China Hits Filipino Solons' Spratly Visit

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MANILA -- Five Filipino lawmakers, along with high ranking military officials, and foreign and local media touched down in two 12-seater planes on the Philippine-claimed Pag-Asa Island in the disputed territory of Spratlys on Tuesday. China claims the entire South China Sea and said the trip would sabotage bilateral ties.

Upon arrival, Akbayan (Citizens') Party Rep. Walden Bello led the raising of a new Philippine flag, which replaced the old and dilapidated one. The visitors, government employees and troops sang the national anthem after a Philippine flag was raised “This is a historic moment for the congressional delegation. This is Philippine territory," Bello said. Joining Bello on the trip were Ifugao Rep. Teddy Brawner Baguilat Jr., Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, and Akbayan party-list Rep. Arlene "Kaka" Bag-ao.

“We come in peace, we support a diplomatic solution. But let there be no doubt in anybody’s mind, in any foreign powers’ mind that if they dare to eject us from Pagasa, Filipinos will not take that sitting down. Filipinos are born to resist aggression. Filipinos are willing to die for their soil,” he added.

He also called on dozens of residents on the island to stop calling the seas that surround the island as South China Sea, but West Philippine Sea. Bello declared that the lawmakers' trip to the island was to assert the Philippines' claim to the potentially oil-rich region, in defiance of China's protest that the visit threatens regional stability.