Locsin confirms filing of protest on Chinese warships’ entry in Sibutu Strait

Maris Federez   •   August 22, 2019   •   328

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Teddy Locsin Jr.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr., confirmed Thursday that the diplomatic protest against China on the illegal entry of its warships in Sibutu Strait has already been filed.

This, following his order to the DFA-Office of Asia and Pacific Affairs to file the protest against the Chinese warships that trespassed in the Philippine seas this month, and also last July, without coordinating with concerned authorities.

Based on the report of the Armed Forces of the Philippines – Western Mindanao Command (AFP-Wesmincom), two Chinese warships were sighted in July. Another three were also monitored passing in the Philippine waters this month.

Locsin said that such acts are clear cases of trespassing as they are not authorized to sail in the waters within the Philippine territory.

“I already described my foreign policy as the fist and iron glove of the Armed Forces. so we work hand in hand with the military,” Locsin added.

The DFA chief hopes that this issue will be tackled in President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit to China next week for the two countries to agree on the necessary steps to take on the matter.

Locsin said they are now in the drafting the agenda of the meeting between President Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping. (with details from Aiko Miguel) /mbmf

AFP: We can move on without VFA with US

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 12, 2020

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) expressed their support for the termination of the Philippines’ Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States.

“It’s not actually naman kawalan (a loss) because as of now, as you can see, we have already some equipment — new planes, we have ships,” said new AFP chief of staff General Felimon Santos Jr.

“We could move on without VFA,” he added.

However, the AFP Chief admitted that the termination might affect the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

The EDCA is designed to promote the strengthening of AFP for external defense, Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response (HADR), and Maritime Security.

Santos also said the fight against terrorism might also be affected since the termination of the VFA includes intelligence sharing between the Philippines and the US.

Despite this, the AFP Chief is confident that the Armed Forces will be able to defend the country.

“We will defend it hanggang kamatayan (to the death),” Santos said.—AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

AFP to send ships, planes, 2 battalions for repatriation of OFWs

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 8, 2020

The Department of National Defense (DND) said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will send two ships, three planes, and two battalions for the repatriation of overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) in the Middles East.

DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the two landing ships can accommodate 500 persons each. They will also send two C130 and a C295 planes.

Lorenzana clarified the two battalions will be deployed to assist Filipinos who will return to the country as tension continues to rise between the United States (US) and Iran.

“The two battalions will not be there to engage in combat with anybody, but to facilitate or help assist in the repatriation of the OFWs especially in Iraq. Hindi sila magpunta doon para makipaglaban, (they will not be sent there to fight)” Lorenzana said.

The Defense Secretary also said they also considering to use cruise ships and commercial airlines to accommodate more Filipinos returning home.

Meanwhile, the BRP Gabriela Silang of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) is set to sail in the Middle East to assist in the repatriation.

Lorenzana also raised concerns over Filipinos who will refuse to leave the Middle East and said it will be a challenge.

“Some Filipinos do not want to leave their job. Kasi sabi nila, ‘anong gagawin natin sa Pilipinas?’ (because they will say ‘what will they do in the Philippines?’) But hopefully, we will be able to convince them—kung medyo delikado iyong buhay nila (if their lives are in danger)—to come home,” he said.—AAC (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

Duterte: PH won’t send troops to Middle East unless national interest demands it

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 8, 2020

President Rodrigo Duterte said the Philippines will not be sending troops to the Middle East unless “the national interest would demand it.”

This is amid the rising tension between the United States (US) and Iran.

“It will be decided not by me, but me and Congress,” Duterte said on Tuesday (January 7).

The President also said the Philippines will honor its defense treaty with the US but won’t allow US forces to use the Philippines as a ‘launching pad’.

“We will continue to respect it in transit. But to use the Philippines as a launching pad for—to fly the missiles and the rockets, I do not think that. I have to stop them,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said the government has allotted P1.8 billion for the repatriation of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) in the Middle East.

“We have provided in the budget already even without that. We already have funds for the repatriation of Overseas Filipino Workers, in the DFA [Department of Foreign Affairs], P1.29 billion in the budget,” he said. “We also have allocation of 100 million in the OWWA budget, and we have also some funds we can tap under the OWWA funds. ”

The government is already preparing for the repatriation of Filipinos in Iran.—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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