Manny Pacquiao: We Should Not Allow China to ‘Bully’ the Philippines

SEPTEMBER 29th 2021: Manny Pacquiao - the only eight-division world champion in the history of professional boxing - announces his retirement. - File Photo by: zz/Dennis Van Tine/STAR MAX/IPx 2015 10/13/15 Manny Pacquiao speaks and takes questions at the Asia Society on the eve of receiving the Asia Game Changer …
zz/Dennis Van Tine/STAR MAX/IPx

Philippine senator and retired boxing legend Manny Pacquiao vowed Thursday to ensure that China does not “abuse” or “bully” the Philippines if he is elected president of the country next year, the Philippine Star reported Friday.

“We must protect our country and fight for our rights. We must always look after the best interest of our people,” Sen. Pacquiao told reporters during a regular meeting of the Rotary Club of Manila on November 4.

“That doesn’t mean we will allow them to belittle our country. We don’t need to fight against anybody. We must be friends with them also. But we should not allow them to abuse us,” he continued.

“Let us remember this line in our national anthem: ‘to die for you (our country).’ So, we should be willing to fight for our country,” the Philippine public servant advised.

“Let’s not allow others to bully us. Like me, I did not allow my bigger opponents to bully me, as you have seen in my boxing career,” he noted.

Sen. Pacquiao added that “Filipinos don’t have to choose between two superpowers – China and the U.S.,” according to the Philippine Star.

Pacquiao — who announced his candidacy for the 2022 Philippine presidential election in late September — referred to China’s encroachment on Philippine maritime territory in the South China Sea, which Beijing illegally claims almost in its entirety. The hotly-contested body of water is surrounded by several southeast Asian nations, such as the Philippines, who rightfully lay claim to sections of the sea immediately surrounding their respective land borders. China has illegally explored resources within and built military outposts upon the Philippines’ sovereign territory within the South China Sea for years, but has ramped up such belligerent actions in recent months.

Most recently, on March 7, the Philippine Coast Guard spotted 220 Chinese fishing vessels moored off the coast of Julian Felipe Reef, which forms part of the Philippines’ Spratly island chain. The Chinese fleet’s presence directly violated the Philippines’ maritime sovereignty, as Julian Felipe reef and its waters are located within Manila’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). An EEZ is an area in which a country retains exclusive rights to fish and explore natural resources.

Manila filed a formal diplomatic protest with Beijing to recall the vessels, but China refused to heed the request. China’s foreign ministry responded to the Philippines’ formal complaint by illegally claiming that Beijing holds sovereign rights over Julian Felipe Reef. While China’s massive fishing fleet eventually dispersed from the reef’s waters, the Philippines said it suspected many of the fishing boats loitered within the boundaries of Manila’s EEZ for days or weeks afterward. The Philippine Armed Forces said it feared some of the vessels may have been manned by Chinese militia members.

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