By Hannah Torregoza
Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero on Thursday said the welcome banners that sprouted in some parts of busy Metro Manila could have just been part of a demolition job against the Duterte administration.
Escudero, who belongs to the Senate majority bloc, said the banners, which read “Welcome to the Philippines, Province of China” could not have come from the President’s camp as such propaganda would further incriminate them of subservience to China.
“Tingin nyo sinong naglagay nyan? Dalawang bagay lang naman yan, kakampi ng administrasyon o kalaban? (Who do you think put it up? I think it only boils down to two things: an ally or an enemy of the government),” Escudero said during a Kapihan sa Senado forum.
“Nakakaasar na propaganda pero tiyak ko hindi yan galing sa administration dahil para nilang binaon yung sarili nila kung sila ang naglagay nyan,” (It’s an insulting propaganda, but I am sure it didn’t come from the administration because if they did, they only incriminated themselves),” Escudero said.
“So malamang bahagi ito ng paninira laban sa administration, (So I think this is just part of a demolition job against the administration),” he said.
Photos of the tarpaulins, which were seen hanging in pedestrian overpasses, became viral in social media. Coincidentally, the Philippines is commemorating its second year anniversary of its victory at The Hague where the country won in the international arbitration tribunal against China over the West Philippine Sea issue.
The July 12, 2016 ruling of the International Court of Arbitration declared the nine-dash line claim of the People’s Republic of China over the whole South China Sea as invalid and without legal basis under the UNCLOS and international law.
It, likewise, upheld the Philippines rights under UNCLOS over its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the West Philippine Sea over China’s claims of ownership on the international waters in the maritime territory.
However, President Rodrigo Duterte has refused to enforce the ruling in favor of strengthening the country’s ties with China, but denied kowtowing to China’s whims.
This, despite China’s aggressive militarization of the West Philippine Sea as it continues the construction of military bases in the disputed islands within the territory.
Escudero, however, said he believes the government can defend itself against these allegations.
“I’m certain Secretary (Harry) Roque is capable of defending the government,” Escudero said.