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World leaders praised the Philippines on how it hosted the ASEAN Summit

by admin   |   Posted on Wednesday, 15 November 2017 08:50 PM


MANILA, Philippines — “We also would like to thank the Philippines also for its chairmanship achievements under each of the three ASEAN pillars including the finalization of a framework on a Code of Conduct of parties in the South China Sea,” said Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsein Loong.

Several significant agreements were also signed in the summit, including the ASEAN declaration on the protection and promotion of the rights of migrant workers, which will benefit more than 200,000 Filipinos working in other ASEAN countries.

Also agreed upon was the crafting of the code of conduct in the West Philippine Sea which is expected to assuage the tension in the disputed waters.

In the program, Get It straight with Daniel Razon, PCOO Assistant Secretary Kris Ablan stressed that the country has benefited a lot from the ASEAN Summit.

“ ‘Nakakain ba ang ASEAN?’ Iyan ang tanong sa atin. Hindi nakakain ang ASEAN pero yung produkto ng ASEAN pwedeng makain natin(Can you eat ASEAN? That what they ask us. We cannot eat ASEAN but we can eat the products created by ASEAN),” said Ablan.

“Halimbawa sa larangan ng ekonomiya, pag bumibili tayo ng bagay-bagay sa palengke o sa supermarket, di niyo ba na notice na medyo bumaba na ang presyo ng mga produkto na galing sa ibang ASEAN member states? Malaki ang binaba. Hindi po smuggled yun. Dala po yun ng ASEAN kasi nagkaroon po ng agreement ang sampu, yung free trade natin wala pong papatawan ng tax,” said Ablan.

(Translation: For example, in the field of economics, when you buy goods in the market or supermarket, have you not noticed the decrease in prices of goods that are from ASEAN member states? There is a significant decrease. These are not smuggled goods. It was made possible by the ASEAN through the free trade agreement between the 10 member-states; no taxes will be imposed.)

The cut down on airfare going to and from ASEAN member states is also a result of the summit.

Ablan stressed that, although guaranteed, other benefits from the ASEAN Summit will not be immediately felt.

“Hindi niyo nararamdaman overnight (It will not be realized overnight). It takes time pero (but) the way everything is cheaper now, it is the result of a collaboration such as ASEAN,” said the assistant secretary.

The government spending for the ASEAN Summit has totaled to more than 15 billion pesos.

The Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), however, clarified that the said fund had not been used only for this week’s gathering of leaders but also since the beginning of the country’s preparations wherein several ASEAN meetings had also taken place. — Victor Cosare | UNTV News & Rescue

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PHL’s strong defense must remain in the West Philippine Sea, expert says

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Wednesday, 6 March 2019 09:09 PM

A Filipino soldier patrols at the shore of Pagasa island (Thitu Island) in the Spratly group of islands in the South China Sea, west of Palawan, Philippines, May 11, 2015. REUTERS/RITCHIE B. TONGO/POOL

The government must maintain its strong defense surrounding the Pag-asa Island and some areas in the West Philippines Sea that are still part of the Philippine territory based on the 2016 arbitration resolution.

This is what the maritime law expert, Dir. Jay Batongbacal said after reports surfaced that Chinese coast guards are preventing Filipino fishermen from fishing in the disputed territory.

Batongbacal said, the presence of China’s naval vessels in the said area is a tactic that Philippine authorities should note as an indication of the need to strengthen its defenses in the country’s territory.

“In a way, it’s not new. But what makes it important is that, it is clearly being employed to monitor and to maybe make it difficult for the Philippines to carry out its repair works on the island,” Batongbacal said.

However, according to defense analyst, Jose Antonio Custodio, the government still has to take an action to protect the Filipino fishermen in the disputed territory.

Batongbacal also suggested that the government should carry out a protest against the harassment that Chinese vessels are inflicting on Filipino fishermen despite warming relations with China following the administration’s foreign policy rebalancing towards Asia.

“A protest is necessary, even a quiet one, just to make sure we will never be seen as having accepted the situation,” Batongbacal said.

Meanwhile, Malacañang is yet to confirm with the Department of National Defense reports about the alleged harassment of Filipino fishermen. — Freema Salonga- Gloria (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

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DND orders AFP to confirm reported harassment of Filipino fishermen near Pag-asa Island

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Wednesday, 6 March 2019 05:48 PM

An aerial view shows the Pagasa (Hope) Island, part of the disputed Spratly group of islands, in the South China Sea located off the coast of western Philippines July 20, 2011. REUTERS/ROLEX DELA PENA/POOL

Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Wednesday he has already directed the military to validate the report on the alleged harassment of Filipino fishermen in sandbars near Pag-asa Island.

The Department of National Defense (DND) said in a statement that there has been no substantiated report from its units on the ground that can confirm claims made by Kalayaan Mayor Roberto del Mundo, based on the initial communication from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Mindanao Command (WESCOM).

“The AFP, through the Naval Forces West under WESCOM, will nonetheless continuously validate and report any information relevant to Mayor del Mundo’s claims,” the DND statement read.

Earlier this week, Mayor del Mundo claimed that more than a dozen Chinese vessels were sighted near Pag-asa Island and were intimidating Filipino fishermen.

The local official further said the Chinese vessels are driving local fishermen away from Sandy Cay which is situated between Pag-asa Island and China’s artificial island in Subi reef.

Pag-asa island (also known as Thitu island) is the seat of the Palawan municipality of Kalayaan.

The DND, however, noted that the said area where the alleged harassment occurred is a traditional fishing ground for the Philippines and other countries, including China and Vietnam.

AFP WESCOM has also urged people from Pag-asa Island to continue their activities in the said area since “it has been observed that they have not been fishing in the vicinity of the sandbar, even before the Chinese fishing vessels were sighted in the area,” the DND added.

A sheltered port in Pag-asa is now being constructed to help local fishermen, the DND said.

A maritime law expert, meanwhile, urged the Philippine government to use the reported harassment to intensify its monitoring and patrol operations in the disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea.

Professor Jay Batongbacal, director of the University of the Philippines (UP) Institute for Maritime Affairs, also believes that filing a diplomatic protest over the said incident is necessary even if the Duterte administration is keeping a careful tread amid its warming relations with China.

“A protest is necessary, even a quiet one, just to make sure that we will never be seen as having accepted the situation,” Batongbacal said.

“I guess the best response was simply to increase vigilance and for our people to continue what they are doing,” Batongbacal added. – Robie de Guzman (with a report from Correspondent Nel Maribojoc)

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US’ assurance of aid is nothing new, expert says

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Monday, 4 March 2019 05:00 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte meets United States Secretary of State Michael Pompeo at Villamor Airbase in Pasay City. | Photo credits: MPC POOL

The United States has always assured the Philippines of aid amid sea dispute with China, according to defense expert and Institute for Policy, Strategy, and Development Studies member, Jose Antonio Custodio.

Custodio said there is nothing new with this statement because even previous American officials have said it before.

“Kung ano iyong sinabi ni [Mike] Pompeo, it’s what exactly mentioned also by earlier American officials, Thomas Hubbard to be exact,” he said.

(Whatever Pompeo said, it’s what exactly mentioned also by earlier American officials, Thomas Hubbard to be exact.)

He also said that it would be better for the Philippines to strengthen their own capabilities in defending its territory.

Meanwhile, President Rodrigo Duterte said it might be difficult for the United States to provide assistance to the country if there will be an attack in the West Philippine Sea.

“Sabi ko, okay man sinabi ni Mattis sa akin: ‘We guarantee you na nandiyan kami sa likod.’ Pero ang problema nito, iyong i-invoke niya iyong Defense US Treaty which was entered into by us, by our — mga ninuno natin. Ang attack sa America or ang attack sa atin pareho. But sa America, magdaan pa ng Congress. Any declaration of war will pass Congress,” Duterte said during his speech in Zamboanga City last Sunday.

(I said, what Mattis said was okay: ‘We guarantee, we have your back’. But the problem is, he invoked the Defense US Treaty which was entered into us by our ancestors. The attack on America or attack against us is the same but in America, it will go through Congress. Any declaration of war will pass Congress.)

Malacañang had previously said that the seven-decade-old treaty need amendments.

“There may be some kinks in the treaty that need to be clarified. It’s much better perhaps that it’s clear-cut in the treaty itself so I think there’s still a need to review despite the policy statement,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said during a press briefing.

However, for Custodio, there is no need to amend the treaty because “the treaty itself is good enough message that if China attacks us, then they will have to face the US.”

The Mutual Defense Treaty was signed in Washington on August 30, 1951 and it aims to further strengthen the collective defense of the Philippine and the US.

Based on the treaty it desires “for the preservation of peace and security pending the development of a more comprehensive system of regional security in the Pacific area.” —Aileen Cerrudo (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

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