Subscribe

Filipino protesters land on disputed island in South China Sea

Describing their expedition as a 'a patriotic voyage,' the protesters planned to camp on the island for three days in a symbolic act of defiance against China.

  • close
    A group of Filipino protesters has landed on the Pagasa Island, shown here in a 2011 file photo, in the South China Sea in protest against China's growing presence in the region.
    Rolex Dela Pena/Reuters/File
    View Caption
  • About video ads
    View Caption
of

A group of Filipino protesters has landed on a disputed Philippine-held island in the South China Sea, a local government official said on Sunday, in a risky expedition that may trigger a strong reaction from China.

About 50 protesters, most of them students, reached Pagasa island in the Spratly archipelago on Saturday in a stand against what they say is Beijing's creeping invasion of the Philippine exclusive economic zone, said Eugenio Bito-onon, the island's mayor.

"The 'freedom voyage' arrived at about 8:30 a.m. on Saturday from Balabac island on a motor launch," Mr. Bito-onon told Reuters, adding the protesters left southern Palawan on Thursday in fine weather to make the long sea crossing.

China claims almost all the South China Sea, believed to have huge deposits of oil and gas, through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam also have claims on the strategic waters.

Describing their expedition as a "a patriotic voyage," the protesters, led by an ex-marine captain, planned to camp on Pagasa for three days in a symbolic act of defiance against China.

"We encourage the highest leadership of the country to inform the people correctly without sugar coating the truth about Chinese invasion of our exclusive economic zone," the protesters said in a post on Facebook.

Government and military officials had tried to prevent the group from sailing to the disputed waters, citing security and safety reasons after a storm in the South China Sea earlier this month.

The Philippines was also concerned about China's reaction to the trip as Manila has been trying to calm tensions heightened by Beijing's rapid expansion in the South China Sea – building seven artificial islands in the disputed waters.

The Philippines has challenged Beijing before the arbitration court in The Hague, a case Beijing has not recognized.

A spokesman for Philippine President Benigno Aquino said in a radio interview on Sunday the military was closely monitoring the trip and would assist the protesters if necessary.

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome
 
 
Make a Difference
Inspired? Here are some ways to make a difference on this issue.
FREE Newsletters
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.
 

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK