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Canada vows to resolve trash dumping issue after Duterte’s war threat

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Thursday, April 25th, 2019

Containers of mixed wastes shipment from Canada declared as “recyclable scrap plastics” but actually contained household trash, newspapers, plastic bottles and bags, and even used adult diapers.

MANILA, Philippines — Canada has committed to resolve its trash dumping issue with the Philippines.

The Embassy of Canada in the Philippines released a statement on Wednesday (April 24) after President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to wage war if Canada will not take its garbage back.

“Canada is strongly committed to collaborating with the Government of the Philippines to resolve this issue and is aware of the court decision ordering the importer to ship the material back to Canada,” the Embassy said in a statement posted on its Facebook account.

The Embassy added that: “A joint technical working group, consisting of officials from both countries, is examining the full spectrum of issues related to the removal of the waste with a view to a timely resolution.”

On Tuesday (April 23), President Duterte issued a warning to Canada for its failure to remove its trash illegally exported to the country.

The President said he would no longer allow Canada to turn the Philippines into a “dumpsite.”

”For Canada’s garbage, I want a boat prepared. I will give a warning to Canada maybe next week that they better pull that thing out or I will set sail to Canada and dump their garbage there,” the President said.

“We will declare war. Load the containers to a ship and advise Canada. I will advise Canada that, ‘Your garbage is on the way. Prepare a grand reception. Eat it if you want to,’” he added.

It was between 2013 to 2014 when the Bureau of Customs (BOC) intercepted a total of 103 containers of mixed wastes shipment from Canada declared as “recyclable scrap plastics” but actually contained household trash, newspapers, plastic bottles and bags, and even used adult diapers.

During his visit to the Philippines to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in 2017, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau vowed to cooperate with the Philippine government in resolving the offending shipment.

Trudeau, however, said the Philippines and Canadian governments need to settle issues including who will pay for the shipment of the illegal trash to the country.

In its statement, the Embassy reiterated the Canadian government’s commitment “to working collaboratively with the Government of the Philippines to ensure the material is processed in an environmentally responsible way.”

The embassy added that the relationship between the two countries “is built on strong people to people ties, common interest in strengthening political, economic and cultural relations, and in mutual commitment to peace” and is highly valued as the two countries celebrate their 70 years of diplomatic relations this year. — Marje Pelayo

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China fronts maritime militia to propel interest in South China Sea – US Defense Report

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Tuesday, June 18th, 2019

FILE PHOTO: An aerial view of China occupied Subi Reef at Spratly Islands in disputed South China Sea April 21, 2017. REUTERS/Francis Malasig/Pool

MANILA, Philippines – The United States Defense Department in a report revealed that China has long been establishing its power and expanding its domain even as early as 2002.

According to the US Defense Department’s 2018 Annual Report to Congress, the 21st century’s initial two decades are described as China’s “period of strategic opportunity”.

“They assess that international conditions during this time will facilitate domestic development and the expansion of China’s “comprehensive national power,” the report said.

According to the US, this is part of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) measure to support President Xi Jinping’s “China Dream of national rejuvenation” aimed at establishing “a powerful and prosperous China.”

Part of the plan is to mobilize maritime militia specifically the People’s Armed Forces Maritime Militia (PAFMM) which is an armed reserve force composed of civilians.

China is the only nation in the world that has a government-sanctioned maritime militia which vary in composition and mission depending on a specific unit and location.

Based on the report, “PAFMM plays a major role in coercive activities to achieve China’s political goals without fighting” specifically in relation to movements in the South China Sea.

It is guided by China’s military doctrine which states that “confrontational operations short of war can be an effective means of accomplishing political objectives.”

PAFMM has been involved in a number of confrontations at sea such as 2009 harassment of the USNS IMPECCABLE Surveillance Ship; the Scarborough Reef standoff in 2012; the Haiyang Shiyou-981 oil rig standoff in 2014; and the surge of large ships in waters near Senkakus Islands near Japan in 2016.

The US report said China uses its maritime militia for purposes of surveillance, logistical support, and for search and rescue operations.

In the past, China used to rent small fishing vessels from local fishermen or private fishing firms to execute its objectives but later on, China decided to build state-owned sea vessels for that purpose.

For instance, the Hainan provincial government in 2016 built 84 large fishing vessels with fine-scale features and built-in arsenal.

The government even reinstated into reserve force newly retired military personnel complete with subsidy and monthly salary.

In his speech during the anniversary of the Philippine Navy, President Rodrigo Duterte implied that the Philippines cannot and will not win any war against China given the latter’s maritime and armed capabilities.

The President’s remark was in relation to the recent incident in Recto Bank that involved a Chinese vessel which allegedly hit and caused a Filipino fishing boat to sink, endangering the lives of 22 Filipino fishermen.

“Iyang nangyari diyan sa banggaan, that is a maritime incident. Huwag kayong maniwala diyan sa mga politiko na bobo na. Gusto papunta ‘yung — papuntahin ‘yung Navy. You do not send grey ships there. Banggaan lang ng barko ‘yan.,” President Duterte stressed.

(The collision that happened, that is a maritime incident. Do not be swayed by politicians who insist on sending Navy personnel there. You do not send grey ships there. That was mere collision of sea vessels.)

“Do not make it worse because there is a — that’s a fertile ground for…And we are not yet as ready. And we can never be ready in a nuclear war. Stay out if trouble,” he added.

The Philippines in the past has attempted a show of force against China in the disputed waters in West Philippine Sea.

In 2012, BRP Gregorio Del Pilar was mobilized to man the Philippine territory in WPS when a Philippine Navy surveillance plane spotted several Chinese fishing vessels anchored in Panatag Shoal.

Panatag Shoal is about 124 nautical miles from the coast of Zambales and is part of the Philippines’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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Lacson: Duterte broke his silence and left us heartbroken

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Tuesday, June 18th, 2019

(L-R) Senator Panfilo Lacson and President Rodrigo Duterte

Senator Panfilo Lacson has expressed dismay over the remarks of President Rodrigo Duterte about the Chinese vessel ramming a Filipino fishing boat in Reed Bank last June 9.

During his speech on Monday (June 17), Duterte said the sinking of the Filipino fishing boat was only a ‘maritime incident’ and it is not necessary to send the Philippine Navy to the area.

“Dalawang bangka lang iyan (Those are just two boats). Now you go there and create a tension. I said, hindi ako g*go na presidente na papayag (I am not a foolish president who will allow it). If we have to die, we have to die in the correct way, and to die in dignity,” said Duterte.

Lacson is also dismayed by the limited action of the president regarding the issue.

“It is disappointing to say the least, not much by his insulting remark but his self-limiting course of action which disregards an effective ‘weapon’ in our arsenal. It is found in the Mutual Defense Treaty,” his statement adds.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, meanwhile, said there is no need to confuse the public if the ramming by the Chinese vessel is intentional or not.

He said there is already a violation of the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) when the captain of the Chinese vessel did not assist the Filipino fishermen.

“This violates China’s obligation under the UNCLOS to rescue those in distress at sea. This is the issue that should be addressed and the basis of China’s liability under international law and the UNCLOS,” he said.

Duterte also said that he will not be issuing an official statement while the incident is still to be investigated.—AAC (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

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I call on our beloved president to help us —captain of sunken PH boat

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Monday, June 17th, 2019

Cerillo Escuterio recalled they already caught three tons of fish before a Chinese vessel rammed into their fishing vessel, F/B GemVir 1, on June 9.

The 22-man crew was then left floating in the open sea for three hours before a Vietnamese vessel came to rescue.

Escuterio has been a fisherman for seven years. He said the amount of fish caught in the region is what made him decide to become a fisherman.

The fishes were not only abundant but also beautiful, he added.

But after their fishing vessel was destroyed, Escuterio and his companions were left with no choice but to think of other ways to earn for their family.

F/B GemVir 1’s captain Junel Insigne insisted the Chinese vessel intentionally rammed into their boat.

He remembered how their ship sank. He also remembered how the Chinese vessel turned off their lights before they sail off.

“Pagbangga biglang lumubog na iyong bangka namin. Paglubog umikot iyong Chinese fishing vessel, pagikot inilawan kami. Kita namin mga tao sa lantsa na Chinese fishing vessel. Pagilaw nila nakita kami lubog, umatras [sila] nang todo bago sabay patay uli [ng] ilaw takbo palayo (They hit us and our boat sank. When it did sink, the Chinese fishing vessel turned around and shed a light on us. We saw the people there. After lighting on us, they sailed backwards and turned off their lights),” he said.

Escuterio also denied claims that it was an accident because the engine wasn’t even on.

“Mali ang kanilang statement na sinasabi nilang aksidente. Mali po iyon talagang sinadya nila na banggain kami kasi kami ay naka-anchor. Steady bangka namin ang engine namin patay hindi kami naandar (Their statement that it was an accident is wrong. That is wrong, they intentionally hit us because we had our anchor down. Our boat was steady because our engine was off),” Escuterio said.

Both fishermen called on the president to help them, not only for their financial needs but also to hold those involved accountable.

“Ang panawagan ko lang sa ating mahal na pangulo gusto ko lang mapaayos iyang bangka na iyan kasi diyan lang kami kumukuha ng aming ikabubuhay (I call on our beloved president, I just want our boat fixed because that’s where we get out livelihood),” Insigne said.

READ: Business groups vow aid for Filipino fishers hit by Chinese ship

Meanwhile, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce Industry and the Philippine Silk Road International Chamber of Commerce gave P1 million financial aid to the 22 Filipino fishermen.

The P500,000 will be used to repair their boat while the remaining P500,000 will be for their livelihood assistance. —AAC (with reports from Sherwin Culubong)

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