Philippines to propose no action to raise tension in sea disputes

admin   •   July 30, 2014   •   2044

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 will propose a freeze on all activity that raises tension in disputed waters in the South China Sea as part of a three-part plan at a regional security meeting next month, Manila’s foreign minister said on Tuesday.

Southeast Asian foreign ministers will hold security talks with various counterparts including those from the United States, China and the European Union in Myanmar next month, with escalating sea disputes in Asia likely to be a main issue.

China claims 90 percent of the South China Sea, which is believed to contain oil and gas deposits and has rich fishery resources. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan also lay claim to parts of the sea, where about $5 trillion of ship-borne trade passes every year.

Relations between China and the Philippines have been tested recently by their dispute over part of the sea.

“We have this plan to submit a suggestion on a moratorium and that would be the immediate approach to the exacerbating problems in the South China Sea,” Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said after meeting Catherine Ashton, European Union foreign policy chief.

“It’s constructive, it’s positive and it’s comprehensive. No one will quarrel with you on that right to get a moratorium on exacerbating situation there and ultimately to manage tension.”

The United States, a close ally and former colonial power in the Philippines, has also called on all parties to halt all activity in the disputed sea to ease tension, and the Philippines supported that call.

But China responded by telling the United States to stay out of disputes and leave countries in the region to resolve problems themselves.

Del Rosario said the other two elements of his “triple-action plan” were the implementation of a code of conduct in the South China Sea and arbitration to settle disputes.

The Philippines has filed an arbitration complaint against China, seeking clarification on its right to exploit resources in its 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone under the U.N. Convention of the Law of the Sea.

Ashton, in Manila for a two-day visit to strengthen trade, aid and security relations, called on all parties to refrain from using force to resolve disputes. She also urged against unilateral attempts by any party to assert claims through the use of intimidation, coercion or force.

Del Rosario accused China of violating an informal code of conduct in the South China Sea when it placed an oil rig in the exclusive economic zone of Vietnam in May. China removed the rig this month. He said China was also doing some reclamation work on at least three shoals in the Spratly Islands.

China says it has irrefutable sovereignty over the Spratlys, where most of the competing claims overlap, and it has demanded the immediate withdrawal of personnel and equipment of countries “illegally occupying” China’s islands.

(Editing by Robert Birsel)

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)

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