All eyes on PH as Duterte arrives in China to discuss sea row

Marje Pelayo   •   August 29, 2019   •   647

President Rodrigo Duterte

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte arrived in China on Wednesday evening (August 28) for a three-day working visit and meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The Palace is confident that China will hear the President once he opens up The Hague’s arbitral ruling over the territorial dispute in the West Philippines Sea considering the solid bond that the two countries have already established.

The discussion, according to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, aims to prevent further escalation of tension and violence at sea due to the decade-long maritime dispute.

“I think China will have an open ear, after all they kept on saying that we’re friends and friends can always talk on anything,” Panelo said.

“Moreover, it’s really about time to talk about it since if the concern is maritime security, and peace in the region, then they really have to talk because this has been a source of some irritants between the two countries as well as other countries,” he added.

Also, included in the agenda of the President’s visit is the proposed joint exploration with China in the WPS under the ’60-40 sharing scheme.’ This means that the Philippines will get 60% of the profit while China will receive the remaining 40%.

“It’s mutually beneficial because both countries are agreeing on a modus vivendi with respect to the exploitation of natural resources,” Panelo said.

Meanwhile, Malacañang has accepted the recent apology of the owner of the Chine vessel to the involved Filipino fishermen in the June 9 maritime incident in Recto Bank.

“We accept the recent apology extended by the owner of the Chinese vessel to our fishermen affected by the incident,” Panelo said.

“We likewise welcome the owner’s humility to take responsibility and acknowledgment that compensation must be provided to cover the actual loss,” he added.

Duterte and Xi will meet on Thursday evening (August 29) and shall witness the signing of certain agreements between the two countries.

Joining President Duterte in China are nine of his Cabinet officials to include:

  1. Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr.
  2. Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea
  3. Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III
  4. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana
  5. Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez
  6. Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato Dela Pena
  7. Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi
  8. National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon
  9. Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo

Also included in the President’s delegation are Commission on Higher Education Chairperson Prospero De Vera III and Customs Commissioner Rey Guerrero. – MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

Chinese Embassy slams Hontiveros over reparation claims for damages in West Philippine Sea

Marje Pelayo   •   April 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Chinese Embassy did not take kindly Senator Risa Hontiveros’ claims that China owes the Philippines at least P200-B in reparations for the ecological damage it has caused the West Philippines Sea reef system during the past six years of its reclamation activities.

Hontiveros, a staunch critic of the Duterte administration, said such amount could be used to help affected families and improve the country’s healthcare system amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Her claims, she said, was based on a study conducted by the University of the Philippines (UP) Marine Science Institute.

In response, the Chinese Embassy called such remarks by Hontiveros as ‘ridiculously absurd and irresponsible’ and was made “for the sole purpose of catching eyeballs and for selfish political gains.”

The Embassy added that “China and the Philippines are friendly neighbors across the sea” and so the latter commits “to continue to provide our support and assistance” to the Philippines.

Hontiveros, on the other hand, said: “It is more absurd and irresponsible to see that, indeed, in the middle of a global pandemic, China has continued to aggressively violate Philippine sovereignty in the region.”

Hontiveros added that China cannot claim to be a friendly ‘neighbor across the sea’ when it has continued its land reclamation activities in the West Philippine Sea.

“Friends help each other out, not occupy their islands and destroy their reefs,” the lady senator argued.

READ: DFA files two diplomatic protests against China

On Wednesday (April 22), the Philippines filed two diplomatic protest against China – one for its creation of new districts in the disputed territory in the WPS and for its alleged pointing of a radar gun at a Philippine Navy ship in Philippine waters, as confirmed by Foreign Affairs Teddy Locsin Jr. MNP (with inputs from Harlene Delgado)

PHL, Chinese Coast Guard hold joint maritime drills in Manila

Robie de Guzman   •   January 15, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Coast Guard and Chinese Coast Guard on Wednesday conducted joint maritime drills on search and rescue and combating fire at sea in the waters off the Philippine capital.

In a statement, the PCG said participating Filipino and Chinese personnel were given a scenario involving a vessel that caught fire while transiting Manila waters.

In response, the PCG deployed its 44-meter multi-role response vessel 4401, BRP Tubbataha, while the Chinese team dispatched vessel 5204. Both ships were equipped with water cannons used in firefighting assistance.

Five passengers and eight crew aboard the distressed ship were also rescued using rigid hull inflatable boats with rescue swimmers to aid the victims.

The PCG said the drill allows coast guard personnel to exercise interoperability and strengthen their capabilities in responding to such crises.

The joint maritime drills on search and rescue, and combating fire at sea are part of the week-long activities of Chinese Coast Guard’s port call in Manila.

The visit aims to strengthen understanding, mutual trust, and cooperation between the Philippines and China Coast Guard in a bid to promote maritime security and maritime law enforcement amid the territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea.

‘Ursula’ further weakens, likely to exit PAR on Saturday

Marje Pelayo   •   December 26, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – State weather service PAGASA forecast slight weakening of Typhoon Ursula (International name Phanfone) as it further moves west-northwestward over the West Philippine Sea.

As of 10:00 AM Thursday (December 26), the weather system was located at 235 km Northwest of Coron, Palawan with maximum sustained winds of 120 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 150 kph.

Still, tropical cyclone wind signals (TCWS) #1 remains hoisted over the northwestern portion of Occidental Mindoro including Lubang Island and Calamian Islands where winds of up to 30 to 60 kph is expected to prevail in 36 hours.

Residents in these areas are advised to take appropriate measures for possible landslides and flashfloods while sea travel remains at high risk over the seaboards of areas under Signal #1 due to rough sea conditions.

Meanwhile, PAGASA already lifted for Bataan, Cavite, Batangas, Oriental Mindoro, the rest of Occidental Mindoro, and the rest of extreme northern Palawan.

Through the day, light to moderate with intermittent heavy rains will prevail over northern portion of Palawan including Calamian Islands and Lubang Island.

Central Luzon, Metro Manila, Rizal, and Northern Quezon, likewise, will experience cloudy skies with scattered rains.

According to PAGASA, Ursula is expected to exit the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) on Saturday (28 December) morning.

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