Red is the color of the sea
Duterte may try to drown us with his lies and his preposterous remarks, but there is no denying that there is nothing he can do to silence the calls from the sea of masses.
On his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Duterte reiterates his previous response regarding the Recto Bank incident last month, stating that a “delicate balancing act” was necessary in order to avoid conflict with China. This balancing act, essentially speaking, is none other than the President’s refusal to advance direct confrontation with the illegal Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea as it may lead to a war, or so the president says. He attempts to back this claim by citing the sheer difference in military power, in that a war with China would lead to an absolute defeat on the Philippines’ side, and that he in his good conscience cannot bear to have more widowed wives and orphaned children in the wake of such war.
Now if only the president would practice what he preaches, considering the rising death toll, 27000 lives and counting according to the Commission on Human Rights, under Duterte’s infamous Tokhang operations.
The Palace ultimately ruled out the Recto Bank incident as a mere “maritime incident blown out of proportion”. A small skirmish among fishermen, as if the Chinese fishing vessel was just a regular everyday sight on our shores. President Duterte reaffirms this statement once more in his SONA, following it up by saying that he cannot ask for the Chinese vessels to leave as both the Philippines and China hold claim over the waters.
A truly damning fact to consider: our fishermen setting off to fish only to be met with near death. Afterwards, they would seek help from the government, only to find themselves in cruel resignation as their experience is downplayed as mere kerfuffle while shouldering the blame of not being able to take pictures of the collision.
In the same breadth, just five days ago, the President said in an interview over Pastor Quiboloy’s program that “I’m the owner, and I’m just giving the fishing rights”, implying that the right to fish on Philippine waters is something that is lent nicely.
It was a terribly blasphemous statement. To quote the 1987 Constitution, “The State shall protect the nation’s marine wealth in its archipelagic waters, territorial sea, and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens.” With this in mind, it is important to recall that the Philippines had enjoyed a legal victory over China against their nine-dash line claim in 2016 at the Hague. To be succinct, China, or rather no foreign nation, possesses the right to fish in our EEZ, which includes Recto Bank and Panatag (Scarborough), and yet the President has made an unconstitutional decision to revoke our exclusive rights to fish in our own seas.
“Let me assure you: national honor, territorial integrity shall be foremost in my mind.”
Empty words upon empty words. All of it flimsy and weightless, just like our national sovereignty. During his presidential campaign, Duterte has made so many promises to end contractualization, challenge China to leave our waters and assert the Hague ruling. Instead, what he delivered to us were dying economies, dying environments, and dying masses. A pathological liar of the finest degree.
Perhaps, the question to be made is this: how much more lies do we have to bear? Up to what extent of this blasphemy do we have to stand? How could we ever declare proudly that we are a sovereign nation, when even in our own country, be it land or ocean, we are driven away by foreign powers? After all, the experiences of troubled fishermen aren’t separate from the displaced indigenous people.
This farce must cease. No one of us deserves to endure this tragic display of foolishness. Duterte may try to drown us with his lies and his preposterous remarks, but there is no denying that there is nothing he can do to silence the calls from the sea of masses. With every moment he stays in power comes the ever-growing sentiment to bring him down from his despotic perch. Every churn of starved stomachs, every wrangled cry, and every drop of blood shed under his reign, all of these will be met with stronger clamors and militant movement from all sectors.
There’s only so much he can spill before the waves of the revolution crashes over him.