Duterte tells China: Back off from Pag-asa Island

Robie de Guzman   •   April 5, 2019   •   4628

(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)

China records 9 coronavirus deaths, 440 confirmed cases

UNTV News   •   January 22, 2020

A woman checks the mask on her child outside Hankou Railway Station in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, 21 January 2020. EFE/EPA/YUAN ZHENG

By Javier Triana

– The death toll from the new coronavirus originating in Wuhan, China, has increased to nine with 440 confirmed cases, the country’s National Health Commission reported Wednesday.

At midnight local time on Tuesday (16.00 GMT), 13 provinces had confirmed the 440 cases of infection, and the nine deaths were all located in Hubei province, of which Wuhan is the capital, NHC vice-minister Li Bin said Wednesday at a press conference in Beijing.

This hikes the casualty figures by three deaths and 149 people infected since the last report published on Tuesday.

The city of Wuhan has a population of 11 million people and is the epicenter of the outbreak of the new type of coronavirus (2019-nCov). It causes what is known as “Wuhan pneumonia” which, authorities said on Monday, can be spread through human contact.

Li said there is a possibility that the virus — the transmission route of which is yet to be completely traced — could mutate and that the epidemic could spread, but that no “super transmitter” with the capacity to infect many people from a single case has been detected.

He expressed concern about the spread of infection that could occur throughout Chinese New Year, the holiday period that officially begins Friday and constitutes the largest human migration on the planet, with tens of millions of Chinese returning to their hometowns.

He said: “During Chinese New Year, the surge [in people moving around the country] increases the risk of the epidemic’s spread and the difficulty of prevention and control. We must not take it lightly,”

However, Li said that the response of health services to the disease has managed to keep “fatalities and cases at a minimal level.”

“We have confidence we will defeat this disease,” the official concluded.

Meanwhile, Taiwan’s president Tsai-Ing Wen called on China to make fully transparent all its information on the virus to help other countries take proper measures to prevent its spread.

Taiwan has reported one confirmed case of the virus — a Taiwanese woman returning to the island from a business trip to Wuhan.

The patient reportedly felt ill for days before her trip home but wore a face mask on the return flight. She was quarantined on arrival and hospitalized.

Tsai said the woman was in a stable condition.

Taiwanese medical personnel are working with airline companies to detect potential cases of fever on board planes, a symptom of the SARS-like Wuhan virus along with difficulty breathing.

The World Health Organization has scheduled a Wednesday meeting to determine whether the current outbreak of coronavirus in China constitutes an international emergency.

Japan and South Korea have also reported one case each, while two others had already been confirmed in Thailand with another two announced Wednesday.

The United States announced its first case Tuesday, with the affected person hospitalized last week after experiencing symptoms of pneumonia and, according to US authorities, is in a stable condition after having recently traveled to Wuhan, the country’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

The patient returned from China on Jan. 15, two days before US authorities ordered all travelers entering from Wuhan to be monitored for viral illness at the airports in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. EFE-EPA


Death toll in China climbs to 9 as Wuhan Coronavirus reaches the US

Marje Pelayo   •   January 22, 2020

edical staff transfer patients to Jinyintan hospital where patients infected with a new strain of Coronavirus identified as the cause of the Wuhan pneumonia outbreak are treated in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, 20 January 2020.  EPA-EFE/STRINGER

The United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed on Wednesday (January 22) the first case of the mysterious strain of coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China.

Reports said a Washington statesman in his 30s contracted the disease when he traveled to Wuhan to visit his relatives last week.

He arrived in the US on January 15, two days before Federal officials ordered the screening of travelers from China arriving in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York’s John F. Kennedy international airport.

The man is now in stable condition but is still under observation.

The CDC has created a new system of testing the virus and is coordinating with National Institutes of Health in the country to develop a vaccine against it.

Meanwhile, Chinese health authorities confirmed a positive case of human to human transmission of the virus discovered in Wuhan after a doctor who was involved in the investigation on the outbreak of the virus contracted the disease.

So far, the death toll from the viral infection has already reached nine, while more than 400 individuals across China have tested positive of Wuhan coronavirus.

The virus has already reached the capital city of Beijing and Shanghai as well as other Asian countries namely Thailand, South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan. MNP (with details from Aaron Romero)

PH Gov’t urged to take precautionary measures vs threat of new coronavirus strain

Robie de Guzman   •   January 22, 2020

Passengers wearing face masks who arrived from Guangzhou, China lineup for immigration at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, Philippines, 22 January 2020. EPA-EFE/MARK R. CRISTINO

MANILA, Philippines – Several lawmakers on Wednesday urged the Philippine government to take precautionary measures and prepare emergency response plans amid the threat of a new strain of coronavirus from China.

In a statement, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian called on the Department of Education (DepEd) to put schools on alert and ensure that preventive steps are in place to protect students from the respiratory disease that has already infected 222 individuals across neighboring countries of China, Japan, South Korea, and Thailand.

“Sa ating pangambang makapasok itong bagong coronavirus sa ating bansa, mabuti nang maging sigurado tayo dahil ang isang kumpirmadong kaso ay maaaring maikalat sa iba,” Gatchalian said.

He made the appeal after the Department of Health (DOH) reported Tuesday it is closely monitoring a child who may have contracted novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) prior to entering the Philippines from Wuhan, China.

The DOH said the child manifested symptoms such as cough, throat irritation, and fever. He is currently stable but still has a cough.

Based on samples examined by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), the unnamed child tested negative for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Both diseases are caused by a family of viruses called coronavirus.

But he tested positive for a non-specific pancoronavirus assay, meaning he is infected with a strain of coronavirus. The sample has been sent to a laboratory in Australia for further testing.

The new strain of coronavirus was first detected in Wuhan City on December 31, 2019.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said novel coronavirus causes respiratory infections which may develop into severe cases such as pneumonia, acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and death if left untreated.

Coronavirus, which is a large group of viruses common among animals, may be transmitted to humans through contact with an infected person or animal.

Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate committee on basic education, arts, and culture also said that schools should have protocols in identifying students displaying flu-like symptoms and emphasize the practice of good hygiene, such as frequent hand-washing, to avoid any diseases.

Senator Nancy Binay, meanwhile, called on the DOH and other government agencies to prepare for an emergency response plan in dealing with the respiratory illness from China.

Binay said she filed Senate Resolution 293 which aims to determine appropriate measures and necessary funding requirements to ensure quick government response to address possible outbreaks.

“Preemptive measures will always the better option. Kailangan natin paghandaan na dahil actionable ang impormasyong hawak ng DOH. We must act immediately to monitor reports of the disease or sightings, and abate the possibility of an outbreak,” she said in a statement.

“Mabuting maging handa, hindi lamang ang DOH at ang pambansang pamahalaan, kundi pati na rin ang mga local na pamahalaan hanggang sa lebel ng barangay,” she added.

The DOH earlier advised the public to always practice frequent handwashing, avoid crowded places and contact with an infected person, and to thoroughly cook food, especially those containing meat and dairy products.   


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