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Locsin: No need to review US-PH Defense Treaty

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Saturday, March 2nd, 2019

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodor Locsin Jr. And U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, prior to their meeting at the DFA Office in Pasay City, Philippines. Secretary Pompeo is on an official visit to the Philippines. / DFA photo by Clark Galang

MANILA, Philippines – Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. believes that there is no need to review the United States’ Mutual Defense Treaty with the Philippines.

In a report on UNTV News and Rescue’s Ito Ang Balita by Nel Maribojoc, Locsin cited an “old theory of deterrence” in support of his opinion against reviewing the 68-year old defense deal during a joint press conference with U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo in Pasay City on Friday (March 1).

Locsin also expressed confidence in the repeated assurances of the US that it would assist the Philippines in case of an act of aggression.

“In vagueness lies the best deterrence. I don’t believe that going down into the details is the way the sincerity of the American commitment will be shown. They will respond, depending on the circumstances, ” he said.

Locsin, however, acknowledged that the proposal to review the treaty between Manila and Washington “requires further thought.”

It can be recalled that in 2018, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana sought a review of the 1951 US-PHL Mutual Defense Treaty over its relevance, given the Philippines’ dispute with China in the South China Sea. President Rodrigo Duterte, in the past several occasions, has also expressed doubt if the U.S. would ever come to the country’s aid against China’s growing aggression in the disputed territories.

Pompeo, meanwhile, assured the Philippines that the Mutual Defense Treaty would cover the South China Sea, where China reclaimed some reefs and built artificial islands.

Under the accord, the two countries will support each other in case of attack by an external party in the pacific region.

“China’s island building and military activities in the South China Sea threatened your sovereignty, security, and economic livelihood, as well as the United States. As the South China Sea is the part of the pacific, any armed attack on Philippine forces, aircraft , or public vessels in the South China Sea will trigger mutual defense obligations under Article 4 of our Mutual Defense Treaty,” Pompeo said.

Malacañang, on the other hand, still wants to pursue the proposal for review despite the assurance given by Pompeo.

“I’m sure the Secretary of Defense, Lorenzana would want to review despite the pronouncement. There may be some kinks in that treaty that needs to be clarified. So, I think there is still a need to review despite the policy statement. We will have to evaluate,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said during an interview with Malacanang reporters on Friday.

Meanwhile, Washington’s top diplomat also committed to support the Philippine Armed Forces modernization program and strengthen the two countries’ cooperation in combating terrorism and illegal drug trade.

After meeting DFA Sec. Locsin, Pompeo met with a group of Filipino business leaders and visited the US Embassy in Manila before leaving the Philippines. – Robie de Guzman

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PH won’t withdraw from UN rights council – Locsin

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Tuesday, July 16th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines will not withdraw from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) despite its adoption of a resolution seeking to review the human rights situation in the country amid President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said Tuesday.

Locsin wrote on his Twitter account that the UNHRC vote was a “a small and harmless matter,” and the Philippines is “not severing diplomatic relations with any country.”

“We’re staying in UNHRC as a pedagogical duty to teach Europeans moral manners. We’re NOT severing diplomatic relations with any country. If we did, where’s the conversation? How do you insult those who insulted us if you cut them off?” he said.

Locsin earlier hinted at the Philippines’ possible withdrawal from the U.N. body following the adoption of a resolution led by Iceland. Eighteen countries voted for the resolution, 14 rejected it and 15 abstained.

“No embassy in Iceland. Nor does Iceland have an embassy here. Iceland took the place of the US after it withdrew from the Human Rights Council. I think we need to follow America more,” he said.

READ: Philippine eyes withdrawal from UN Human Rights Council

Malacañang has earlier expressed support for Locsin’s remark on severing diplomatic relations with Iceland, saying the Nordic island nation’s move which was supported by 17 other countries can be viewed as interference in the Philippines’ domestic affairs.

READ: PH mulls severing ties with Iceland, 17 other nations

Among the countries that voted in favor of the resolution are Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Fiji, Italy, Iceland, Mexico, Peru, Slovakia, Spain, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and Uruguay.

“’Pag ang isang bansa ay nagpapahayag ng mga posisyon na makakasira sa ating kasarinlan o sovereignty ay kailangang talagang putulin natin ang relasyon natin sa kanila kung wala silang gagawin kundi siraan tayo ng siraan sa mga kalakaran na di naman batay sa tunay na pangyayari dito sa ating bayan,” Panelo said.

(If a country is making declarations that are an affront to our independence or sovereignty, if they continue to do or say negative things that are not based on facts or occurrences in our country, then we need to sever our ties with them.)

However, Panelo said that Duterte will have the final say on the matter, as well as on a proposal for the Philippines to withdraw its membership from the UNHRC.

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AFP: No sightings of anti-ship ballistic missile test in West PH Sea

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, July 5th, 2019

A Filipino soldier patrols at the shore of Pagasa island (Thitu Island) in the Spratly group of islands in the South China Sea, west of Palawan, Philippines, May 11, 2015. REUTERS/RITCHIE B. TONGO/POOL

MANILA, Philippines – The Western Command (WESCOM) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said there is no monitored sighting of an anti-ship ballistic test in the West Philippine Sea, following reports of a missile launch by China in the area.

“Based on the report of our operating units, particularly the Joint Task Force West, there is no monitored sighting of anti-ship ballistic missile test conducted in our joint area of operations,” the AFP said in a statement dated July 3.

The military assured it is regularly conducting maritime patrol missions in the Philippine-held island detachments, especially in the West Philippine Sea.

“WESCOM is continuously monitoring our area of responsibility especially in the West Philippine Sea and conducts regular maritime and sovereignty patrol missions incessantly to sustain our presence in the 9 PH-held island detachments,” the AFP said.   

The military issued the statement after Pentagon reported about China’s “disturbing” missile launch near the Spratly (Kalayaan) islands that is contrary to Beijing’s pledge in 2015 not to militarize the man-made outposts in the disputed waterway.

The Philippine Department of National Defense earlier said an inquiry into the said reports will be conducted.

“We will decide later what to do if proven correct,” Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in a message sent to reporters.  

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Three Filipino tourists jailed in Hong Kong

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Wednesday, July 3rd, 2019

Courtesy : Photoville International

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) confirmed giving assistance to three Filipino tourists who were sentenced to five-month imprisonment in Hong Kong for using forged documents.

According the DFA, the three call center employees were involved in a supposed “free Hong Kong tour” which turned out to be a scam.

They opened bank accounts, specifically with Bank of China and Standard Chartered Bank, using falsified documents.

Despite successfully opening an account, authorities suspected that the accounts were to be used for money laundering activities and so arrested the three when they returned to the bank.

“Consul General Antonio Morales reported that the Philippine Consulate General in Hong Kong has been providing in-kind support and legal advice to the three Filipinos, including jail visits to ascertain their condition,” the DFA said.

Sentenced on February 18, the three Filipinos pleaded guilty to two counts of “using a false instrument” before the Hong Kong Magistrates’ Courts.

For this, Morales said the three are expected to be released in March after serving a reduced sentence for admitting the offense.

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