China to use Recto Bank incident to check Phl reaction when similar incident happens in WPS

Maris Federez   •   June 19, 2019   •   3520

A lawmaker believes that what happened in Recto Bank (or Reed Bank) is connected with the territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea (or South China Sea).

Senator Panfilo Lacson said he received information that the incident is China’s means to check on how the Philippines will react.

“Not from a local source na hindi ko tinanong kung ano ang basis. Ang sinasabi doon is it was a test of how far back we can go. Kasi kung alam nilang urong tayo ng urong, sulong sila ng sulong,” Lacson added.

Lacson said the report he received showed that a Chinese Militia vessel rammed the Filipino fishing boat.

China had claimed almost the entire South China Sea based on the Nine-Dash Line Theory it adopted.

It also showed interest on Recto or Reed Bank as the area is rich in oil and gas deposits.

The senator said the country can always use the Mutual Defense Treaty it has with the United States to prevent China’s bullying at the West Philippine Sea.

Lacson said this is a means to maintain balance of power.

“I’m not saying we implement it. Pero hihintayin pa ba nating magkaroon ng armed attack? Lalong escalation yun. Mas maganda na ginamit natin yung treaty to act proactively,” he reiterates.

Lacson also called out Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo for his seeming partiality with China and for not taking sides with the Filipino fishermen whose lives were thrown in danger.

To which, Panelo was quick to respond, pointing out that what the senator was saying was far from the truth.

He also stressed that President Duterte is not taking China’s side.

“The President is a thinking, cautious and responsible President. Not an irresponsible and reckless President that others would (label) him to be,“ Panelo said.

He added, “I’m echoing the line of the President when he says let us wait for the final findings of facts of the investigation being conducted by both countries.” (with reports from Nel Maribojoc) /mbmf

PH resumes stamping on Chinese passports with nine-dash line map

Marje Pelayo   •   November 7, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Wednesday (November 6) announced that it will resume stamping of Philippine visa on Chinese regular e-passports.

“We support this policy update of the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs),” BI Commissioner Jaime H. Morente said in a statement.

The BI stopped stamping visas directly on Chinese passports in 2012 under the administration of former President Benigno Aquino III in protest to the map of China imprinted on it which shows China’s aggressive claims over the South China Sea using the undefined demarcation line referred to as the “nine-dash line” that encompasses the contested territories such as the Spratly Islands and the Scarborough Shoal.

This claim was invalidated in 2016 by the Permanent Court of Arbitration saying it has no legal basis.

But China has never accepted the international court’s ruling in favor of the Philippines but instead, carried on with its reclamation activities in the disputed territories.

The practice of using a separate sheet for Chinese travelers came after a month-long standoff between Chinese and Philippine vessels in the Scarborough Shoal in that same year.

In a memorandum issued by Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente, immigration officers are instructed to affix their stamps adjacent to the Philippine visa of a regular e-passport presented by a Chinese passenger in compliance with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) foreign service circular.

This change in policy, Morente said, will address security concerns associated with stamping Philippine visas on a separate paper.

“We support this policy update of the DFA,” said Morente.

“In the past, we have also expressed security concerns over the old practice because sheets of papers can easily be lost,” he added.

DND: ‘Green Aura’ issue must not be blown out of proportion

Maris Federez   •   November 3, 2019

A fisherman repairs his boat overlooking fishing boats that fish in the disputed Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, at Masinloc, Zambales, in the Philippines April 22, 2015. REUTERS/ERIK DE CASTRO

The Department of National Defense (DND) on Sunday (November 3) downplayed reports in certain news outlets that a commercial vessel with Filipino crew aboard, the “Green Aura”, was repeatedly challenged by Chinese Coast Guard vessels near Bajo de Masinloc on September 30, 2019.

In a statement, the DND said, “Since the Green Aura, a Liberian ship, was able to safely reach its intended port of destination unimpeded, we believe that what happened should not be blown out of proportion or sensationalized.”

The defense department further said that an official report of the incident has been forwarded to the National Task Force on the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) for its appropriate action.

The DND has also reiterated its call “for all countries to exercise prudence and respect freedom of navigation and passage in the WPS.”

It stressed that Bajo de Masinloc is well within the Philippine EEZ and that the 2016 arbitral ruling declared it as a common fishing area.

The DND also called on the Chinese government to “respect international maritime laws if it wants to earn the respect of the international community.” (with details from Lea Ylagan) /mbmf

Duterte returns from ‘productive’ China visit

Marje Pelayo   •   September 2, 2019

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte arrives at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City on September 1, 2019 following his successful official visit to the People’s Republic of China. KING RODRIGUEZ/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is back in the country after his four-day working visit to China.

According to Malacañang, the President’s visit has been productive and has opened new opportunities for the country.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo also noted that President Duterte successfully raised the Philippines’ maritime concerns in the disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea or South China Sea given the already established friendship with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The two leaders agreed to push through with the final code of conduct to prevent future escalation of tensions in the disputed waters.

Both leaders also vowed to exercise self-restraint in their respective troops and abide by the international law and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to prevent conflict.

They agreed, likewise, to respect each country’s freedom of navigation and overflight in the disputed areas as they both believe that the existing maritime dispute can be resolved through peaceful negotiations.

Panelo explained, however, that the administration is no longer expecting future discussions on the arbitral ruling between the Philippines and China under President Duterte.

“The issue of conflict should not be the sum total of the relationship between the two countries and that they should move forward but at the same time continue with the dialogue peacefully on the issue,” Panelo said.

Panelo said, the President has already talked to Chinese Premier Li Keqiang who promised the Chief Executive that cooperation between the two countries will continue especially regarding economic development and people-to-people exchanges.

Likewise, China vowed to support the administration’s infrastructure projects under its flagship agenda Build, Build, Build program. – MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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