China rejects third-party probe on Recto Bank incident – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   July 1, 2019   •   1998

MANILA, Philippines – China has rejected the proposed involvement of a third party in the investigation into the sinking of a Filipino fishing boat by a Chinese vessel near Recto Bank (also called Reed Bank), Malacañang said on Monday.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Beijing does not see any need for a third-party investigation as the issue can be resolved through the joint probe.

“Nag-offer sila ng joint investigation, tapos inaccept ni presidente, tapos may third party, ang sabi naman nila, wag nang third party, kailangan tayo na lang mag-usap duon,” Panelo said in a Palace press briefing.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said he is okay with having a third-party probe even after as he accepted Beijing’s offer for a joint investigation into the maritime incident.

On June 9, a Chinese boat rammed into a Filipino fishing vessel and abandoned its 22 crew members at sea.

The president described the incident as a little maritime accident, saying the Filipino boat was sideswiped and not rammed.

Although a preliminary report was already handled by the agencies tasked to investigate the matter, Duterte said he has yet to reveal its contents as he is still awaiting China’s official report on the incident.

READ: Duterte says Filipino fishing boat was sideswiped, not rammed in Recto Bank

Panelo said China also suggested the creation of respective task groups which would meet and exchange results of separate investigations conducted.           

“Dapat immediately, since they are suggesting the creation of task force, dapat mag-create na tayo ng task force,” he said.

“In fact, I intend to tell the president pagdating mamaya sa cabinet meeting,” he added.

The Palace official, however, stressed the Philippine could always push for a third-party probe should the two countries fail to agree on the findings.

He also believes there will be no serious disagreements between the two parties.

“Kasi sinabi na nila na kailangang maresolve na natin ito. Nasisira ang relasyon natin dahil dito, kailangang ayusin na natin ito. Yung sinasabi mong mag-iinsist, di tayo magi-insist. Isa-suggest natin, kung halimbawang di tayo magkasundo, pwede ba humanap tayo ng 3rd party,” he said.

Panelo also allayed fears on China’s possible manipulation of probe results, vowing to hold accountable the Chinese crew should they be found guilty of abandonment charges. (with details from Rosalie Coz)

Wuhan health workers call for supplies amid rising death toll from novel coronavirus

Marje Pelayo   •   January 27, 2020

People move medical supplies off a JD.com van coming from the coastal Jiangsu province at a hospital in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, 26 January 2020 (issued 27 January 2020). According to media reports, Wuhan is widely considered as the origin point of the coronavirus outbreak. The virus outbreak has so far killed at least 56 people with around 2,000 infected, mostly in China. EPA-EFE/YUAN ZHENG CHINA OUT

Medical workers at the Wuhan Fifth Hospital are calling for donations of protection materials as they struggle to contain the novel coronavirus (nCoV) that has now claimed at least 56 lives and infected over 1,900 others in China.

The hospital management on a post on social media announced the facility’s lack of supplies to protect their workers who are working arduously to attend to nCoV patients crowding the hospital.

Since the emergence of novel coronavirus in Wuhan City, the hospital has been a designated diagnosis and treatment hospital for fever patients.

However, the hospital said their protection materials are extremely limited for handling the increasing number of patients, putting their medical personnel in danger of being exposed to infection.

Chinese media China Global Television Network reported on Saturday (January 25) that one of the doctors who had been treating the nCoV patients in Wuhan, has died from the new virus.

A doctor from Hubei Xinhua Hospital, 62-year-old Liang Wudong, died after contracting the virus.

Wuhan Fifth Hospital is asking for the following supplies to protect their health workers while they struggle to treat the patients of nCoV:

  • Medical surgical masks
  • Medical protective clothing/gows
  • Protective goggles
  • Disinfectant
  • Disposable disinfection bed cover

“If you have the following resources from all walks of life, please help us!” the hospital statement said.

“The hospital is grateful for all sectors of the society to donate the following protective supplies with formal channels and complete qualifications in accordance with the law,” the statement read further.

Anyone who wishes to help may contact the following persons:

  • Equipment Section Panjiang 18507188286
  • Hospital Office Li Shaoting 13971254047

So far, lockdown has been declared in at least 20 cities in China in a move to contain the virus.

Across the globe, countries with reported cases of nCoV includes Australia (1); Hongkong (6); France (3); Japan (4); Malaysia (4); Nepal (1); Singapore (3); South Korea (3); Taiwan (3); Thailand (8); (The) United States (5); Vietnam (2).

Man in Tacloban City quarantined for novel coronavirus infection

Marje Pelayo   •   January 24, 2020

Philippine Marines rush to shore during an amphibious landing exercise with United States counterparts on a beach on the coast of the Naval Education and Training Command in Zambales Province, northwest of Manila, Philippines, 09 May 2018. The Philippines-US Balikatan (Shoulder to Shoulder) Military Exercise is on its 34th iteration, which is aimed to enhance interoperability between security forces of the two countries. EPA-EFE/ROLEX DELA PENA

MANILA, Philippines – A 36-year-old male patient in Tacloban City is now under observation for potential signs of novel coronavirus, the Department of Health (DOH) revealed Friday (January 24).

The patient, who traveled from Wuhan, China, showed symptoms of nCov upon his arrival in the Philippines on January 17.

Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo, however, clarified that it is still too early to conclude that the man is infected with novel coronavirus.

The DOH is keeping a list of all individuals from China who sought medical tests relative to the outbreak of novel coronavirus.

Among them is a two-year-old toddler from Aklan.

The DOH clarified, however, that the toddler showed symptoms not worse than an ordinary flu.

Meanwhile, the DOH said they are expecting the release of the confirmatory test on the patients’ blood samples by next week.

The samples are now being tested at the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory in Melbourne, Australia, including that of the 6-year-old Chinese boy in Cebu who was first to be observed for nCoV infection.

At present, the World Health Organization (WHO) is not yet considering the situation a global health emergency.

Also, the Philippines is still technically free of novel coronavirus pending the confirmatory tests from Australia.

Nonetheless, Health offices across the country remain on alert against possible entry of the nCoV given the Philippines’ proximity to China.

Authorities are warning the public to refrain from travelling to China and always wear masks especially airport personnel as they are the first to have contact with arriving passengers from other countries. MNP (with details from Aiko Miguel)

PH now working on terminating PH-US VFA, says Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   January 24, 2020

Philippine Marines rush to shore during an amphibious landing exercise with United States counterparts on a beach on the coast of the Naval Education and Training Command in Zambales Province, northwest of Manila, Philippines, 09 May 2018. The Philippines-US Balikatan (Shoulder to Shoulder) Military Exercise is on its 34th iteration, which is aimed to enhance interoperability between security forces of the two countries. EPA-EFE/ROLEX DELA PENA

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang confirmed Friday that the Philippines has started the process of terminating the Visiting Forces Agreement with the United States, a day after President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to end the deal if it does not reverse the cancellation of Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa’s visa.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the president issued the termination order Thursday night despite giving a month for the US to restore the senator’s visa.

Panelo said the order has already been relayed to Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. as well as Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez.

“I just talked with Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin, and he said that he will start with the process and he called up already the vice chair and they talked, and Ambassador Romualdez has already been informed, I was also talking to him earlier,” he said.

In a tweet on Friday, Locsin confirmed he and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana have taken the first step in ending the 1998 deal with the US government.

Locsin sits as the chairperson of the Commission on Visiting Forces while Lorenzana serves as vice chairman.

“Del Lorenzana and I- as Vice and Chair of USVFA – are starting the process of terminating it by first contacting the Senate because it is a treaty on our side, an executive agreement on the US side. I’m leaving for Washington on a totally unrelated matter,” he wrote on his Twitter account.

Lorenzana, for his part, refrained from commenting into Duterte’s latest pronouncement.

“Will study it first,” he said in a message to reporters. “No comment muna. Too soon to comment.”

The VFA is a bilateral accord between Washington and Manila that came into force in 1999. It outlines the guidelines about the treatment of their troops when visiting the US or the Philippines. It includes provisions on visa and passport policies for US troops and the American government’s right to retain jurisdiction over its personnel, among others.

The deal may be terminated by either of the two countries by writing to the other party signifying their intent to end the agreement. Its expiration will come 180 days from the date of notification. – RRD (with details from Correspondents Rosalie Coz & Lea Ylagan)

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