Emergency Hotlines: LANDLINE (+63) 2 911 – 8688

DFA Sec. Locsin to visit China next week

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Friday, 15 March 2019 12:22 PM

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. will embark on a four-day official visit to China next week, the Department of Foreign Affairs announced Thursday (March 16).

The official visit will take place from March 18 to 21, upon the invitation of Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

“Secretary Locsin and his Chinese counterpart will hold a bilateral meeting to discuss the strengthening of the friendly relations between the Philippines and China in the spirit of mutual respect and through enhanced functional cooperation,” the DFA said in a statement.

The two foreign ministers are also expected to tackle ways to advance the larger goal of “bringing peace and prosperity to the region.”

This will be Locsin’s first visit to China since assuming the post in October last year.

The Duterte administration has been vocal on its intent to forge stronger economic ties with China despite a maritime dispute over the South China Sea.

The incumbent government has opted to hold a bilateral consultation mechanism with China to settle the dispute, setting aside discussions on the permanent court of arbitration’s ruling on the contested waterways.

In 2016, the international tribunal ruled in favor of the Philippines’ arbitration case against China’s expansive nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea. – Robie de Guzman

Tags: , , ,

China commits in drafting South China Sea Code of Conduct – FM Wang

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Thursday, 21 March 2019 05:52 PM

FILE PHOTO: An aerial view shows the Pagasa (Hope) Island, part of the disputed Spratly group of islands, in the South China Sea located off the coast of western Philippines July 20, 2011. REUTERS/ROLEX DELA PENA/POOL

BEIJING, China – Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin has met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Wednesday (March 20) where the two officials discussed matters pertaining to issues that concern both countries.

Wang assured the Philippines that China will cooperate with all member states of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in crafting the long-stalled Code of Conduct in the South China Sea in the next three years.

China also raised the possibility of discussing its flagship Belt and Road program.

“China will work together with the Philippines and other ASEAN countries, to remain determined, exclude interference, and strive to finish negotiations on the COC by the end of 2021, and make it a real stabilizer for the South China Sea situation,” Wang said.

In April, the Philippines and China will meet to discuss the China-Philippine Bilateral Consultation Mechanism.

Locsin confirmed, meanwhile, that President Rodrigo Duterte will attend the second Belt and Road Forum in China scheduled next month.

The official added that the Philippine government is working on strengthening its political trust with China to further boost the two countries’ bilateral cooperation which include programs on maritime cooperation and peace and navigational stability.

“Between the Philippines and China, which have always been friends and never enemies, resisting attempts by the great powers of the previous century to use our proximity against each other rather than for each other’s benefit,” Locsin said.

“Early on, I am proud to say that I was part of an effort to bring our countries close together,” the Foreign Affairs Secretary concluded. —  Marje Pelayo (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

Tags: , ,

DND orders AFP to confirm reported harassment of Filipino fishermen near Pag-asa Island

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Wednesday, 6 March 2019 05:48 PM

An aerial view shows the Pagasa (Hope) Island, part of the disputed Spratly group of islands, in the South China Sea located off the coast of western Philippines July 20, 2011. REUTERS/ROLEX DELA PENA/POOL

Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Wednesday he has already directed the military to validate the report on the alleged harassment of Filipino fishermen in sandbars near Pag-asa Island.

The Department of National Defense (DND) said in a statement that there has been no substantiated report from its units on the ground that can confirm claims made by Kalayaan Mayor Roberto del Mundo, based on the initial communication from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Mindanao Command (WESCOM).

“The AFP, through the Naval Forces West under WESCOM, will nonetheless continuously validate and report any information relevant to Mayor del Mundo’s claims,” the DND statement read.

Earlier this week, Mayor del Mundo claimed that more than a dozen Chinese vessels were sighted near Pag-asa Island and were intimidating Filipino fishermen.

The local official further said the Chinese vessels are driving local fishermen away from Sandy Cay which is situated between Pag-asa Island and China’s artificial island in Subi reef.

Pag-asa island (also known as Thitu island) is the seat of the Palawan municipality of Kalayaan.

The DND, however, noted that the said area where the alleged harassment occurred is a traditional fishing ground for the Philippines and other countries, including China and Vietnam.

AFP WESCOM has also urged people from Pag-asa Island to continue their activities in the said area since “it has been observed that they have not been fishing in the vicinity of the sandbar, even before the Chinese fishing vessels were sighted in the area,” the DND added.

A sheltered port in Pag-asa is now being constructed to help local fishermen, the DND said.

A maritime law expert, meanwhile, urged the Philippine government to use the reported harassment to intensify its monitoring and patrol operations in the disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea.

Professor Jay Batongbacal, director of the University of the Philippines (UP) Institute for Maritime Affairs, also believes that filing a diplomatic protest over the said incident is necessary even if the Duterte administration is keeping a careful tread amid its warming relations with China.

“A protest is necessary, even a quiet one, just to make sure that we will never be seen as having accepted the situation,” Batongbacal said.

“I guess the best response was simply to increase vigilance and for our people to continue what they are doing,” Batongbacal added. – Robie de Guzman (with a report from Correspondent Nel Maribojoc)

Tags: , , , , ,

China insists infra loans to Phl not a debt trap

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Monday, 4 March 2019 03:36 PM

BEIJING, China – A top political advisory body of China insists that the Chinese government does not plot any debt trap for developing countries it extends loans to.

In a press conference at the Great Hall of the People on Saturday (March 2), Guo Weimin, Spokesperson for the second session of the 13th National Committee on the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CCPPCC), said that China’s move to lend to developing nations is aimed at facilitating infrastructure projects that are envisioned to boost the economic growth of these countries.

“Chinese investments only account for a very small share to their total debt. And our projects are mostly infrastructure, which can support the long-term development of those countries,” Guo said.

Guo’s statement came after allegations that China’s exorbitant investment to expedite infrastructure projects in poorer and underdeveloped countries in exchange for better relations and regional access, is part of a trend called “debt-trap diplomacy”.

In the Philippines, some groups fear that the country will fall into a debt trap with China as the government under President Rodrigo Duterte is now more open to accepting Chinese loans.

Among the projects that China is financing is the USD62 million Chico River Pump Irrigation project which aims to water around 8,700 hectares of agricultural land in northern Philippines. China is also funding the P4.2 billion Binondo-Intramuros Friendship bridge through the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” Program, which is seen to ease traffic in Manila.

But the Philippine’s Department of Finance previously said that China’s offer to fund government projects is in no way a debt trap for the Philippines.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez stressed there is no danger in Chinese-funded infrastructure projects, which are in fact seen as a big help to boost the country’s economy.

The Finance chief added that the country’s loans from China will only account for 4.5 percent of the country’s total debt by the end of the Duterte administration in 2022 and when most infrastructure projects have already been funded.

This is lower compared with the country’s debt to Japan which would be at around 9.5 percent of the government’s total debt by 2022, based on data from DOF.

Philippine government data also showed that the country’s debt-to-GDP ratio in 2018 was estimated at 41.9 percent — lower than its 42.1 percent target for the previous year.

The DOF assured that the Philippines’ stable fiscal condition will enable it to pay its obligations. – Robie de Guzman

Tags: , , ,