“...with all the islands and waters embraced therein...”
That is from Article 1 of the Philippine Constitution, under National Territory. Set your hooks on the word choice — “embrace.” Not “included,” not “covered,” but “embraced.” Beautiful verb there, “embrace,” a very human act evoking a tender image of a mother protecting a child. “...regardless of their breadth and dimensions...” the Constitution adds.
The land’s Supreme Law supposedly wires our instincts. So embrace we must our territory, to set ablaze a jet ski to the West Philippine Sea and plant a guidon on every islet if we need to, when external forces gnaw at the national space we’re sworn to protect. Like how cats shriek in the face of threat to their suckling.
Perhaps, not in the way the instincts of presidential spokesman Harry Roque throws a dainty shrug: “Kalokohan lang ‘yan.” But in the way Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso reacted when a Manila-based cosmetics company labeled his city “Manila Province, P.R. [People’s Republic of China].” The mayor, fuming mad at the insult, shut down four establishments and at once sought the deportation of two Chinese owners.
Because any self-respecting citizen of this country, in no way, can downplay any foreign insult with a mere “Kalokohan lang yan.”
Domagoso said: “No way na harap-harapan niyong aalipustahin ang aming lungsod...Baka mina-mindset na tayo ng mga ‘yan. Magulat na lang tayo, kung sino-sino na ang nasa bakuran natin. Magulat na lang tayo, iba na ang sagot ng mga bata sa Araling Panlipunan (No way they can mock us our city before our faces...They’re instilling a mindset. We might just end up surprised on who the people are in our own backyard. We’ll be shocked with what our children will say in their Social Studies subject).”
The Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian in a statement said that the Philippines should better stop “illegal provocative activities” in the West Philippine Sea following the sending of a military aircraft by the latter to Panatag Shoal.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana reacted, “Illegal provocations?” “That area is within our EEZ (exclusive economic zone). Their so-called historical rights are over an area enclosed by their nine-dash line that doesn’t exist except in their imaginations,” said Lorenzana.
It is China, the secretary said, that is doing the provocations, setting up illegal structures on islands within the Philippine EEZ.
These are instincts that quintessentially “embrace” the national territory to the letter.
That is how we push back, that is how we take care of our sovereignty.
We don’t need a leadership that pretends to be a domestic bully but squirms in the face of an external threat. Because we “can’t afford to go to war with China?” Who says we’re waging war with anyone. We’re merely “embracing” the archipelago.