Duterte may meet with ex-PH presidents to discuss West Philippine Sea row – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   May 20, 2021   •   701

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is looking to meet with his predecessors to discuss China’s continued presence in the West Philippine Sea, Malacañang said Thursday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque issued the statement when asked for a comment on former military chief and Senator Rodolfo Biazon’s proposal to convene the National Security Council (NSC) over the Duterte administration’s “confusing” stand on Manila’s maritime dispute with Beijing.

Roque insisted that there is nothing confusing with President Duterte’s stand on the sea row as his policy towards China is to temporarily set aside disagreements on some issues and push through with other matters, such as commerce and investments, that will benefit the country.

He also reiterated that the present administration will never give away a territory and will stand firm and protect the national sovereignty and sovereign rights.

But instead of convening the NSC, Roque said the president is mulling over meeting with former presidents and other personalities to tackle the issue.

“Nabanggit po yan sa akin ng presidente. Ang problema dun sa National Security Council, wala naman pong nare-resolve dun sa mga pagkakataon na naka-attend siya so kung kinakailangan, iniisip niya na imbitahin ang mga dating presidente, ilang mga personalidad na magkaroon ng isang pagpupulong to discuss the issue,” he said.

“Pero ang tingin po niya, may mga karanasan po siya sa National Security Council, eh walang resolusyon na nangyayari so parang bakit pa, eh pwede naman po yang through informal consultations,” he added.

The NSC is an advisory body on the proper coordination and integration of plans and policies affecting national security and foreign policy. It is composed of concerned officials of the Cabinet and Congress as members, as well as other government officials and relevant personalities who may be invited by the president.

Roque said there is no date yet for the possible meeting as this is still in the process of consideration. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

PH gov’t to verify reports on foreign ships’ alleged sewage dumping in West Philippine Sea

Robie de Guzman   •   July 14, 2021


MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government will look into a report that some foreign vessels were allegedly dumping sewage wastes in the contested parts of the West Philippine Sea, Malacañang said Wednesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque issued the statement in response to a report released by US-based geospatial imagery firm, Simularity, which stated that foreign ships have been dumping sewage and human wastes in the reefs of the disputed waters.

“The responsible answer is we are verifying first, we will react if it’s been verified,” Roque said in a press briefing.

“We should accord our neighbors, and our friends the presumption of good faith, when they say something about an issue,” he added.

If the reports are true, Roque said the government would never allow the Philippines to become a garbage dump.

He even cited the incident when the Philippines sent back to Canada its illegally exported trash in 2019.

The Department of National Defense earlier said it is already verifying the report as it noted that the photo accompanying it was supposedly taken on the Australian Great Barrier Reef in 2014.

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

Robie de Guzman   •   July 14, 2021

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.

Coalition calls for strong enforcement of 2016 arbitral ruling anew

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 12, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Several groups have called anew for the strong enforcement of the 2016 arbitral ruling.

The group Citizens Alliance for Life and the Law of the Sea (CALL of the Sea) called on the Duterte Administration to strongly implement the arbitral ruling regarding the West Philippine Sea. The 2016 arbitral ruling affirmed the Philippines’ territorial claims in the South China Sea against China’s claims.

“What we must now need, moving forward is for us Filipinos and national leaders to speak as one with a clear unmistakable, consistent and emphatic voice on the enforcement of the arbitral award,” according to Atty. Joey Lina, convener of CALL of the Sea.

According to 1Sambayan led by its convener, retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, only Filipinos have the right to the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

“The constitution expressly declares the stay, the use of reserves and enjoyment of the nations marine wealth in its exclusive economic zone solely to Filipino citizens, clearly the president has no power to allow Chinese fishermen to fish in our exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea,

Former Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Dr. Albert Del Rosario also said that President Rodrigo Duterte betrayed the constitution due to his previous statements regarding the West Philippine Sea.

“Last May 10, 2021, the President claimed his pledge to will ride a jet ski to the Spratlys, plant the Philippine flag there was a pure campaign joke. calling those who believed him as being stupid. This episode contributes to a widening belief among our countrymen that President Duterte betrayed the constitution he swore to uphold, and consequently betrayed his countrymen who rely on him to protect the West Philippine sea,” he said.

Meanwhile, Department of National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the government is not giving up any natural resources in the country’s EEZ.

“We should also propagate an objective understanding of issues surrounding the West Philippine Sea to avoid being clouded by pure emotions which are being exploited by those who seek to divide rather than to unite us in our common goal. On the economic implications of the issue, we need to consistently acknowledge that the natural resources within our EEZ are for our exclusive exploitation,” he said. AAC (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

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