Philippines calls for construction freeze in South China Sea

admin   •   June 16, 2014   •   2204

Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario delivers a statement during a news conference in Manila March 30, 2014.
CREDIT: REUTERS/ROMEO RANOCO

(Reuters) – The Philippines said on Monday that China’s “expansion agenda” in the disputed South China Sea threatened security and stability in the region, calling on all claimant states to halt construction activities that may raise tensions.

Albert del Rosario, foreign affairs secretary, said he supported U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia Daniel Russel’s proposal for China and Southeast Asian states to get together for dialogue.

“Let’s call for a moratorium in terms of activities that escalate tension,” del Rosario told ANC Television on Monday. “Now, let’s do that while we work on an expeditious conclusion of the code of conduct and effective implementation.”

Del Rosario said China and other claimant states have been rushing construction activities in their respective claimed territories to expand, citing works in Fiery Cross Reef, Johnson South Reef, Gaven Reef, and Cuarteron Reef.

“They’re accelerating their expansion agenda for the following reasons … one is they want to do this before the conclusion of the code of conduct. They’re also trying to do this very quickly in anticipation of the handing down of the tribunal award.”

Southeast Asian states have been pressing China to conclude a Code of Conduct – a set of rules governing naval actions – for the South China Sea. Last year, the Philippines filed a case at the U.N. Arbitral Court in The Hague to clarify its rights to explore and exploit resources under the U.N. Convention of the Law of the Sea. China has refused to participate in the case.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China had a right to do what it wanted on its islands in the South China Sea as they were Chinese territory, and criticized the Philippines for what it called Manila’s illegal occupation of some of the islands and construction work there.

“On the one hand, the Philippines keep making further provocative moves, and one the other hand make thoughtless remarks about China’s appropriate moves within the scope of our sovereignty,” she told a daily news briefing. “This is totally unreasonable.”

China claims 90 percent of the South China Sea, believed to have huge oil-and-gas deposits and rich in fishery resources. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan also have claims over the sea where about $5 trillion of ship-borne trade passes every year.

Del Rosario said Chinese construction in the Spratlys was an attempt to alter the character of the features, converting reefs into islands to be able to increase maritime entitlements.

China and Vietnam are also involved in an increasingly bitter spat over the operations of a Chinese oil rig in another part of the South China Sea, around the Paracel Islands.

China has made Woody Island, which Beijing calls Sansha city, the hub of its operations on the Paracels, including building a port and airport facilities there.

(Reporting by Manuel Mogato; and Lara Murallos; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchardin BEIJING; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)

UK to increase visa rights if China pursues Hong Kong security law

UNTV News   •   May 29, 2020

The United Kingdom, the United States, Australia and Canada scolded China on Thursday (May 28) for imposing a new security law that they said would threaten freedom and breach a 1984 Sino-British agreement on the autonomy of the former colony.

British foreign minister Dominic Raab said the four countries were “deeply troubled” by the decision of China’s People’s Congress, which democracy activists in Hong Kong fear could erode its freedoms and jeopardise its role as a global financial hub.

China says the legislation will aim to tackle secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference in the city but the plan, unveiled in Beijing last week, triggered the first big protests in Hong Kong for months.

Raab said Britain will give greater visa rights to British national overseas (BNO) passport holders from Hong Kong unless China suspends the proposed security laws. (Reuters)

(Production: Ben Dangerfield)

Global workforce face 305-M job losses in Q2; service sectors in PH to bear brunt

Marje Pelayo   •   May 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The International Labor Organization (ILO) has recorded a 4.8 percent decline in the number of working hours worldwide which is equivalent to 135 million full-time jobs in the first quarter of 2020 as an impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

It is estimated to reach 305 million equivalent jobs by the end of the second-quarter which would add to the number of unemployed individuals around the world.

Specifically, the regions that will bear the brunt of largest losses in hours worked worldwide would be the Americas, Europe and Central Asia.

According to the ILO, the hardest hit are young workers, of which 1 out of 6 are now jobless since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Those who remain employed have faced cuts in their working hours by 23 percent,  the ILO said.

In the Philippines, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III estimates that around 4 million to 5 million Filipinos could become jobless this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The numbers may even reach 10 million if the crisis worsens further.

“Right now, your Honor, we already lost 2.6-M workers resulting from business establishments going into temporary closure and another group of business establishments resorting to flexible work arrangement,” Bello reported during a May 20 Senate hearing.

The most affected is the service sector which includes tourism, hotels, and restaurants.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, in the same hearing, reported a decline in tourist arrivals in the Philippines by 54 percent from January to April this year compared with the same period in 2019.

This resulted in a reduction of 55 percent in tourist arrival revenues during the same period.

“With both international and domestic travel restriction in effect for the entirety of April, there have been no visiting tourists and therefore no revenue for the industry for this month,” Romulo-Puyat said.

To address the issue, the Labor and Tourism Departments are asking Congress for P40-billion and P70-billion budgets, respectively, to assist workers and related sectors in coping with the effects of the pandemic. MNP (with inputs from Rey Pelayo)

China’s parliament approves Hong Kong national security bill

UNTV News   •   May 28, 2020

China’s National People’s Congress’ third session closed on Thursday (May 28) after parliament members voted on a proposal to implement Hong Kong’s national security legislation.

“The session made a decision to establish a legal system and enforcement mechanism for the national security of Hong Kong’s Special Administrative Region,” chairman of the standing committee of the NPC, Li Zhanshu, told delegates at the closing ceremony.

“It will uphold and improve the ‘one country, two systems’ policy. It is in line with the Constitution and Hong Kong’s Basic Law and is in the interest of all Chinese people including Hong Kong people,” he added.

The legislation received 2,878 votes while one voted against and six abstained. The draft national security law has received international criticism with the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declaring that Hong Kong is ‘no longer autonomous.’

Hong Kong, which has freedoms not granted in the mainland such as freedom of assembly and freedom of the press, has experienced months-long anti-government protests which sparked from a now-withdrawn extradition bill. (Reuters)

(Production: Joyce Zhou, Pak Yiu)

REACH US

The Philippine Broadcast Hub

UNTV, 915 Barangay Philam,

EDSA, Quezon City M.M. 1104

(+632) 8396-8688 (Tel)

info@untv-newsandrescue.com (General inquiries)

ABOUT UNTV

UNTV is a major TV broadcast network with 24-hour programming. An Ultra High Frequency station with strong brand content that appeal to everyone, UNTV is one of the most trusted and successful Philippine networks that guarantees wholesome and quality viewing experience.