Recto Bank collision an ‘accident’, not armed attack – Lorenzana
Marje Pelayo • June 19, 2019 • 2151
MANILA, Philippines – Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana maintained that the incident in Recto Bank involving the Chinese vessel, Yuemaobinyu 42212 and the Filipino fishing vessel, F/B GEM-VER 1 on June 9 was not an armed attack but only an accident.
“I think it’s just an accident based on the information we got from some of the crew. Siguro hindi rin sinasadya ng kabila (Perhaps it was not intentional),” Lorenzana said.
Since it was such, Lorenzana said he agrees with Malacañang that the Philippines cannot insist its mutual defense treaty with the United States to deal with the present issue because such treaty applies only to armed conflicts.
Lorenzana was the first to disclose the report on a Chinese vessel hitting and sinking a Filipino fishing vessel in the contested area in the West Philippine Sea.
The Defense Chief condemned the Chinese crewmen for abandoning the 22 Filipino fishermen adrift at sea while struggling to survive.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), through Secretary Teddy Locsin, has already elevated the matter to the International Maritime Office (IMO).
But though Lorenzana supported Locsin for that matter, the Defense Secretary said the Philippine government can only act once all the needed information is gathered specifically China’s official statement on the incident.
For now, the government is pursuing a case against the Chinese crewmen for abandoning the Filipino fishermen which, the Secretary said, is a violation of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to which the Philippines and China are both signatories.
While waiting for China’s side on the matter, Secretary Lorenzana appeals to the public to be patient as the government works on resolving the issue while extending assistance to the affected fishermen.
“I ask our countrymen to be patient dahil lalabas naman talaga ang totoo kapag nakuha na natin ang lahat ng (the truth will come out once we have all) information so that we can move on from this,” he said. (with details from April Cenedoza)
MANILA, Philippines — A Palace official confirmed that the initial shipment of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine is set to arrive in the Philippines soon.
According to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, a total of 600,000 doses of CoronaVac from China’s pharmaceutical firm Sinovac Biotech will be arriving on Sunday (February 28).
The official thanked China for its donations which will be used in the initial vaccine rollout of the government.
Concerned officials from the national government will be welcoming the arrival of the vaccines in person on Sunday.
“Inaasahan na darating ang araw ng linggo, itong araw ng linggo pong ito ang Sinovac kaya po excited na tayong lahat,” Roque said.
“Inaasahan po at at least pinaplano natin na sasalubunin po ng mga opisyal ang pagdating ng mga bakuna,” he added.
Meanwhile, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian said the vaccines serve as ‘testament’ to the two countries’ diplomatic relationship.
“It is a fine tradition between China and the Philippines to help each other in trying times. A friend in need is a friend indeed. The donation of vaccines is another testament to the solidarity as well as profound friendship and partnership between our two peoples and two countries,” he said.
With the arrival of CoronaVac supplies, the government is expected to begin the roll out of COVID-19 immunization on Monday (March 1) with medical frontliners as the among the initial priorities despite advised from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that the vaccine is not advisable for individuals with high exposure to COVID-19 positive cases.
First in the line to get the COVID-19 vaccine shot will be the spokesperson of the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) and COVID-19 survivor, Dr. Jonas del Rosario.
“What we need is one day and we will roll out. So if it arrives on Sunday, if I’m not mistaken, we can rollout on Monday dahil excited na excited na po ang maraming kababayan natin,” Roque said.
The Palace official stressed, meanwhile, that the public should look into the positive side of vaccination regardless of which brand as long as it is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as it can help address the current problems in relation to the pandemic.
But according to Dr. Garardo Legaspi, Director of UP-PGH, the initial survey among their staff revealed that about 90% of the hospital’s healthcare workers pre-registered and agreed to get a vaccine shot.
Although the survey, however, offered them Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and not the Chinese brand.
“Hindi ko masasabi kung ilan ang darating talaga. We are trying to manage the understanding of the EUA given to Sinovac kaya po siguro over the next few days, kailangan naming i-thresh out ang ibig sabihin ng fda na mas magiging very useful for our health workers to make their decision,” Legaspi explained.
The other survey, meanwhile, revealed that 75% of the staff agreed to be vaccinated regardless of brand.
“Hindi naman porket nabakunahan ng this particular vaccine na Sinovac ay walang proteksyon. Ang ibig lang sabihin, ang proteksyon niya ay hindi as high to prevent mild symptoms from occurring, which probably magiging dahilan ito para hindi makapasok ang healthcare workers sa ospital,” Legaspi noted.
“Siguro iyon ang basis ng FDA para sabihin na hindi siya ideal para sa healthcare workers dahil kahit mild symptom, hindi sila papasok pag nagkaroon sila ng mild symptom at mababawasan ang manpower sa ating ospital,” he added.
Legaspi further said that so far, all the vaccines which the FDA has granted approval — Sinovac, Pfizer and Astrazeneca— promise 100 percent protection against severe conditions related to COVID-19. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)
MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Thursday expressed confidence that the diplomatic protest filed by the Philippines, questioning China’s new coast guard law, will not affect the country’s plan to procure vaccines developed by Chinese firms.
“Walang pong epekto yan, dahil ibang usapin naman ang bakuna. Ang bakuna po is actually humanitarian act of the entire planet earth in response to humanitarian disaster,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in an online press briefing.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Wednesday said Manila filed a protest against Beijing’s move to pass a new law allowing its coast guard to undertake all necessary measures, including the use of weapons, when national sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction are being illegally infringed upon by foreign organizations or individuals at sea.
Locsin said that while enacting a law is a sovereign prerogative, the new law – given the area involved which is the South China Sea – is a verbal threat of war to any country that defies it.
Malacañang has welcomed the filing of the diplomatic protest, saying that this is consistent with the country’s position that while states can enact laws as part of their sovereignty, this must be done in compliance with the United Nations (UN) charter which prohibits the use of force unless by way of self-defense or when authorized by the UN Security Council.
“We welcome the diplomatic protest of the DFA, and this will prove that the Philippines is fully committed to the rule of law and will assert all its right available under existing principles of international law to defend its interests,” Roque said.
China’s new law is expected to stoke tensions anew in the disputed waters where the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have overlapping claims.
China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which includes the Philippines and three other South China Sea claimants, are currently negotiating for a more binding code of conduct in the contested waters. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)
MANILA, Philippines — The United States has reaffirmed its pledge to defend the Philippines against any attack in the South China Sea, according to U.S. Department of State Spokesperson Ned Price, as published in the US Embassy in the Philippines website.
Price said Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken on January 27 spoke with Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locsin, Jr. in which the two officials “reaffirmed that a strong U.S.-Philippine Alliance is vital to a free and open Indo-Pacific region.”
Price emphasized America’s rejection of China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea, reiterating the importance of the Mutual Defense Treaty for the security of the Philippines and the US.
“Secretary Blinken stressed the importance of the Mutual Defense Treaty for the security of both nations, and its clear application to armed attacks against the Philippine armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft in the Pacific, which includes the South China Sea,” Price said.
“Secretary Blinken also underscored that the United States rejects China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea to the extent they exceed the maritime zones that China is permitted to claim under international law as reflected in the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention,” Price added.
Price also emphasized America’s pledge to stand with Southeast Asian claimants in the face of PRC pressure.
“The two secretaries committed to continue building upon a relationship founded on shared strategic interests and history, democratic values, and strong people-to-people ties,” the official said. -AAC
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