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Duterte: Colombian drug cartel now operating in PH

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Tuesday, February 26th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte said a Colombian drug cartel is now operating in the country and is behind the floating cocaine blocks found in the country’s shorelines.

“We are facing a serious problem. Pumasok na ang cartel Medellin (ng) Colombia kaya nga marami na namang nakikitang cocaine,” the President said in a speech before barangay officials in Pasay City on Monday (February 25).

In two consecutive weeks, several blocks of cocaine valued at around P2-B pesos were found on the shores of Luzon, Eastern Visayas and Mindanao.

The President revealed that the said illegal drugs were being manufactured in old trawlers by international syndicates and attached with Global Positioning System (GPS) before being thrown into the sea where drug traffickers could recover.

He also noted that cocaine is the choice of wealthy drug users while shabu is actually the “commodity of the poor”.

“Madaling lutuin noon, madaling ibenta kasi mura, at marami ang market – ang tao,” the President said.

The President warned Filipinos working abroad to stay away from illegal drugs as there are countries who penalize drug cases with death.

Likewise, he reiterated his warning against those who do illegal drugs that his government will not be easy on them.

“Whether as a drug lord, wala akong pakialam kung galing kang China, galing kang Taiwan, galing kang Malaysia. ‘Pag pumunta kayo dito at ginawa ninyo ‘yan, papatayin ko talaga kayo. Kaya kayong mga Pilipino sa labas, ‘wag ninyong gawain ‘yan kasi papatayin din kayo doon. Do not commit the — committing crimes, your crimes in other countries. I cannot help you and I won’t help you,” he said.

“I will make this statement very, very clear. I promised you that at this time of our national life, it is the time during my time that it would be very, very dangerous for anybody to do drugs,” the President concluded. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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Captain of sunken boat in Recto Bank says sorry to Duterte

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Wednesday, June 19th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The captain of the Filipino fishing boat hit by a Chinese vessel in Recto Bank on June 9 apologized to President Rodrigo Duterte following reports that he snubbed the Chief Executive in their supposed meeting in Malacanang.

F/B GEM-VER 1’s boat captain Jonel Insigne said he didn’t know that it was Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol who asked to meet him and not the President.

“Humihingi po ako ng paumanhin sa ating mahal na presidente na hindi pala ako ipinatawag niya kundi si Secretary Piñol ang nagpatawag sa akin,” Insigne said.

“Hindi po ako natuloy, umatras ako dahil masama ang pakiramdam ko,” he added.

This was clarified by the Secretary himself during the hand over of assistance to the affected fishermen in San Jose, Oriental Mindoro on Wednesday (June 19).

“There was no any invitation from Malacañang. It was I, the Secretary of Agriculture, who wanted to talked to them and they came,” Piñol said.

The group of fishermen, through Insigne, appealed to President Duterte to help them and bring justice to what they have suffered at sea.

“Gusto ko po sana mapanagot po iyong kapitan nang bumangga sa amin, iyon lang po ang hiling ko sa ating mahal na presidente.” Insigne said. (with details from Sherwin Culubong)

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China fronts maritime militia to propel interest in South China Sea – US Defense Report

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Tuesday, June 18th, 2019

FILE PHOTO: An aerial view of China occupied Subi Reef at Spratly Islands in disputed South China Sea April 21, 2017. REUTERS/Francis Malasig/Pool

MANILA, Philippines – The United States Defense Department in a report revealed that China has long been establishing its power and expanding its domain even as early as 2002.

According to the US Defense Department’s 2018 Annual Report to Congress, the 21st century’s initial two decades are described as China’s “period of strategic opportunity”.

“They assess that international conditions during this time will facilitate domestic development and the expansion of China’s “comprehensive national power,” the report said.

According to the US, this is part of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) measure to support President Xi Jinping’s “China Dream of national rejuvenation” aimed at establishing “a powerful and prosperous China.”

Part of the plan is to mobilize maritime militia specifically the People’s Armed Forces Maritime Militia (PAFMM) which is an armed reserve force composed of civilians.

China is the only nation in the world that has a government-sanctioned maritime militia which vary in composition and mission depending on a specific unit and location.

Based on the report, “PAFMM plays a major role in coercive activities to achieve China’s political goals without fighting” specifically in relation to movements in the South China Sea.

It is guided by China’s military doctrine which states that “confrontational operations short of war can be an effective means of accomplishing political objectives.”

PAFMM has been involved in a number of confrontations at sea such as 2009 harassment of the USNS IMPECCABLE Surveillance Ship; the Scarborough Reef standoff in 2012; the Haiyang Shiyou-981 oil rig standoff in 2014; and the surge of large ships in waters near Senkakus Islands near Japan in 2016.

The US report said China uses its maritime militia for purposes of surveillance, logistical support, and for search and rescue operations.

In the past, China used to rent small fishing vessels from local fishermen or private fishing firms to execute its objectives but later on, China decided to build state-owned sea vessels for that purpose.

For instance, the Hainan provincial government in 2016 built 84 large fishing vessels with fine-scale features and built-in arsenal.

The government even reinstated into reserve force newly retired military personnel complete with subsidy and monthly salary.

In his speech during the anniversary of the Philippine Navy, President Rodrigo Duterte implied that the Philippines cannot and will not win any war against China given the latter’s maritime and armed capabilities.

The President’s remark was in relation to the recent incident in Recto Bank that involved a Chinese vessel which allegedly hit and caused a Filipino fishing boat to sink, endangering the lives of 22 Filipino fishermen.

“Iyang nangyari diyan sa banggaan, that is a maritime incident. Huwag kayong maniwala diyan sa mga politiko na bobo na. Gusto papunta ‘yung — papuntahin ‘yung Navy. You do not send grey ships there. Banggaan lang ng barko ‘yan.,” President Duterte stressed.

(The collision that happened, that is a maritime incident. Do not be swayed by politicians who insist on sending Navy personnel there. You do not send grey ships there. That was mere collision of sea vessels.)

“Do not make it worse because there is a — that’s a fertile ground for…And we are not yet as ready. And we can never be ready in a nuclear war. Stay out if trouble,” he added.

The Philippines in the past has attempted a show of force against China in the disputed waters in West Philippine Sea.

In 2012, BRP Gregorio Del Pilar was mobilized to man the Philippine territory in WPS when a Philippine Navy surveillance plane spotted several Chinese fishing vessels anchored in Panatag Shoal.

Panatag Shoal is about 124 nautical miles from the coast of Zambales and is part of the Philippines’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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Lacson: Duterte broke his silence and left us heartbroken

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Tuesday, June 18th, 2019

(L-R) Senator Panfilo Lacson and President Rodrigo Duterte

Senator Panfilo Lacson has expressed dismay over the remarks of President Rodrigo Duterte about the Chinese vessel ramming a Filipino fishing boat in Reed Bank last June 9.

During his speech on Monday (June 17), Duterte said the sinking of the Filipino fishing boat was only a ‘maritime incident’ and it is not necessary to send the Philippine Navy to the area.

“Dalawang bangka lang iyan (Those are just two boats). Now you go there and create a tension. I said, hindi ako g*go na presidente na papayag (I am not a foolish president who will allow it). If we have to die, we have to die in the correct way, and to die in dignity,” said Duterte.

Lacson is also dismayed by the limited action of the president regarding the issue.

“It is disappointing to say the least, not much by his insulting remark but his self-limiting course of action which disregards an effective ‘weapon’ in our arsenal. It is found in the Mutual Defense Treaty,” his statement adds.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, meanwhile, said there is no need to confuse the public if the ramming by the Chinese vessel is intentional or not.

He said there is already a violation of the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) when the captain of the Chinese vessel did not assist the Filipino fishermen.

“This violates China’s obligation under the UNCLOS to rescue those in distress at sea. This is the issue that should be addressed and the basis of China’s liability under international law and the UNCLOS,” he said.

Duterte also said that he will not be issuing an official statement while the incident is still to be investigated.—AAC (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

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