Red banners declaring the Philippines a province of China hung on footbridges across Manila on Thursday, the second anniversary of an international court’s ruling against Beijing over the disputed South China Sea.
The banners carried the message “Welcome to the Philippines, Province of China,” in English and Mandarin.
The Metro Manila Development Authority, which maintains the footbridges, said it did not issue permits for the banners and instructed its personnel to take them down.
“We do not know who put up the tarpaulins,” the agency’s spokeswoman Celine Pialogo told newsmen.
The banners appeared as the country marked the July 12, 2016 ruling of an international arbitration court on a case filed by the Philippines that China has no legal or historic basis to its claim to almost the entire South China Sea.
Former solicitor general Florin Hilbay, who led the Philippines’ legal panel in the arbitration case, tweeted that the banners were “Not funny.”
“Whatever the motives may be, it’s really not funny, especially on this particular day,” he added.
The case was filed in January 2013, after a stand-off between Philippine and Chinese government ships in Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea in April 2012.
China later took control of the area, often chasing away Filipino fishermen.
In spite of the tribunal’s ruling, the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte has taken a reconciliatory stance with China instead of insisting that Beijing leave the areas claimed by the Philippines.
Besides the Philippines and China, parts of the sea which is a key shipping lane believed to be rich in mineral and marine resources are also claimed by Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei.
(dpa/NAN)Read Full Story