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Teddy Locsin Jr

Govt sets in motion repatriation, quarantine procedures for Filipinos in Hubei, China

in News/Tabloid PH News

The Philippine government on Tuesday night (January 28) announced that it has put on standby two charter planes so Filipinos in Hubei Province — the source of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV)—can be repatriated immediately should they wish to come home.

This was upon the instruction of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., according to DFA Undersecretary for Civilian Security and Consular Concerns Brigido J. Dulay.

In a tweet at 9:34 p.m. on Tuesday, Dulay said :

This action followed a meeting between the DFA and the Department of Health (DOH) on what actions the government needs to take to safeguard Filipinos from the spread of the deadly 2019-nCoV, which originated in Wuhan, a city in the Chinese province of Hubei.

Around 150 Filipinos are currently in Wuhan, according to Philippine Ambassador to China Chito Sta. Romana. These Filipinos are now in distress as they are already running out of water and food supplies due to the lockdown implemented by the Chinese government in the area.

Should they decide to come home, Dulay said they will be immediately placed under quarantine, per the agreement between the DOH and DFA.

Reports said the 2019-nCoV has already claimed the lives of more than 100 people. The new strain of coronavirus has also reached several countries, including the US, Thailand, Japan and Taiwan.

The DOH said while 24 individuals are now being tested for possible 2019-nCoV infection in the Philippines, the country is still officially free from the disease as of now.

As another measure to protect the country from the new coronavirus, the Bureau of Immigration has already suspended the no-visa entry for Chinese nationals.

Several Chinese schools in Manila have also suspended classes to make sure those who travelled to China in celebration of the Chinese New Year will not mingle with other students.

Duterte ready to enforce PHL’s territorial rights in “unfriendly manner”

in News/Tabloid PH News

President Duterte has had enough of foreign intrusions into Philippine waters, declaring that Philippine authorities will be compelled to enforce its territorial rights in an “unfriendly manner”.

Duterte’s spokesman and chief legal counsel, Salvador Panelo, on Tuesday (August 20) said: “To avoid misunderstanding in the future, the President is putting on notice that beginning today, all foreign vessels passing our territorial waters must notify and get clearance from the proper government authority well in advance of the actual passage.”

Malacanang’s pronouncement came after persistent reports of foreign vessels—including those from China and Vietnam— being spotted within the Philippines’s exclusive economic zone.

“Either we get a compliance in a friendly manner or we enforce it in an unfriendly manner,” Panelo said.                           

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) earlier disclosed that Chinese warships have been spotted in Sibutu Strait in the South since February.



Chinese research vessels were also monitored by a US-based maritime expert within the Philippine EEZ.

Vietnamese and Chinese fishing vessels, as well as a coast guard vessel of China, were spotted by the AFP in Ayungin Shoal.

Because of these recent intrusions, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. already ordered on Monday the filing of another diplomatic protest against Beijing.

This is a prelude to President Duterte’s scheduled visit to China from August 28 to September 2.

Manila and Beijing are signatories to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which allows innocent passage of ships through the territorial sea of a coastal state provided that it will be “continuous and expeditious.”

On Monday, Panelo told reporters that Duterte takes the unannounced entry of foreign vessels into Philippine territory seriously. “It is an issue with the Office of the President given that we need to be informed in advance of any passage in our territory, because that is what the UNCLOS says.” 

Malacanang says incursions of Chinese warships not an act of friendship

in News/Tabloid PH News

The Manila-Beijing diplomatic relations are getting worse by the day in the run-up to President Duterte’s state visit to China at the end of the month, with Malacanang branding the recent sea incursions of Chinese warships as not a sign of friendship.

“We express concern with that kind of incident. Because if they keep on saying that we’re friends, I don’t think this is an act of friendship,” Duterte’s spokesman and chief legal counsel Salvador Panelo told reporters on Thursday (August 15).

A US-based maritime expert earlier revealed that two Chinese research vessels were spotted within the Philippines’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Also, Chinese warships were spotted along the Sibutu Strait in Tawi-Tawi in four instances from February to July. This was repeated this month, with three warships sailing through Philippine waters in the South, again without proper coordination with Philippine authorities. The automatic identification systems of these Chinese warships had been reportedly switched off, which can be considered a deceptive move.

Panelo said these sea incursions by Chinese warships will be taken up with Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua when they meet for a “working dinner”.

He, however, said a note verbale could be sent to China anew if it was deemed proper by Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. “If there’s a violation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, we will file a diplomatic protest.” 

Last week, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said four Chinese ships sailed through the Sibutu Strait unannounced at least four times since February. Because of this, Locsin announced he would be filing a diplomatic protest, the third since June.

“With respect to what Secretary Lorenzana said that when you drive away fishermen from our EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone), I agree with him when he says that’s bullying,” Panelo said.

Duterte is set to visit China anew at the end of the month to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping.  While no exact date and agenda has been announced, Duterte said he plans to discuss the West Philippine Sea issue with his Chinese counterpart.

Manila to protest anew China’s sea incursions

in News/Tabloid PH News

It’s just a few days before President Duterte’s fifth state visit to China and Manila is already set to file a third diplomatic protest against Beijing in a matter of two months due to the countries’ sea conflict.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodory Locsin Jr. posted on Twitter on Friday morning (August 9) that his office is preparing to send another note verbale to Beijing after Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana went on air to question the presence of Chinese ships in the Philippine waters.

Locsin’s tweet reads: ”Okay, got it, General. @DFAPHL firing off diplomatic protest.” 

Lorenzana, in an interview over the ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC) on Friday, said Manila should seek an explanation from Beijing why Chinese warships and research vessels are being spotted in Philippine waters on multiple occasions without clearance from Philippine authorities.

The Defense chief said while the Philippines does not have proper radar equipment to accurately monitor Chinese activities in its own exclusive economic zone (EEZ), the sightings of Chinese vessels have been revealed by a US-based maritime expert.

Earlier, Ryan Martinson, assistant professor at China Maritime Studies Institute of Naval War College, said Chinese ship Zhanjian has been in the Philippine waters since August 3, with another Chinese survey ship, Dong Fang Hong 3, also seen entering the Philippines’s EEZ.

Chinese warships were also spotted off Sibutu Strait in the Philippines’s southern tip in four instances from February to July.

“What we need really is to allay the fears of the neighbors of China, to inform the other countries what their ships are doing there — not only the survey ship, but also their warships passing through our territorial waters,” Lorenzana said in the ANC interview. “If the intention is only to study the sea or the fish, marine life there, then it is not a security threat. But if they’re doing other things like making reconnaissance or surveillance of our positions, then it’s a threat.”

This will be the third diplomatic protest that Manila will lodged against Beijing in a span of two months, with the first note verbale caused by the sinking of a Filipino fishing boat by a Chinese vessel, and the second due to the presence of numerous Chinese warships in the disputed areas of the South China Sea.

President Duterte is set to visit Beijing at the end of the month, the fifth already, as the Philippines and China try to improve ties already hurt by the sea conflicts.

“Once we have set the agenda, I’d talk first about jurisdiction, the COC (South China Sea Code of Conduct), 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 on Thursday.

PHL likely to scrap visa upon arrival scheme

in News/Tabloid PH News

Manila, Philippines — There is now a big possibility that the government will stop allowing foreigners to enter the Philippines without valid visas following the concern raised by National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon that the influx of Chinese nationals is fast becoming a national threat. 

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teaodoro Locsin Jr., in reaction to Esperon’s statement, said Philippine visas should only be issued to foreigners vetted by consular officers. 

The government, in a bid to boost tourism and investments, has accorded visa-upon-arrival privileges to citizens of almost all countries, giving them the clearance to stay in the Philippines for a period of 14 to 59 days, depending on the rules set by the Bureau of Immigration (BI) per county of origin.

Locsin, via his Twitter account, said: “We need to put an end to visas upon arrival; all visas should be issued by consular offices after vetting. We must take extra care in outsourcing any part of the visa application process, picking only the most reputable worldwide.”

According to a report of the Manila Bulletin, Locsin’s proposal was already seconded by Malacanang, Senate President Vicente Sotto III, and Senators Joel Villanueva and Panfilo Lacson.

“I agree with Secretary Locsin. We really need to vet first. Because if it’s us, we find it difficult to acquire visas from other countries because they vet first,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo was quoted in the report. “The President will consider the proposal of the Secretary and if we don’t hear anything from him, that means that will be the policy of the government,” he added.

A Philippine Daily Inquirer report said based on BI data, there were 20,956 Chinese nationals holding 9G visa, or the pre-arranged employment visa, in 2017. This figure increased to 22,599 in 2018.

Supreme Court Justice Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said the Chinese nationals coming here to work must follow the country’s labor rules and pay taxes accordingly.

“We have our labor laws. They can come here provided they have a visa or if they want to work, they must pay their taxes. As long as our rules are followed, I don’t see anything wrong…We have to see to it that our rules are followed,” Carpio told reporters. 

Sources: www.inquirer.netmb.com.ph

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