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Thai cave boys return to pray on anniversary

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Monday, June 24th, 2019

(Chiang Rai Province, Thailand) Alms being given to Buddhist monks to commemorate the late Thai diver who died during the cave boys’ rescue. | Courtesy: Image grabbed from a Reuters video

The boys and the coach of Thailand’s ‘Wild Boars’ soccer team returned to the cave where they were trapped a year ago on Monday (June 24) to remember a former Navy SEAL who died during their rescue operation.

Samarn ‘Sam’ Kunan, a former member of Thailand’s elite navy SEAL unit who was part of the rescue team in Chiang Rai, died on the night of July 5, 2018 after entering the cave to lay oxygen tanks along a potential exit route for the trapped boys.

His wife, Waleeporn Kunan, said her husband still remains in her heart, while the coach, Ekapol Chanthawong, thanked Sam for his sacrifice.

“This is our intention to make merit for him (Samarn Kunan) every year. Our merit making is for Sergeant Sam (Samarn Kunan), to remember him,” said Chanthawong.

“They (cave boys) treated me as if I was someone special and they, these brothers still do until now. Every time they see me they run up to me,” said Kunan, wife of the late diver.

The soccer team, aged between 11 and 16, and their 25-year-old coach were trapped on June 23, 2019 while exploring the Tham Luang cave complex when a rainy season downpour flooded the tunnels.

A 17-day effort to rescue them gripped the world with experts from various countries volunteering to help. (REUTERS)

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Duterte asks US, China to end trade war

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Monday, June 24th, 2019

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte joins other leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states during the 34th ASEAN Summit plenary session at The Athenee Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand on June 22, 2019. SIMEON CELI JR./PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

BANGKOK, Thailand – President Rodrigo Duterte has urged the United States and China to end their long-standing trade war and asked the two super powers to ‘take the high road’ and resolve their differences for the sake of global economy.

“The trade war between the United States and China is creating uncertainty. It is taking a toll on global growth. And it could hinder the ongoing processes of economic integration,” the President said in a meeting during the 34th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Bangkok on Saturday (June 23).

Duterte added that the conflict between the two nations indeed slows down economic integration among countries.

Meanwhile, the President has also urged the ASEAN regional bloc to support the open and rules-based multilateral trading system instead of the “zero-sum approach” to international economic relations.

“We in ASEAN must strengthen our support for a rules-based and open multilateral trading system,” Duterte said before the leaders of the other member states.

“In pursuit of growth, we should be partners not competitors,” he said.

ASEAN has stepped up its efforts on the proposed free-trade agreement Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

The regional bloc targets to finalize the trade pact by November.

The agreement involves six Asia-Pacific nations – Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand – with which ASEAN has existing free trade agreements.

RCEP would be the world’s largest free trade deal once approved.

President Duterte also emphasized the Philippines support to the ASEAN Single Window initiative with aims to integrate single-window systems of all ASEAN member states through electronic exchange of trade-related documents towards the establishment of cross-border trade.

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DOJ Secretary to serve as OIC from June 21-23

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Friday, June 21st, 2019

Department of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra

The Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra will serve as the officer-in-charge of the Executive Department from June 21-23 as President Rodrigo Duterte flies to Thailand.

President Duterte will be attending the 34th Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Bangkok, Thailand.

While the president is away, Guevarra will oversee the day to day operations of the Executive Department.

Duterte’s delegation will fly en route to Thailand Friday afternoon (June 21)

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Duterte to join ASEAN Summit in Thailand, may discuss Reed Bank allision – DFA

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

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte speaks before other leaders from the member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) during the ASEAN Leaders’ Gathering held at the Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua in Bali, Indonesia on October 11, 2018. Also in the photo is Secretary Christopher Lawrence ‘Bong’ Go of the Office of the Special Assistant to the President. Photo from PCOO fb

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is set to fly to Thailand this week to participate in the 34th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Bangkok.

The ASEAN Summit, which will also be attended by other heads of member states, will be held from June 22 to 23, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

DFA Assistant Secretary Junever Mahilum-West told reporters at a Malacañang press briefing Tuesday that Duterte will be accompanied by the secretaries of DFA, Department of Trade and Industry, Department Social Welfare and Development, Department of Finance, Department of Transportation, Tourism and Agriculture.

Mahilum said the President is expected to have bilateral meetings with other ASEAN leaders during the sidelines of the summit.

She added that during the Leaders’ retreat, the chief executive may take up the maritime dispute in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) against China as it falls under the agenda on regional and international developments.

“Well, as you know the Philippines is coordinator of the ASEAN China dialogue partnership from 2018 to 2021, for three years. And during this coordinatorship, we are negotiating ASEAN Member States and China on the Code of Conduct for the South China Sea, on the South China Sea,” she said.

“And in these negotiations, incidents like what happened to our fishermen will be among those on the agenda, during the negotiations,” she added.

However, she clarified that it is still premature to say whether the recent allision incident near Recto Bank (also called Reed Bank) involving Filipino and Chinese fishing vessels will particularly be raised at the Bangkok summit pending investigations.

“There is this investigation that’s ongoing, that up to the present discloses a certain fact that we did not know before. Also, we lodged a strong protest with China and we are awaiting China’s response to this,” she said.

The government earlier said a further probe will be conducted into the incident which will be led by the Maritime Authority (Marina) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).

READ: Marina, PCG to conduct further probe on West PH sea collision

“Puwede namang during exchange of views on regional development, there is an opening to raise these issues, because incidents like what happened emphasized the importance of having a code of conduct so that we could avoid, we could prevent these incidents from happening in the future,” she said.

Mahilum emphasized that having a code of conduct in the disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea would help set guidelines among claimants to prevent any more similar maritime incidents.

“It’s precisely why we need a code so that this instance could be taken on board and we would have a guideline for countries in the region on how to behave, on how to act in order to prevent these incidents that caused some — that might cause tension in the region,” she added.

Prior to the summit, Mahilum said that negotiations have been made on a single draft negotiating text between ASEAN member states and China and the first reading is expected to be finished by end of this year.

Aside from attending the Leaders’ retreat, the President is also expected to join the summit plenary, gala dinner and the 13th Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) Summit.

Mahilum, however, could not say if the President will be able to meet with the Filipino Community in Thailand due to the very hectic Summit schedule.

This will be Duterte’s third visit to Thailand since assuming office.

He is expected to return to the Philippines on June 24. (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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