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‘We need someone to fight for us, Mr. President’

05:02 AM September 04, 2019

Dear Mr. President,

In the third presidential debate on April 24, 2016, one of your campaign promises was that you would ride a jet ski to the Spratly Islands while waving the Philippine flag. You told us it had been a longtime dream of yours to be a hero — to fight for what is ours and reclaim the land that had been unjustly taken away from us.

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That was three years ago. Now, the statement might have been said in jest, but this is an issue that should be taken seriously. Which is why, on behalf of the Filipino youth, we would like to ask you a question: Where is your jet ski, Mr. President? Where is the flag that you promised to raise on what is rightfully ours?

The harm that the Chinese government has inflicted on our fellow Filipinos and on our natural resources has gone too far. They are taking our sand and our marine life, destroying our corals and our sea.

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They have military ships that venture into our waters, ram our fishermen and leave them to fend for themselves. Is this not enough? How much more abuse can we take until you come to the aid of your people? What does this say about the worth of our country?

We are confident that you have the best interests of our nation at heart. But the question is, how are these interests best served? By permitting our country to be exploited and allowing China to violate our sovereign rights? Or by fighting for what is rightfully ours, according to the Hague arbitral ruling under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea?

The masses are strongly behind you, Mr. President, but they are also fearful and skeptical of overdependence on our Chinese neighbors.

You say that you are protecting us. You say that if we insist on our rights, we risk going to war with China. But Vietnam and Malaysia stood their ground, and a war is yet to be seen. We are sure you would never want to be deemed weaker than the leaders of these other countries.

This is the land our forefathers fought for for centuries — the land they gave up their lives for so that we, the future generations, can enjoy the freedom they could only dream about. If our freedom was worth so much as to die for, then we should not and cannot submit without putting up a fight.

We do need your protection, sir. Not against war, but against the exploitation of our people and our resources without any protest from you, our own head of state. We need someone to fight for us, Mr. President — someone who is not afraid to stand by the people, stand by the law and stand up for what is right.

Marie Castro, Francine Dizon, Bianca Garcia, Gina Jacob, Patricia Santos, c/o [email protected]

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TAGS: Bianca Garcia, Francine Dizon, Gina Jacob, Inquirer Letter, Marie Castro, Maritime Dispute, Patricia Santos, PH-China relations, Rodrigo Duterte, South China Sea, West Philippine Sea
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