Lacson seeks review of PH-China ties amid West Philippine Sea issue

Robie de Guzman   •   May 4, 2021   •   511

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson is pushing for a review of the diplomatic ties between the Philippines and China in the wake of China’s recent incursions in the West Philippine Sea.

In a statement, Lacson stressed that a review of the diplomatic relations between the two countries is “timely and called for” following reports on China’s continued activities in the Philippine territorial waters despite the diplomatic protests filed by the country’s Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

“What kind of friend – or benefactor – would take what is ours, bully us, and ignore our protests?” said Lacson, who chairs the Senate committee on national defense.

“Maybe a review of the country’s diplomatic relations is timely and called for. All the diplomatic protests that the Secretary of Foreign Affairs filed have been ignored as if nothing was filed at all. The continued incursions and bullying finally got his goat. The Senate must support him in this regard,” he added.

In pushing for a review of Philippine-China diplomatic ties, Lacson pointed out the Philippines must become “innovative and creative” in approaching the issue as diplomatic protests no longer seem effective.

“There are so many possibilities to explore,” he said.

On the other hand, Lacson said the review should go hand in hand with seeking stronger alliances with the more militarily powerful countries like the United States, Australia, even Japan and some European Union countries to maintain the balance of power in the region as he pointed out China has already made at least three incursions into Philippines EEZ – Scarborough Shoal, Panatag Shoal, and now Julian Felipe Reef.

Lacson said Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon, the principal author and sponsor of a recently filed Senate resolution on the WPS issue, has accepted his proposed amendments.

His first proposed amendment to the resolution is changing the word “condemning” to “strongly objecting.”

“To condemn means some sort of eternal divine punishment. Hence, no matter how unlikely, in case China eases up on its aggressive stance, our condemnation cannot be taken back,” he said.

His second proposed amendment was to “urge the Department of Foreign Affairs to consider a review of the long existing diplomatic relations between the Philippines and China in order to send a clear message that the incursions into our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in utter disregard of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the rule of law is totally unacceptable.”

The senator also reiterated that the issue on the West Philippine Sea should not be connected with other issues, including vaccine donations.

“We should have a united stand on the West Philippine Sea, and this should not be connected to any other issue except sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said.


Philippines eases quarantine rules for fully vaxxed travelers, returning Filipinos

Robie de Guzman   •   January 28, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – Fully vaccinated nationals of non-visa requiring countries under Executive Order (EO) No. 408, series of 1960 will soon be allowed to enter the Philippines, Malacañang said Friday.

In a press briefing, acting presidential spokesperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said that starting February 10, foreign nationals who are holders of passports valid for at least six months at the time of their arrival, and with tickets back to their home countries or next country of destination will be allowed to enter the Philippines.

This policy essentially allows fully vaccinated international visitors traveling for business and tourism purposes as long as they came from countries specified under the EO. The list can be viewed here.

These passengers will also be required to present proof of vaccination against COVID-19 recognized under existing IATF regulations, including World Health Organization International Certificates of Vaccination and Prophylaxis, VaxCertPH, and national/state digital certificate of the foreign government which has accepted VaxCertPH under a reciprocal arrangement unless otherwise permitted by the IATF.

They shall also observe the existing testing and quarantine protocols in place for fully vaccinated international arriving passengers.

Nograles said children below 18 years of age are exempted from the requirement of full vaccination and providing proof of vaccination status prior to their flights.

Fully vaccinated nationals shall not be included in the arrival quota set by the Department of Transportation and its One-Stop-Shop, he added.

Nograles also announced that starting February 16, only fully vaccinated foreign nationals will be allowed to enter the Philippines.

He, however, clarified that unvaccinated or partially vaccinated Filipinos would still be allowed to return home.

“Pagdating sa Feb. 16, absolutely whether EO 408, or whether non-EO 408 or whether ito yung mga foreign nationals na for certain exemptions natin because of their expertise or their technical expertise or knowhow na binibigyan natin ng pahintulot na pumasok, basta absolutely by Feb 16 ang pwede lamang pumasok na foreign nationals ay fully vaccinated po lamang,” he said.

Nograles said this quarantine and testing protocol will be implemented until a new variant of concern emerges.

“Pag-suspend natin ng country classification, red, yellow, and green is temporarily suspended unless we need to bring it back due to and emerging variant of concern that has to be made very clear,” he said.

“This is something that we will continue to monitor. But as of today and as of the moment, we are seeing that it is widely omicron and we are only accepting fully-vaccinated. We are hoping that we could ramp up vaccination for more of our kababayans,” he added.

Philippines suspends COVID-19 risk classification for inbound travelers

Robie de Guzman   •   January 28, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government is suspending the implementation of COVID-19 risk classification for incoming travelers starting February 1, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said Friday.

In a press briefing, Nograles announced that the “green,” “yellow,” and “red” COVID-19 classifications for countries/territories/jurisdictions will be temporarily suspended.

This means that there will be no distinction regardless of whether a traveler arrived from a country that is high, moderate, or low-risk for COVID-19 transmission.

Nograles said that starting February, the Philippines would implement the following protocols in the entry of international passengers, regardless of their country of origin:

  • Fully vaccinated international arriving passengers shall be required to present a negative RT-PCR test taken within 48 hours prior to departure from the country of origin
  • Upon arrival, they shall no longer be required to observe mandatory facility-based quarantine
  • Shall self-monitor for any sign or symptom for 7 days with the first day being the date of arrival and shall be required to report to the local government unit of destination upon the manifestation of symptoms, if any

Nograles said international travelers will be required to present proof of vaccination against COVID-19 recognized under existing IATF regulations, including World Health Organization International Certificates of Vaccination and Prophylaxis, VaxCertPH, and national/state digital certificate of the foreign government which has accepted VaxCertPH under a reciprocal arrangement unless otherwise permitted by the IATF.

Meanwhile, passengers unvaccinated, partially vaccinated, or individuals whose vaccination status cannot be independently validated will have to present a negative RT-PCR test result taken within 48 hours before leaving their country of origin.

They will be required to undergo facility-based quarantine until the release of their negative RT-PCR test taken on the 5th day. Afterward, they will have to undergo home quarantine until the 14th day, with the date of their arrival being the first day.

The local government units (LGU) of destination and their respective Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams are tasked with monitoring arriving passengers undergoing home quarantine.

As for children below 12 years of age who can’t be vaccinated, Nograles said they will follow the quarantine protocol applied to the parent or guardian accompanying them.

Those currently undergoing quarantine as of February 1, 2022, may avail of the aforementioned testing and quarantine protocols, he added.

Nograles said the latest policy was based on the recommendations of the Task Force on COVID-19 New Variants, as well as the sub-technical working group on data analytics.

Palace says PH economic growth proof of strength, resilience amid challenges

Robie de Guzman   •   January 27, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang views the growth of the Philippine economy as evidence of the country’s strength and resilience despite the challenges it is facing brought about by the coronavirus pandemic and natural disasters such as typhoons, acting presidential spokesperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that the Philippine gross domestic product (GDP) posted a growth of 7.7 percent in the fourth quarter, resulting in 5.6 percent full-year growth in 2021.

It slightly exceeded the target range of 5 percent to 5.5 percent set by the Development Budget Coordination Committee last year. This is also faster compared to the third quarter, which was revised to 6.9 percent from 7.1 percent, and higher than expected by the government and the private sector.

“We commend our Economic Team for deftly managing the economy through these turbulent times, and thank our people for their sacrifices, hard work, and faith in the leadership of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during this challenging period,” Nograles said in a statement.

The Palace official said the administration will continue to pursue policies and reforms as we rebuild a stronger economy to provide Filipinos a “safe, healthy and comfortable life.”

To realize this, Nograles called for the passage of the amendments to the Public Service Act, which, he said, would open key sectors to foreign investments, subject to safeguards

The Palace also expressed support for the passage of the proposed Livestock Development and Competitiveness Bill to improve the competitiveness of the livestock, poultry, and dairy sectors.

Nograles also said that the Philippine Innovation Act should be implemented to improve people’s productivity.



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