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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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34 of 400 samples of pork products tested positive of African Swine Fever – BAI

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Friday, July 19th, 2019

Boxes of pork items from Poland intercepted in Cebu on June 27 | Courtesy: BAI

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has intercepted a number of pork products from Hong Kong and China at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in between June 19 to 28.

The items didn’t have sanitary and phytosanitary clearances from the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) and could have been infested by the deadly pig virus African Swine Fever (ASF).

China is one of the 19 countries from where entry of pork and pork-based products are banned.

From a total of 400 samples that BAI examined, 34 tested positive of ASF and these products could have caused infestation in the country’s hog industry if they were not intercepted.

Germany was the latest addition to the list of countries where entry of pork products to the Philippines was banned.

Though there were no reports yet of ASF-infestation in Germany, the Philippines included it in the list after a German company exported pork products to the Philippines along with some 250 kilograms of pork from ASF-hit Poland.

The said shipment was intercepted in Cebu on June 27 which included 27 boxes of pork items from Poland.

That incident, according to Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol, was a clear violation of the country’s Quarantine Law thus resulting in the ban of pork products from Germany.

“Nakikiusap ako.(‘Im appealing to you) Please understand, these are extraordinary times. We cannot take the risk,” Secretary Piñol said.

“Kasi tingnan mo, Germany napaka-respectable na bansa nyan. It’s export country known for its high standards, nasingitan tayo, (You see Germany is a highly respected country. It’s exports are known for its high standards but some banned (pork) slip past their screening,)” he explained.

Piñol stressed that ASF infestation would compromise the country’s P260-B worth of hog industry.

Some of the Philippines’ neighboring countries have already declared an outbreak of ASF such as Vietnam and Cambodia.

In May, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has asked store owners to self-recall pork products from China that covers those manufactured since the start of the import ban.

Still, Piñol assures the Philippines’ hog industry remains ASF free. – with reports from Rey Pelayo

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Over 21,000 evacuated after torrential rain in Guangxi, China

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

Rescuers evacuate residents @Daxu Town, Lingchuan County, Guilin City, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, south China | Courtesy: Reuters

Over 21,000 people have been evacuated Wednesday following continuous torrential rain in south China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, according to the provincial emergency management department.

In the region, a total of 47 counties and districts in nine cities, including Nanning, Liuzhou, Guilin, and Baise, suffered floods which affected 65,000 hectares of crops and destroyed 1,250 houses.

The local government activated contingency plans for rescue and relief work.

Both rescue and relief efforts are still currently underway. (REUTERS)

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Foreigners joining SONA rally will face deportation, BI warns

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Thursday, July 18th, 2019

FILE PHOTO: Different militant groups merged at Liwasan Bonifacio to air their concern in improving the workforce and better labor conditions. (Ramir Tilaon/PVI)

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Immigration (BI) reminds foreigners to refrain from joining any political activity as they are not allowed under Philippine law.

On its Facebook page, the BI warned legal aliens that they may face deportation if they do so as political protests are expected during the fourth state of the nation address (SONA) of President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday (July 22).

“We are sending this warning to avoid a repeat of the cases wherein we had to deport foreign protesters,” BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said following incidents of deportation of foreign nationals who took part previous mass actions.

The BI Chief said foreigners who are visitors in the Philippines are not given political rights and privileges of Filipino citizens.

“Follow our laws. It is very simple and clear. Foreign visitors are not allowed to partake in political demonstrations. We allowed your stay in the Philippines, please respect our government and our laws,” he added.

Several foreign nationals have been deported for joining and supporting political events in the past.

The most prominent was Australian nun Patricia Fox who, in 2018, was denied renewal of missionary visa for violating the conditions of her stay and participating in partisan politics.

“If found guilty, we will blacklist these foreigners, effectively barring them from re-entering the Philippines,” Morente warned.

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