‘New turning point’ for ties, China tells Philippines visitors

admin   •   September 14, 2016   •   2498

China's Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin speaks during a news conference in Beijing, July 13, 2016. China Daily/via REUTERS

China’s Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin speaks during a news conference in Beijing, July 13, 2016. China Daily/via REUTERS

 

Relations between China and the Philippines are at a turning point, a top Chinese diplomat has told a visiting Philippine delegation, adding that China hopes the Philippines can handle disputes “appropriately” and get relations back on track.

The remarks by Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin come as two countries at odds over sovereignty in the South China Sea try to sound each other out, and set parameters for dialogue on an issue in which both have vowed not to give way.

The mid-level visit was the latest part of some carefully calibrated engagement after a July ruling by an arbitration panel in The Hague that overwhelmingly favored the Philippines in its dispute with China over the South China Sea, invalidating China’s claim to most of the waters.

China has declined to recognize the ruling while Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly said he wants peace with China, but will not make concessions on any part of the tribunal’s conclusion.

Liu said their bilateral relations had “sunk to a low edge for reasons everyone knows”, China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement issued late on Tuesday.

“At present, China-Philippine relations are at a new turning point,” it quoted Liu saying, adding that China hoped the Philippines “can meet China halfway, appropriately handle disputes and push relations back onto the track of dialogue, consultation and friendly cooperation”.

China’s bid to improve relations with the Philippines comes amid uncertainty, and acrimony, over the normally tight relations between the Philippines and its main ally, the United States, as Duterte shows little sign of dialing down rhetoric fiercely critical of Washington.

That tension, following U.S. concern about a bloody Philippine campaign against drugs, has created some speculation that Duterte’s resentment about what he sees as colonial-era American interference, plus the prospect of luring big-ticket Chinese investment, could nudge Manila closer to Beijing.

Duterte has, however, insisted he wants solid ties with both powers, and subservience to no country.

‘NO ILLUSIONS’

U.S. President Barack Obama canceled a meeting with Duterte at an Asian leaders’ summit in Laos last week after a televised outburst by the Philippine leader.

Though that has caused jitters in Washington, Duterte’s softer tone toward China was not a cause for concern, according to some U.S. officials.

Speaking in Laos, White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes suggested Philippine engagement with China suited the United States and would be seen as “a constructive development” if it resulted in peaceful problem-solving and followed international law.

China’s influential Global Times tabloid noted last week that despite the acrimony between Obama and Duterte, China should “not hold too many illusions” about U.S.-Philippine relations.

Referring to Duterte, the newspaper said that long term, it “will not necessarily be easy to deal with the Philippines under his rule”.

The 16-member Philippine delegation in China is comprised mostly of retired diplomats and is led by Rafael Alunan, a trusted associate of former President Fidel Ramos.

Duterte has picked Ramos as his point-man for patching up ties with China, which were tested again last week when the Philippines published images of what it said were new Chinese vessels at the disputed Scarborough Shoal. — Reuters

11 Pinoy seafarers na ilang buwang stranded sa barko sa China, nakabalik na sa bansa

Robie de Guzman   •   September 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Matapos ang halos pitong buwan ay nakauwi na sa bansa ang 11 Pilipinong marinong stranded sa sinasakyang barko sa China dahil sa pagsasara ng mga border sa iba’t ibang bansa sa gitna ng pandemiya.

Martes ng madaling araw nang dumating sa bansa ang grupo at pansamantalang mamamalagi sa isang quarantine facility sa Pasay City upang hintayin ang resulta ng swab test na isinagawa sa paliparan.

Ayon kay Anthony Medina, labis ang kagalakan niya at ng kanyang mga kasamahan dahil sa wakas ay nakauwi na sila at muli nang makakapiling ang kani-kanilang pamilya.

“Sobrang saya po namin talagang halos gusto namin na mauna pa kami sa eroplano makalapag eh. Makikita na po namin ang mga mahal namin sa buhay,” ang wika ni Medina.

Nagpasalamat din ang kapatid ni Anthony na si Analiza Medina sa lahat ng mga tumulong upang makauwi ang mga tripulante.

“Para po kaming nanghihina na parang wala ng mag rerescue sa kanila. Kaya po talagang sobrang saya namin na nakauwi na sila. Nagpapasalamat po kami sa lahat ng tumulong at sa mga hindi po nagsawa na tulungan sila,” ang pahayag ni Analiza.

Bago umuwi sa kani-kanilang pamilya, kailangan munang asikasuhan ng mga marino ang ilang mga bagay sa kanilang agency.

Samantala, tiniyak naman ng Overseas Workers Welfare Administration na bibigyan ng ayuda ang mga umuwing seafarer. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Lucille Lloren)

Malacañang allays public fear of possible Facebook ban

Marje Pelayo   •   September 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang has allayed public fear of a possible ban on social media giant Facebook following President Rodrigo Duterte’s remarks on Tuesday night (September 29) expressing his disappointment over the platform’s policy.

“You cannot lay down a policy for my government. I allow you to operate here. You cannot bar or prevent me from espousing the objectives of the government,” Duterte said. 

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the President wants to have a talk with Facebook to clarify issues regarding its censorship policy against pages that support the government.

“Number 1 po kasi tayo sa buong mundo sa Pilipinas so kung wala tayo, malaking kawalan yan sa Facebook [The Philippines is the number 1 user in the world. It’s a big loss to Facebook],” Roque said.

“Pero at the same time, dahil nga number 1 tayo, marami ring Pilipino ang gumagamit ng Facebook. Maapektuhan din. So sinabi naman ng president, pag-usapan iyan [But at the same time since we are number 1, many Filipinos are using Facebook. It will affect us. So the President wants a discussion about it],” he added.

Among the accounts that have been taken down is the advocacy group Hands Off Our Children, a page which aims to protect minors from recruitment by extremists who entice youths to become combatants and fight the government.

Meanwhile, Malacañang has again questioned Facebook’s choice of fact-checkers— online news platforms Rappler and Vera Files— who are critical of the present administration.

Roque said the government is now contemplating on commissioning fact-checkers of social media platforms in the country similar to what other countries are doing.

“Pag-aaralan po natin kung dapat gawin natin iyan dahil di po tayo makakapayag na ang fact-checkers ay tanging mga laban lamang sa gobyerno [We will take that into consideration because that has to be done. We cannot allow that fact-checkers are only those who are all against the government],” Roque concluded. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Lacson, Sotto to Duterte: Don’t resign, just apply anti-graft laws to both friends, foes

Robie de Guzman   •   September 29, 2020

MANILA, Phillippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson on Tuesday said that President Rodrigo Duterte should just implement the anti-graft laws to all violators instead of resigning if he wants to end corruption in the government.

READ: Duterte admits offering to resign over endless corruption in government

“Instead of resigning, the President only needs to be consistent in applying the anti-graft and corruption laws to both friends and foes,” Lacson said in a statement.

Lacson issued the statement after Duterte said he has offered to step down from office out of frustration over the rampant corruption in the country.

“Ewan ko kung sabihin ko ito sa inyo. I offered to resign as president. Pinatawag ko yung lahat, sabi ko, ‘Kasi nagsasawa na ako. In my years of government […] talagang wala na katapusan itong korupsyon. Mahirap talaga pigilin,” Duterte said during his public address late Monday night.

The president’s remarks follows on the heels of fresh allegations of irregularities in the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).

Duterte earlier promised to fire officials over just “a whiff” of corruption.

“Strong words and warnings may work, but only when backed by political will and followed by concrete actions. There is no better way,” Lacson said.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III also said that it is the corrupt officials who should be resigning and not Duterte.

“Dapat ‘yung mga corrupt sa gobyerno makaisip noon, hindi siya. He was elected by the country, he cannot turn his back on the specified task by the Filipinos! I don’t think he means it,” Sotto said in a message to reporters.

As for Duterte’s offer to appear before a Congressional hearing to tackle corruption, Lacson said it may not be necessary.

“In fact, the Senate is already proposing in a bill to give him Bayanihan-like powers to address red tape in government,” he said.

Lacson was referring to Senate Bill 1844 which seeks to authorize the president to expedite the issuance of national and local permits and licenses in times of national emergency to address corruption and red tape in the government. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

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