DFA Secretary: Presence of ships alone doesn’t mean anything

UNTV News   •   August 17, 2017   •   3651

IMAGE_UNTV_NEWS_081617_DFA SEC CAYETANO

MANILA, Philippines — Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on Wednesday afternoon said there is no need for the Philippine government to be alarmed on the alleged presence of Chinese vessels near the Pag-asa Island.

Former marine officer now Magdalo Party List Representative Gary Alejano , said he received the information from his contacts in the military that the swarm is composed of two frigates, a coastguard vessel, two large fishing vessels, and numerous maritime militias.

The ships have been there since Saturday, August 12.

“Our BFAR ship was prevented by Chinese fishing vessels from going near our sand bars located generally west of Pag-asa Island around 2 to 7 nautical miles away,” said Alejano.

Cayetano, however, neither confirmed nor denied the claim of Alejano saying they are in constant communication with the Chinese counterpart.

He also assured that the situation in the area where the Chinese vessels had been deployed is stable.

“The presence of ships alone does not mean anything.  I mean, for example, let me ask Cong. Alejano why were we not concerned about the U.S. doing freedom of navigation?  Ang lalaki ng ships nila (Their ships were huge),” DFA Sec Alan Peter Cayetano said.

The Secretary assured that the government has not reneged on its mandate to defend the country.

“The situation in West Philippine Sea and South China Sea is very serious we will not give single inch, single square meter, single centimeter. But at the same time it should not define our whole relationship with our neighbor,” Sec. Cayetano added. – Grace Casin | UNTV News and Rescue

Fish production improves but corals are dying – BFAR

Marje Pelayo   •   July 10, 2019

Bleached corals in Coron, Palawan

MANILA, Philippines – Data from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) reported improvements in fish production in the country as compared to the previous years.

In 2018, the country had 4.25 million metric tons of fish which was higher by one percent compared to 2017.

BFAR attributed this positive development to improvements in the country’s aquaculture which increased by three percent from the previous years when fish production was hugely affected by weather disturbances, illegal fishing, water pollution, and stricter implementation of the Fisheries Law.

The disputed waters in the West Philippine Sea contributes 2.34 percent of the country’s total production from provinces in Regions 1, 3, 4A and 4B.

Meanwhile, almost half of the production is contributed by Regions 9, 12 and the Bangsamoro Region, according to BFAR.

Despite this, the Bureau noted that from the 27 thousand hectares of coral areas in the country, only one percent are in good condition.

The agency added that the Philippine government loses P68.5-B every year because of illegal fishing.

Climate change also adds damage to the corals in a phenomenon called coral bleaching.

Sadly, according to BFAR, this phenomenon is expected to persist.

“We will see more coral bleaching. Ibig sabihin yung pagkakamatay ng mga corals dahil tumaas halimbawa yung water temperature o mas na-expose sila ngayon sa sun, (It means the corals are dying because of increasing water temperature as they are more exposed to the heat of the sun),” explained Sammy Malvas, BFAR’s assistant director for admin services.

 Likewise, the agency noted that even the size of fish is now affected.

“Example na lang iyong sardines, maliliit pa naging mature na, (Example sardines, they easily mature but their size remains small), Malvas added.

Doctor Deo Florence Onda of the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute said that the West Philippine Sea should all the more be protected because it has a vital role in the region considering that it is the center of biodiversity in the world.

“Isa lang indikasyon noon, kung maraming pumupuntang fishermen doon sa West Philippine Sea, ibig sabihin marami silang napapakinabangan at marami silang nakukuha, (It indicates one thing: More fishermen fish in West Philippines Sea because it is rich in resources and has a lot of fish), Onda said. – with reports from Rey Pelayo

BFAR to equip commercial fishing vessels with monitoring devices

Marje Pelayo   •   July 9, 2019

A Philippine fisherman watches a China Coast Guard vessel patrolling the disputed Scarborough Shoal, April 5, 2017. Picture taken April 5, 2017. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) will install monitoring devices to around 5,000 commercial fishing vessels in the country.

This is in line with the agency’s Integrated Marine Environment Monitoring System Project amounting to P2 billion.

Such monitoring devices will enable the agency to monitor the location of all fishing vessels every time they venture out to sea.

“The system will only tell you that the vessel is there and it will also tell you kung may incident or may accident na nangyari doon (if there is any incident or accident at sea,)” noted Sammy Malvas, BFAR’s Assistant Director for Admin services.

The installation will commence sometime during the last quarter of this year. – with inputs from Rey Pelayo

Duterte tells China: Back off from Pag-asa Island

Robie de Guzman   •   April 5, 2019

(L-R) President Rodrigo Duterte, Pag-asa Island and Chinese President Xi Jinping

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has told China to back off from the Pag-asa Island amid reports that hundreds of Chinese vessels have “swarmed” the island, also known as Thitu, in the West Philippine Sea.

Speaking at PDP-Laban’s campaign rally in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan on Thursday night, Duterte said he will not allow China to occupy Pag-asa Island, which has long been held by Manila.

“I assure you, unless China wants a war with us, eh ‘di ako papayag kung pati ‘yung Pagasa i-occupy nila? No, of course not,” he said.

“I’m trying to tell China, Pag-asa [island] is ours. We have been there [since] 1974. Kung inyo ‘yan, bakit hindi ninyo kami pinaalis?” he added.

Duterte, who has been aiming to attract trade and investment from the Asian economic giant, has mostly withheld his criticism of China’s expansive claims in the West Philippine Sea.

But his rare remark against Beijing came after the Philippine Military warned that hundreds of Chinese coast guard and fishing vessels were spotted in the disputed waterway in the first quarter of 2019. The vessels were described as “suspected maritime militia.”

The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs in a statement called the presence of Chinese ships near the Pag-asa island a violation of the country’s sovereignty.  

“This is not a warning, this is just a word of advice to my friends kasi kaibigan tayo ng China,” Duterte said.

“I will not plead or beg, but I’m just telling you that layoff the Pag-asa because may mga sundalo ako diyan,” he added.

But if Beijing touches the island, Duterte said he is prepared to order his soldiers to suit up for a dangerous mission.

“At ‘pag ‘yan ang ginalaw ninyo, ibang istorya na ‘yan. ‘Di sabihin ko na ‘yang mga sundalo ko, ‘prepare for suicide missions’,” he said.

Duterte has repeatedly said before that war with China would be futile and that the Philippines would lose heavily and suffer in the process.

The President, however, assured he is prepared to reach for a compromise with China and that there is no need for the Philippines to use force against its more powerful neighbor.

“We go into a compromise for the time being, kasi hindi nga, if we go to war or there is a violent conflict, we would never win and I would suffer beyond imagination. I would just go there send my soldiers and policemen to be slaughtered. I am not prepared to do that,” Duterte said.

Beijing, for its part, has downplayed the rising tension in the disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea, saying that both sides had exchanged amicable and constructive views on the issue.

“During the meetings,both sides exchanged views in a frank, friendly and constructive manner on the issues which each side is concerned about, such as the recent situation in the South China Sea and maritime activities,” said
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Geng Shuang in an interview during the 4th Bilateral Consultation Mechanism meet between the Philippines and China held in Manila.

“Both sides proactively discussed ways to resolve these issues. Both sides reiterated that they wanted to continue to expand cooperation and discuss measures to promote trust,” he added. —Robie de Guzman (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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