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Pacquiao on disputed islands: SMALLER, POORER PHILIPPINES MUST DEFEND ITS TERRITORIES

By Manny Piñol
PhilBoxing.com
08 Apr 2015



Saranggani Congressman Manny Pacquiao early this week called on the Filipinos to rally behind the flag to show support for the Philippines in its dispute with economic and military giant China over several islands and atolls in the West Philippine Sea.

Pacquiao, 37, the country's first and only active sportsman to be voted as member of Congress, made the call three weeks before his historic boxing match with undefeated American champion Floyd Mayweather Jr., an event which will bring the Philippines to great heights in world sports.

"Ito ang pagkakataon na dapat magkaisa ang ating bansa upang harapin ang malaking problema na ito na hindi lamang nangangahulugan ng pagkawala ng mga teritoryo ng ating bansa kundi ang pagkawala ng pambansang dangal," he said in a prepared statement issued early this week.

(This is the moment when the country should unite and confront this huge problem which could not only mean the loss of our territory but also national dignity and pride.)

China is at odds with several smaller countries in Asia after it drew an imaginary 9-dash lines which included the vast ocean and islands and atolls which are also being claimed by other countries, including the Philippines.

Using its military might and economic power, China has already occupied several islands belonging to the Philippines and built airstrips, an apparent attempt to establish military presence in the disputed area.

The Saranggani solon who is on his second term said he supports the national government's efforts to take up the dispute over the islands in the West Philippine Sea to the United Nations but added that other options should be considered.

"Dapat tingnan pa natin kung ano pa ang maaring gawin upang ipa-unawa sa China na ang Pilipinas ay handang makipag-usap para lang maayos ang problemang ito at maigalang ang ating pagma-may-ari sa mga isla sa West Philippine Sea," Pacquiao said.

(We should look at other options to make China understand that the Philippines is willing to talk to resolve this problem to make sure that the rights of the country over the islands in the West Philippine Sea are respected.)

Pacquiao said he supported the position of Davao City Mayor Rody Duterte who earlier said that aside from the country's appeal for adjudication in the United Nations, there should be efforts to talk to the Chinese government directly.

"Para sa akin, tama ang ginagawa ng ating bansa na ihain sa UN ang ating reklamo sa pangangamkam ng mayamang bansa ng ating mga isla. Pero ang katanungan ay: Papaano kung hindi pakikinggan ng bansa higante at mayaman ang desisyon ng UN? Ito ang isang malaking katanungan na dapat pagtuunan ng pansin ng ating mga pambansang lider," he said.

(I believe that the country is right in its move to take this matter up with the UN but the question is: What if the giant and rich country will not listen to the decision of the UN? This is a question which our leaders must take into consideration.)

Pacquiao said that while the Philippines is smaller and poorer compared to the economic and military giant China, Filipinos should not just meekly yield their territories.

"Hindi dahil maliit at mahirap tayo ay pabayaan na lang natin na mawala ang ating mga teritoryo," he said.

(We should not allow others to take our territory simply because we are smaller and poorer.)

"Ako ay naniniwala na sa pagharap natin sa suliraning ito, dapat nating isaisip ang diwa ng ating pambansang awit, ang “Bayang Magiliw.” Bakit pa natin kakantahin ang linyang “Ang mamatay ng dahil sa’yo” kung hindi din lang naman natin kaya, maski sa ano mang paraan, kayang ipagtanggol ang teritoryo at dangal ng ating bansa?," Pacquiao added.

(As we face this problem, we should take to heart the meaning and spirit of "Bayang Magiliw," the national anthem. Why do we have to sing the line "I am ready to die for you" if we could not even defend the pride and honour of our country.)

"Let us rally behind our national flag and show to the whole world that Filipinos, small and poor as we are, have the courage and the determination to defend their honour and dignity," he said.

Pacquiao, a former street urchin who gathered empty bottles in garbage dumps to help feed his family, said he is dedicating his historic fight against Mayweather on May 2 to the Philippines and the Filipinos.

"I hope this fight will serve as an inspiration for the Filipinos and a reminder that it is not the size which matters but the spirt and the heart," said Pacquiao who is smaller than the American champion and comes to the ring as an underdog.


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