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3 years after PH arbitral win vs. China: Duterte admin did nothing to enforce it —Carpio

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Friday, July 12th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – July 12, 2019, marks the third anniversary of the Philippine’s arbitral win against China’s historical claims on the South China Sea, part of which is the West Philippine Sea.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration’s landmark ruling thus invalidated China’s so-called ‘Nine-Dash Line’ – the undefined demarcation line that encircles as much as 90 percent of the disputed waters in the area.

The Duterte administration downplayed the victory in hopes of building stronger ties with China and preferred to offer diplomacy rather than further escalating the tension by sending military troops to the disputed waters, even amid reports of harassment against Filipino fishermen and the Chinese destroying and exploiting the Philippines’ marine resources.

Maritime expert Jay Batongbacal expressed deep concern on the continuous deterioration and massive destruction of the marine environment in the West Philippine Sea.

“This has to stop and we have to get serious,” the Director of the University of the Philippines Institute of Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea appealed.

“And we’re not talking about going to war. We’re talking about simple things like stopping the destruction of a common pool resource that would benefit us all,” he added.

Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, meanwhile, acknowledge that war is not an option in the West Philippine Sea row as the Constitution forbids.

But Carpio blamed the Duterte administration’s inaction, accusing it of using such provision of the law to instill fear among Filipinos as if the Philippines has no other option but to obey with what China offers.

“This administration has done nothing whatsoever to enforce the arbitral award,” Carpio said.

 “I don’t see positive in the enforcement of the award,” he added.

The magistrate appealed to President Duterte not to formalize his verbal agreement with China’s Xi Jinping in his upcoming state of the nation address (SONA) that allows Chinese fishermen to fish within the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the country in the WPS.

Carpio said, once Duterte formalizes the agreement, the Philippines would be bound and that would weaken the Arbitral ruling.

“If the President will confirm it in his SONA, I mean, we cannot get out of that anymore. So, we’re bound by that, we have to honor that. So, that means China can fish in an area 59 times larger than Scarborough Shoal,” Carpio argued.

Malacañang stressed that the President considers his agreement with Xi as legally binding, but Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. insisted that it cannot be executed because there is no written document to attest the deal.

For her part, former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said the issue will still depend on how the President delivers the matter during his SONA.

She calls on Filipinos to stand for the country’s rights no matter what happens.

“Let us not be scared by all the propaganda that we hear. Because if we do, walang mangyayari (nothing will happen),” Morales said.

“Be brave,” she concluded. – with details from Harlene Delgado

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Senators expect to hear salary, labor, sea dispute issues in Duterte 4th SONA

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Saturday, July 20th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Ahead of President Rodrigo Duterte’s fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 22, some senators have already picked out certain topics that they want the Chief Executive to discuss in his speech.

According to Senator Sonny Angara, he expects the president to outline his plans not only for his remaining three years in office but for the next decade.

In particular, Angara said the 2020 national budget should lay down the framework for the 10-year development plan for the country.

“This should result in the next administration building on what the President has achieved and what he started during his term and not the perennial focus on going after its predecessors,” he said in a statement.

The lawmaker added he would also like to hear the president fulfilling his promise of raising the teachers’ salaries, as well as his plan on creating more jobs and livelihood opportunities for Filipino workers.

“We want to see the creation of more jobs and opportunities for the Filipino people so that they are able to improve their lives and no longer see the need to go abroad in order to make ends meet,” Angara said.

Meanwhile, Senator Joel Villanueva said he wants to hear during the president’s SONA the administration’s commitment to further protect and promote the interests of Filipino workers.

READ: Villanueva expects gov’t commitment to protect Filipino workers on Duterte SONA

Villanueva said he is particularly eager to find out the outcome of the Security of Tenure bill, popularly known as the “End Endo” bill, which seeks to put an end to the practice of illegal labor contracting.

“The bill adheres to the Constitution, which mandates the regulation of relations between workers and employers, recognizing the right of labor to its just share in the fruits of production and the right of enterprises to reasonable returns on investments, and to expansion and growth,” he said.

“Thus, the Security of Tenure bill manages to strike a balance between contrasting interests of labor and employers,” he added.

For Senator Aquilino ‘Koko’ Pimentel, he wants to hear about the president’s priority bills, as well as his view on the surge of illegal foreign workers in the country.

“His priorities for one year usually, and then priorities for the last second half of his term,” he said.

Aside from labor issues, Senator Risa Hontiveros also expects the president to tackle in his speech the issue on the West Philippine Sea and the country’s assertion of Philippine sovereignty in the disputed waters.

“Wish ko lang na sasabihin ni Presidente na sa wakas after 3 years ay i-champion na niya, itataguyod yung tagumpay natin vis a vis China sa West Philippine Sea,” she said.

Duterte has been facing criticisms over his stance on China’s continued trawling in the country’s exclusive economic zone.

He earlier stressed that his position on allowing Chinese fishermen access to Philippine waters was not a violation of the Philippine constitution. (with details from Nel Maribojoc)

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IBP moves to withdraw West Philippine Sea Kalikasan case

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, July 19th, 2019

FILE PHOTO: An aerial view shows the Pagasa (Hope) Island, part of the disputed Spratly group of islands, in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) located off the coast of western Philippines July 20, 2011. REUTERS/ROLEX DELA PENA/POOL

MANILA, Philippines – The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) said on Friday that it has filed a motion to withdraw its petition for Writ of Kalikasan, seeking for the protection of the environment in the West Philippine Sea.

In its motion, the IBP asked the Supreme Court to grant its request to withdraw the suit for eight of the petitioners, including the organization itself.

“With due regard to the plight and position of the fishermen-petitioners, the views and recommendations of the handling lawyers and the IBP Chapters involved, and the matters raised and guidance by the Honorable Supreme Court, a motion has been filed for the withdrawal or discharge of the counsels for the fishermen and for the withdrawal of the petition,” the IBP said in a statement, signed by its president Domingo Egon Cayosa.

The IBP’s motion is the latest in a series of case updates that followed after Solicitor General Jose Calida claimed last week that several Zambales and Palawan fishermen who were named as petitioners backed out from the case.

Petitioners of the case originally sought the Court to order the Duterte administration to stop neglecting its duty to protect the Ayungin Shoal, Panatag Shoal and Panganiban Reef, following reports of Chinese fishers harvesting endangered marine species in the area.

But Calida claimed, 19 fishermen have denied knowledge of the case, 13 of the total 37 petitioners also did not sign their affidavits while 24 signed but had no identification.

Calida’s claims led to the suspension of the oral arguments and Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin calling for a closed-door meeting of the parties.

After the conference, Calida said the government and the petitioners’ lawyers agreed that the case be dismissed.

The petitioners’ side did not confirm Calida’s statement but requested the high court to give them time to confer with their clients on the developments of the case.

READ: IBP wants time to talk with fishermen in West PH Sea Kalikasan petition

The SC later granted IBP’s motion for extension to comply with the order to move in the premises in the Writ of Kalikasan suit.

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Filipinos want Duterte to tackle inflation, jobs, China in 4th SONA – Pulse Asia

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, July 19th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Workers’ pay, inflation and jobs have topped the list of issues that Filipinos would like President Rodrigo Duterte to tackle during his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 22, a survey conducted by Pulse Asia Research, Incorporated revealed Friday.

The survey, conducted from June 24 to 30, showed that 17.1 percent of the 1,200 respondents said they want to hear Duterte talk about workers’ salaries, while another 17.1 percent wanted him to discuss about plans in reducing the prices of basic commodities.

Meanwhile, 15.2 percent of the respondents said they would like to hear Duterte’s accomplishments and plans on generating more jobs or livelihood opportunities.

Other topics Filipinos want the president to mention in his speech on Monday are the issues surrounding the relations between the Philippines and China (9.2 percent), particularly the assertion of Philippine sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea (6.1 percent) and the country’s policy in relation to China (3.1 percent).

Some 7.8 percent of the respondents also want to hear about the government’s war on drugs during Duterte’s SONA, 5.9 percent wanted him to discuss about improving the agricultural sector while 2.6 percent said they want pension increase to be tackled.

For residents in Metro Manila, the top issues they want discussed in Duterte’s SONA are the Philippine-China ties (20.2 percent), employment (18.3 percent), workers’ pay (16.6 percent) and prices of goods (10.7 percent).

The rest of Luzon cited salaries, while Visayans and Mindanaons want the president to talk about inflation, the survey showed.

The study also revealed that 75 percent of Filipino adults were aware of Duterte’s previous SONAs. Majority awareness levels are recorded across geographic areas and socio-economic classes, the Pulse Asia said.

The pollster said it has 95 percent confidence level in the survey results with an error margin of +/-2.8 percent.

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