By Martin Sadongdong
The Philippine National Police (PNP) has begun its investigation on tracking persons who installed banners in different parts of Metro Manila with a controversial message saying the Philippines is a province of China.
Senior Supt. Benigno Durana Jr., PNP spokesperson, echoed the earlier statements of Malacañang that the persons who put up the banners are enemies of the Duterte government.
“There’s an attempt to communicate to the people. What is their motivation? Some say it’s a gimmick,” Durana said Wednesday.
“It is really to embarrass the government and it came from the enemies of the administration,” he added.
With this, Durana said police investigators have already coordinated with concerned local government units and agencies to determine whether there are closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras which captured the installation of the said banners.
Previously, the local government of Quezon City and the MMDA announced that the installation of the banners without properly coordinating to them is illegal since permits will have to be secured first.
Once arrested, the persons who illegally put up the banners will be punished depending on the sanctions to be given by the concerned LGUs and government agencies.
The banners with printed message “Welcome to the Philippines, Province of China” and some Chinese characters were seen hanging on footbridges along Quezon Avenue in Quezon City, southbound lane of C5 Road, and near the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on Tuesday.
The banners have since been taken down after photos of it went viral on social media.
The sighting of banners happened on the same day, two years ago that The Hague ruling was released concerning the disputed West Philippine Sea.
The international court of arbitration favored the claims of the Philippines over China in its ownership of the contested waters on July 12, 2016.
Relatedly or by coincidence, President Duterte in February 2018 said in jest that China should just make the Philippines its province to end the dispute.