MANILA, Philippines — A member of the nationalist Tañada clan twitted President Rodrigo Duterte for his silence in the face of China’s militarization of disputed territory in the West Philippine Sea, asking him about his promise to defend the Philippines and Filipino interests.
“Nasaan ang pangako mo, Pangulong Duterte, na ipagtatanggol ang Pilipinas at ang interes ng mga Pilipino? Ngayon kailangan ng mga Pilipino ang iyong tapang (Where is your promise, President Duterte, to defend the Philippines and the interests of Filipinos? The Filipinos need your courage now),” former Representative Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada III, who is vice president for external affairs of the Liberal Party, said in a statement Wednesday, February 7.
“Luluhod at susunod na lang ba tayo sa utos ng China? Kahit harap-harapan nang binabalahura ang dangal ng Pilipinas (Do we kneel and obey China? Even if our honor is brazenly trampled)?” he asked.
Tañada’s father Wigberto was one of the “Magnificent 12” senators who voted to end the presence of American military bases in the country, and his grandfather and namesake, Lorenzo, also a former senator, was a leading figure in the movements battling both the Marcos dictatorship and the U.S. bases.
He hinted that history might be repeating itself.
“Noon, naging tampok na hugis ng mga protesta kontra diktadura ang pagiging kontra mala-kolonyalismo. Ngayon, parang ganyan din ang nangyayari (Before, a feature of the anti-dictatorship protests was the rejection of being a semi-colony. Today, it seems the same thing is happening),” Tañada said.
He acknowledged that even then, “ang hirap ipaliwanag sa kapwa natin Pilipino ang kahalagahan ng tunay na kalayaan (it was difficult to explain to our fellow Filipinos the value of genuine freedom),” an apparent reference to the overwhelming pro-bases sentiment among people, including then President Corazon Aquino.
“Ngayon, nagpapaliwanag ulit tayo sa ating mga kababayan na mali ang pananalakay na ito ng China. Mali ang pambu-bully sa ating mga mangingisdang may karapatang maghanap-buhay sa ating karagatan. Mali ang militarisasyon sa ating mga islang mga isang libong kilometro lang ang layo mula sa kabiserang lungsod ng Manila.”
(Now, we are again explaining to our countrymen that China’s aggression is wrong. It is wrong to bully our fishermen who have the right to live off our seas. It is wrong to militarize our islands, which are only a thousand kilometers from our capital city Manila.)