Manila Mayor Isko Moreno on Thursday responded to a viral photo and shuttered a store that sells a beauty product labeled "Manila, Province of China." The capital city is part of the Philippines and will never be a part of the Asian superpower, he said.
Moreno interrupted the steady stream of COVID-19 updates on the city's official social media accounts to address what he called a "very urgent" matter. "Nakapanginginig laman na balita (Trembling with anger)," he described it.
The city's business permits division traced the store in Binondo from the address in the viral photo and padlocked it. The initial violation: "misrepresentation of address," he said.
"Hindi po ako governor ng China. Mayor po ako ng Maynila, Pilipinas. No way na harap-harapan niyong aalipustahin ang aming lungsod (I am not governor of China. I am mayor Manila, Philippines. No way will you mistreat us in our own city.)
Two Chinese nationals behind the store will be deported and declared "undesirable aliens," he said.
"Hindi natin hahayaan ang mga superpower na yan na parang tayo ay pinipitik-pitik lang tayo sa mata at binabale-wala nila ang soberentiya ng ating bansa (We will not allow these superpowers to belittle us and our sovereignty)," he said.
Manila and Beijing are locked in a long-running dispute over reefs and outcrops in the resource-rich South China Sea. The Philippines, under former President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III sued China before a UN-backed arbitration court.
The Philippines won, the court invalidated China's claims, but the verdict was handed down less than a month after Aquino relinquished power to the incumbent, President Rodrigo Duterte. Under Duterte, Manila pivoted foreign policy to China and Russia, away from its traditional ally, the U.S.
During Chinese President Xi Jinping's state visit to the Philippines in November 2018, Manila and Beijing struck an "agreement to agree" at oil and gas exploration the South China Sea. The Philippines also regularly protests China's moves in the disputed waters, where it has build artificial islands.
Hindi po ako governor ng China. Mayor po ako ng Maynila, Pilipinas. No way na harap-harapan niyong aalipustahin ang aming lungsod. Hangga't ako ang Mayor ng lungsod, you have no place here. Hindi po ito katanggap-tanggap sa akin bilang Pilipino, bilang Manilenyo. pic.twitter.com/xAFqp5xaVG— Isko Moreno Domagoso (@IskoMoreno) August 20, 2020