Finally! Canada agrees to shoulder return of trash shipment

Marje Pelayo   •   May 7, 2019   •   12203

MANILA, Philippines — The Canadian government has agreed to pay for the expenses in shipping out all the 69 waste containers it had dumped in the Philippines in 2013.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) confirmed the matter during the 37th Cabinet meeting on Monday (May 6) with President Rodrigo Duterte.

“The President is firm that we are not garbage collectors, thus he ordered that the Philippines will no longer accept any waste from any country,” Panelo said in a statement to reporters.

In April, President Duterte issued a stern warning saying he would declare “war” against Canada if it failed to remove its trash illegally exported to the country, and emphasized that he would no longer allow the North American country to turn the Philippines into a “dumpsite.”

“We will declare war. Load the containers onto a ship and advise Canada. I will advise Canada that, ‘Your garbage is on the way. Prepare a grand reception. Eat it if you want to,’” he added.

READ: Canada vows to resolve trash dumping issue after Duterte’s war threat

In response, the Canadian Embassy to the Philippines reiterated its government’s commitment “to working collaboratively with the Government of the Philippines to ensure the material is processed in an environmentally responsible way.”

 “A joint technical working group, consisting of officials from both countries, is examining the full spectrum of issues related to the removal of the waste with a view to a timely resolution,” the Canadian Embassy said in a statement. – Marje Pelayo

DFA to look into reports of Chinese vessel chasing television crew

Aileen Cerrudo   •   April 10, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said it will look into reports of a television crew being chased by a Chinese vessel in the West Philippine Sea.

In a statement released on Saturday (April 10), the department said it is glad that the television crew and the Filipino vessel are safe. It then advised those planning to visit the Kalayaan Island Group in the West Philippine Sea to coordinate with the Philippine authorities.

In the meantime, the department said it will verify the said reports before taking appropriate action.

“If proven to be true, the Department of Foreign Affairs will raise the matter with the Chinese government,” the statement reads.

A television crew from ABS-CBN on Wednesday (April 7) was about to visit Ayungin Shoal when they were chased down by a Chinese vessel. The crew managed get a video of the said chase which went viral on social media. AAC

DFA brings home 163 more Filipinos from Myanmar

Marje Pelayo   •   April 9, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) through the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs and the Philippine Embassy in Yangon, once again chartered another flight from Myanmar with 163 Filipinos on Thursday (April 8).

Most of the repatriates were stranded in the country due to travel restrictions from the pandemic.

This latest chartered flight, along with the previous two from Yangon, were funded by the DFA Assistance-to-Nationals Fund.

The 163 Filipinos from Myanmar included 4 seniors and 14 minors, including 3 infants.

The repatriates will be undergoing quarantine protocols, as required for all those who arrive in the country.

With these new arrivals, the total number of overseas Filipinos who have been repatriated since the start of the pandemic inches closer to 400,000.

From Myanmar, the three chartered flights have now brought home a total of 334 Filipinos.

DFA slams statement of Chinese Embassy in Manila vs Lorenzana, Julian Felipe Reef

Robie de Guzman   •   April 5, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Monday blasted the statement of the Chinese Embassy in Manila against Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on the presence of Chinese vessels in the Julian Felipe Reef.

In a statement, the DFA said it “strongly deplores” the remarks of the Chinese Embassy spokesperson reacting to Lorenzana’s statement issued on April 3 calling on Chinese vessels to leave the waters in the area and vicinity of Julian Felipe Reef.

“[T]he Department of Foreign Affairs denounces the Embassy’s attempt to impugn the Secretary of National Defense – a Cabinet Official of the Republic of the Philippines – by calling his statement ‘unprofessional,’” the department said.

“Chinese Embassy officials are reminded that they are guests of the Philippine government, and as guests must at all times observe protocol and accord respect to Philippine government officials,” it added.

Lorenzana earlier demanded the immediate withdrawal of the remaining Chinese vessels in the Julian Felipe Reef, telling the ships to sail away and for the Chinese to “leave our sovereign territories and abide by the international law.”

“I am no fool. The weather has been good so far, so they have no other reason to stay there. The vessels should be on their way out,” he said.

A spokesperson for the Embassy last Saturday said that China hopes authorities “avoid any unprofessional remarks” over the presence of Chinese vessels in the Philippine Sea.

Chinese officials earlier denied that the vessels were maritime militia and that these are only seeking temporary shelter due to rough sea conditions. They also said that the vessels are in Chinese territory, calling the reef as Niu’e Jiao.

The DFA said the Chinese Embassy’s statement “contained blatant falsehoods such as claims of adverse weather conditions when there were none and the supposed non-existence of maritime militia vessels in the area. “

“The statement also attempted to promote the clearly false narrative of China’s expansive and illegitimate claims in the West Philippine Sea,” the DFA said.

Julian Felipe Reef is part of the Kalayaan Island Group and lies in the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Republic of the Philippines. It is located 175 nautical miles west of Batarza town in Palawan and 638,229 nautical miles from Hainan Island, it added.

The DFA also rejected China’s assertion that Julian Felipe Reef and its waters are their traditional fishing grounds.

“Tradition yields to the law whether or not it is regarded as traditional fishing,” the department said.

“The United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS) – to which both the Republic of the Philippines and China are parties – and the final and binding July 12, 2016 award in the South China Sea Arbitration are clearly the only norm applicable to this situation,” it added.

The foreign affairs department emphasized that the July 12, 2016 Award in the South China Sea Arbitration “conclusively settled the issue of historic rights and maritime entitlements in the South China Sea.”

“The Tribunal ruled that claims to historic rights, or other sovereign rights or jurisdiction that exceed the geographic and substantive limits of maritime entitlements under UNCLOS, are without lawful effect,” it said.

“It further ruled that UNCLOS ‘superseded any historic rights, or other sovereign rights or jurisdiction, in excess of the limits imposed therein,’” it added.

The DFA reiterated Lorenzana’s call for China to immediately withdraw its fishing vessels and maritime assets in the area and vicinity of Julian Felipe Reef and in the Philippines’ maritime zones.

“For every day of delay, the Republic of the Philippines will lodge a diplomatic protest,” it warned.

The lingering presence of Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea, the DFA said, blatantly infringed upon Philippine sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdictions.

“These are contrary to China’s commitments under international law and the ASEAN-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, and demonstrate lack of good faith in the ongoing negotiations on a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea between ASEAN and China,” it added.

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