MANILA - Banners that were displayed in several footbridges in Manila is a form of a creative protest that pokes fun at the government's position on the disputed South China Sea, former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay said on Thursday.
"Ang pakay ay para kantiin ang presidente sa isang maimahinasyong paraan ng pagprotesta," he told "Bandila sa DZMM."
The signs declaring Philippines a province of China were hung Thursday on the second anniversary of the Philippines' win over China in an international arbitration court.
Malacañang was quick to denounce the banners as the alleged handiwork of the "enemies of the government."
The latest dissent, Hilbay said, is a reference to a statement made by President Rodrigo Duterte before.
"Sa isang panahon na medyo mahirap magsalita ng malaya, 'yung iba nagtatago sa ganiyang maimahinasyong protesta para ipaliwanag sa mga tao 'yung ating sitwasyon," he said.
Critics have slammed Duterte over his friendly stance towards China amid the South China Sea dispute.
This, despite a landmark decision from the Hague-based tribunal that rejects China's claims to economic rights to the resource-rich waters.
A vocal critic of the Duterte administration, Hilbay said the banners served as a metaphor on how the government's foreign policy drastically changed in just two years.
"Sa loob lang ng 2 taon, parang ipinamigay na natin 'yung ating mga karapatan sa karagatan, parang lumuhod na tayo sa mga kagustuhan ng Tsina at ating presidente parang wala siyang interes na itaguyod 'yung ating mga karapatan," he said.
Hilbay added the government must continue to assert its sovereignty against Beijing's militarization efforts of the contested waters.
"'Yung pinakaminimum ay 'yung mag-file ng mga protesta sa lahat ng mga ginagawa ng Tsina," he said.
In a Pulse Asia survey also released Thursday, majority of Filipinos want the government to assert Manila's 2016 victory in the Permanent Court of Arbitration.