PH Defense chief says China trespassing in Ayungin Shoal

Robie de Guzman   •   November 25, 2021   •   873

MANILA, Philippines – Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Thursday reiterated that the Philippines has sovereign rights over Ayungin Shoal (also called Second Thomas Shoal) following China’s call for the country to remove its grounded vessel in the area.

“Ayungin lies inside our EEZ (exclusive economic zone) which we have sovereign rights. Our EEZ was awarded to us by the 1982 UNCLOS, which China ratified,“ Lorenzana told reporters.

“China should abide by its international obligations that it is part of,” he added.

The Defense chief issued the statement in response to the remark of China’s Foreign Ministry, through its spokesperson Zhao Lijian, demanding the Philippines to remove the BRP Sierra Madre from the shoal.

BRP Sierra Madre is an old Philippine Navy ship that was ran aground there to assert Manila’s claim over the area. It has been serving as the outpost of a small Philippine military contingent since 1999.

In a press conference in Beijing, Zhao claimed anew that Ayungin Shoal (known in China as Ren’ai Jiao) is part of Nansha Qundao, which is the Chinese name for the Spratly Islands also being claimed in part by the Philippines.

But Lorenzana maintained that Ayungin Shoal is within the Philippines EEZ as it is located about 105 nautical miles west of Palawan.

Aside from UNCLOS, the Defense chief also noted that the Permanent Court of Arbitration, in its 2016 ruling on a case lodged by the Philippines, stated that China’s territorial claim over the West Philippine Sea has neither historic nor legal basis.

“Ergo, we can do whatever we want there and it is they who are actually trespassing,” he said.

“Meron tayong dalawang documento na nagpapatunay na meron tayong sovereign rights sa ating EEZ habang sila ay wala at yung claim nila walang basehan, “ he added.

Lorenzana also said that as far as he knows, there is no commitment made by Philippine authorities to remove BRP Sierra Madre from the Ayungin Shoal.

“As far as I know there is no such commitment. That ship has been there since 1999. If there was commitment it would have been removed long time ago,” he said.

China’s demand for the removal of BRP Sierra Madre from Ayungin Shoal came after Philippine military boats completed their resupply mission on Thursday.

The boats were deployed there a week after Chinese coast guard vessels blocked and harassed the first Filipino mission that were sent to the area.

The incident prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to call out China’s action at the contested waters during the ASEAN-China special summit on November 22. (with details from Correspondent Lea Ylagan)

COMELEC releases ballot face for 2022 elections

Robie de Guzman   •   January 25, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) on Tuesday released the final ballot face for the May 2022 national and local elections.

The ballot contains the names of 10 presidential aspirants and nine vice presidential bets. It also includes the names of 64 senatorial candidates.

The presidential aspirants included in the final ballot face are listed in the following order:

  • Abella, Ernie
  • De Guzman, Leody
  • Domagoso, Isko Moreno
  • Gonzales, Norberto
  • Lacson, Ping
  • Mangondato, Faisal
  • Marcos, Bongbong
  • Montemayor, Jose Jr.
  • Pacquiao, Manny Pacman
  • Robredo, Leni

The names of vice presidential bets included in the ballot are the following:

  • Atienza, Lito
  • Bello, Walden
  • David, Rizalito
  • Duterte, Sara
  • Lopez, Manny SD
  • Ong, Doc Willie
  • Pangilinan, Kiko
  • Serapio, Carlos
  • Sotto, Vicente Tito

The final ballot face also includes 178 party-list groups.

Ballot faces for other areas have also been uploaded by the COMELEC on its website.

Duterte threatens to name ‘corrupt’ presidential bet

Robie de Guzman   •   January 25, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to spill some information about the presidential aspirants and who among them is allegedly ‘most corrupt’.

In a taped speech aired on Tuesday, Duterte said he will bare some details and “what’s wrong” with the presidential bets in the 2022 elections “in due time.”

“I will personally name the candidates and maybe what’s wrong with them na kailangan malaman ng tao because you are electing a president, sino ‘yung pinaka-corrupt na candidato,” he said.

Duterte said the information came “from everybody” and from “personal experience.”

While he did not specify names, Duterte said there is a ‘very corrupt’ aspirant who cannot become president.

“Mayroon diyan, talagang hindi pwede maging president,” he said.

“Mayroon naman diyan na presidente, pero masyadong corrupt. Kala lang kasi tao malinis, pero yung mga transaction, business sa kaniya, official business, pati yung mga chinese nagreklamo na masyadong corrupt,” he added.

Another contender, he said, is a bit lacking in experience, and doesn’t even seem to know the “fundamentals” of what a person who wants to be president should know.

“Medyo kulang talaga. Kulang na kulang. Everyday may sasabihin siya na mali o maski the fundamentals of what a person na gustong mag-president dapat,” he said.

Duterte stressed that he is not politicking and that he only wants to reveal this to let the people know about these issues.

“I’m talking to you as your president. Kailangan ilalabas ko kasi we are talking of elections, we are talking of our country and the next rulers, so to say, so to speak,” he said.

“Walang personalan ito… Nothing at stake for me, wala talaga akong rason bakit maghanap ako ng kalaban,” he added.

Duterte has yet to endorse a candidate for the presidential race.

His daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, is running for vice president in tandem with Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

Dahan-dahang phase out ng COVID-19 quarantine protocols, isinusulong

Robie de Guzman   •   January 21, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – Isinusulong ng isang opisyal ng pamahalaan ang graduwal na pag-aalis ng quarantine protocols sa bansa sa oras na bumaba na ang mga kaso ng COVID-19 sa bansa, partikular na ang pagkalat ng Omicron variant.

Ayon kay Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion, layon nitong mapabilis ang pagbangon ng ekonomiya at matulungan ang mga negosyanteng makabawi sa pagkalugi lalo na ngayong limitado na naman ang galaw ng publiko at mahigpit mula ang restrictions.

“As we see Omicron start to subside then maybe we can move towards a gradual phase-out of our quarantine in the country,” ani Concepcion.

Naniniwala ang opisyal na malaking dagok para sa ekonomiya ng bansa ang ipaiiiral na restrictions gaya ng mandatory quarantine period dahil apektado rin nito ang lokal na turismo.

Karamihan aniya sa mga negosyong malaki ang lugi ay ang airline companies, hotel at restaurants na dalawang taon na ring limitado ang operasyon dahil sa pandemya.

Ang iba namang maliliit na negosyo ay tuluyan nang nagsara.

Ang mga pasahero namang pumapasok sa bansa gaya ng returning Filipinos ay apektado rin ng mandatory quarantine protocols.

Kaya ang mungkahi ni Concepcion, sa halip na facility-based quarantine na kasalukuyang requirement ng pamahalaan ay gawin na lamang itong home quarantine.

“We are not suggesting to remove quarantine immediately. What I’m proposing to IATF members is that a gradual move towards the removal of quarantine in the Philippines and moving towards home quarantine, rather than facility based quarantine. In my own view is that it does not actually help us from preventing Delta of Omicron from entering the country,” ang pahayag ng opisyal.

Ang panukala ay batay aniya sa ginagawa sa ibang bansa gaya ng Thailand, Switzerland, at Estados Unidos na hindi na nagpapatupad ng mandatory quarantine lalo na sa mga fully vaccinated individuals.

“We should think about it, I believe that eventually as you have seen in the news Thailand, Switzerland started to open up… And some of them are removing their quarantine,” ani Concepcion.

“Seeing how people are coping with COVID-19 in America specifically in Dubai area, I’ve noticed that basically everybody is wearing mask, they are  definitely conscious about you know the need to prevent themselves from getting sick but they live a normal life, there’s a lot of movement and people have accepted that,” dagdag pa nito.

Para kay Concepcion, hindi na kakayanin ng bansa kung patuloy pang hihigpitan ang galaw ng publiko kaya’t kailangang pag-aralan ng mga kinauukulan ang pagluluwag sa restrictions para makabawi ang ekonomiya ng Pilipinas.

“We will really try to engage with the IATF on starting to study this whole gradual move towards the removal of quarantine,” pahayag ng opisyal.

“We can’t continue to lock ourselves out, we can’t continue to restrict movement we definitely have to open up the economy,” dagdag pa niya.

Samantala, ayon naman kay acting Presidential Spokesperson at Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, kailangang pag-aralan ng mabuti ang pag-phase out ng quarantine protocols dahil hindi naman lahat ng polisiya sa ibang bansa ay aplikable rin sa Pilipinas.

Kailangan rin aniyang may rekomendasyon ng health experts at siyentipikong batayan ang pagpapatupad ng protocols.

“Lahat naman ng mga suggestions naman po ay pinagaaralan natin sa IATF, then of course tinitignan din natin yung ginagawang practices ng other countries, we benchmark also with the practices ng other countries,” ani Nograles.

“But we are also mindful that it’s not a one size fits-all for all countries, kailangang mong tingnan ang konteksto ng bawat bansa… Siyempre base rin po sa suggestions recommendations sa mga health experts natin so lahat is based on science and data,” dagdag pa niya. (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Janice Ingente)

 

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