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3 years after PH arbitral win vs. China: Duterte admin did nothing to enforce it —Carpio

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Friday, July 12th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – July 12, 2019, marks the third anniversary of the Philippine’s arbitral win against China’s historical claims on the South China Sea, part of which is the West Philippine Sea.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration’s landmark ruling thus invalidated China’s so-called ‘Nine-Dash Line’ – the undefined demarcation line that encircles as much as 90 percent of the disputed waters in the area.

The Duterte administration downplayed the victory in hopes of building stronger ties with China and preferred to offer diplomacy rather than further escalating the tension by sending military troops to the disputed waters, even amid reports of harassment against Filipino fishermen and the Chinese destroying and exploiting the Philippines’ marine resources.

Maritime expert Jay Batongbacal expressed deep concern on the continuous deterioration and massive destruction of the marine environment in the West Philippine Sea.

“This has to stop and we have to get serious,” the Director of the University of the Philippines Institute of Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea appealed.

“And we’re not talking about going to war. We’re talking about simple things like stopping the destruction of a common pool resource that would benefit us all,” he added.

Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, meanwhile, acknowledge that war is not an option in the West Philippine Sea row as the Constitution forbids.

But Carpio blamed the Duterte administration’s inaction, accusing it of using such provision of the law to instill fear among Filipinos as if the Philippines has no other option but to obey with what China offers.

“This administration has done nothing whatsoever to enforce the arbitral award,” Carpio said.

 “I don’t see positive in the enforcement of the award,” he added.

The magistrate appealed to President Duterte not to formalize his verbal agreement with China’s Xi Jinping in his upcoming state of the nation address (SONA) that allows Chinese fishermen to fish within the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the country in the WPS.

Carpio said, once Duterte formalizes the agreement, the Philippines would be bound and that would weaken the Arbitral ruling.

“If the President will confirm it in his SONA, I mean, we cannot get out of that anymore. So, we’re bound by that, we have to honor that. So, that means China can fish in an area 59 times larger than Scarborough Shoal,” Carpio argued.

Malacañang stressed that the President considers his agreement with Xi as legally binding, but Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. insisted that it cannot be executed because there is no written document to attest the deal.

For her part, former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said the issue will still depend on how the President delivers the matter during his SONA.

She calls on Filipinos to stand for the country’s rights no matter what happens.

“Let us not be scared by all the propaganda that we hear. Because if we do, walang mangyayari (nothing will happen),” Morales said.

“Be brave,” she concluded. – with details from Harlene Delgado

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Esperon: PH to add five lighthouses and aerial vehicles in West Philippine Sea this year

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Tuesday, July 23rd, 2019

National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon has reiterated their plan to construct five lighthouses and add aerial vehicles in West Philippine Sea this year.

“Our fisheries boats, coast guard ships and of course the navy and air force have strengthened [and] improved their capability to have more control over our domain which is the West Philippine Sea,” he said.

He also said that resolving the issue on the West Philippine Sea dispute through a diplomatic way is their priority.

“We have not abandoned any island, no island was taken from us since 2016, and we are strengthening our positions and possessions.”

Esperon also clarified the president’s statement when he said China is ‘in possession’ of some areas in the West Philippines.

“I think the President said—did not say that they are in possession, but they are in position,” he said. “So they have the positional advantage right now. And they have the equipment to enforce their position.”

However he agrees that China has strengthened their position in several disputed territories.—AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

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PNP support Duterte’s push for death penalty, mandatory ROTC

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Tuesday, July 23rd, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Tuesday said it would fully support the reimposition of death penalty as pushed by President Rodrigo Duterte in his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA).

PNP chief Police General Oscar Albayalde said imposing capital punishment for drug-related heinous crime and plunder will add more power to the government’s campaign against war, drugs and corruption.

In response to the SONA of President Duterte, the PNP fully supports the legislative agenda of the national government for effective legislation that will add more teeth to the crusade against crime, drugs and corruption, particularly by imposing capital punishment for drug-related heinous crime and plunder, among others,” he told reporters in a press briefing in Camp Crame on Tuesday.

“I firmly believe that the deterrent effect of the certainty of punishment will be a game changer in our continuing campaign against illegal drugs, heinous crime and corruption, particularly against drug traffickers, smugglers and peddlers of illegal drugs,” he added.

However, the PNP chief maintained his position that the country’s justice system should be fixed first.

“Ang importante dito ay we convict those people na talagang we know that they are guilty. ‘Yan ‘yung stand natin,” he stressed.

(What’s important here is we convict those people who are really guilty. That is the PNP’s stand.)

When it comes to the proposed mandatory Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program in Grades 11 and 12, Albayalde believes this will embed “very important” values on the Filipino youth.

Albayalde added that the president might be pushing for the mandatory program in Senior High School as he believes Filipinos are now lacking in love of country.

Aside from instilling values, the PNP chief said the mandatory ROTC will also help in the country’s defense in case of war.

“The very important value there is the sense of nationalism, love of country at patriotism sa Pilipino lalo na sa mga kabataan… of course, napakaliit nating bansa, we have to defend our country in case of war,” he said.

(The very important value there is the sense of nationalism, love of country at patriotism in Filipinos, especially in the youth… our country is small, we have to defend our country in case of war.)

Duterte presented the same argument in his SONA on Monday when he asked Congress to pass measures that will improve the country’s defense system.

Albayalde added that having training in terms of defense will be good for everybody. (with details from Lea Ylagan)

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At least 16 measures pushed by Duterte could pass Senate – Sotto

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Tuesday, July 23rd, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – At least 16 measures pushed by President Rodrigo Duterte in his fourth State of the Nation Address (Monday)could be passed in the upper chamber of Congress, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said on Tuesday.

Sotto said that majority of the proposals that Duterte mentioned in his speech could easily hurdle the Senate. These include the implementation of Magna Carta for Barangays, the National Academy for Sports for High School, the establishment of Department of Disaster Resilience, Department of Overseas Filipino Workers and Water Resources, Salary Standardization Law for Teachers and other government personnel, the Coco Levy Bill, the National Land Use Act, Mandatory ROTC Bill for Grades 11 & 12, the postponement of Sangguniang Kabataan and Barangay Elections, the Expansion of Malasakit Center, Fire Protection Modernization Bill and Death Penalty for Drug Traffickers & Plunder.

“Marami doon sa mga binanggit niya kakayanin talaga namin. As a matter of fact, nakikita ko, at least 16 sa mga sinabi niya malaki ang pag-asang mapasa lahat,” Sotto said in a radio interview.

The Senate President further said that although he supports Duterte’s call for the creation of new departments, he said it would be better to pass a law right-sizing the government to streamline government systems and services.

“Ayusin muna natin yung right-sizing. Kasi kung hindi tayo magra-right-sizing, blinow-up lang natin yung bureaucracy lalo. So, kung magra-right-sizing tayo, mababawasan yung mga departamento, na mga iba-t-ibang napakaraming departamento ng gobyerno ng maraming empleyado,” Sotto said.

(Let’s first work on rightsizing the government. Because if we don’t rightsize first, we will just blow up bureaucracy more. If we right-size, we would reduce the number of redundant departments, various agencies with too many employees.)

Among the measures mentioned in Duterte’s SONA, Sotto said the reimposition of death penalty for drug traffickers and plunder would face the strong opposition and lengthy debates.

“Tinitingnan ko yung listahan, pinakikinggan ko kahapon, puro talagang kayang-kaya at talagang dapat. Kailangang-kailangan. Yung lang reimposition ng death penalty siguro ang mahaba ang debate,” he said.

(I will look into the list. When I was listening to the speech yesterday, the bills he mentioned could easily pass in the Senate. The reimposition of death penalty may go through lengthy discussions.)

“If its confined to high level (drug) trafficking it stands a good chance to be as quicker or it can be passed in the Senate ngayon because of the mention of plunder, hindi maganda sa amin sa mga senador at sa mga congressman na hindi pumayag na hindi isama, kailangang isama, otherwise takot kami sa plunder,” he added.

(Senators and congressmen won’t look good if we exclude plunder. We need to include it, otherwise it would seem we are afraid of plunder.)

Former special assistant to the president and now Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, for his part, believes that passing heavier penalty for plunder would deter government officials from engaging in corrupt practices.  

“Kung pumasa ito, maaaring ikatakot ng mga magnanakaw sa gobyerno,” Go said.

(If this gets approved, it may deter corrupt government officials from committing plunder.)

For Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, the hardest among the challenges laid out by Duterte in his SONA is the liberation of six million Filipinos from poverty.

“This is the Six Million Challenge that confronts us all. It is the overarching Priority No. 1. It is the most demanding because it means 2 million of our countrymen must graduate from dehumanizing existence every year, if the objective is to uplift them within the next three years,” he said in a statement.

Recto added that even if the government would succeed in the Six-Million Challenge, there will still be about 15 million poor waiting to be liberated at the end of 2022.

“If there is one goal that should energize us, and consume our every waking hour, this is the one. This is a tall order that calls for a combination of solutions and the cooperation of all,” he said.

Senator Joel Villanueva, on the other hand, said he is inclined to look into Duterte’s proposal to include teachers in the next salary standardization law.

“Teachers play a critical role in shaping the hearts and minds of our youth. We need to make their efforts more rewarding so that they are kept motivated to fulfill their duties,” he said in a statement.

Villanueva also vowed to work with the President in his goal to provide comfortable lives for Filipinos at the end of his term.

Senator Sonny Angara, meanwhile, lauded Duterte for his speech that focused on matters of progress, peace and prosperity.

Angara added that he will not belabor the president for omitting other issues as it is impossible to cram all of the country’s problems in one speech.

“Hindi naman isang linggong pabasa ang SONA. What is important is that he talked about the things many of our people want to hear from him. It is a well-curated address,” he said in a statement.

He also said that after Duterte’s annual report to the nation, lawmakers and concerned agencies should “react with deeds.”

“It should be back to work for all of us,” he said.

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