US reaffirms pledge to defend PH vs any attack in South China Sea

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 28, 2021   •   592

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

Chauvin guilty of all 3 charges over Floyd’s death

Aileen Cerrudo   •   April 21, 2021

Former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin, 45, was convicted on three charges over the death of George Floyd.

Chauvin was convicted by a United States (US) jury on charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.

Chauvin was the police officer who kneeled on Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes on May 25, 2020.

Someone took a video that went viral globally. The video sparked a worldwide protest against racism and the use of brutal force by police authorities.

Floyd was apprehended by Chauvin and other police officers on suspicion of using a counterfeit $20 bill at a grocery store in Minneapolis.

Floyd physically resisted and was handcuffed. Chauvin used his knee to pin Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes. Floyd was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Chauvin will remain in police custody to await his sentence. He may face several decades in prison for the charges. AAC (with reports from Klarenz Shaughnessy)

Statements of ‘alter-egos’ also reflect Duterte’s stand on West PH Sea issue — Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   April 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Monday said there is no need for President Rodrigo Duterte to speak on China’s incursions in the West Philippine Sea, saying the strong statements of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Department of National Defense (DND) also reflects the president’s stance on the issue.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque issued the statement to dispel notions that Duterte has been silent on the reported number of Chinese vessels still lingering in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

“Doctrine of qualified political doctrine, kapag po hindi dini-dis-own ng president ang mga sinasabi ng kaniyang mga alter-egos, parang siya na po ang nagsasalita, hindi na kailangang siya ang magsalita,” Roque said in an online briefing.

The Palace official was referring to a Constitutional Doctrine which states that “utterances of alter egos are utterances of the President unless the president renounces them.”

Roque also reiterated that Duterte already stressed the importance of the 2016 Hague Ruling on the West Philippine Sea and that the Philippines will not set aside the landmark decision.

The National Task Force-West Philippine Sea earlier reported that at least 240 Chinese vessels were found lingering in various parts of the West Philippine Sea during its latest sovereignty patrols in the area.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier demanded the immediate withdrawal of the remaining Chinese vessels in the Julian Felipe Reef, telling the ships to sail away and for the Chinese to “leave our sovereign territories and abide by the international law.”

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. also repeatedly fired off diplomatic protests and called for the immediate withdrawal of Chinese vessels in the disputed waters.

US gives P170M support for Philippines’ COVID-19 vaccine deployment

Robie de Guzman   •   April 15, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The United States (US) government, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), has provided P170 million or $3.5 million funds to support the Philippines in its COVID-19 vaccination rollout, the US Embassy in Manila said Thursday.

U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires John Law announced this during a visit to a vaccination site in Caloocan City with Philippine Secretary of Health Francisco Duque III, Caloocan City Mayor Oscar Malapitan, USAID Philippines Mission Director Lawrence Hardy II, and other U.S. and Philippine officials.

The embassy said the new assistance will support the Philippines in strengthening the vaccine supply chain, monitoring vaccine safety, and delivering effective communication campaigns to address vaccine hesitancy.

It will also support local government units as they plan for, track, and administer vaccines, it added.

“While the pandemic has tested our peoples and our economies, the strong bonds between Americans and Filipinos will help us rise above this challenge,” Law said.

“We will continue to fight this unprecedented global health crisis together,” he added.

The latest assistance fund brings the total U.S. government support for the Philippines’ COVID-19 response to nearly P1.3 billion ($27 million), the embassy said.

Meanwhile, the embassy further reported that the White House recently announced a P194 billion ($4 billion) commitment to support the COVAX facility.

COVAX Facility is a global initiative to support early vaccine access for 92 countries, including the Philippines.

An initial P97.2-billion ($2 billion) contribution, provided through USAID, is supporting the purchase and delivery of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, the embassy said.

The Philippines has so far administered over 1.2 million vaccine doses out of the more than 3 million doses that were delivered in the country.

Government data showed that 1,093,651 people received their first shot while 162,065 individuals already got two doses since the vaccination program started on March 1.

 

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