DFA summons Chinese Ambassador over Julian Felipe Reef issue

Marje Pelayo   •   April 13, 2021   •   234

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said it summoned China’s ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian over the Julian Felipe Reef issue.

In a statement, the DFA expressed displeasure over the “illegal lingering” presence of Chinese vessels in the said territory in the West Philippines Sea.

Through DFA Acting Undersecretary Elizabeth Buensuceso, the DFA stressed that Julian Felipe Reef lies within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Republic of the Philippines.

The DFA also noted the ‘untoward statements’ of the Chinese Embassy spokesperson on Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and reminded of the proper decorum and manners in the conduct of their duties as guests here in the Philippines.

The DFA reiterated the Philippines’ firm demand to China to immediately remove all of its vessels from Julian Felipe Reef and from other areas covered by the Philippine maritime zone.

‼️READ‼️ DFA Summons Chinese Ambassador, Expresses Utmost Displeasure over Julian Felipe Reef Issue

#DFAForgingAhead

Posted by Department of Foreign Affairs, Republic of the Philippines on Monday, April 12, 2021

DFA logs 41 new cases of COVID-19 among Filipinos abroad; active cases at 6,018

Marje Pelayo   •   May 5, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) reported on Wednesday (May 5) that 41 overseas Filipinos added to the list of active cases of COVID-19 abroad.

Overall, 18,457 Filipinos abroad have been infected with the disease.

Of the said number, 6,018 Filipinos in different countries are undergoing treatment; while 11,292 have recovered. Those who succumbed to the disease are now at 1,147.

The highest number of COVID-19 cases reported among overseas Filipinos are in the Middle East and Africa, in Asia and the Pacific, and in Europe and the Americas.

To date, a total of 94 countries and territories have reported cases of Filipinos infected with coronavirus, the DFA said.

Hontiveros calls on the DFA to address fake passports used in human trafficking

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 4, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—Senator Risa Hontiveros has called on the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to take actions against fake passports being used in human trafficking.

During a Senate Committee hearing on Tuesday (May 4), Hontiveros said the DFA should look into illegal schemes and enterprises that tamper with or forge passports, including a modus called “baklas passport.” Under the said scheme, the trafficked individual assumes the passport details of another person.

Hontiveros revealed three accounts of Filipino Muslim girls who were victims of human trafficking. They were identified as Omaima, Aleah, and Lenlen (not her real name). During the hearing, the women attested that their passports were fabricated to hide the fact that they were underaged.

“Our witness, Lenlen, went to the DFA in Cotabato to get her biometric passport in 2018. Why then did the DFA give her a fake passport?” the senator said.

One of the Filipino Muslim girls who were trafficked to Syria as minors also said that her passport was ‘baklas’ or fake.

The senator asked if there was a government official colluding with human trafficking criminals. She also called on the Foreign Affairs Department to conduct an investigation on its officials from across the country who may be facilitating the production of fake passports.

Another survivor of human trafficking in Syria said she was recruited when she was 14 years old. She said she was also a victim of verbal sexual harassment by an employee of the Philippine Embassy in Syria.

“I call on the DFA to regularly check the welfare of our women and girls abroad. We would not have known of this case, had Lenlen kept this story to herself. The DFA should be proactive in protecting our women,” Hontiveros said.

Meanwhile, pastillas scheme whistle blower Alex Chiong confirmed that corrupt Bureau of Immigration (BI) officers have a Viber group chat that displays the list of names of women to be trafficked out of the country. The list may include underage girls with fraudulent passports.

According to the BI, the immigration officer who stamped the passport of 2018 survivor Lenlen in the list of individuals, is being investigated by the agency for being part of outbound human trafficking activities.

“If we find that this is syndicated trafficking, or trafficking committed by a group of three or more persons conspiring or confederating with each other, the prescription period is 20 years.  Let’s all help finally resolve this revolting issue. Let’s do all we can for our children,” Hontiveros said. AAC

DFA files two protest vs China for “belligerent actions against the Philippine Coast Guard”

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 3, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has filed two protests against China for the continuous presence of Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea, and its “belligerent actions against the Philippine Coast Guard.”

In a statement, the DFA said it has protested the shadowing, blocking, dangerous maneuver, and radio challenges by the Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) on the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) vessels conducting legitimate maritime patrols and training exercises in the vicinity of Bajo de Masinloc.

The department also mentioned in its protest “the incessant, illegal, prolonged, and increasing presence of Chinese fishing vessels and maritime militia vessels in Philippine maritime zones.”

“From January 1 to March 18, 2021, Philippine maritime law enforcement agencies monitored the continued unauthorized presence and activities of hundreds of Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea, particularly in the areas around the Pag-asa Islands, Zamora Reef, Panata and Kota Islands, Ayungin Shoal, Quirino Atoll, and Bajo de Masinloc,” the statement said.

The department also rejects the statement of the Spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 26 April 2021 that China enjoys sovereignty over Bajo de Masinloc, reiterating that such statement has no “basis in international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and is not recognized by the international community.”

The DFA further emphasized that “the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG) and Bajo de Masinloc are integral parts of the Philippines over which it has sovereignty and jurisdiction.”

It also reiterated that China has no law enforcement rights in these areas.

The DFA also called on China “to withdraw its government vessels around the KIG and Bajo de Masinloc and respect Philippine sovereignty.” AAC

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