Malacañang cites possibility of raising sea dispute to UN General Assembly

Aileen Cerrudo   •   April 2, 2019   •   1257

FILE PHOTO: An aerial view shows the Pagasa (Hope) Island, part of the disputed Spratly group of islands, in the South China Sea located off the coast of western Philippines July 20, 2011. REUTERS/ROLEX DELA PENA/POOL

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang has cited the possibility of raising the sea dispute case against China before the United Nations (UN) General Assembly.

According to Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, the said measure was also mentioned by former Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario as one of the options in resolving the territorial dispute.

Siguro (Maybe), we are member of the United Nations, right? And there are cases where certain issue that happens in a particular country that affects humanity are raised in the general assembly tapos (and then) General Assembly makes a unified action. I’m just giving you what I thought, that could be done,” he said.

Panelo received a courtesy call from Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua where Zhao mentioned that the Chinese vessel found near Pag-asa Island carried Chinese fishermen.

READ: DND orders AFP to confirm reported harassment of Filipino fishermen near Pag-asa Island

The Philippines already submitted a note verbale, or a diplomatic note, regarding the presence of Chinese vessels in the vicinity of Pag-asa Island. The measure is a to shows the administration is defending its sovereignty, according to Panelo.

“Can you tell me what is—what other strong message can you give to them, except to leave the place,” he said.

Panelo believes that the bilateral mechanism between the Philippines and China is still an effective way of resolving maritime disputes in the West Philippine Sea.

However, if the issue remains unsolved, then there is a possibility of raising the issue to the UN General Assembly.—Aileen Cerrudo (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

No PH-China ‘verbal fishing deal’ in West Philippine Sea — Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   April 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Friday denied allegations that President Rodrigo Duterte made a “verbal fishing agreement” with Chinese President Xi Jinping in the West Philippine Sea.

In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque dismissed the claims as “conjecture” and “without basis.”

“There is no truth to the speculation of a purported “verbal fishing agreement” between President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and President Xi Jin Ping, nor Chinese vessels were encouraged to stay in the West Philippine Sea despite the diplomatic protests and strongly-worded statements of Philippine government officials,” he said.

Roque said that a fishing agreement under the Philippine domestic laws can only be done through a treaty.

“Per Article 2 (1) (a) of the Vienna Convention on the Law on Treaties, a treaty is an international agreement concluded between States in written form,” he said.

“Clearly, a treaty must be in writing. No such treaty or agreement exists between the Philippines and China,” he added.

The Palace official, however, clarified that non-commercial fishing activities may be allowed in local waters as part of traditional fishing rights.

“The President does not condone unlawful commercial fishing by any state on Philippine waters,” Roque said.

“However, the President also recognizes that subsistence (non-commercial) fishing may be allowed as a recognition of the traditional fishing rights pointed out by the Arbitral Tribunal itself in its Award on Jurisdiction (para. 407) in the case between the Philippines and China,” he added.

Roque called on critics to “stop making malicious speculations and false claims made to pointlessly inflame the situation.”

“We ask everyone to just focus our time and effort on productive activities that will enable us to help one another at this time of the pandemic,” he said.

500K more Sinovac doses to arrive in PH April 22

Robie de Guzman   •   April 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines is set to receive Thursday 500,000 more doses of CoronaVac COVID-19 vaccines from Chinese firm Sinovac Biotech.

The plane carrying the shipment is expected to arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport around 5 p.m.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr., Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and other officials will welcome the arrival of the vaccines procured by the government.

The arrival of the additional doses on Thursday would bring to 3,525,600 the number of COVID-19 vaccines, comprised of CoronaVac and AstraZeneca, that the Philippines has so far received.

Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago Sta. Romana on Wednesday announced that another 500,000 vials of Sinovac vaccines are expected to arrive in Manila next week.

This is part of the commitment of Sinovac Biotech to deliver 1.5 million vaccine doses this month. The other 500,000 doses were shipped last April 11.

The Philippines is also expecting to receive this month at least 20,000 doses of Sputnik V vaccines made by Russia’s Gamaleya Institute while additional AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses from the World Health Organization (WHO)-led COVAX Facility may be delivered in May.

The WHO previously said that the delivery of the AstraZeneca vaccine doses for the Philippines has been delayed, and that it will be lesser in number than expected, due to a global supply shortage.

Once additional vaccine doses arrive in the country, the national government is eyeing to begin the inoculation of economic frontliners by May and to intensify the vaccination drive in other COVID-19 hotspots in the Philippines.

Statements of ‘alter-egos’ also reflect Duterte’s stand on West PH Sea issue — Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   April 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Monday said there is no need for President Rodrigo Duterte to speak on China’s incursions in the West Philippine Sea, saying the strong statements of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Department of National Defense (DND) also reflects the president’s stance on the issue.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque issued the statement to dispel notions that Duterte has been silent on the reported number of Chinese vessels still lingering in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

“Doctrine of qualified political doctrine, kapag po hindi dini-dis-own ng president ang mga sinasabi ng kaniyang mga alter-egos, parang siya na po ang nagsasalita, hindi na kailangang siya ang magsalita,” Roque said in an online briefing.

The Palace official was referring to a Constitutional Doctrine which states that “utterances of alter egos are utterances of the President unless the president renounces them.”

Roque also reiterated that Duterte already stressed the importance of the 2016 Hague Ruling on the West Philippine Sea and that the Philippines will not set aside the landmark decision.

The National Task Force-West Philippine Sea earlier reported that at least 240 Chinese vessels were found lingering in various parts of the West Philippine Sea during its latest sovereignty patrols in the area.

Defense Secretary Delfin 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.”

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. also repeatedly fired off diplomatic protests and called for the immediate withdrawal of Chinese vessels in the disputed waters.

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