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Protesters storm closed Chinese consulate

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MANILA --- More than 600 protesters belonging to the West Philippine Sea Coalition, an umbrella group of about 30 cause-oriented groups, yesterday staged a rally in front of the Chinese consular office in Makati City to denounce China’s sweeping claim to much of the South China Sea and its incursion in Philippine territorial waters.

 

But the consulate was closed yesterday, with the officials citing “security concerns.”

Carrying Philippine flags and streamers printed with the words “China Respect Philippine Sovereignty” and blowing horns, the protesters converged at the Chinese consular office along Gil Puyat Avenue shortly before noon.

Former Interior Secretary Rafael Alunan, the coalition’s lead convenor, said the protest action was meant to mark the first anniversary of China’s occupation of the Ayungin Shoal, which Manila regards as an integral part of its territory.

“This is about time that Filipinos stand as one nation to uphold national honor and sovereignty as we urge the Chinese government to adhere to the rule of law and the peaceful resolution of disputes,” Alunan said.

He said that as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, China has the responsibility to preserve peace with its neighbors but its deployment of warships and fishing vessels in other countries’ territorial waters is heightening tension and insecurity in the region.

Alunan said simultaneous protests actions were also staged in the United States, Singapore, Australia, Rome and Saipan as part of the second “Global Day of Protest” against China.

The protest caused a traffic jam in the area as the protesters virtually blocked Gil Puyat Avenue. 

Senior Supt. Manuel Lukban, Makati police chief, said no untoward incident took place. The rally ended at around 2 p.m.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the Malacañang did not have a hand in the protest.

“All the actions taken by the individual citizens wherever they are from, whether here or abroad, these are the actions taken by the Filipinos on how they view the situation,” he said. – With Jocelyn Montemayor (Malaya)

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