Stand strong for sovereignty

By Herman M. Lagon

A MARITIME battleground of moral, historical, and legal ascendancy continues to unfold in the vast expanse of the West Philippine Sea. Recent events have thrust the Philippines into a spotlight that shines upon its unwavering resolve to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity, despite facing China’s aggressive and illegal actions. The nation’s call to stand united grows stronger as the ocean waves carry the weight of history and defiance.

At the heart of the issue lies Ayungin Shoal, a contested space where recent events have reignited the flames of patriotism. The Philippine Coast Guard’s Commodore Jay Tarriela, in a tweet that resonated across the archipelago, underscored the importance of loyalty to one’s nation. He emphasized that any defense or excuse for China’s belligerence is an affront to the country’s identity and integrity. It’s a stark reminder that standing up to bullying is not a mere choice but a patriotic duty.

Historical echoes reverberate as we recall the distant echoes of the Mischief Reef seizure in 1995 under President Fidel Ramos. At that time, a defenseless Philippines watched helplessly as China annexed its territory. The same happened during the time of China-friendly Rodrigo Duterte when military and scientific structures and presence were aggressively displayed in the geological features and territorial seas in the Spratlys and the Scarborough Shoal. These scars were etched into the nation’s memory, a painful reminder that the strong could manipulate the weak. China’s audacious claims, reaching even into the Philippine EEZ, revealed that its appetite for encroachment knew no bounds.

Yet, within this narrative of vulnerability emerges a beacon of hope—a call to arms through the Rule of Law. The Philippines took a stand, acknowledging that might does not make right. With the UNCLOS’s affirmation during President PNoy Aquino’s leadership, the Philippines found its path to justice through peaceful means. The arbitration case, led by former Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio with former Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and former Solicitor-General Florin Hilbay, among others, showcased the power of legality over brute force. This saga became a rallying cry for unity, a testament that even the most formidable of foes can be challenged through principle.

Through the ebb and flow of diplomatic currents, the tide has shifted towards a proactive stance. Malacañang’s diplomatic engagement with the United States underscores the importance of alliances. The Philippines’ connection with its long-standing ally is being revitalized, a strategic move towards safeguarding not just its sovereignty, but also its food and economic security. In these troubled waters, unity between nations serves as a lighthouse guiding the way forward.

Amid this complex landscape, the recent encounter between a Chinese Coast Guard vessel and its Philippine counterpart resonates like the clash of titans. As the waves of diplomacy attempt to calm troubled waters, the future remains uncertain. Still, hope springs from the hearts of those who know that even a squall eventually gives way to calm.

In this maritime chessboard, the moves are not just political and economic but personal. Whether in government or the private sector, each Filipino holds a piece of the puzzle. The essence of being Filipino lies in protecting the homeland, rejecting apathy, and embracing patriotic action.

As history’s tides continue to shape the West Philippine Sea’s narrative, let us remember that the struggle for sovereignty extends beyond geographical boundaries. It resides in the hearts of a people united by love for their country. Just as the Philippines navigates its path, each Filipino stands as a testament to the indomitable spirit that upholds the nation’s integrity, history, economy, and future.


Doc H fondly describes himself as a ‘student of and for life’ who, like many others, aspires to a life-giving and why-driven world that is grounded in social justice and the pursuit of happiness. His views herewith do not necessarily reflect those of the institutions he is employed or connected with.