DFA slams statement of Chinese Embassy in Manila vs Lorenzana, Julian Felipe Reef

Robie de Guzman   •   April 5, 2021   •   713

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Monday blasted the statement of the Chinese Embassy in Manila against Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on the presence of Chinese vessels in the Julian Felipe Reef.

In a statement, the DFA said it “strongly deplores” the remarks of the Chinese Embassy spokesperson reacting to Lorenzana’s statement issued on April 3 calling on Chinese vessels to leave the waters in the area and vicinity of Julian Felipe Reef.

“[T]he Department of Foreign Affairs denounces the Embassy’s attempt to impugn the Secretary of National Defense – a Cabinet Official of the Republic of the Philippines – by calling his statement ‘unprofessional,’” the department said.

“Chinese Embassy officials are reminded that they are guests of the Philippine government, and as guests must at all times observe protocol and accord respect to Philippine government officials,” it added.

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.”

“I am no fool. The weather has been good so far, so they have no other reason to stay there. The vessels should be on their way out,” he said.

A spokesperson for the Embassy last Saturday said that China hopes authorities “avoid any unprofessional remarks” over the presence of Chinese vessels in the Philippine Sea.

Chinese officials earlier denied that the vessels were maritime militia and that these are only seeking temporary shelter due to rough sea conditions. They also said that the vessels are in Chinese territory, calling the reef as Niu’e Jiao.

The DFA said the Chinese Embassy’s statement “contained blatant falsehoods such as claims of adverse weather conditions when there were none and the supposed non-existence of maritime militia vessels in the area. “

“The statement also attempted to promote the clearly false narrative of China’s expansive and illegitimate claims in the West Philippine Sea,” the DFA said.

Julian Felipe Reef is part of the Kalayaan Island Group and lies in the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Republic of the Philippines. It is located 175 nautical miles west of Batarza town in Palawan and 638,229 nautical miles from Hainan Island, it added.

The DFA also rejected China’s assertion that Julian Felipe Reef and its waters are their traditional fishing grounds.

“Tradition yields to the law whether or not it is regarded as traditional fishing,” the department said.

“The United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS) – to which both the Republic of the Philippines and China are parties – and the final and binding July 12, 2016 award in the South China Sea Arbitration are clearly the only norm applicable to this situation,” it added.

The foreign affairs department emphasized that the July 12, 2016 Award in the South China Sea Arbitration “conclusively settled the issue of historic rights and maritime entitlements in the South China Sea.”

“The Tribunal ruled that claims to historic rights, or other sovereign rights or jurisdiction that exceed the geographic and substantive limits of maritime entitlements under UNCLOS, are without lawful effect,” it said.

“It further ruled that UNCLOS ‘superseded any historic rights, or other sovereign rights or jurisdiction, in excess of the limits imposed therein,’” it added.

The DFA reiterated Lorenzana’s call for China to immediately withdraw its fishing vessels and maritime assets in the area and vicinity of Julian Felipe Reef and in the Philippines’ maritime zones.

“For every day of delay, the Republic of the Philippines will lodge a diplomatic protest,” it warned.

The lingering presence of Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea, the DFA said, blatantly infringed upon Philippine sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdictions.

“These are contrary to China’s commitments under international law and the ASEAN-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, and demonstrate lack of good faith in the ongoing negotiations on a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea between ASEAN and China,” it added.

DFA logs two new COVID cases among overseas Filipinos

Marje Pelayo   •   June 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) reported two new COVID-19 cases among Filipinos abroad.

Likewise, three overseas Filipino workers (OFW) recovered from the infection and no new fatalities were recorded.

Overall, DFA logged a total of 20,424 cases of COVID-19 among Filipinos from different parts of the world.

Of this number, 7,108 are currently undergoing treatment.

Also, 12,096 recovered and a total of 1,220 succumbed to the disease in all 94 countries and territories around the globe.

DFA facilitates return of over 300 distressed OFWs from UAE

Maris Federez   •   June 18, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — A total of 325 distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFW) arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1 on Thursday (June 17), according to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The DFA said this was the third flight from UAE especially chartered by the department this year through the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (DFA-OUMWA) using the DFA’s Assistance to National Fund.

The DFA-OUMWA welcomed the latest group of repatriates, which included 88 pregnant distressed overseas Filipinos upon their arrival in Manila.

“To our kababayan in distress, we hear you. We are here for you,” stated DFA Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs Sarah Lou Y. Arriola, stressing her vow to continue providing assistance to all OFWs in need.

“This recent arrival is a clear testament of our commitment to bring you home,” she added.

The DFA said that through the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the Philippine Consulate General in Dubai, the department will continue to accept applications for future repatriations from the UAE.

The previous chartered flight from the UAE last 31 June 2021, brought home 396 overseas Filipinos.

In conformity with health protocols set by the Department of Health (DOH) – Bureau of Quarantine, the repatriates will undergo stringent facility-based quarantine provided by the Philippine government. They shall also be subjected to RT-PCR Testing for COVID19.

The Philippine government upholds the One-Country Team Approach by continuously collaborating and cooperating with the DOH, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, the Department of Transportation, and the Philippine Coast Guard to ensure the safety and welfare of our Kababayans, the DFA said. —/mbmf

Duterte, Xi call for ‘win-win’ cooperation on 46th anniversary of PH-China ties

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 10, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping both call for a “win-win” cooperation in commemoration of the 46th anniversary of Philippine-China relations.

The Philippine President expressed his gratitude for  China’s assistance to the Philippines in the face of challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Philippine-China economic ties are of course the dynamic force that will continue to drive or bilateral relations forward,” Duterte told Xi in a statement.

“I am confident that my Administration’s Build Build Build program together with the Belt and Road Initiative, will reap long-term benefits for our peoples,” he added.

Meanwhile, in a letter addressed to Duterte, the Chinese president acknowledged that in recent years, with concerted efforts of both sides, Philippine- China relations have remained “healthy and stable.”

“I attach great significance to the development of China-Philippines relations, and stand ready to work with you in guiding our bilateral relations to move forward in a sustained and steady manner, so as to achieve greater win-win results and mutual benefits,” Xi said. AAC

 

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