Duterte says Filipino fishing boat was sideswiped, not rammed, in Recto Bank incident

Robie de Guzman   •   June 27, 2019   •   1737

The fishing vessel, F/B GEM-VIR1, that was hit by a suspected Chinese vessel at Recto Bank (Reed Bank) in the West Philippine Sea on June 9, 2019.

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said the Filipino fishing boat that figured in an allision incident with a Chinese boat near Recto Bank (also called Reed Bank) in the West Philippine Sea this month was not rammed, but sideswiped.

“As a matter of fact, halos kami ngayon are agreed na sideswipe. Tapsingan ba. Hindi talaga ‘yung binunggo. Kay kung binunggo, nasa ilalim na ‘yun. Nobody — kasi na tawag nila parang sasakyan, ‘yung pasahero tinamaan. Na-sideswipe. ‘Yun ang tawag diyan. Ngayon, sabihin mo sinadya. Then let us have an investigation,” Duterte said in a speech during the 122nd anniversary celebration of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) at the Malacañan park on Wednesday night.

Last June 9, twenty-two Filipino crew members drifted at sea after their boat sank when it was allegedly hit a Chinese vessel. They were later saved by a Vietnamese vessel.

Duterte reiterated that it can only be described as a little maritime incident and it was no reason to go to war against Beijing.

“But that is no reason to go to war. Hindi mo pwedeng sabihin na ipadala mo ‘yung grey ships mo. The grey ships, ‘yun ang warship. Bakit ko ipadala doon on a mere maritime [incident]? Wala namang saksakan nga, walang barilan. Nadisgrasya lang, iniwan,” he said.

The Philippine government has earlier accepted China’s offer to conduct a joint probe into the incident.

Select government agencies, including the Philippine Coast Guard, were earlier tasked to conduct further investigations into the incident.

Although a preliminary report was already handed by the said agencies, Duterte said he has yet to reveal its contents as he is still awaiting China’s official report on the incident.

“Tinatago ko ‘yung aking baraha. Meron ng Customs, meron ng Navy, tinatago ko for the final report kasi gusto ko tingnan ‘yung ano sa China,” he said. (with details from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte to insist arbitral ruling to China: ‘Whether you like it or not’

Marje Pelayo   •   August 22, 2019

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

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte maintained that he will raise the arbitral ruling that favors the Philippines in the disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea when he visits China next week.

Duterte is scheduled to fly to China for a working visit from August 28 to September 3.

He will meet Chinese president Xi Jinping and talk about the Hague ruling, the code of conduct, as well as the proposed joint oil exploration in the West Philippine Sea.

“So whether you like it or not, would it make you happy or not, angry or otherwise. Sorry, but we have to talk the arbitral ruling, then what we get, if there is a start of the exploration and extraction of whatever there is in the bowels of the earth,” the President said during the inauguration of the 7.5 megawatt peak solar power project in the municipality of Odiongan, Tablas Island in Romblon on Wednesday (August 21).

“The proposal of 60-40 in our favor, would be a good start. I hope it would graduate to something like towards how do we solve the arbitral ruling peacefully,” he added.

The event was the President’s first public engagement after being out of the public eye for more than a week. – MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte to decide on banning online gambling in PH amid China’s call – Palace

Marje Pelayo   •   August 22, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Wednesday (August 21) said it is up to President Rodrigo Duterte to decide on the operations of online gambling in the country.

“We have to ask the President on this policy or issue,” Panelo told reporters.

“Hindi natin alam kung may possibility or wala. We have to ask the President,” he added.

On Tuesday (August 20), Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang has called on the Philippine government to ban all forms of online gambling.

“We have also taken note of the Philippine government’s announcement and appreciate it,” he said in a press conference in Beijing.

“We hope the Philippines will go further and ban all online gambling,” he added.

Defense officials expressed concern over proximity of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGO) near military camps arguing the possibility of Chinese workers becoming spies for Beijing.

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR), meanwhile, has already stopped accepting applications for POGO licenses in the country unless underlying issues are settled.

But Panelo noted that online gambling remains legal under Philippine law.

China detains employee of British consulate in Hong Kong

Robie de Guzman   •   August 21, 2019

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Geng Shuang confirming detention of Chinese national working at Britain’s Hong Kong consulate, Simon Cheng | Courtesy: Reuters

A Chinese national working at Britain’s Hong Kong consulate has been detained in China’s border city of Shenzhen for violating the law, the Chinese foreign ministry said on Wednesday (August 21), likely worsening already strained ties between Beijing and London.

Simon Cheng did not return to work on Aug. 9 after visiting the neighbouring mainland city of Shenzhen the previous day, Hong Kong news website HK01 reported.

Cheng’s family confirmed his disappearance in a Facebook post on Tuesday (August 20) night, saying he travelled from Hong Kong to Shenzhen on the morning of Aug. 8 for a business trip.

Speaking at a daily news briefing in Beijing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Cheng had been detained for 15 days by Shenzhen police for violating public security management regulations, though he gave no details.

“He is not a UK citizen. In other words that means he’s Chinese, so it’s entirely an internal matter for China,” Geng said.

“We’ve made stern representations to Britain for the series of comments and actions they’ve made on Hong Kong,” he added.

Britain has said it is “extremely concerned” by reports that the staff member at the consulate in its former colony had been detained.

Hong Kong has been gripped by anti-government protests in recent weeks, with Beijing accusing Britain and other Western countries of meddling in its affairs. (Reuters)

(Production: Martin Pollard)

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