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PH to explore new cooperation, partnership with China

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Thursday, April 25th, 2019

(L-R) President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping

President Rodrigo Duterte said on Thursday (April 25) that the Philippines will seek “new areas of cooperation and partnership” to further strengthen its diplomatic ties with China.

Duterte said this during his bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the sidelines of the second Belt and Road Forum being held in Beijing from April 25 to 27.

“The Philippines [and] China must continue to work together to explore new areas of cooperation and partnership. We look forward to a productive discussion on matters of mutual interest and concern,” Duterte said in his opening statement for the bilateral talks.

“The decision to elevate bilateral ties to a comprehensive, strategic cooperation affirms the Philippines and China’s strong desire to further deepen and broaden this engagement,” he added.

Duterte is one of the 35 leaders and heads of international organizations who are currently in Beijing to participate in the second Road and Belt Forum.

This is the fourth time that Duterte visited China since winning the presidential election in 2016.

Duterte also said the Philippines remains keen on executing the projects that were agreed during Xi’s visit to Manila in November 2018, in line with the vision to implement high-quality and good impact projects.

“The sooner they are completed, the sooner people on the ground will feel the benefits of Philippine-China relations,” he said.

For his part, Xi said he is happy to see better relations between the two countries and that the Philippines is an important part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

After his bilateral talks with Xi, Duterte will meet with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

Duterte arrived in Beijing on Wednesday for the four-day visit. He was accompanied by several of his cabinet members, his partner Honeylet Avanceña and daughter Veronica. — Robie de Guzman (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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Gov’t checks on security concerns amid Huawei woes

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

Courtesy : Reuters

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang assured the public that the government is acting on the issue involving Chinese telecom giant Huawei.

Millions of smartphone users across the globe went into a frenzy after U.S. President Donald Trump ordered U.S. companies to ban supplying their technology to Huawei amid the ongoing US-China trade war.

The ban was followed by Google’s decision to cut off Huawei’s Android license which dazed Huawei users with the thought that they would lose access to Google’s proprietary services and be deprived of future upgrades on their phones.

The U.S. accused Huawei of posing an international security threat saying the Chinese telecom company is being used by China for surveillance and to “spy” on Americans.

In line with this, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made certain that President Rodrigo Duterte will do his part once he receives the recommendation from the concerned agencies.

“I supposed the Department of National Defense, as well as the national security adviser, is studying that matter and the President is waiting for whatever recommendation they have on that,” Panelo said.

Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said they do not see any threat to the country’s security so far with the public’s patronage of Huawei products.

“Magmula ng lumabas ang issue na iyan ay nagsagawa ng validation ang PNP at sa araw na ito ay natunghayan natin na wala pong sapat na katibayan o ebidensya na mag uugnay sa kumpanya ng Huawei sa alegasyon na umanoy pang-eespiya,” said Police Colonel Bernard Banac, the PNP Spokesperson.

(Ever since that issue surfaced, the PNP has begun conducting validation on it. And up to this day, we have no proof or evidence linking Huawei to alleged espionage.) – Marje Pelayo (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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Palace backs review of PH-Kuwait labor deal

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Monday, May 20th, 2019

Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano and Kuwaiti Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khalid Al Hamad Al Sabah sign the Agreement on the Employment of Domestic Workers on May 11, 2018 in Kuwait. Labor Secreatry Silvestre Bello III and other Philippine officials witness the signing. | Courtesy: DFA

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Monday supported calls to review the country’s labor agreement with Kuwait in the wake of the death of a Filipina worker who died from alleged physical and sexual assault.

A group of migrant rights advocates made the call following the brutal killing of household service worker Constancia Lago Dayag in Kuwait.

“I think we should (support the calls) because according to (Labor) Secretary (Silvestre) Bello, there has been a breach in the agreement signed between the two countries,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a media briefing.

READ: Phl, Kuwait sign agreement over OFW protection

The governments of Philippines and Kuwait last year signed a memorandum of understanding to provide greater protection for Filipino workers in the Gulf state.

The deal provides domestic workers with food, housing, clothing and health insurance, and prohibits employers from confiscating their passports. Filipino workers shall also be allowed the use of cellphones and have at least seven hours of sleep and a day-off weekly with pay.

The labor deal was triggered by the spate of deaths of Filipino migrant workers in Kuwait, including Joanna Demafelis, whose remains were found in a freezer.

READ: Murder raps and death penalty await employers of OFW Joanna Demafelis

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) last week reported it is closely coordinating with Kuwaiti Authorities in probing Dayag’s death.

Panelo said that concerned government agencies are now looking into the case.

“He (Bello) is investigating it and DFA is waiting for an autopsy report,” he said. (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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Eleven pulled alive from rubble in China building collapse

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Thursday, May 16th, 2019

A team of rescuers are trying to find survivors under rubble after a building collapsed in Shanghai, China on May 16. | Photo grabbed from Reuters footage

Rescue services pulled out 11 people alive from a collapsed building in China’s financial hub of Shanghai on Thursday (May 16), and about same number are believed to be still trapped in the rubble.

The building in Shanghai’s Changning district was being renovated when it collapsed late in the morning, trapping some 20 people inside, fire services said in a statement.

Witnesses heard a big bang which lasted for five to six second and a cloud of dust that enveloped the building.

“The accident happened at 11 am and a big bang lasted five to six seconds. I immediately ran to the balcony and saw the entire factory was surrounded by dust. After the dust dispersed, I found the factory collapsed. As it was my first time to witness this, I was quiet shocked,” said Zhang Lei, who was working in an office next to the collapsed building

More than 150 rescuers are on the scene but they have not said how the building collapsed. (REUTERS)

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