The thousands of youth volunteers preparing to stage a protest China’s intrusion at the West Philippine Sea has found an ally in a former Cabinet secretary.
Rafael Alunan III, former tourism and local government secretary, told Palawan News that “many Filipinos should follow the patriotism and nationalism shown by the youth volunteers.”
Alunan who served the Cory and Ramos administrations, said that he knows that leaders of the Kalayyan Atin Ito youth group as they were with him when he led rally in Manila a few months back.
The group plans to spend one month in the Kalayaan islands to assert the country’s claim in the face of China’s intrusion into islets and reefs in the West Philippine Sea.
This despite the objection of defense and military officials who said the journey would be too perilous and it might have implications on the ongoing arbitration case the Philippines filed against China in a United Nations arbitral tribunal.
Originally, the youths, mainly of college age, were scheduled to leave on Nov. 30. The protest is supposed to last up to Dec. 30.
Earlier, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin himself had asked the group not to push through with the voyage because of the bad sea conditions and the arbitration case against China.
The military also tried to discourage the volunteers, saying they could not be protected by the Armed Forces of the Philippines during the voyage.
AFP spokesperson Col. Restituto Padilla said the military would monitor the voyage only through radio communications with the help of the Philippine Coast Guard.
“They are on their own… we will only monitor them. The AFP is not directly participating since we told them that there are better alternative activities to show their support instead of traveling there,” Padilla said.
Kalayaan Atin Ito said it had 10,000 volunteers from all of the country’s 81 provinces committed to the 30-day protest.
Alunan, however advised the group to coordinate their actions with government authorities.
“We do not want any incident to happen that may escalate into something worst for us, ” he said.
“Let us stand up against China, ” Alunan said.
Military officials said that this is not the best time to travel because waters are rough.
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