China to build on disputed shoal in South China Sea

UNTV News   •   March 17, 2017   •   4135


Boats at Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea are shown in this handout photo provided by Planet Labs, and captured on March 12, 2016. REUTERS/Planet Labs/Handout via Reuters

China will begin preparatory work this year for an environmental monitoring station on Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, an official said, as two U.S. senators introduced a bill to impose sanctions on its activities in the disputed waterway.

Last month, a Philippine minister said Chinese President Xi Jinping had promised his Philippine counterpart China would not build structures on the rocky outcrop both countries claim, but China called the comments “baffling and regrettable”.

China seized the shoal, which is northeast of the Spratly islands, in 2012 and denied access to Philippine fishermen. But after President Rodrigo Duterte visited China last year, it allowed them to return to the traditional fishing area.

This week, Xiao Jie, the mayor of what China calls Sansha City, said China planned to begin preparatory work this year to build environmental monitoring stations on a number of islands, including Scarborough Shoal.

Sansha City is the name China has given to an administrative base for the South China Sea islands and reefs it controls.

The monitoring stations, along with docks and other infrastructure, form part of island restoration and erosion prevention efforts planned for 2017, Xiao told the official Hainan Daily in an interview.

A spokesman for the Philippine foreign ministry, Charles Jose, declined to comment, saying it was trying to verify the reports.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrives in Beijing on Saturday for a two-day visit, where the South China Sea, almost all of which is claimed by China, is likely to figure.

Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also claim parts of the waters, which have rich fishing grounds, along with oil and gas deposits. About $5 trillion worth of trade passes through the waterway each year.

The United States has criticized China’s construction of manmade islands and its build-up of military facilities there, expressing concern they could be used to restrict free movement.

This week, U.S. Senators Marco Rubio and Ben Cardin introduced the South China Sea and East China Sea Sanctions Act that would ban visas for Chinese people contributing to building development projects in the South and East China Seas.

It would also put sanctions on foreign financial bodies that “knowingly conduct or facilitate a significant financial transaction for sanctioned individuals and entities” if China steps up activity at Scarborough Shoal, among other actions.

The senators’ proposal was “extremely grating,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Friday.

“I think the proposal put forward by individual senators shows their arrogance and ignorance,” Hua told a daily news briefing in Beijing.

China resolutely opposes the proposal, which infringes international law and international relations norms, she added.

Tension over the South China Sea reached a flashpoint after the Philippines filed an arbitration case against China in the Hague and as China started militarizing artificial islands it built up on reefs in the region.

China is also involved in a separate dispute with Japan over a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Christian Shepherd; Additional reporting by Manuel Mogato in MANILA; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Duterte tells Filipinos to be a hero like Andres Bonifacio amid pandemic

Robie de Guzman   •   November 30, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday called on Filipinos to “become a hero” like Andres Bonifacio and emulate his strong sense of civic duty and love of country amid challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the country marks the 158th birth anniversary of Bonifacio, Duterte said the bravery and patriotism of Bonifacio and other Filipino heroes who fought the colonizers “must serve as guiding post in beating the odds that hinder the country’s progress as a people and as a nation.”

“As we commemorate these events, I invite every Filipino to become a hero like Bonifacio by participating actively in our nation-building efforts, especially in those challenging times when we have to secure our nation’s health, safety, and wellness,” President Duterte said in his speech during the commemoration at the Pinaglabanan Shrine in San Juan City.

“In this light, I call on our kababayans to emulate Gat Andres Bonifacio’s strong sense of civic duty, courage, and love of country in our daily lives, even in the simplest ways. May we be challenged to give our very best for the benefit of our people and nation,” he added.

Duterte also lauded Bonifacio’s bravery, adding that remembering the late hero’s sacrifice for the country’s independence “could provide a sense of hope, determination, and optimism for today’s generation of Filipinos” amid difficult challenges.

“May this event be a constant reminder of the invaluable contribution and selfless sacrifice of our heroes, especially Gat Andres, in paving the way for the liberty and independence that we enjoy today,” he said.

“Indeed, remembering historical events such as these are vital to enriching our understanding and appreciation for our nation’s culture,” he added.

This year’s commemoration of Bonifacio day also marked the opening of the newly restored El Deposito Underground Reservoir and the new diorama exhibit at the Museo ng Katipunan, which showcases the historical Battle of San Juan del Monte.

Duterte thanked the National Historical Commission of the Philippines for undertaking the restoration and rehabilitation of the historical and cultural landmarks, saying these provide the new generation of Filipinos a glimpse of the country’s long and colorful history and heritage.

“I believe that by revisiting and honoring our past, we will be able to impart a stronger sense of nationhood to the present and future generations of Filipinos,” he said.

Also present during the event were Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Cabinet Secretary and Acting Presidential Spokesperson Karlo Alexei Nograles, and San Juan City Mayor Francisco Javier Zamora.

Prexy bets make usual rounds, use social media for day’s activities

Maris Federez   •   November 26, 2021

 

MANILA, Philippines — Three presidential candidates for the 2022 national and local elections made the rounds across the country on Friday, while the rest took to social media to lay down their election promises.

Former Senator Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos, Jr. made another visit to the vote-rich province, Cebu.

Here, members of the Businessmen ng Bayan Movement of the Philippines (BBMP) signified their support to his presidential run.

The group is composed of small-scale businessmen in Cebu.

Labor leader Leody de Guzman, meanwhile, went to Marikina City.

Here, joined the protest action of workers in a company that is based in the city.

Manila Mayor Francisco ‘Isko Moreno’ Domagoso, on the other hand, did not have any out-of-town engagement and just stayed at the City Hall to personally receive the 6,600 pieces of Bariticitinib anti-COVID-19 tablets.

While other presidential bets did not have any public engagements Friday, they took to social media to post their activities for the day.

In his Facebook post, Senator Manny Pacquiao showed the possible housing projects he will implement should he become the president.

Such housing projects will be like that of free housing he did for the people of General Santos City and Saranggani province.

Meanwhile, Senator Panfilo Lacson’s FB post said that providing sufficient funds for free public WIFI will remain in his platform of government should he become president.

He assured the people that he has enough experience in crafting and proper allocation of the national budget.

Vice President Leni Robredo, on the other hand, focused her FB post on the issue in the West Philippine Sea.

Robredo insists that the issue is not just about the fishing sector but about all Filipinos. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Nel Maribojoc)

PH Defense chief says China trespassing in Ayungin Shoal

Robie de Guzman   •   November 25, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Thursday reiterated that the Philippines has sovereign rights over Ayungin Shoal (also called Second Thomas Shoal) following China’s call for the country to remove its grounded vessel in the area.

“Ayungin lies inside our EEZ (exclusive economic zone) which we have sovereign rights. Our EEZ was awarded to us by the 1982 UNCLOS, which China ratified,“ Lorenzana told reporters.

“China should abide by its international obligations that it is part of,” he added.

The Defense chief issued the statement in response to the remark of China’s Foreign Ministry, through its spokesperson Zhao Lijian, demanding the Philippines to remove the BRP Sierra Madre from the shoal.

BRP Sierra Madre is an old Philippine Navy ship that was ran aground there to assert Manila’s claim over the area. It has been serving as the outpost of a small Philippine military contingent since 1999.

In a press conference in Beijing, Zhao claimed anew that Ayungin Shoal (known in China as Ren’ai Jiao) is part of Nansha Qundao, which is the Chinese name for the Spratly Islands also being claimed in part by the Philippines.

But Lorenzana maintained that Ayungin Shoal is within the Philippines EEZ as it is located about 105 nautical miles west of Palawan.

Aside from UNCLOS, the Defense chief also noted that the Permanent Court of Arbitration, in its 2016 ruling on a case lodged by the Philippines, stated that China’s territorial claim over the West Philippine Sea has neither historic nor legal basis.

“Ergo, we can do whatever we want there and it is they who are actually trespassing,” he said.

“Meron tayong dalawang documento na nagpapatunay na meron tayong sovereign rights sa ating EEZ habang sila ay wala at yung claim nila walang basehan, “ he added.

Lorenzana also said that as far as he knows, there is no commitment made by Philippine authorities to remove BRP Sierra Madre from the Ayungin Shoal.

“As far as I know there is no such commitment. That ship has been there since 1999. If there was commitment it would have been removed long time ago,” he said.

China’s demand for the removal of BRP Sierra Madre from Ayungin Shoal came after Philippine military boats completed their resupply mission on Thursday.

The boats were deployed there a week after Chinese coast guard vessels blocked and harassed the first Filipino mission that were sent to the area.

The incident prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to call out China’s action at the contested waters during the ASEAN-China special summit on November 22. (with details from Correspondent Lea Ylagan)

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