pm

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, in response to criticism from former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario of the Duterte administration's handling of issues in the West Philippine Sea, says: "We do not agree with those who lost control of territory by their confrontational hubris."

He says President Rodrigo Duterte has instead "forged friendship which has obtained benefits for our people, boosted investment and trade for our economy, reduced the threat of conflict, and opened the door to confidence-building talks between ASEAN and China."

He says issues with China are handled through a dialogue between friends and not as an argument between adevrsaries.

"All this time, we are building up our capabilities to eventually assert our sovereign rights and interests. That is the policy that works for our nation," he says.

July 12, 2018 - 12:18pm

The Quezon City government has ordered its Public Safety personnel to remove tarpaulins that refer to the Philippines as a province of China.

In a Palace briefing earlier Thursday, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said "enemies of the government" are behind the banners.

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