By DR. FLORANGEL ROSARIO BRAID
Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio’s recent call for a Truth Movement was intended to correct China’s claim over the West Philippine Sea. “The truth will secure forever our sovereign rights in that territory,” he emphasized during his speech at the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication graduation and recognition ceremonies.
This re-assertion of our rights comes almost about three years after the Hague arbitral ruling on July 12, 2016, which declared our historical rights over the West Philippine Sea. The celebration of our 121st Independence Day last Wednesday was also marked by rallies of militant groups held in various parts of the country which pressed the government to assert our country’s sovereignty against China’s incursions in the territory.
As AJ Carpio noted in justifying a more dynamic communication advocacy, we must be able to “rectify the false claims of the Chinese government which, since 1949, had taught every Chinese citizen over the years since 1949, from grade school to college, that China owned the South China Sea since 2,000 years ago. Now it is time for us to educate the Chinese people that the historical narrative they have been teaching is a total falsehood.”
AJ Carpio likened this Truth Movement as the modern-day equivalent of the Propaganda Movement of the past. We can call this inform creation campaign, the “South China Sea Truth Movement,” a “people’s movement using freedom of expression. We can invite the people of Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei, countries where Exclusive Economic Zones are also encroached by China’s nine-dashed, to join us,” he said.
He believes that it is now time for our Filipino journalists and communicators to pick up from where the lawyers who prepared legal arguments during the arbitration had left. Journalists and communicators can now gather legal evidence, popularize and translate them into easily understood concepts and formats. They can then later organize creative advocacy campaigns utilizing mass and social media.
Most Chinese citizens are inherently good people, he noted. However, the majority had been taught only “one historical narrative that happens to be false.” He recommends that we try to reach the more than 100 million Chinese people who travel abroad every year as they would have access to the Internet and to the truth.
The task appears formidable, which is why we must work doubly hard, he said, as he pointed to challenges such as the “great firewall” that prevents access to websites banned by the government.
While this Truth Movement would focus on the West Philippine Sea, an advocacy deemed to significant because of an earlier survey which had shown that 84 percent of Filipinos disapproved of the government’s inaction towards China’s aggressive incursion into Philippine territory, it could also address major development concerns that are threatened by continuing disinformation and misinformation.
Then, too, another incident occurred on Recto Bank where a Chinese fishing vessel sank a Filipino fishing boat after a collision could strengthen our claim to our sovereign rights. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana denounced in the strongest terms the “cowardly act” of the Chinese crew when they abandoned the 22 fishermen who were rescued by a Vietnamese fishing vessel. Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario described the abandonment as “contemptible,” saying that the Chinese government should be made accountable.
These events and several others should help us rally around the establishment of a Truth Movement that would lead to transparency, accountability, and hereafter, reconciliation, and peace within the region.
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