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."

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As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: July 19, 2023 - 12:27pm

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 19, 2023 - 12:27pm

A week since the seventh anniversary of the historic ruling at The Hague,  activist fisherfolk group urges the government to protest the presence of more than 50 Chinese Coast Guard vessels and one "monster ship" in the Ayungin Shoal (Second Thomas Shoal) before the international court.

It says that the swarming of the ships violates the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea. 

“While the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) recognizes the freedom of navigation and innocent passage in open seas, a swarm of ships that creates tensions could be deemed illegal," Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) says.

"We urge the Marcos administration to protest and ultimately expel the overwhelming presence of Chinese Coast Guard vessels in our territorial waters. Their presence is a blatant display of military might to assert Beijing’s unjust claim in the West Philippine Sea. President Marcos could raise this recent swarming incident to the United Nations and reassert our sovereign rights upheld by the UNCLOS and other rules of international law," it adds.

July 7, 2023 - 10:51am

A week before the seventh anniversary of the arbitral ruling on the South China Sea, fishers are seeking a stronger assertion of national sovereignty.

In a release, activist fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) urges the Marcos administration to “have a stronger action to assert our sovereign rights to China using the arbitral award.”

It stressed that it has been seven years since the Philippines won in the Permanent Court of Arbitration but the Chinese military facilities on seven artificial islands on the Spratlys island remain. It also cited more than 200 Chinese vessels and boats are still regularly patrolling in our territory.

PAMALAKAYA chair Fernando Hicap says President Marcos Jr. should be alarmed over the long-term impact of these actions in the fish production in the country and demanded swift action to protect Filipino fishermen from aggression. 

July 14, 2022 - 7:53am

Days after the anniversary of the historic 2016 Hague ruling, China insists the 2016 Hague ruling is "illegal, null and void."

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin says: "The so-called award of the South China Sea arbitration seriously violates international law including the UNCLOS."

The ruling invalidates China's nine-dash claims over the South China Sea. However, Wang says: "China neither accepts nor recognizes it and will never accept any claim or action based on the award." — Kaycee Valmonte

July 12, 2022 - 9:41am

The United States reaffirms its commitment to the Philippines on the sixth anniversary of the Hague tribunal ruling.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken says it also reaffirms “that an armed attack on Philippine armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft in the South China sea would invoke U.S. mutual defense commitments under Article IV of the 1951 U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty.”

Blinken tthen calls on the People’s Republic of China to “abide by its obligations under international law and cease its provocative behavior.”

“We will continue to work with allies and partners, as well as regional institutions like ASEAN, to protect and preserve the rules-based order.” — Kristine Joy Patag with Kaycee Valmonte

July 12, 2022 - 9:16am

Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo says July 12, 2016 is remembered as “the day the that affirmed to the community of nations that the rule of law prevails, and that stability, peace and progress can only be attained on a rules-based legal order on the oceans, as it should be everywhere else.”

He adds the award “not only sets reason and right in the South China Sea, but is an inspiration for how matters should be considered—through reason and right—by states facing similarly challenging circumstances.”

Manalo stresses that the findings are conclusive and indisputable, and the award is final.

“We firmly reject attempts to undermine it; nay, even erase it from law, history, and our collective memories. At the same time we welcome the support of a growing list of countries for the Award.” — Kristine Joy Patag

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