DND verifying report on ships allegedly dumping wastes in West Philippine Sea

Robie de Guzman   •   July 14, 2021   •   420

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of National Defense (DND) is investigating reports of alleged dumping of human wastes by some foreign vessels in the West Philippine Sea.

In a statement, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he has ordered the Western command, which has jurisdiction over the West Philippine Sea, to verify the reports circulating online.

“We have taken note of the news circulating online about the alleged dumping of wastes in the South China Sea,” Lorenzana said.

Simularity, a US-based geospatial imagery firm, earlier reported that unknown ships have been dumping sewage and human wastes in the reefs of the disputed waters.

But Lorenzana expressed doubt over the report because of the photo accompanying it seemed to have been taken from a different area.

“The photo of a ship seen dumping waste accompanying the report was found to have been taken in the Australian Great Barrier Reef in 2014. Therefore, this intent to mislead has cast great doubt on the accurateness of the Simularity Report,’ he said.

“We also question the conclusion reached by Simularity from just looking at satellite photos,” he added.

Lorenzana said that while they are confirming and verifying these wastes being dumped in the West Philippine Sea, he said such irresponsible acts, if true, are considered to be gravely detrimental to the marine ecology in the area.

“Despite conflicting claims and interests by states in the South China Sea, all nations must be responsible stewards of our natural resources and environment,” he added.

Philippines, Malaysia to boost bilateral ties amid easing pandemic situation – DFA

Robie de Guzman   •   October 21, 2021

 MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government is looking to bolster its ties with Malaysia amid improving COVID-19 situation in Southeast Asia, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Wednesday.

In a statement, the DFA said that the department’s Assistant Secretary for Asian and Pacific Affairs Neal Imperial met with Malaysian Ambassador to the Philippines Norman bin Muhammad last Oct. 18.

Among the things discussed by the two officials were initiatives seeking to revitalize the two nations’ relations across all areas amid easing coronavirus pandemic situation, it added.

“The two officials exchanged views and proposals on how to further boost bilateral trade and investment, address the COVID-19 pandemic, and roll out post-pandemic recovery initiatives, including the careful reopening of borders to gradually revitalize business and two-way tourism,” the DFA said.

The department said that both parties have also discussed counterterrorism cooperation, the promotion of moderate Islam in predominantly Muslim areas, as well as Malaysia’s support for the development of Mindanao.

The two officials also agreed to continue working together to further enhance Philippines-Malaysia bilateral ties, and explore the possibility of reconvening high-level bilateral meetings early next year.

Despite the effects of the pandemic, Malaysia remains one of the Philippines’ top trading partners and investment sources.

During their meeting, Imperial also conveyed the congratulations of the Philippine Government to Malaysia’s newly elected government, the DFA said.

PH to raise daily vaccination target to 1.5 million doses

Robie de Guzman   •   October 20, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government is eyeing to raise its daily vaccination target to 1.5 million jabs amid the arrival of more COVID-19 vaccine doses.

In his report to President Rodrigo Duterte in a taped public briefing aired late Tuesday, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said the continuous delivery of vaccine supplies in the country will allow the government to shift its focus to inoculating as much of the willing general population.

Galvez, who is also the National Task Force Against COVID-19 chief implementer, said that for the first half of October alone, 20 million vaccine doses have already been delivered under government and private sector procurements, as well as donations.

The World Health Organization-led COVAX facility delivered 7.3 million doses for this month, which is one of its biggest vaccine donations to the Philippines to date, he added.

Galvez also reported that apart from the COVAX facility, the United States also donated 6.4 million Pfizer jabs while Germany gave 884, 800 AstraZeneca doses.

Both the US and Germany have committed to donate more in the coming months, he added.

At this rate, the vaccine czar said that achieving 100 million COVID-19 vaccine doses delivery before end-October is “on track” and that vaccine supply shortage “is no longer an issue” with more than 38 million doses are safely stored in cold chain storage warehouses.

With the abundance of vaccine supply, Galvez said the government can now shift its attention to recalibrating its vaccine deployment strategy to inoculate the general population, including children, before the year ends.

The national government is aiming to vaccinate at least 50 million individuals this year.

As of Monday, a total of 24,498,753 have been fully vaccinated or 31.76 percent of the total vaccination target.

PNP Maritime Group nagtayo ng istasyon sa Pag-asa Island

Robie de Guzman   •   October 19, 2021

Nagsimula na ang deployment ng mga tauhan ng Philippine National Police (PNP) Maritime Group sa Pag-asa Island na sakop ng West Philippine Sea.

Ayon kay PNP Maritime Unit-National Capital Region (NCR) chief Police Colonel Oliver Tanseco, walong tauhan na pinamumunuan ng isang opisyal na may ranggong Police Major ang unang batch na ipinadala sa lugar.

Aniya, tungkulin ng grupo na bantayan ang buong munisipalidad ng Kalayaan at pangalagaan ang seguridad ng mga Pilipinong mangingisda laban sa mga dayuhang sasakyang pangisda.

“Ang primary responsibility po natin, unang-una, magbigay-suporta at tulungan yung ating pamahalaan sa pagpapatupad ng batas natin doon sa Pag-asa Island,” ani Tanseco.

“Siyempre doon sa ating exclusive economic zone, ang ating sovereign right, at doon sa mga area na pasok sa territorial sea, ang ating sovereignty,” dagdag pa niya.

Lakip rin ng kanilang tungkulin ang pangangalaga sa kapakanan ng mga Pilipinong mangingisda na makararanas ng panggugulo mula sa mga dayuhang sasakyang pandagat.

“Sa Pag-asa Island po ang ating mga police are trained police investigators po para kung kinakailangan po ay magkakaroon tayo ng pag- arrest po ng mga barko na pumapasok, nagi-intrude, nagpo-poaching sa ating waters. Ang ating pulis po ang magko-conduct ng investigation and for filing of cases in court,” ani Tanseco.

Bukod sa mga maritime police sa Pag-asa Island, mayroon ding walong tauhan ang mga ito na nakasakay sa BRP Dagupan City na tumutulong naman sa Philippine Navy sa pagpapatrolya sa West Philippine Sea.

Ang Pagasa Island ang pangalawa sa pinakamalaking natural island sa West Philippine Sea at matatagpuan 480 kilometers kanluran ng Puerto Princesa sa Palawan.

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