Tuesday, March 5, 2024

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FIRING LINE: China steals Christmas in Ayungin

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By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

In a flagrant violation of international law and basic human decency, China’s Coast Guard has once again exhibited a heartless disregard for peace and humanitarian efforts. The brazen attack on Philippine vessels engaged in a routine rotation and resupply mission to the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal is not just an assault on sovereign rights but an affront to the principles of humanity.

The targeted water cannon assault, resulting in serious engine damage to M/L Kalayaan, is a despicable act that underscores China’s aggressive posturing in the West Philippine Sea. This was not a military confrontation but a humanitarian mission to support Filipino patriots stationed in Ayungin Shoal. The deliberate use of force against civilian vessels exposes China’s lack of respect for the sanctity of humanitarian efforts and the lives of those involved.

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri’s call to expel Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian reflects the growing frustration with China’s continued aggression. The condemnation from the United States and the European Union underscores the international community’s concern over China’s repeated illegal actions.

China’s recent provocations, including firing water cannons at Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources vessels headed to Scarborough Shoal, further demonstrate a complete disregard for diplomatic norms and territorial rights.

Amid the perilous bravado of China’s vessels, there’s no shame in altering course for the 40-boat Filipino civilian convoy. Choosing safety over confrontation doesn’t diminish their courage or signify weakness; it exposes China’s unwarranted aggression and magnifies its unjust nature as an antagonist.

 What was on display for the world to see is China’s selfish deprivation of the free people of another nation to express their love and support and share the spirit of Christmas with their Filipino patriots in Ayungin in this most blessed season. China has robbed this tiny spot in the middle of the sea of Christmas.

Hungry for attention?

The current charade of hunger striking by SMNI broadcasters Jeffrey Celiz and Lorraine Badoy somehow reeks of hypocrisy and undermines the very essence of genuine hunger strikes. Their melodramatic protest, stemming from their detention after being cited in contempt for refusing to disclose information during a congressional hearing, is becoming a theatrical farce.

The tables have turned on these anchors, who once bombarded ABS-CBN during its franchise battle, as they now face the consequences of their own actions.

While the demand for media personalities to reveal sources in a congressional hearing raises concerns about press freedom, netizens have pointed out what they sense as insincerity in Celiz and Badoy. Netizens commented on a photograph posted by their lawyer showing them with containers of food partially hidden behind a bag before announcing their hunger strike.

Then, their announced 6 p.m.-12 m.n. “hunger strike” triggered more scepticism among netizens who called it “intermittent fasting” rather than a principled stand. Like most netizens, Parañaque City 2nd District Rep. Gus Tambunting is unruffled by Celiz and Badoy’s feeble attempt at martyrdom and maintains the panel’s stance: talk or stay detained. Their hunger strike, laden with inconsistencies, fails to sway a committee accustomed to such antics.

The credibility of the SMNI duo’s protest wanes as they languish in House custody. Their choice to hold on to their silence may extend their detention stay until all the firecrackers and fireworks have been burned up for 2024.

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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email or tweet @Side_View via X app (formerly Twitter). Read current and past issues of this column at

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