DND: ‘Green Aura’ issue must not be blown out of proportion

Maris Federez   •   November 3, 2019   •   587

A fisherman repairs his boat overlooking fishing boats that fish in the disputed Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, at Masinloc, Zambales, in the Philippines April 22, 2015. REUTERS/ERIK DE CASTRO

The Department of National Defense (DND) on Sunday (November 3) downplayed reports in certain news outlets that a commercial vessel with Filipino crew aboard, the “Green Aura”, was repeatedly challenged by Chinese Coast Guard vessels near Bajo de Masinloc on September 30, 2019.

In a statement, the DND said, “Since the Green Aura, a Liberian ship, was able to safely reach its intended port of destination unimpeded, we believe that what happened should not be blown out of proportion or sensationalized.”

The defense department further said that an official report of the incident has been forwarded to the National Task Force on the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) for its appropriate action.

The DND has also reiterated its call “for all countries to exercise prudence and respect freedom of navigation and passage in the WPS.”

It stressed that Bajo de Masinloc is well within the Philippine EEZ and that the 2016 arbitral ruling declared it as a common fishing area.

The DND also called on the Chinese government to “respect international maritime laws if it wants to earn the respect of the international community.” (with details from Lea Ylagan) /mbmf

DND: Parañaque raid that killed alleged ASG members highlights need for tougher anti-terror law

Robie de Guzman   •   June 26, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of National Defense (DND) on Friday said that the recent joint police and military operation in Parañaque City, which led to the killing of suspected Abu Sayyaf members, highlights the need for President Rodrigo Duterte to sign the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

In a statement, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said, “the presence of these terrorists in the NCR highlights the need for us to enhance our measures against those who intend to bring harm to our people.”

“A law such as the Anti-Terrorism Bill of 2020 will give our law enforcers greater capacity to stop these terrorists and prevent them from wreaking havoc in our communities,” he added.

Lorenzana also commended the police and the military for the “successful” law enforcement.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), meanwhile, said the incident calls for an urgent decision of the President.

“This development all the more highlights the need for the President and Commander-in-Chief Rodrigo Duterte to expedite the signing and immediate implementation of the Anti-Terrorism Bill,” AFP chief-of-staff General Felimon Santos, Jr. said in a statement.

He said terrorism really poses great threat to public security and places general welfare at stake.

“We should protect and defend from terrorists— without further delay than it had already been —fellow Filipinos from wanton death or destruction of their property,” he said.

Santos also said that the recent operation against the alleged members of Abu Sayyaf group only shows that a pandemic could not deter terror groups from committing lawless acts.

“The unwanted presence of terrorist ASG members in Metro Manila and their timely neutralization in Parañaque proves that terrorist groups know no pandemic or people’s suffering in the Philippines or elsewhere in the world,” he said.

“Not even COVID-19 could deter or prevent the terrorists ASG and their cohorts from planning and looking for the opportune time to strike and kill or maim innocent civilians and to destroy massively government infrastructure and private property,” he added.

The Philippine National Police earlier reported that four suspected ASG members were killed in an operation jointly conducted by police and military forces in Barangay Don Bosco, Parañaque City on past Friday midnight.

The government security forces were about to serve a search warrant issued by the Parañaque City Regional Trial Court Branch 258 when they were engaged by the suspects in a firefight.

The clash eventually resulted in the killing of the suspects, identified as Bensaudi Sali alias “Boy,” his wife Merhama Abdul Sawari alias “Mheng,” Rasin Hussin alias “Boscon,” and Jamal Kalliming alias “Pando.”

The police and military said the operation stemmed from an information they received about the presence of the group tagged as members of Daulah Islamiyah and acting as a financial conduit of Daesh-East Asia, in Parañaque City.

Authorities recovered from the encounter site various handguns, wires, suspected explosive devices, and ISIS flags.

Navy confirms BRP Ramon Alcaraz fire

Maris Federez   •   May 9, 2020

MANILA, Philippines— The Philippine Navy has confirmed the fire incident that took place onboard BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS16) on Thursday night (May 7) just a few hours after it departed Port of Cochin, India bound for Manila.

In a statement issued on Friday, the Navy said the vessel was in convoy with BRP Davao del Sur (LD602).

Naval Public Affairs Office Acting Director, LCdr. Maria Christina Roxas, said initial investigation showed that the fire that broke at the main engine room was put out in 10 minutes but injured two personnel with second degree burns and caused minor damage in some equipment.

“This unfortunate incident could have been worse if not for the promptness of our PN personnel in responding to the fire incident. We recognize the gallant efforts of our personnel in responding to the emergency situation in spite of the dangers involved. Rest assured that the safety and welfare of our personnel is of paramount importance,” Roxas added.

One of the two sailors who were injured in the fire is now receiving treatment in an Indian medical facility, while the other is in sickbay aboard the vessel.

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana, in a statement released on Saturday, said the vessel has returned to Cochin, India, reaching the port under its own power and unassisted as it only sustained minor damage.

He added that the US Navy’s Naval Systems Command (NAVSEA) will assist in the repair of the BRP Alcaraz since the vessel was acquired from the US.

“We will also use existing diplomatic mechanisms and our defense cooperation agreement with India to facilitate and expedite work on the ship so that it can return to the country in the shortest time possible,” Lorenzana concluded. —/mbmf

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)

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