Duterte to join ASEAN Summit in Thailand, may discuss Reed Bank allision – DFA
Robie de Guzman • June 18, 2019 • 2113
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is set to fly to Thailand this week to participate in the 34th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Bangkok.
The ASEAN Summit, which will also be attended by other heads of member states, will be held from June 22 to 23, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
DFA Assistant Secretary Junever Mahilum-West told reporters at a Malacañang press briefing Tuesday that Duterte will be accompanied by the secretaries of DFA, Department of Trade and Industry, Department Social Welfare and Development, Department of Finance, Department of Transportation, Tourism and Agriculture.
Mahilum said the President is expected to have bilateral meetings with other ASEAN leaders during the sidelines of the summit.
She added that during the Leaders’ retreat, the chief executive may take up the maritime dispute in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) against China as it falls under the agenda on regional and international developments.
“Well, as you know the Philippines is coordinator of the ASEAN China dialogue partnership from 2018 to 2021, for three years. And during this coordinatorship, we are negotiating ASEAN Member States and China on the Code of Conduct for the South China Sea, on the South China Sea,” she said.
“And in these negotiations, incidents like what happened to our fishermen will be among those on the agenda, during the negotiations,” she added.
However, she clarified that it is still premature to say whether the recent allision incident near Recto Bank (also called Reed Bank) involving Filipino and Chinese fishing vessels will particularly be raised at the Bangkok summit pending investigations.
“There is this investigation that’s ongoing, that up to the present discloses a certain fact that we did not know before. Also, we lodged a strong protest with China and we are awaiting China’s response to this,” she said.
The government earlier said a further probe will be conducted into the incident which will be led by the Maritime Authority (Marina) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).
“Puwede namang during exchange of views on regional development, there is an opening to raise these issues, because incidents like what happened emphasized the importance of having a code of conduct so that we could avoid, we could prevent these incidents from happening in the future,” she said.
Mahilum emphasized that having a code of conduct in the disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea would help set guidelines among claimants to prevent any more similar maritime incidents.
“It’s precisely why we need a code so that this instance could be taken on board and we would have a guideline for countries in the region on how to behave, on how to act in order to prevent these incidents that caused some — that might cause tension in the region,” she added.
Prior to the summit, Mahilum said that negotiations have been made on a single draft negotiating text between ASEAN member states and China and the first reading is expected to be finished by end of this year.
Aside from attending the Leaders’ retreat, the President is also expected to join the summit plenary, gala dinner and the 13th Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) Summit.
Mahilum, however, could not say if the President will be able to meet with the Filipino Community in Thailand due to the very hectic Summit schedule.
This will be Duterte’s third visit to Thailand since assuming office.
He is expected to return to the Philippines on June 24. (with details from Rosalie Coz)
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has certified as urgent a bill that seeks to strengthen the country’s anti-terrorism law.
In a letter to House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Monday, Duterte certified as urgent House Bill No. 6785, which seeks to amend and toughen the Human Security Act of 2007.
In his letter, Duterte said the immediate enactment of the measure is to “address the urgent need to strengthen the law on anti-terrorism in order to adequately and effectively contain the menace of terrorist acts for the preservation of national security and the promotion of general welfare.”
The House Bill reportedly adopted the Senate version which passed on third and final reading in February.
Under the bill, anyone who threatens to commit terrorism, propose any terroristic acts or incite others to commit terrorism shall mete out a penalty of 12 years of imprisonment.
It also introduces provisions penalizing those who will propose, incite, conspire, participate in the planning, training, preparation and facilitation of a terrorist act; as well as those who will provide material support to terrorists, and recruit members in a terrorist organization.
The measure also includes a new section on foreign terrorist fighters to cover Filipino nationals who commit terrorist offenses abroad.
It also aims to provide law enforcers the much-needed tools to protect the people from terrorism threat and, at the same time, safeguard the rights of those accused of the crime.
Once a bill is certified as urgent, the Senate and the House of Representatives can immediately pass a measure on second and third reading on the same day.
Rights advocates had earlier warned that the bill’s enactment would worsen the human rights situation in the country.
No more touching in the elevators as a Thai shopping mall in Bangkok installed foot pedals for customers to step on instead of pressing the buttons, lowering the risk of having to be exposed to germs.
“Now everyone is worried about getting infected with the COVID-19 and the easiest way to get infected is that when you touch an object that has been contaminated with the COVID-19 virus, and then eventually touch your face and the virus will go into your mouth, your eyes or whatever. So, we came up with this idea of hand-free foot-operated elevator,” said Prote Sosothikul, the vice president of Seacon Development PLC which oversees the mall.
The foot-operated elevator pedal system is also welcomed by mall customers, saying they felt safer to use the lift without actually touching the buttons, reducing the risk of getting infected.
“I think they did a good job in preparing this. I feel much safer… Now that we can use our foot to press the elevator, it’s really great,” said 26-year-old Watcharaporn.
Thailand on Sunday (May 17) reopened malls and department stores for the first time since March in its second phase of relaxing measures as the number of new cases slowed.
Thailand has reported a total of 3,034 cases of the coronavirus and 56 deaths. (Reuters)
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