Duterte to join ASEAN Summit in Thailand, may discuss Reed Bank allision – DFA

Robie de Guzman   •   June 18, 2019   •   1924

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte speaks before other leaders from the member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) during the ASEAN Leaders’ Gathering held at the Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua in Bali, Indonesia on October 11, 2018. Also in the photo is Secretary Christopher Lawrence ‘Bong’ Go of the Office of the Special Assistant to the President. Photo from PCOO fb

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).

READ: Marina, PCG to conduct further probe on West PH sea collision

“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)

Palace: Duterte to take a 3-day break

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 11, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte will be having a three-day break beginning Tuesday (November 12), according to Malacañang.

However, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Monday (November 11) clarified that it will not be an official leave since the president will still be doing his paperwork. The president will fly home to Davao Monday night.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea will be the officer-in-charge of the Executive branch while Duterte rests, according to Panelo

“Well upon the advice of friends, of colleagues, and the world, it seems. And most likely upon the advice of doctors also to take a respite from his punishing schedule,” he said.

Panelo clarified there are no medical concerns that prompted the three-day break.—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte to attend ASEAN-ROK summit in South Korea

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 11, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte will attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations-Republic of Korea (ASEAN-ROK) Commemorative Summit in South Korea from November 25 to 27.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo confirmed on Sunday (November 10) that the president will be attending the summit in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the dialogue partnership between the regional bloc and South Korea.

“He will push through with the trip,” Panelo said.

President Duterte and South Korean President Moon Jae-In are also expected to have a bilateral meeting to discuss trade and security issues.

The Philippines and South Korea have recently celebrated its 70th bilateral relations.—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte eyes ban on use of plastic

Robie de Guzman   •   November 8, 2019

Plastic along coastline in Cap-Haitien, Haiti | REUTERS

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is eyeing to ban the use of plastics in a bid to mitigate the effects of climate change, Malacañang said.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the president mentioned the idea during a discussion on climate change in a Cabinet meeting last Wednesday.

“The president floated the idea to ban the use of plastics, which according to him would require legislative action,” Panelo told reporters but said he is not sure if Duterte was referring to single-use plastics.

There are bills filed in Congress seeking to ban the use of single-use plastics that are currently pending at a committee level.

These measures seek to prohibit food establishments, stores, and markets from issuing single-use plastics, and task manufacturers to control the circulation and disposal of these materials. It also encourages consumers to instead use reusable or other alternative materials.

The Philippines has been listed in a 2015 report as one of the biggest sources of plastic leaking into the oceans, after China and Indonesia.

A recent study by Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) revealed that Filipinos use more than 163 million plastic sachet packets, 48 million shopping bags and 45 million thin film bags daily.

The report called “Plastics exposed: How waste assessments and brand audits are helping Philippine cities fight plastic pollution,” used data from household waste assessments and brand audits conducted by Mother Earth Foundation (MEF) in six cities and seven municipalities across the country in the past five years.

The organization extrapolated the data to calculate daily and yearly plastic usage throughout the country in order to provide new quantitative evidence about plastic pollution in the Philippines.

GAIA said that findings in the report show how cities and municipalities in the Philippines are struggling against plastic residuals despite efforts of many localities to institute Zero Waste programs.

With the projected increase in plastic production worldwide, including in the Philippines, the group said that national governments, as well as local government authorities need robust data and effective strategies to address the looming plastic pollution crisis.

It also called on manufacturers to regulate, and stop producing, single-use plastics.

“We would appreciate kung ang Pangulo will tell Congress na iprioritize nga itong bill on single-use plastic,” Beau Baconguis, an Asia Pacific Plastics Campaigner of GAIA said.

“Dapat hindi lang tignan as a waste disposal issue at waste management issue pero titingnan ang buong life cycle ng plastic at buong problemang kaakibat ng different stages ng production ng plastic,” Baconguis added.

The House of Representatives, for its part, assured it will continue to conduct inquiries on proposals to ban the use of plastics in the country.

“There will be a hearing before the committee level, all the stakeholders shall be heard, and ultimately we shall decide the course,” Cavite Fourth District Representative Elpidio Barzaga Jr., who chairs the House Committee on Natural Resources, said.

“The decision of the President will carry much weight in so far as the action of the House of representatives is concerned,” he added. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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