DFA slams statement of Chinese Embassy in Manila vs Lorenzana, Julian Felipe Reef

Robie de Guzman   •   April 5, 2021   •   785

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Monday blasted the statement of the Chinese Embassy in Manila against Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on the presence of Chinese vessels in the Julian Felipe Reef.

In a statement, the DFA said it “strongly deplores” the remarks of the Chinese Embassy spokesperson reacting to Lorenzana’s statement issued on April 3 calling on Chinese vessels to leave the waters in the area and vicinity of Julian Felipe Reef.

“[T]he Department of Foreign Affairs denounces the Embassy’s attempt to impugn the Secretary of National Defense – a Cabinet Official of the Republic of the Philippines – by calling his statement ‘unprofessional,’” the department said.

“Chinese Embassy officials are reminded that they are guests of the Philippine government, and as guests must at all times observe protocol and accord respect to Philippine government officials,” it added.

Lorenzana earlier demanded the immediate withdrawal of the remaining Chinese vessels in the Julian Felipe Reef, telling the ships to sail away and for the Chinese to “leave our sovereign territories and abide by the international law.”

“I am no fool. The weather has been good so far, so they have no other reason to stay there. The vessels should be on their way out,” he said.

A spokesperson for the Embassy last Saturday said that China hopes authorities “avoid any unprofessional remarks” over the presence of Chinese vessels in the Philippine Sea.

Chinese officials earlier denied that the vessels were maritime militia and that these are only seeking temporary shelter due to rough sea conditions. They also said that the vessels are in Chinese territory, calling the reef as Niu’e Jiao.

The DFA said the Chinese Embassy’s statement “contained blatant falsehoods such as claims of adverse weather conditions when there were none and the supposed non-existence of maritime militia vessels in the area. “

“The statement also attempted to promote the clearly false narrative of China’s expansive and illegitimate claims in the West Philippine Sea,” the DFA said.

Julian Felipe Reef is part of the Kalayaan Island Group and lies in the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Republic of the Philippines. It is located 175 nautical miles west of Batarza town in Palawan and 638,229 nautical miles from Hainan Island, it added.

The DFA also rejected China’s assertion that Julian Felipe Reef and its waters are their traditional fishing grounds.

“Tradition yields to the law whether or not it is regarded as traditional fishing,” the department said.

“The United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS) – to which both the Republic of the Philippines and China are parties – and the final and binding July 12, 2016 award in the South China Sea Arbitration are clearly the only norm applicable to this situation,” it added.

The foreign affairs department emphasized that the July 12, 2016 Award in the South China Sea Arbitration “conclusively settled the issue of historic rights and maritime entitlements in the South China Sea.”

“The Tribunal ruled that claims to historic rights, or other sovereign rights or jurisdiction that exceed the geographic and substantive limits of maritime entitlements under UNCLOS, are without lawful effect,” it said.

“It further ruled that UNCLOS ‘superseded any historic rights, or other sovereign rights or jurisdiction, in excess of the limits imposed therein,’” it added.

The DFA reiterated Lorenzana’s call for China to immediately withdraw its fishing vessels and maritime assets in the area and vicinity of Julian Felipe Reef and in the Philippines’ maritime zones.

“For every day of delay, the Republic of the Philippines will lodge a diplomatic protest,” it warned.

The lingering presence of Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea, the DFA said, blatantly infringed upon Philippine sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdictions.

“These are contrary to China’s commitments under international law and the ASEAN-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, and demonstrate lack of good faith in the ongoing negotiations on a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea between ASEAN and China,” it added.

Repatriates from the UAE reach 3,000 — DFA

Maris Federez   •   July 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has repatriated a total of 3,000 distressed Filipinos from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) since the start of the pandemic.

The 7th special chartered flight from the UAE that carried 359 overseas Filipinos — including 112 pregnant Filipinos and 12 persons with disabilities — arrived at the Davao International Airport on Sunday morning.

“We are working double-time to make sure our kababayans in distress get the much-needed repatriation the soonest. Pregnant women, PWDs, and those with special needs are given due consideration to expediting their return home,” Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs Sarah Lou Y. Arriola said in a news release Sunday.

The DFA said the repatriation of Filipinos from the UAE was made successful in coordination with the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi, the Philippine Consulate General in Dubai, the City Government of Davao, and other government agencies.

“We send our appreciation to our partner agencies, especially to the City Government of Davao, for the invaluable assistance to the repatriates upon their arrival. This is a clear example of the whole-of-government approach that the administration promised in assisting our distressed OFs,” Arriola added.

The DFA said all repatriates received a10,000-peso reintegration assistance.

Their return flight ticket, free quarantine facility, and swab test were also provided by the Philippine government. —/mbmf

PH gov’t to verify reports on foreign ships’ alleged sewage dumping in West Philippine Sea

Robie de Guzman   •   July 14, 2021


MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government will look into a report that some foreign vessels were allegedly dumping sewage wastes in the contested parts of the West Philippine Sea, Malacañang said Wednesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque issued the statement in response to a report released by US-based geospatial imagery firm, Simularity, which stated that foreign ships have been dumping sewage and human wastes in the reefs of the disputed waters.

“The responsible answer is we are verifying first, we will react if it’s been verified,” Roque said in a press briefing.

“We should accord our neighbors, and our friends the presumption of good faith, when they say something about an issue,” he added.

If the reports are true, Roque said the government would never allow the Philippines to become a garbage dump.

He even cited the incident when the Philippines sent back to Canada its illegally exported trash in 2019.

The Department of National Defense earlier said it is already verifying the report as it noted that the photo accompanying it was supposedly taken on the Australian Great Barrier Reef in 2014.

DND verifying report on ships allegedly dumping wastes in West Philippine Sea

Robie de Guzman   •   July 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of National Defense (DND) is investigating reports of alleged dumping of human wastes by some foreign vessels in the West Philippine Sea.

In a statement, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he has ordered the Western command, which has jurisdiction over the West Philippine Sea, to verify the reports circulating online.

“We have taken note of the news circulating online about the alleged dumping of wastes in the South China Sea,” Lorenzana said.

Simularity, a US-based geospatial imagery firm, earlier reported that unknown ships have been dumping sewage and human wastes in the reefs of the disputed waters.

But Lorenzana expressed doubt over the report because of the photo accompanying it seemed to have been taken from a different area.

“The photo of a ship seen dumping waste accompanying the report was found to have been taken in the Australian Great Barrier Reef in 2014. Therefore, this intent to mislead has cast great doubt on the accurateness of the Simularity Report,’ he said.

“We also question the conclusion reached by Simularity from just looking at satellite photos,” he added.

Lorenzana said that while they are confirming and verifying these wastes being dumped in the West Philippine Sea, he said such irresponsible acts, if true, are considered to be gravely detrimental to the marine ecology in the area.

“Despite conflicting claims and interests by states in the South China Sea, all nations must be responsible stewards of our natural resources and environment,” he added.

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