AFP seeks to further strengthen assets following Chinese warships’ ‘incursion’ in PH waters

Robie de Guzman   •   August 20, 2019   •   658

Philippine Navy warship, BRP Conrado Yap (PS 39), donated by South Korean government, docks at Port of Manila, Philippines, 20 August 2019​. According to reports, the BRP Conrado Yap (PS-39), the former South Korean ‘Pohang’-class corvette ‘Chungju’, is the most heavily-armed and powerful​ surface combatant of the Philippine Navy (PN) to date. The vessel was named after Captain Conrado Yap, a decorated Filipino soldier who was part of t​he Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea during the 1950s.

MANILA, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is seeking to further strengthen its naval and aerial assets following the series of uncoordinated passages of Chinese warships in the country’s waters.

AFP Western Mindanao Command spokesperson Maj. Arvin John Encinas said they have already filed a proposal to intensify naval operations in their area after several Chinese ships were spotted passing through Philippine waters without notifying local authorities.  

“Nagsubmit ng proposal na palakasin pa ang naval units dito sa area ng WESMINCOM upang sa ganun nga upang ma-address ang issues particularly dito sa maritime domain natin as far as security is concerned,” he said.

(A proposal has been submitted seeking to strengthen naval units in the WESMINCOM area in order to address the issues, particularly in our maritime domain as far as security is concerned.)

The AFP earlier reported that at least five Chinese naval ships sailed through Sibutu Strait in Tawi-Tawi without prior coordination.

Based on their monitoring, five Chinese ships with bow numbers 998, 964, 195, 853 and 536 had been seen navigating the area between July and August.

The AFP said that aside from the said period, they have also spotted Chinese ships passing through the channel without permission since February.

The military said the vessels ignored radio communications from Philippine patrols.

The Sibutu Strait separates Sulu archipelago from Borneo.

Although considered an international sea lane where foreign vessels have the right of innocent passage, customary maritime law requires warships to coordinate with the coastal state beforehand.

The military said these ships could not claim innocent passage as they took a curved course and not a straight line.

“These previous months mayroon na tayong namomonitor na warships ng China kung kaya’t tuloy-tuloy po ang ginawang monitoring at patrolling ng ating Navy vessels at the same time, ‘yung ating Coast Guard diyan sa Sibutu Passage diyan natin nakikita lagi itong mga warship ng China,” Encinas said.

(These previous months, we have monitored Chinese warships in the area prompting continued monitoring and patrolling operations by our Navy vessels, at the same time, our Coast Guard in the Sibutu Passage where Chinese warships were spotted.)

Encinas added they have also informed the military national leaders on the monitored incursions to engage with their counterparts on the issue.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) earlier ordered the filing of a diplomatic protest regarding the Chinese warships clear act of trespassing. (with contributions from UNTV correspondent Dante Amento)

Three cured coronavirus patients donate plasma in Guangdong

UNTV News   •   February 21, 2020

Three cured coronavirus patients in south China’s Guangdong Province expressed their appreciation of beating the virus by being the first in their province to donate plasma as a treatment option for other infected patients on February 14.

Initial results have indicated the effectiveness of convalescent plasma-derived therapeutic products in curing infected patients in severe and critical conditions.

One of the donors is 48-year-old and was once in critical condition. After being cured, he found a way to give back.

“My country saved me, so I want to save more people,” said one of the donors.

The only female donor found this to be a great way to show her thanks to the medical staff that assisted in her recovery.

“People helped us a lot, so I want to give back to society. This is an important reason I donated my plasma,” said a female donor.

Based on the high demand of medical supplies to fight the coronavirus outbreak, the third donor saw a way to help his country fight against the epidemic.

“I think this is a way to contribute to society during the coronavirus outbreak,” said another young male donor.

CGTN via Reuters Connect

Blinds down, empty streets: virus-stricken Wuhan becomes ghost town

UNTV News   •   February 21, 2020

Streets in China’s Wuhan were deserted on Thursday (February 20) after nearly a month in lockdown following a coronavirus outbreak that has now infected some 75,000 people and killed about 2,100.

Most transport in Wuhan, a city of 11 million people, has been suspended and citizens are required to stay at home.

After the city’s borders were closed on January 23 and all incoming and outgoing flights canceled, other nearby cities in Hubei province also implemented their own policies restricting the movement of people.

The lockdown now means residents cannot leave Wuhan, Huanggang, Ezhou and other cities in Hubei province. In other areas of China, such as Shanghai and Beijing, restrictions are in place for smaller communities, such as building blocks or neighborhoods.

Many cities across China have reduced public transport lines and routes, while few have closed inner-city public transport entirely.

Some communities have instituted curfews or only allow people to exit and enter at particular times. In other areas, restrictions mean only a certain number of people from a household can leave their residence at any one time.

China, where the virus emerged in December, reported a sharp drop in new cases but the data was partly attributable to a change in how it diagnoses the virus and the figures could not quell growing alarm about its spread.

China’s National Health Commission reported 1,749 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections, the lowest daily rise since January 29, while Hubei province – the epicenter of the outbreak – reported the lowest number of new infections since February 11.

The latest figures bring the total number of cases in China to over 74,000 with 2,004 deaths, three-quarters of which have occurred in the Hubei provincial capital of Wuhan.

(Production: Thomas Suen, Fang Nanlin, Iona Serrapica)

Filipinos from Wuhan ‘all well and safe’, cleared to go home after quarantine – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   February 21, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Filipinos repatriated from Wuhan City in China are now allowed to go home as they showed no signs and symptoms of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) after their 14-day quarantine period, the Department of Health (DOH) said Friday.

In a statement, the DOH said the 30 Filipinos and 19 others who returned from Wuhan – the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak – will be released after they manifested no signs of fever, cough, or sore throat during their 14-day stay at the quarantine facility in New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac.

A send-off ceremony will be held on February 22, Saturday to mark the completion of their mandatory quarantine, the department said.

“We are glad that our repatriates are all well and safe from COVID-19. Our repatriation mission is not possible without the dedication and cooperation of the entire Interagency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases with all its member agencies,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said.

“We are extremely grateful for the collective effort of the government,” he added.

The DOH, meanwhile, revealed that another batch of Filipinos is set to be quarantined in the facility following their arrival this weekend.

This batch is composed of about 460 to 480 Filipinos from the virus-hit M/V Diamond Princess cruise ship who availed of the government’s repatriation program.

The health department said the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has already adopted a repatriation plan for the return of the Filipinos from Yokohama, Japan.

They are also coordinating with the World Health Organization, the Philippine Embassy in Japan and the Magsaysay Maritime Corporation for the repatriation process.

Under the repatriation plan, the DOH shall provide health human resources and transportation to the quarantine site, on-site medical needs of the repatriates, hospitalization expenses through Philhealth, and personal protective equipment (PPE) for the first five days of the quarantine period.

Magsaysay Maritime Corporation will bear the cost of transportation expenses, food, lodging, personal hygiene kits and disinfectants, and other expenses.

The Department of Transportation will shoulder the transportation of repatriates from Haribon hangar in Pampanga to New Clark City, while the OWWA will provide livelihood packages to the repatriates, and their transportation from Manila to their respective destinations after the quarantine period.

“We would like to assure Filipinos abroad that our government is working tirelessly to ensure that no Filipino gets left behind in our fight against COVID-19. DOH and the Philippine government are prepared to undertake all measures to care for our kababayans, no matter where they are,” Duque said.

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