I call on our beloved president to help us —captain of sunken PH boat

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 17, 2019   •   3819

Cerillo Escuterio recalled they already caught three tons of fish before a Chinese vessel rammed into their fishing vessel, F/B GemVir 1, on June 9.

The 22-man crew was then left floating in the open sea for three hours before a Vietnamese vessel came to rescue.

Escuterio has been a fisherman for seven years. He said the amount of fish caught in the region is what made him decide to become a fisherman.

The fishes were not only abundant but also beautiful, he added.

But after their fishing vessel was destroyed, Escuterio and his companions were left with no choice but to think of other ways to earn for their family.

F/B GemVir 1’s captain Junel Insigne insisted the Chinese vessel intentionally rammed into their boat.

He remembered how their ship sank. He also remembered how the Chinese vessel turned off their lights before they sail off.

“Pagbangga biglang lumubog na iyong bangka namin. Paglubog umikot iyong Chinese fishing vessel, pagikot inilawan kami. Kita namin mga tao sa lantsa na Chinese fishing vessel. Pagilaw nila nakita kami lubog, umatras [sila] nang todo bago sabay patay uli [ng] ilaw takbo palayo (They hit us and our boat sank. When it did sink, the Chinese fishing vessel turned around and shed a light on us. We saw the people there. After lighting on us, they sailed backwards and turned off their lights),” he said.

Escuterio also denied claims that it was an accident because the engine wasn’t even on.

“Mali ang kanilang statement na sinasabi nilang aksidente. Mali po iyon talagang sinadya nila na banggain kami kasi kami ay naka-anchor. Steady bangka namin ang engine namin patay hindi kami naandar (Their statement that it was an accident is wrong. That is wrong, they intentionally hit us because we had our anchor down. Our boat was steady because our engine was off),” Escuterio said.

Both fishermen called on the president to help them, not only for their financial needs but also to hold those involved accountable.

“Ang panawagan ko lang sa ating mahal na pangulo gusto ko lang mapaayos iyang bangka na iyan kasi diyan lang kami kumukuha ng aming ikabubuhay (I call on our beloved president, I just want our boat fixed because that’s where we get out livelihood),” Insigne said.

READ: Business groups vow aid for Filipino fishers hit by Chinese ship

Meanwhile, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce Industry and the Philippine Silk Road International Chamber of Commerce gave P1 million financial aid to the 22 Filipino fishermen.

The P500,000 will be used to repair their boat while the remaining P500,000 will be for their livelihood assistance. —AAC (with reports from Sherwin Culubong)

Senate probe on AFP-Dito Telco deal sought

Robie de Guzman   •   September 17, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Some senators are seeking to probe a deal signed between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and China-linked Dito Telecommunity Corp. (formerly Mislatel Consortium) amid concerns that the agreement could pose a threat to national security.

Opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday said she has filed Senate Resolution No. 137 after Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana stated that he was not aware of the said agreement, which allows Dito Telecommunity, the country’s third major telecommunications player, to rent spaces where they can set up equipment and other facilities inside military bases across the country.

Dito is a company comprised of Udenna Corporation, led by businessman Dennis Uy, and China Telecom.

“Is there now a ‘sign first, worry about security later’ policy under this administration?” Hontiveros said in a statement.

“Ito na ang pangalawang beses na hindi nakonsulta ang defense secretary tungkol sa mga diumanong Chinese deals na pinapasok ng ating pamahalaan na may seryosong implikasyon sa ating pambansang seguridad,” she added.

Hontiveros further said that entering into a deal with a Chinese-linked firm is “irresponsible” amid continuing maritime disputes between the Philippines and China in the West Philippine Sea.

“Sa isang panahon na patuloy ang panghihimasok ng Tsina sa West Philippine Sea, napaka-iresponsable na pumasok tayo sa mga kasunduan sa kanila na hindi sinusuri ang epekto nito sa ating pambansang seguridad at kaligtasan,” Hontiveros added.

(In this time when China continues to infiltrate the West Philippine Sea, it is irresponsible for us to enter a deal with them without scrutinizing its effects on our national security and safety.)

The senator cited Article 7 of China’s National Intelligence Law which states that Chinese organizations and citizens are obligated to support “state-intelligence gathering efforts.”

Hontiveros said that under China’s law, Chinese corporations cannot refuse to assist such acts of espionage, since its Counter-Espionage Law requires that “when the state security organ investigates and understands the situation of espionage and collects relevant evidence, the relevant organizations and individuals shall provide it truthfully and may not refuse.”

“There is an urgent need to determine whether or not the presence of Chinese facilities in military bases and installations undermines national security and whether or not the lease agreements entered into for this purpose comply with applicable law,” she said.

The lawmaker added the agreement may be violating the Public Land Act which states that “military reservations cannot be subject to lease, occupation, entry, sale, or other disposition, until declared alienable by provisions of the Act or by proclamation by the President,” and the AFP Modernization Act, which states that any “sale, lease or joint development of military reservations must be authorized by Congress.”

Senator Francis Pangilinan agreed with Hontiveros’ sentiments.

In a statement, Pangilinan pointed out that two high-ranking government officials, Lorenzana and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, have earlier raised concerns on issues involving China, including the proximity of Chinese-dominated offshore gaming operators’ hubs to military camps and the influx of thousands of its nationals in the country.

“Hindi biro itong China telco involvement dito sa ating military camps,” Pangilinan said.

(This Chinese telco’s involvement in our military camps is no joke.)

“Ang concern: gagamitin nung Chinese government yung information na nakukuha [at] dumadaan doon sa kanilang mga sistema para itulak ang interes ng China,” he added.

(The concern is the Chinese government will use the information that passes through their system to advance China’s interests.)

The senator stressed the security risk is not a mere speculation, citing the move of other countries such as Australia, the United States, Japan and New Zealand to ban Chinese telecom giant Huawei due to security concerns.

READ: Pangilinan questions deal allowing Chinese-linked Dito Telco to build facilities in military camps

Pangilinan said he will raise these concerns during the hearings on the budget proposal of the AFP and the DND.

“We will ask clarificatory questions regarding this deal. And we will look into this because popondohan natin ang AFP, DND,” he said.

The military earlier allayed these concerns while Malacañang said the country can simply leave the deal if this poses any threat to national security.

Pro and anti-Beijing supporters face off at shopping mall

Jeck Deocampo   •   September 13, 2019

Pro-Beijing supporters flooded into a Hong Kong shopping mall waving China flags and singing the Chinese national anthem on Friday (September 13) where they were confronted by with anti-Beijing groups.

The confrontation came hours before a city-wide Mid-Autumn festival celebration where demonstrators are set to carry lanterns and form human chains on the scenic Victoria Peak, an area popular with mainland Chinese tour groups. The human chain is also due to be formed on Lion Rock which separates the New Territories from the Kowloon peninsula.

The anti-China demonstrations started in June in response to a bill that would have allowed people to be sent to mainland China for trial in Communist Party-controlled courts, but have broadened into calls for democracy.

China says Hong Kong is now its internal affair. It denies meddling in Hong Kong and has accused the United States, Britain and others of fomenting the unrest.

Britain says it has a legal responsibility to ensure China abides by its obligations under the Joint Declaration. (REUTERS)

GCTA surrenderer calls on Duterte for ‘mercy’

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 12, 2019

“Inamin ko iyong kaso ko na hindi ko naman ginawa, (I admitted to a crime I did not commit,” Lando said.

Lando, not his real name, said he had good behavior during his time in prison. He was released under the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law last January 2017.

He also said he did not pay for anything to avail the benefits of the GCTA law.

But after President Rodrigo Duterte’s order, he had no choice but to surrender. However, he calls on the president to give inmates like him a chance.

“Dapat alam din ni presidente ang damdamin ng mahirap. Sana maawa siya doon sa mga taong gusto talagang magbagong buhay, (The president should also consider poor people’s feelings. I hope he shows mercy to those individuals who really want to change their lives),” he said.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) assured that they will release inmates who really deserve to be released.

According to BuCor PIO Chief Sr. Insp. Eusebio Del Rosario Jr., they will provide clearance to those who are really eligible to be released “in accordance with the policy or the law.”

“Kung hindi sila mag-qualify dito o upon the re-computation kung mayroon pa silang natitirang sentensya na kailangang i-serve, itutuloy nila iyon, (If they did not qualify here or upon the re-computation, or they still have remaining sentence they need to serve, they have to continue it)” he said.—AAC (with reports from Sherwin Culubong)

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