DND: PH verifying if ship in West PH Sea collision belonged to China

Robie de Guzman   •   June 13, 2019   •   2244

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana

The Philippine government has yet to determine if the fishing vessel that hit and sank a Filipino boat near Reed Bank in the West Philippine Sea belonged to China, Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana clarified on Thursday.

Speaking to reporters in Davao City, Lorenzana said he based his report on the statement of involved fishermen and that he is still awaiting the results of the investigation being conducted by the Philippine Coast Guard and the Philippine Military.

“I will not anymore add something sa sinabi ko. Hangga’t hindi namin nakakausap ‘yung mga fisherman at tsaka magkaroon tayo ng intel investigation kung sino talaga ang nakabangga dahil madilim ‘yun eh,” he said.

The defense chief earlier said that a suspected Chinese fishing boat hit and sank a Philippine boat in waters off the Reed bank on June 9.

READ: DND: Chinese vessel hit, sank PH vessel in Recto Bank

He had denounced the action of the alleged Chinese fishing vessel for leaving immediately after the collision, endangering the lives of 22 Filipino fishermen.

Lorenzana said the Chinese government has already been informed and an investigation has been launched into the incident.

Malacañang earlier called on Beijing to impose proper sanctions against the Chinese crewmen for their “uncivilized” and “outrageous” actions.

READ: PH wants China to sanction ship crew for sinking Filipino fishing boat

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin has assured that a diplomatic protest has been filed over the collision incident.

Although Malacañang earlier said that the recent incident may mar the warming relations between the Philippines and China, Lorenzana believes this will not greatly affect the two countries’ ties.

“Hindi naman siguro malaking bagay na maapektuhan. We will find out kung ano ‘yung action nila,” he said.

He also advised fishermen who frequent waters in the West Philippine Sea to employ safety mechanisms to prevent any more collision between vessels.

“Siguro, there should be some mechanism, ‘yung mayroon kang ilaw palagi para makikita, ‘yung iba naman they should be very careful in travelling at night,” Lorenzana said.

While Philippine forces are patrolling the area, the defense chief lamented the country’s insufficient number of coast guards and sea crafts to guard its borders.

“Mayroon naman tayong mga patrol dyan, kulang lang kasi tayo ng barko eh. We don’t have enough coastguards that is why we’ll acquire it all para mayroon naman tayong pang guwardya diyan sa ating mga fishermen,” he said. (Correspondent Janice Ingente contributed to this report)

PH mulls over lifting travel ban in HK, Macau

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 17, 2020

The Philippine government is mulling over lifting the travel ban in Hong Kong and Macau amid the COVID-19 threat.

This is amid the call of Filipinos in Hong Kong to lift the travel ban in the said country.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Infectious Disease will release an update on the issue by Tuesday (February 18).

“Pag-uusapan iyong mga issues about Hong Kong and even Macau, so baka bukas po mayroong developments on the particular issue (They will discuss the issues about Hong Kong and even Macau so there might be developments on the particular issue by tomorrow),” according to DFA Asec. Ed Meñez.

The Philippine government already lifted the travel ban in Taiwan after it drew criticisms from the Taiwanese government and several Filipinos in the said country.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said there are things to consider if the government will lift the travel ban in Hong Kong and Macau.

“Now we’re assessing travel ban on Macau and Hong Kong, so depende, kasi ang mahalaga sa atin, kay Presidente, iyong safety ng mga kababayan natin (It depends because what is important to us, to the President is the safety of our fellowmen),” he said.

Panelo also said the travel ban in Taiwan was lifted due to how strict their protocols are and the assurance that the Filipinos in Taiwan are safe amid the virus scare.—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

PH-US military drills within 180 days of VFA scrapping to push through — Lorenzana

Robie de Guzman   •   February 13, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The military exercises between the Philippines and the United States scheduled for the following months will still push through despite the Duterte government’s move to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Thursday.

In a statement, Lorenzana said the training between Filipino and American soldiers will still proceed as scheduled within the 180 days that the VFA remains in force.

“With the formal serving of the notice of termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement, this year’s planned military exercises with the Americans shall proceed as scheduled within the 180 days that the VFA remains in force,” he said.

The Defense chief, however, said American troops may opt to discontinue the exercises before the 180 days are up.

Once the VFA’s termination is final, Lorenzana said Filipino troops will stop conducting military drills with their American counterparts.

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Wednesday confirmed that they have received the notice of termination sent by the Philippine government. — RRD (with details from Correspondent Lea Ylagan)

PH sends VFA termination notice to US

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 11, 2020

The Philippines has officially sent its notice of termination of Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA )to the United States (US).

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Teddy Locsin Jr. confirmed that the Embassy of the United States has received the notice of termination.

The termination will take place 180 days after the US received the signed notice based on the Article IX of the VFA agreement

“This agreement shall remain in force until the expiration of 180 days from the date on which either party gives the other party notice in writing that it desires to terminate the agreement,” according to Article IX.

According to Malacañang it is time for the Philippines to stop depending on other countries for strengthening its defenses.

“As the President said, it’s about time we rely on our own resources,” according to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

Meanwhile, President Rodrigo Duterte said US President Donald Trump is still attempting to save the VFA.

However, the Chief Executive reiterated his stand on the VFA termination saying the VFA termination is due to the “meddling” of the US in Philippine affairs particularly the case of former Senator Leila de Lima.

“Imagine demanding the release of De Lima and their threat […] may (there is a) colatilla that all persons who had a hand in the imprisonment of De Lima will not be allowed to go to US,” Duterte said.—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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