(We yield this space to the statement of Tanggol Kasaysayan and Alliance of Concerned Teachers due to its timeliness. – Ed.)
THE Araw ng Kagitingan commemorates the valor of Filipino martyrs who defended the sovereignty of our country. This is in honor and recognition of our people’s deep-rooted history of fighting for freedom and for the promotion of people’s welfare. We remember the suffering and sacrifice of patriotic Filipinos who struggled to frustrate foreign attempts to steal and colonize our territories.
As we commemorate the Philippine Day of Valor, we recognize that we are still confronted with threats and challenges to our sovereignty. We remain to be bound to unequal military pacts with the United States of America through the Mutual Defense Treaty, Visiting Forces Agreement, and Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, which are skewed in favor of foreign interests and leave our country susceptible to attacks from countries antagonistic towards the US government. Meanwhile, China is relentless in its aggressive takeover of islands within our shores in the West Philippine Sea as it continues to assert the unrecognized 9-dash line and as China makes itself known as a new global superpower. Through the establishment of artificial islands, China utilizes our sands and the soils from our mountains to create a network of defense for the expansion of its naval bases.
China further chains the Philippines through the funding of various projects in the Philippines. Using the classic template for a skewed contract in favor of China which it has used in other economically struggling countries, the Philippines has pawned off its natural resources and rights to govern critical infrastructures in the country in exchange for huge business loans. Ridiculously high interest rates, shorter lengths of repayment plans, exclusively granting project contracts to Chinese corporations who employ only Chinese workers — these are just some of the unfair provisions in the loan contracts that the current regime blindly agreed to in the interest of “Build, Build, Build.” Several projects are to be funded by these onerous loans, which include the Chico River Dam project, the construction of Kaliwa Dam, and the reclamation of parts of Manila Bay. Should we fail to repay these debts, China reserves the right to claim our natural resources and to control important public infrastructures to the detriment of the lives and livelihoods of the nation.
We must learn the lessons of our history — the people must fight for the country’s independence and sovereignty at the first instance of threat against it.
It is high time for us to once again assert the valor of the Filipino people. We shall put into practice the lessons of history about our tradition of resistance against foreign domination. It is time to forward the interests of the people as basis for all international relations. Our national sovereignty and the security of future generations shall take primacy over accumulation of profit and other financial gains for the few from entering anomalous contracts.