Filipino -Americans protest Chinese intrusion of Spratlys - West Philippines' Sea (WPS)

A large group of Filipino Americans organized by US Pinoys for Good Governance protesting outside the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles about the ongoing dispute between PH and China over the Spratly Islands on Friday, July 8, 2011. (AJPress Photo by Joseph Pimentel)

A SPIRITED and vocal group of Filipino Americans gathered outside the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles and protested China’s intrusion of the resource rich Spratly Islands.

More than 150 Fil-Ams, joined by Vietnamese and American protesters, picketed outside the Chinese Consulate holding up signs that denounce China as a bully and chanted “Who’s Oil? Our Oil! Who’s soil? Our soil!”

“Wake up Filipinos!” said Rocio Nuyda, secretary of US Pinoys for Good Governance (USP4GG), the group responsible for organizing the protests.

“The Philippines is under siege. This is a big intrusion on the Philippines. China has shown a disregard for our sovereignty. We are the rightful claimants of this land.”

The protest was part of a worldwide gathering of Filipinos concerned about the ongoing dispute over the Spratly Islands -- a group of tiny islands in Southeast Asia, about 150 miles South of Palawan.

The islands are full of natural resources under the sea floor, said Nuyda.

“Why do you think China is doing this? The island is rich in gold, black gold, oil and natural gas. Some say the resources are as large as the deposits in Nigeria and Saudi Arabia.”

China and the Philippines are among the handful of Southeast Asian countries that claim the Spratly Islands as their own.

For decades, China has claimed the island as theirs and has placed several military bases to occupy certain islands. The Philippines has geographical claim over the Spratlys because of the islands close proximity to the nation. The RP government cites the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, saying the islands are within the 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone.

Other countries that lay claim to the islands include Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.

In May, the Philippines accused China of entering its waters around the Spratly Islands and have sought help from the US government.

The US Senate recently passed a resolution calling for all parties involved to resolve the dispute in a peaceful and multilateral way.

The protest on Friday, though, is just the beginning, said Nuyda.

Nuyda said she was surprised by the large turnout, with only a week’s worth of preparation.

“Honestly, I was only expecting 40, maybe 50 people to show up. More than 150 people came,” she said. “It just shows how important this issue is in our community.”

John Mina of the Filipino American Library participated in the protest.

“As Fil-Ams we need to voice our concern of what’s going on between China and the Philippines,” he said.

Retiree Celia Velasquez agreed. She said China shouldn’t drill oil that belongs to the Philippines.

Nuyda said it’s important for more Fil-Ams to participate and protest China.

“Regardless of your organization, religion, and politics, we are all Filipinos,” she said. “It’s our moral obligation to stand up for what is ours.”

(www.asianjournal.com)

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