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Hooray to Our Young Heroes Not Afraid to Stand Up to Communist China

Kalayaan Atin Ito group raise the Philippine flag on Pag-asa island on Dec. 31, 2015

s we noted in our previous editorial, the Aquino Administration ended 2015 with yet another characteristic whimper by joining China's Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). It made sure it joined at the very last minute. Reluctantly of course, but with its tail between its legs, it signed on the dotted line giving Beijing another feather on it's cap as that country endeavors to become the dominant financial powerhouse in the region.

By contrast a group of 47 young Filipinos calling themselves Kalayaan Atin Ito braved the choppy waters of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) to make it to Pag-asa island from Palawan on a small boat in order to show China that it does not own all of the South China Sea. Their defiance feels like a breath of fresh air compared to the cowering timid attitude of the Aquino administration when it comes to standing up to China's bullying.

Sure the country instituted arbitral proceedings against China with the Hague Tribunal in January of 2013, contesting the legality of China's 9-Dash Line claim over most of the West Philippine Sea—a uncharacteristically bold act for this president. But since then it has shied away from taking any stand that bolsters its claims to even those Spratly islands that fall within its 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone. Aquino Administration officials acting like they are scared of their own shadows, have been doing everything they can to avoid antagonizing the Chinese. Philippine Coast Guard vessels even tried to stop the Kalayaan Atin Ito group from making it to Pag-asa. China on the other hand has taken every opportunity to make it known to Filipinos that they own nothing in the West Philippine Sea and their presence there is not welcome.

And to make matters worse, our main ally, the United States, has only lately awoken to the fact that China has been illegally creating artificial islands that are readily adaptable to military use. For over a year, U.S. President Barak Obama had stuck his head in the sand pretending nothing was going on in the West Philippine Sea. Only after China's illegal activity became so blatantly obvious, did Obama begin his belated saber-rattling. U.S. Senator John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee noted that the Obama administration was “either unable to manage the complexities of interagency national security decision making or simply too risk averse to do what is necessary to safeguard the rules-based order in the Asia-Pacific.”

In fact, during the 3-month standoff between the Philippines and China over Scarborough Shoal in 2012, the Obama administration did pathetically little to bolster support for the Philippines. And Aquino for his part did not even bother soliciting the support of other world leaders.

The young protesters of 'Kalayaan, Atin Ito' on Pag-asa. (photo from the group's Facebook page)

With Aquino's term in office coming to an end, the Filipino electorate must choose it's next president very carefully. The country is in dire need of a leader who has the guts to stand up to the Chinese instead of cowering in fear. A president who can talk to friends and allies and convince them of the correctness of our cause. A statesman who can rally others to our side and tell the Chinese that they can no longer push us around. Remember the words of U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower who said: "History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid."

So let us all take our cue from the brave young men and women who sailed to Pag-asa to let their countrymen and the world know that there are Filipinos who will not take China's illegal aggression and intimidation sitting down. And no matter how weak or ill-prepared, they will stand proud and fight for what rightfully belongs to the Philippines, based on international law. Published 1/11/2016

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