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Duterte back in Manila after ‘successful and highly productive’ fifth China visit

in News/Tabloid PH News
Duterte back in Manila after 'successful and highly productive' fifth China visit
Image Credit: pcoo.gov.ph

President Duterte is back in the country after a four-day visit to China that was described by Malacanang as “successful and highly productive,” particularly on the issue of maritime dispute.

Duterte arrived around dawn on Sunday (September 1)  at the Villamor Air Base and was met on the tarmac by police and military officials for a quick briefing.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte discusses matters with police and military officers upon his arrival at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City on September 1, 2019 following his successful official visit to the People’s Republic of China. KING RODRIGUEZ/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

His spokesman and chief legal counsel, Salvador Panelo, said Duterte managed to get a commitment from Chinese President Xi Jinping during their “frank exchanges” that self-restraint will be the norm in the disputed areas of the South China Sea, consistent with the United Nations Convention for the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). 

In a statement, Panelo said: “The close relationship that President Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping have been able to foster through the years has enabled the two leaders to have frank exchanges on the respective positions of our two countries with regard to our territorial dispute, with both of them agreeing to exercise self-restraint and observe the UNCLOS, particularly with respect to maritime navigation and overflight in the South China Sea, and with China’s recognition of the immediate need of the crafting of a definitive Code of Conduct for our regional waters, all with the intent of avoiding provocative acts that may impair friendly ties and threaten the peace and stability of the region,” Panelo said in a statement.

The two leaders let off steam in their meeting last Thursday after Duterte mentioned the arbitral ruling favoring the Philippines’ claim in some parts of the South China Sea, which Manila calls as the West Philippine Sea. Xi promptly answered that Beijing is maintaining its position not recognizing that decision.

They then agreed to move forward “on the basis of mutual trust and good faith, to manage the South China Sea issue, and to continue to dialogue peacefully in resolving the conflict.”

“Further, the two leaders recognize that despite any dispute that our countries may have, the same can always be resolved through peaceful dialogue and negotiations, specially given the centuries-old familial ties between our nations,” Panelo said.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and People’s Republic of China President Xi Jinping discuss matters during the bilateral meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on August 29, 2019. ROBINSON NINAL/ PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

In the meantime, the two vowed “self-restraint and respect for freedom of navigation in — and overflight above — the South China Sea.”

“Our bilateral relations have a much wider horizon, and there are vast frontiers where our nations can cooperate and assist each other for their mutual benefits, such as in the fields of education, health, agriculture, science and technology, security, trade, investments, energy, and people to people and cultural exchanges,” Panelo also reported.

As expected, Duterte and Xi’s talks on the sea dispute served as the highlight of the fifth visit the Philippine leader to Beijing and their eighth bilateral meeting.

Navy fleshing out Duterte’s ‘unfriendly manner’ directive vs sea incursions

in News/Tabloid PH News
Navy fleshing out Duterte’s ‘unfriendly manner’ directive vs sea incursions
image credit: @philippinenavy / fb

The Philippine Navy is now putting flesh on the directive of President Duterte for concerned authorities to be ready to stop sea incursions even in an “unfriendly manner”.

image credit: @philippinenavy / fb

Navy Chief, Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad told reporters on Wednesday (August 28) they are now finalizing the rules of engagement that the Navy, Philippine Coast Guard, and other concerned agencies will follow when a foreign vessel has entered the country exclusive economic zone (EEZ) without permission.

“Regarding the unfriendly gesture, the Navy is coming out with a rules of engagement. Our concept is once we monitor a vessel entering our territorial waters, we will have a ship to shadow, to accompany that (foreign) ship, assuming that it did not seek permission; we will shadow it until it exited our territorial waters,” Empedrad said.

He continued: “We continuously challenge the ship. If it did not respond or has switched off its AIS (Automatic Identification System), probably we can send an aircraft to shadow it also.”

If the ship still opted to stay within the country’s EEZ, Empedrad said Philippine authorities can cross its bow, although still not in a “provocative manner”.

Empedrad said the rules of engagement will not violate the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and should be taken as the host’s house rules to a visitor.

“The territorial waters is like your house. When you have a visitor, it is your rules that will be followed,” he noted.

President Duterte, Empedrad said, is correct in demanding that foreign vessels seek clearance first before they enter Philippine waters.

The Department of Foreign Affairs already filed diplomatic protests against Beijing the reported repeated incursions of Chinese survey vessels and warships. 

image credit: @philippinenavy / fb

But Duterte also declared that the Philippines will not hesitate to enforce its territorial rights even in an “unfriendly manner”.

Duterte to settle for 60% share in sea exploration with China

in News/Tabloid PH News
Duterte to settle for 60% share in sea exploration with China

President Duterte is now open to a 60-40 revenue sharing with China if Manila and Beijing would conduct joint oil explorations and development in the West Philippine Sea, but quickly stressed that the Philippines should get the bigger share.

The Chief Executive’s new pronouncement on Thursday (August 8) was a turnaround from his position last year, when he said the Philippines should get more than 60 percent.

Duterte, in a speech at the Eastern Mindanao Command camp in Davao City on August 23, 2018, said what he wants is for the Philippines to get a higher share than the 60-40 he earlier broached.

But speaking to reporters on Thursday, Duterte said: “They have proposed a 60-40 (sharing). Okay na ‘yan para sa akin (That’s okay for me).”

“Of course, 60… 60 in favor of our country,” he added.

The President is scheduled for a state visit to Beijing for the fifth time at the end of the month.

Like in his previous visits to China, the issue on the South China Sea will again be a sticky topic. 

Duterte already said he’ll be bringing up the South China Sea Code of Conduct (COC) to avoid more adverse incidents and conflicts between the two countries in the oil- and mineral-rich West Philippine Sea.

“Once we have set the agenda, I’d talk first about jurisdiction, the COC, and the exploitation of the natural resources of my country since, as far as I’m concerned, we own it. So that is my position. We still own what we are claiming,” Duterte said.

Malacanang has already given assurances that all deals that will be forged regarding the West Philippines Sea would be according to the Philippine Constitution and would redound to benefits for Filipinos.

Philippines files another diplomatic protest vs China

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PAG-ASA ISLAND. Philippine construction on Pag-asa Island provokes a paramilitary response from China. Photos courtesy of CSIS/AMTI/DigitalGlobe

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines has filed another diplomatic protest against China, the second since June, after Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. received reports that more than a hundred Chinese ships have been spotted around Pag-asa Island in the West Philippine Sea.

“Diplomatic protest fired off,” Locsin tweeted on Tuesday, in reaction to the report and suggestion of National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr.

“I listen only to military intelligence; I distrust civilian sources of ‘misinformation.’ When it comes to national security, I am the thinking trigger; the finger is the commander-in-chief and the Armed Forces which are the protector of people & state,” Locsin was quoted in a report of the Philippine Star.

Manilla also lodged a diplomatic complaint against Beijing in June after the reported sinking of a Filipino fishing boat allegedly by a Chinese trawler.

In a report of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario said it is time for Manila go to the United Nations Assembly again to “persuade” Beijing to follow the 2016 decision of Permanent Court of Arbitration favoring the Philippines in its arbitration case against China over claims in the West Philippine Sea. The West Philippine Sea is part of the South China Sea, a very important sea route, business, and military-wise.

“I think it’s time for us to consider going the UN General Assembly to be able to get the necessary votes to persuade China to abide by the outcome of the arbitral tribunal,” Del Rosario said at a fellowship meeting of the Philippine Bar Association held in Makati. 

Sources: www.philstar.comwww.inquirer.net

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