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Panelo: Chinese envoy won’t be summoned over Recto Bank allision

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Tuesday, June 18th, 2019

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte greets Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua on the sidelines of the International Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee head Song Tao’s courtesy call on the President at Matina Enclaves in Davao City on March 27, 2019.

MANILA, Philippines – Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua will not be summoned over the allision incident involving Filipino and Chinese fishing vessels in Recto Bank (Reed Bank) in the West Philippine Sea, Malacañang said on Tuesday.

“The president, I think, is not inclined to do that,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.

“Because ang feeling niya, ginagawa na nila, may statement na si Ambassador about seriously and cautiously studying the facts,” he added.

Panelo’s statement contradicts the earlier remark of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana that China’s representative would be invited to the Palace to explain about the matter.

Duterte on Monday described the sinking of a Philippine boat by a Chinese ship as a “little maritime accident.”

‘Wag kayong maniwala sa mga politiko na bobo, gusto papuntahin ‘yung Navy. You do not send gray ships there. Banggaan lang ng barko ‘yan,” the chief executive said in a speech during a Philippine Navy event in Cavite.

The president’s remark disappointed many, including the Filipino fishers.

READ: Filipino boat captain laments Duterte’s remark on West PH Sea allision incident

But Panelo explained, the President was just being cautious about the matter to prevent it from becoming an international crisis, which might affect trade relations between the Philippines and China and other sectors, including the ordinary fishermen visiting disputed territories and the Filipino workers in China.

“He doesn’t want this blown into an international crisis given the fact na matagal din na nabago ‘yung relasyon from the time ng previous administration na masama ang relasyon,” he said.

The Palace official also reiterated that the Philippine government would wait for the investigation to be concluded before taking any action.

Panelo said concerned agencies are already conducting further probe to clear any doubts on whether the incident was accidental or intentional, following the seemingly contradicting statements of some Filipino crew members.

“Kaya medyo nagkaroon ng doubt tuloy, of course, sinasabi ng Kapitan sinadya, sinasabi naman ng cook, mukhang ‘di sila nakita, with more reason na kailangang imbestigahan,” he said.

Panelo also floated the possibility of a joint investigation by the Philippines and China on the incident. (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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Senators expect to hear salary, labor, sea dispute issues in Duterte 4th SONA

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Saturday, July 20th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Ahead of President Rodrigo Duterte’s fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 22, some senators have already picked out certain topics that they want the Chief Executive to discuss in his speech.

According to Senator Sonny Angara, he expects the president to outline his plans not only for his remaining three years in office but for the next decade.

In particular, Angara said the 2020 national budget should lay down the framework for the 10-year development plan for the country.

“This should result in the next administration building on what the President has achieved and what he started during his term and not the perennial focus on going after its predecessors,” he said in a statement.

The lawmaker added he would also like to hear the president fulfilling his promise of raising the teachers’ salaries, as well as his plan on creating more jobs and livelihood opportunities for Filipino workers.

“We want to see the creation of more jobs and opportunities for the Filipino people so that they are able to improve their lives and no longer see the need to go abroad in order to make ends meet,” Angara said.

Meanwhile, Senator Joel Villanueva said he wants to hear during the president’s SONA the administration’s commitment to further protect and promote the interests of Filipino workers.

READ: Villanueva expects gov’t commitment to protect Filipino workers on Duterte SONA

Villanueva said he is particularly eager to find out the outcome of the Security of Tenure bill, popularly known as the “End Endo” bill, which seeks to put an end to the practice of illegal labor contracting.

“The bill adheres to the Constitution, which mandates the regulation of relations between workers and employers, recognizing the right of labor to its just share in the fruits of production and the right of enterprises to reasonable returns on investments, and to expansion and growth,” he said.

“Thus, the Security of Tenure bill manages to strike a balance between contrasting interests of labor and employers,” he added.

For Senator Aquilino ‘Koko’ Pimentel, he wants to hear about the president’s priority bills, as well as his view on the surge of illegal foreign workers in the country.

“His priorities for one year usually, and then priorities for the last second half of his term,” he said.

Aside from labor issues, Senator Risa Hontiveros also expects the president to tackle in his speech the issue on the West Philippine Sea and the country’s assertion of Philippine sovereignty in the disputed waters.

“Wish ko lang na sasabihin ni Presidente na sa wakas after 3 years ay i-champion na niya, itataguyod yung tagumpay natin vis a vis China sa West Philippine Sea,” she said.

Duterte has been facing criticisms over his stance on China’s continued trawling in the country’s exclusive economic zone.

He earlier stressed that his position on allowing Chinese fishermen access to Philippine waters was not a violation of the Philippine constitution. (with details from Nel Maribojoc)

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34 of 400 samples of pork products tested positive of African Swine Fever – BAI

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Friday, July 19th, 2019

Boxes of pork items from Poland intercepted in Cebu on June 27 | Courtesy: BAI

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has intercepted a number of pork products from Hong Kong and China at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in between June 19 to 28.

The items didn’t have sanitary and phytosanitary clearances from the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) and could have been infested by the deadly pig virus African Swine Fever (ASF).

China is one of the 19 countries from where entry of pork and pork-based products are banned.

From a total of 400 samples that BAI examined, 34 tested positive of ASF and these products could have caused infestation in the country’s hog industry if they were not intercepted.

Germany was the latest addition to the list of countries where entry of pork products to the Philippines was banned.

Though there were no reports yet of ASF-infestation in Germany, the Philippines included it in the list after a German company exported pork products to the Philippines along with some 250 kilograms of pork from ASF-hit Poland.

The said shipment was intercepted in Cebu on June 27 which included 27 boxes of pork items from Poland.

That incident, according to Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol, was a clear violation of the country’s Quarantine Law thus resulting in the ban of pork products from Germany.

“Nakikiusap ako.(‘Im appealing to you) Please understand, these are extraordinary times. We cannot take the risk,” Secretary Piñol said.

“Kasi tingnan mo, Germany napaka-respectable na bansa nyan. It’s export country known for its high standards, nasingitan tayo, (You see Germany is a highly respected country. It’s exports are known for its high standards but some banned (pork) slip past their screening,)” he explained.

Piñol stressed that ASF infestation would compromise the country’s P260-B worth of hog industry.

Some of the Philippines’ neighboring countries have already declared an outbreak of ASF such as Vietnam and Cambodia.

In May, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has asked store owners to self-recall pork products from China that covers those manufactured since the start of the import ban.

Still, Piñol assures the Philippines’ hog industry remains ASF free. – with reports from Rey Pelayo

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Filipinos want Duterte to tackle inflation, jobs, China in 4th SONA – Pulse Asia

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, July 19th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Workers’ pay, inflation and jobs have topped the list of issues that Filipinos would like President Rodrigo Duterte to tackle during his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 22, a survey conducted by Pulse Asia Research, Incorporated revealed Friday.

The survey, conducted from June 24 to 30, showed that 17.1 percent of the 1,200 respondents said they want to hear Duterte talk about workers’ salaries, while another 17.1 percent wanted him to discuss about plans in reducing the prices of basic commodities.

Meanwhile, 15.2 percent of the respondents said they would like to hear Duterte’s accomplishments and plans on generating more jobs or livelihood opportunities.

Other topics Filipinos want the president to mention in his speech on Monday are the issues surrounding the relations between the Philippines and China (9.2 percent), particularly the assertion of Philippine sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea (6.1 percent) and the country’s policy in relation to China (3.1 percent).

Some 7.8 percent of the respondents also want to hear about the government’s war on drugs during Duterte’s SONA, 5.9 percent wanted him to discuss about improving the agricultural sector while 2.6 percent said they want pension increase to be tackled.

For residents in Metro Manila, the top issues they want discussed in Duterte’s SONA are the Philippine-China ties (20.2 percent), employment (18.3 percent), workers’ pay (16.6 percent) and prices of goods (10.7 percent).

The rest of Luzon cited salaries, while Visayans and Mindanaons want the president to talk about inflation, the survey showed.

The study also revealed that 75 percent of Filipino adults were aware of Duterte’s previous SONAs. Majority awareness levels are recorded across geographic areas and socio-economic classes, the Pulse Asia said.

The pollster said it has 95 percent confidence level in the survey results with an error margin of +/-2.8 percent.

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