Palace cites recent responses to tensions in West Philippine Sea

Robie de Guzman   •   April 15, 2021   •   167

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Wednesday cited the Philippine government’s recent responses to the developments in the West Philippine Sea following calls for China to withdraw its vessels spotted in various parts of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the government has repeatedly filed diplomatic protests and deployed more ships for maritime patrols in the contested waters in an attempt to peacefully settle the issue.

Roque also said that the National Task Force on West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) “has always been consistent” in invoking Philippine sovereignty and sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea.

He further stated that President Rodrigo 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.

“President Rodrigo Duterte underscored the importance of 2016 Arbitral Ruling before the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly,” he said, referring to Duterte’s virtual attendance to the UNGA session in September last year.

It can be recalled that during the UN assembly, Duterte asserted the Philippines’ rights over the disputed waters even if China continues to ignore the ruling.

Roque also noted that the Department of Foreign Affairs has earlier filed an appropriate diplomatic protest against China and summoned Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian over the Julian Felipe Reef situation.

He also said that the presence of Philippine maritime security and law enforcement forces have been stepped up in the municipality of Kalayaan to protect Filipino fishermen and the marine resources.

Roque issued the statement after Filipino business groups joined the call on China to withdraw its maritime militia and Navy vessels in the Philippines’ EEZ.

The NTF-WPS 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.

Esperon assures following Duterte’s orders in defending West PH Sea

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — National Security Adviser and Chairman of the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea Sec. Hermogenes Esperon said they will follow President Rodrigo Duterte’s orders in defending the West Philippine Sea.

The President previously said that he will not back down and will not order the retreat of the two vessels that the country deployed in patrolling the Kalayaan Islands and the Mischief Reef.

“Hindi talaga ako aatras. Patayin mo man ako kung patayin mo ako, dito ako. Dito magtatapos ang ating pagkakaibigan,” he said during a public address.

(I will not back down. Kill me, I will be here. This is where our friendship ends.)

In a separate interview in Politiscoop, Esperon said they are prepared to follow the President’s orders which includes deploying military ships in case there is an excavation of natural gas in the disputed islands.

“May utos na po ang pangulo natin diyan. Alam na natin gagawin diyan,” he said.

(The President has a directive. We already know what to do.)

Esperon also noted that the country is using satellite technology to monitor unauthorized sea vessels entering the country’s territory.

He added that the task force, in coordination with the Philippine Space Agency, aims to boost the country’s satellite technology.

“Actually mayroon tayong nova satellite diyan run by the Philippine Space Agency at pinapalawig pa natin ang ating kakayahan tungkol sa satellite. For now ang ginagamit na ay ang flight maritime patrols, sovereign patrols ng Air Force ng navy,” he said.

(Actually, we have a nova satellite run by the Philippine Space Agency and we are still expanding our capability with regards to the satellite. For now, we are using flight maritime patrols, the sovereign patrols of the Air Force.)

Amid the tension between the disputed islands, the President reiterated that the country is avoiding any conflict in the region. But he said that China should still respect the country’s position on the issue. AAC (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

DTI: Halos 200-libong manggagawa, balik-trabaho sa ilalim ng GCQ

Robie de Guzman   •   May 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Maaari nang makabalik sa trabaho ang nasa 200-libong empleyado matapos na ibalik sa general community quarantine “with heightened restrictions” ang National Capital Region (NCR) at mga karatig-lalawigan.

Ayon kay Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez, magiging daan ang paglipat sa GCQ ng NCR, Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal, at Laguna – tinatawag na NCR Plus – upang mapababa ang bilang ng mga nawalan ng trabaho noong kasagsagan ng enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

“As we further open the economy, we are expecting to bring back 200,000 to 300,000 jobs to lessen the number workers displaced since the start of the ECQ,” ani Lopez.

Noong nasa ilalim ng ECQ ang NCR Plus, umabot sa 1.5 milyon ang bilang ng mga Pilipino nawalan ng trabaho dahil sa coronavirus pandemic.

Nabawasan ito at naging isang milyon noong ipinatupad ang modified ECQ.

Ayon kay Lopez, sa ngayon ay aabot pa sa 700-libong manggagawa ang hindi pa rin nakakabalik sa trabaho dahil sa limitadong operasyon ng ilang establisimyento gaya ng mga restaurant, at barbershop. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Joan Nano)

Duterte invites Juan Ponce Enrile to discuss West Philippine Sea issue

Robie de Guzman   •   May 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte will seek the counsel of former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile on issues surrounding the West Philippine Sea dispute.

In a taped speech aired on Friday, Duterte said he has invited Enrile to join his meeting with Cabinet officials on Monday, May 17, to discuss the Philippines’ territorial dispute with China.

“We have respectfully invited Senator Enrile to come here kasi hindi man ako puwedeng makalabas na mag-usap,” he said.

“Pakinggan natin siya. Huwag na tayong — hindi na ako magsalita. Makikinig lang ako sa kanya kasi siya ‘yong — he was there right at the beginning,” he added.

Duterte said he would be all ears if the former lawmaker and a shrewd lawyer were to discuss the West Philippine issue with him.

“Sa kanya ako makinig kasi sa kanya ako bilib sa utak at pag-intindi nitong problema itong ating West Philippine Sea,” he said.

The president expressed hope that the 97-year old Enrile would accept his invitation.

Duterte did not say his reasons for consulting Enrile on the matter, but the former senator had previously expressed support for the Duterte administration’s diplomatic way of dealing with the maritime dispute. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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