A coalition of groups advocating for the Philippines’ jurisdiction and sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) staged a protest gathering on Tuesday, June 11, in front of the Chinese Consular Office in Makati, calling for “independence against China’s aggressive militarization” in the region.

The Atin Ito Coalition spearheaded the activity, dubbed as the “WPS Day of Action,” as the Philippines gears up to commemorate its 126th Independence Day, taking a resolute stand against Chinese aggression in the WPS.

The group, composed of Akbayan Party, the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM), activist priest Fr. Robert Reyes, fisherfolk community leaders from the New Masinloc Fishermen Association, and the Mabayo Agri Aqua Association in Bataan, student leaders, youth, and other sectoral groups, showcased their commitment with giant “WPS, Atin Ito!” letters, mock civilian supply boats, and hundreds of Philippine flaglets.

The coalition staged the protest in reaction to aggressive behaviors by the Chinese Coast Guard (CCG), including harassment of Philippine resupply missions, confiscation of supplies meant for frontliners, and obstruction of medical evacuations in Ayungin Shoal, where the Philippine Navy vessel BRP Sierra Madre is grounded and serving as an outpost for Filipino troops in the area.

Incidents in Sabina (Escoda) Shoal and sightings of Chinese naval ships in Basilan Strait and Zamboanga have only added to the tension, alongside ongoing harassment of Filipino fishers and threats of detention in the WPS, the coalition said in a press statement.

Akbayan Party President and Atin Ito co-convenor Rafaela David also reminded China of the country’s history, which she said bears witness to a resilient Filipino spirit forged through countless struggles against foreign aggressors and the shadow of superpowers.

“Our journey toward freedom, independence, and democracy is woven with the courage of generations who stood firm against colonial dominion and invasive forces,” David said.

“Should China harbor the misconception that it could break us through its escalation of violence and harassment in our region, it grievously underestimates our resolve. China stands as but the latest entrant in a lineage of foreign aggressors against which Filipinos have fearlessly contended throughout the annals of time,” David remarked.

PRRM President Edicio Dela Torre, also a co-convenor of Atin Ito, meanwhile underscored the importance of global solidarity and action against China’s transgressions.

“China’s narrative is deceptive. While accusing the Philippines of violating international law, it openly aggresses our vessels and loots our supplies. The truth is evident: China is the aggressor,” Dela Torre stated.

David and Dela Torre have been playing pivotal roles in the civilian-led supply missions to the WPS conducted in December 2023 and May this year. These missions involved a flotilla of civilian vessels and small boats in a “peace and solidarity regatta,” where more than a hundred fishing boats sailed within the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and deployed symbolic buoys marked “WPS Atin Ito.” They also delivered vital supplies to Filipino fishers in the vicinity of Scarborough Shoal.

Calling the resupply mission a success, David declared that China “will not intimidate us.”

“In the spirit of our forefathers who resisted colonial powers, we assert that we will not succumb to the tyranny of our era. With each act of aggression, we respond with unity, solidarity, courage and hope,” she stressed.