After insult, U.S. and Clinton call for Duterte to show respect

admin   •   September 7, 2016   •   2965

Duterte speaks during a news conference in Davao

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a news conference in Davao city, southern Philippines August 21, 2016. REUTERS/Lean Daval Jr/File Photo

 

(Note: paragraphs 1 and 9 contain language that may offend some readers)

By Arshad Mohammed and Jeff Mason

The U.S. State Department and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Tuesday stressed the need for ties with the Philippines to be based on mutual respect, after Manila’s new leader raised worries about the future of the key alliance by calling President Barack Obama a “son of a bitch.”

Despite U.S. dismay over Duterte’s remarks, though, current and former U.S. officials played down the impact, saying they did not expect any serious damage to ties at a time of high tensions over China’s extensive territorial claims in Asia.

The State Department said a planned first meeting between Obama and his counterpart Rodrigo Duterte on the sidelines of a regional summit in Laos on Tuesday was canceled because the tone of the Philippine leader’s rhetoric raised questions about the chances of productive talks.

“Words matter, and we want to see an atmosphere that is cordial and open to strong cooperation,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner told a regular news briefing in Washington.

Clinton, who as secretary of state was an architect of Obama’s policy of emphasizing the importance of the Asia Pacific to U.S. interests in the face of a rising China, said Obama was right to cancel the meeting.

“When the president of the Philippines insulted our president, it was appropriate and a very low-key way to say: sorry, no meeting,” she told reporters on her campaign plane.

“We have a lot of ties between the United States and the Philippines. And I think it’s very important that we have a relationship, but there has to be a certain level of respect that is expected on both sides,” Clinton said.

Duterte made the remark about Obama while explaining that he would not be lectured over extrajudicial killings in the war against drugs he has launched since taking two months ago and which has killed about 2,400 people.

He has previously called the pope a “son of a whore” and the U.S. ambassador a “gay son of whore.”

The Philippines voiced regret for Duterte’s comments after Obama canceled a formal bilateral meeting. The White House then said Obama might speak with Duterte informally.

“FEELING HIS WAY”

Duterte’s volatile nature threatens to complicate Washington’s ties with its closest ally in Southeast Asia as it tries to forge a united front in the region in response to China’s extensive claims in the strategic South China Sea.

The Philippines has been central in this effort due to an international court case it brought and won against Beijing.

In March, the United States and the Philippines agreed on five locations for U.S. military facilities in the country under a new security deal. The deal grants Washington increased military presence in its former colony through rotation of ships and planes for humanitarian and maritime security operations.

Asked about Duterte’s comments, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said the defense relationship with the Philippines was a “strong” and “longstanding” one.

Speaking to reporters, Carter also described the Philippines’ new defense minister, Delfin Lorenzana, as someone who was “very knowledgeable about all the things that we do together.”

An official of the U.S. State Department said “government to government” relations with Manila remained strong.

“The areas that we believe we have robust, strong cooperation with them, we are not going to just simply throw that aside.”

The official noted that Duterte was new to national leadership having served as a city mayor.

“He is maybe feeling his way into the new job,” the official said.

Former U.S. officials said China would be pleased by the U.S.-Philippines friction.

“Time will tell whether President Duterte steps back from this episode and realizes he needs to recalibrate his choice of words in engaging U.S. leaders,” said Amy Searight, a former senior Pentagon official now at Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank.

Evan Medeiros, Obama’s former top Asia adviser and now a senior analyst at the Eurasia Group, saw the row as a “speed bump, not a road block” in U.S.-Philippines ties.

“It’s unfortunate, but doesn’t fundamentally derail the relationship,” he said.

(Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom, Matt Spetalnick and Patricia Zengerle in Washington and Phil Stewart in London; editing by Stuart Grudgings.)

Wuhan health workers call for supplies amid rising death toll from novel coronavirus

Marje Pelayo   •   January 27, 2020

People move medical supplies off a JD.com van coming from the coastal Jiangsu province at a hospital in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, 26 January 2020 (issued 27 January 2020). According to media reports, Wuhan is widely considered as the origin point of the coronavirus outbreak. The virus outbreak has so far killed at least 56 people with around 2,000 infected, mostly in China. EPA-EFE/YUAN ZHENG CHINA OUT

Medical workers at the Wuhan Fifth Hospital are calling for donations of protection materials as they struggle to contain the novel coronavirus (nCoV) that has now claimed at least 56 lives and infected over 1,900 others in China.

The hospital management on a post on social media announced the facility’s lack of supplies to protect their workers who are working arduously to attend to nCoV patients crowding the hospital.

Since the emergence of novel coronavirus in Wuhan City, the hospital has been a designated diagnosis and treatment hospital for fever patients.

However, the hospital said their protection materials are extremely limited for handling the increasing number of patients, putting their medical personnel in danger of being exposed to infection.

Chinese media China Global Television Network reported on Saturday (January 25) that one of the doctors who had been treating the nCoV patients in Wuhan, has died from the new virus.

A doctor from Hubei Xinhua Hospital, 62-year-old Liang Wudong, died after contracting the virus.

Wuhan Fifth Hospital is asking for the following supplies to protect their health workers while they struggle to treat the patients of nCoV:

  • Medical surgical masks
  • Medical protective clothing/gows
  • Protective goggles
  • Disinfectant
  • Disposable disinfection bed cover

“If you have the following resources from all walks of life, please help us!” the hospital statement said.

“The hospital is grateful for all sectors of the society to donate the following protective supplies with formal channels and complete qualifications in accordance with the law,” the statement read further.

Anyone who wishes to help may contact the following persons:

  • Equipment Section Panjiang 18507188286
  • Hospital Office Li Shaoting 13971254047

So far, lockdown has been declared in at least 20 cities in China in a move to contain the virus.

Across the globe, countries with reported cases of nCoV includes Australia (1); Hongkong (6); France (3); Japan (4); Malaysia (4); Nepal (1); Singapore (3); South Korea (3); Taiwan (3); Thailand (8); (The) United States (5); Vietnam (2).

Man in Tacloban City quarantined for novel coronavirus infection

Marje Pelayo   •   January 24, 2020

Philippine Marines rush to shore during an amphibious landing exercise with United States counterparts on a beach on the coast of the Naval Education and Training Command in Zambales Province, northwest of Manila, Philippines, 09 May 2018. The Philippines-US Balikatan (Shoulder to Shoulder) Military Exercise is on its 34th iteration, which is aimed to enhance interoperability between security forces of the two countries. EPA-EFE/ROLEX DELA PENA

MANILA, Philippines – A 36-year-old male patient in Tacloban City is now under observation for potential signs of novel coronavirus, the Department of Health (DOH) revealed Friday (January 24).

The patient, who traveled from Wuhan, China, showed symptoms of nCov upon his arrival in the Philippines on January 17.

Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo, however, clarified that it is still too early to conclude that the man is infected with novel coronavirus.

The DOH is keeping a list of all individuals from China who sought medical tests relative to the outbreak of novel coronavirus.

Among them is a two-year-old toddler from Aklan.

The DOH clarified, however, that the toddler showed symptoms not worse than an ordinary flu.

Meanwhile, the DOH said they are expecting the release of the confirmatory test on the patients’ blood samples by next week.

The samples are now being tested at the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory in Melbourne, Australia, including that of the 6-year-old Chinese boy in Cebu who was first to be observed for nCoV infection.

At present, the World Health Organization (WHO) is not yet considering the situation a global health emergency.

Also, the Philippines is still technically free of novel coronavirus pending the confirmatory tests from Australia.

Nonetheless, Health offices across the country remain on alert against possible entry of the nCoV given the Philippines’ proximity to China.

Authorities are warning the public to refrain from travelling to China and always wear masks especially airport personnel as they are the first to have contact with arriving passengers from other countries. MNP (with details from Aiko Miguel)

PH now working on terminating PH-US VFA, says Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   January 24, 2020

Philippine Marines rush to shore during an amphibious landing exercise with United States counterparts on a beach on the coast of the Naval Education and Training Command in Zambales Province, northwest of Manila, Philippines, 09 May 2018. The Philippines-US Balikatan (Shoulder to Shoulder) Military Exercise is on its 34th iteration, which is aimed to enhance interoperability between security forces of the two countries. EPA-EFE/ROLEX DELA PENA

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang confirmed Friday that the Philippines has started the process of terminating the Visiting Forces Agreement with the United States, a day after President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to end the deal if it does not reverse the cancellation of Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa’s visa.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the president issued the termination order Thursday night despite giving a month for the US to restore the senator’s visa.

Panelo said the order has already been relayed to Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. as well as Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez.

“I just talked with Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin, and he said that he will start with the process and he called up already the vice chair and they talked, and Ambassador Romualdez has already been informed, I was also talking to him earlier,” he said.

In a tweet on Friday, Locsin confirmed he and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana have taken the first step in ending the 1998 deal with the US government.

Locsin sits as the chairperson of the Commission on Visiting Forces while Lorenzana serves as vice chairman.

“Del Lorenzana and I- as Vice and Chair of USVFA – are starting the process of terminating it by first contacting the Senate because it is a treaty on our side, an executive agreement on the US side. I’m leaving for Washington on a totally unrelated matter,” he wrote on his Twitter account.

Lorenzana, for his part, refrained from commenting into Duterte’s latest pronouncement.

“Will study it first,” he said in a message to reporters. “No comment muna. Too soon to comment.”

The VFA is a bilateral accord between Washington and Manila that came into force in 1999. It outlines the guidelines about the treatment of their troops when visiting the US or the Philippines. It includes provisions on visa and passport policies for US troops and the American government’s right to retain jurisdiction over its personnel, among others.

The deal may be terminated by either of the two countries by writing to the other party signifying their intent to end the agreement. Its expiration will come 180 days from the date of notification. – RRD (with details from Correspondents Rosalie Coz & Lea Ylagan)

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