Friday, July 8, 2016

Foreign Affairs Secretary clarifies statement on sharing resources in WPS

From Update.Ph (Jul 9): Foreign Affairs Secretary clarifies statement on sharing resources in WPS

Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay made a clarification on a report quoting him saying that Philippines can share resources, which include fish and natural gas, in the disputed part of West Philippine Sea to other claimant countries.

“What I said is we have to wait for the ruling and study and dissect its implications,” the Foreign Affairs chief said Saturday.

“As the ruling will not address sovereignty and delimitation, it is possible that some time in the future, claimant countries might consider entering into arrangements such as joint exploration and utilization of resources in disputed areas that do not prejudice the parties’ claims and delimitation of boundaries in accordance with UNCLOS,” he added.

The Tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands is scheduled to issue decision on case filed by the Philippines against China’s sovereignty claim over virtually the entire South China Sea with its nine-dash line.

MILF keeps optimism over peace talks alive

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jul 9): MILF keeps optimism over peace talks alive

Moro rebel leaders are keeping their optimism alive that the peace process started by the Aquino administration would be continued and sustained by the administration of President Duterte.
In an Eid al-Fitr message to members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), its chair, Murad Ebrahim, said efforts to keep the peace process moving under the Duterte administration were ongoing.
As soon as Duterte was declared winner of the presidential race, Murad said MILF had already launched “back channeling engagement” to preserve the gains of the peace process that led to the signing of a peace pact with the Aquino administration but fell short in its target of having a new law passed by Congress that would create a new autonomous setup for the Moro people.
The MILF central committee, according to Murad, had formed a group that discussed the peace process with close aides of Mr. Duterte. Murad did not identify who they were, though.
The initial discussion with Mr. Duterte’s aides, said Murad, led to the one-on-one meeting between him and Mr. Duterte in Davao City on June 17.
Murad recounted that during the meeting, which lasted some 20 minutes, he and Mr. Duterte “had very substantive discussions toward the way forward in the search for peace.”
“We are now working for the continuation of that back channeling discussions until we are able to start the formal engagement,” said Murad.
He said there was also an agreement to hold another set of back channel talks next week.
It was not clear whether the next round of discussion would still involve Murad and Mr. Duterte or members of government and MILF peace panels.
The Duterte administration has not formed a peace panel for the MILF yet.

In his inaugural address on June 30, Mr. Duterte vowed to honor all peace agreements signed by previous administrations with both communist and Moro rebel groups.

Jesus Dureza, presidential adviser on the peace process, said the Duterte administration would also seek the convergence of peace initiatives with MILF and Moro National Liberation Front.

NPA rebel-turned-drug pusher gunned down in Lucena

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jul 9): NPA rebel-turned-drug pusher gunned down in Lucena

A former communist New People’s Army rebel-turned-drug pusher and hit-man for a big-time local drug trafficker was gunned down inside his residence on Friday midnight, police said.

Supt. Dennis de Leon, Lucena police chief, said Danilo Enopia Morsiquillo alias “Danilo Lusterio/Arman Alcala”, 61, and his live-in partner Milacris Lincuran were sleeping inside the room of their house at Saint Jude Village in Barangay Cotta when two unidentified men forcibly entered and shot Morsiquillo dead using a caliber .45 pistol at around 11 p.m. The suspects immediately escaped, leaving Lincuran unhurt.

Police said the victim, a former communist guerilla, was included in the police drug watch list and allegedly served as gunman of one of the city’s big-time drug pushers Cerilo “Athel” Alcala

Cerilo, younger brother of former Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, was arrested by Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) operatives in 2008 in a raid on the ancestral house of the Alcalas inside the former pier in the village of Cotta on the outskirts of the city. Cerilo was freed from prison two years ago but allegedly returned to his illegal drug trade, prompting police to put him high on the drug watch-list.
Meanwhile, another suspected drug pusher Elmer Morpeal Cairo, 33, was found dead on a roadside in Barangay San Agustin, Tiaong town on Friday morning, Chief Insp. Alvin Consolacion, Tiaong police chief, said. The victim’s head, which was covered with a shirt and wrapped with packaging tape, had a gunshot wound. Two empty shells from a caliber .45 pistol were found at the crime scene.

Philippines: Abu Sayyaf being reinforced amid offensive

From Anadolu Agency (Jul 8): Philippines: Abu Sayyaf being reinforced amid offensive

Officials say Daesh-linked militants arriving in Basilan island during days-long fighting between military and group

A mayor in the Philippines’ Muslim south expressed concern Friday that militants from the island province of Sulu have arrived in neighboring Basilan to support fellow members of the Daesh-linked Abu Sayyaf during a military offensive.
The mayor of Basilan’s Ungkayan Pukan town told Anadolu Agency that fighters from Sulu appeared on the shores of neighboring Tipo-Tipo town before the eve of Eid al-Fitr, which began Wednesday in the Philippines, and helped their Basilan comrades in harassing soldiers.
"The soldiers countered the [militants’] sniper attack with heavy mortar shelling and other high caliber guns, resulting in the wounding of nine militants,” Jomar Maturan said of the clashes in Tipo-Tipo in past days.
“I haven't gotten information on the casualties on the military side. Nightly, troops shell Abu Sayyaf positions.”
Maturan said the heavy shelling had forced hundreds of families to flee their homes and take shelter with relatives in Ungkaya Pukan.
“We are appealing to the government to help us with food for the civilians," he stressed.
In a separate interview, the governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) -- of which Basilan and Sulu are part -- said he believes the military and police can undermine the Abu Sayyaf with the help of local government units and residents.
“We have to stay united and solid to finish the lawless elements,” Mujiv Hataman underlined.
The Philstar news website quoted Hataman as confirming that an Abu Sayyaf member was captured at an army checkpoint Friday in Al-Barka town while trying to evade the military offensive launched against militants under leaders Puruji Indama and Isnilon Hapilon.
Hataman said the suspect claimed to be from Zamboanga Sibugay province, located outside ARMM, confirming that militants in Basilan were being reinforced.
Meanwhile, Western Mindanao Command’s spokesman, Major Filemon Tan Jr., told reporters in Zamboanga City that government troops have surrounded Tipo-Tipo’s municipal hall, where Hapilon’s men reportedly tried to capture and raise the Daesh flag.
Hapilon is the acknowledged leader of the Abu Sayyaf faction based in Basilan and appeared in a video last year pledging allegiance to Daesh.
A $5 million bounty has been placed on him by the United States government for the kidnapping in 2001 of American missionaries Martin and Gracia Burnham, and fellow American Guillermo Sobero.
Sobero was beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf and Martin was killed in crossfire during a rescue operation.
Since 1991, the Abu Sayyaf -- armed with mostly improvised explosive devices, mortars and automatic rifles -- has carried out bombings, kidnappings, assassinations and extortions in a self-determined fight for an independent province in the Philippines.
It is notorious for beheading victims after ransoms have failed to be paid for their release.

Drug war ‘spiraling out of control’

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jul 9): Drug war ‘spiraling out of control’

TABAMBAN DRUG LORD SHOT BY POLICE/JULY 07,2016:Funeral parlor attendant carry the remain of Ed Borces suspected drug lord shot and killed by Talamban police who raided his home in sitio San Jose Barangay Talamban.(CDN PHOTO/LITO TECSON)

Funeral parlor attendants carry the body of Ed Borces, a suspected drug lord, who was shot and killed by Talamban police after raiding the suspect’s house in Sitio San Jose, Barangay Talamban, Cebu City. CDN PHOTO/LITO TECSON

President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs is spiraling out of control, a top human rights lawyer and opposition lawmakers said on Friday as police confirmed killing more than 100 drug suspects and at least two senators expressed support for a proposed Senate investigation of the killings.

“President Duterte’s war on crime has spawned a nuclear explosion of violence that is spiraling out of control and creating a nation without judges, without law and without reason,” said Manuel Diokno, chair of the Free Legal Assistance Group.

Diokno, a prominent law professor, likened the killings to the actions of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, accused of killing thousands of dissidents during a 20-year rule that ended in 1986.

Rep. Teddy Baguilat said the President’s rhetoric “breeds a culture of violence and culture of retribution.

Baguilat and Sen. Leila de Lima have asked Congress to investigate the drug killings.

But the new chief of the Philippine National Police, Director General Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa, said police should not be cowed by the proposed congressional inquiry.

He said the PNP would solve the country’s illegal drugs problem in three to six months.

The PNP said 103 drug suspects who resisted arrest had been killed, but insisted the policemen operated within the boundaries of the law.

“They put in danger the lives of our police officers who then had to defend themselves,” PNP spokesperson Dionaldo Carlos said.

Senate inquiry

At least two senators yesterday expressed support for De Lima’s proposed inquiry into the drug killings.

Saying the surge in the killings must be examined, Senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said yesterday they would likely participate in the legislative investigation that De Lima proposed on Thursday.

De Lima, former justice secretary and human rights chief,  said on Thursday that she would file a resolution for an inquiry into the deaths of drug suspects in police operations or even while already in custody, noting “telltale signs of summary executions” in a number cases.

“It is necessary before things get out of hand and such killings become the norm in law enforcement,” Trillanes said when sought for comment yesterday.

“I will definitely take part in the inquiry,” said Trillanes, among the senators expected to join the minority in the 17th Congress.

Pangilinan, a member of the Liberal Party (LP) like De Lima, said he might also participate in the hearings, as undertaking investigations in aid of legislation is part of a senator’s duties.

He said he would focus on a specific case—the death of an elderly farmer linked to the drug trade in Zamboanga City.

“I am inclined to participate in the hearings and if I do, I will focus my attention on the killing of the 75-year-old corn farmer in Zamboanga City who allegedly was a drug pusher and was shot and killed while he and his grandson were on their way to buy seedlings in the public market,” Pangilinan said a text message.

The grandson of Efren Macalintal survived the attack and saw how two still unidentified men shot his grandfather twice in the head.

The gunmen reportedly fled the scene shouting, “Selling drugs is prohibited in Zamboanga.”

Sen. Joel Villanueva, an independent who ran in the May 9 elections as a guest candidate of the LP, was tentative, saying he would participate in the De Lima-led investigation so long as it was clear it was geared toward useful legislation.

Police matter

Sen. Vicente “Tito” Sotto III said he believed the Senate should steer clear of police matters.

“The Napolcom (National Police Commission) and the DOJ (Department of Justice) should be the ones to investigate. The Senate? What legislation are we looking at to warrant an inquiry?” he said.

De Lima said the inquiry would aid the making of legislation that would institutionalize rules of engagement that law enforcement agencies such as the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency should follow in pursuit of crime suspects.

She expressed concern that the killings were not being investigated when, by procedure, each case should be examined by the PNP Internal Affairs Service or by an independent body to find out if the operating guidelines were observed.

De Lima has long maintained a fighting stance against extrajudicial killings, pursuing an investigation into deaths linked to the so-called death squads in Davao City during her time as justice chief.

President Duterte, who had been a longtime mayor of Davao, had been linked to the death squads, but the DOJ closed the investigation in May for lack of evidence.

Mr. Duterte was elected in a landslide in May on a platform that included a merciless war against illegal drugs and crime.

He promised to kill tens of thousands of criminals to put an end to crime in the Philippines within six months of assuming office.

Bato not bothered

His chosen PNP chief, De la Rosa is not bothered by the proposed Senate inquiry into the drug killings.

“If you allow human rights investigations to scare you, nothing will improve,” De la Rosa said during the inauguration of a drug rehabilitation center in Camp Tolentino in Balanga City, Bataan province, yesterday.

“In three to six months, we will solve the illegal drugs problem in the country. We are just starting the campaign and we will not be intimidated by human rights advocates,” he said.

De la Rosa reiterated his position in the drug killings, saying he presumed regularity in the actions of policemen.

Some officials involved in programs that encourage drug abusers and dealers to surrender said fear was a good deterrent.

In Nueva Ecija province on Thursday, Gapan City Mayor Emerson Pascual told 434 people who had admitted to trading or using illegal drugs said that vigilantes had not killed any drug dealer in the city “because we value your lives.”

Those who surrendered signed an agreement to give up drugs.

Pascual said he pleaded with the police to let him speak to the drug suspects first. He is a member of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption who lost two siblings in a 2009 attack.

“President Duterte and I have the same goal—to clean our city, to clean our country. We differ in our approaches. I want to do this peacefully. The President wants to achieve this quickly even if it leads to deaths,” Pascual said.

In the Cordillera region, police said 701 marijuana cultivators and dealers surrendered this week.

In Olongapo City, 19 drug users and dealers surrendered to police while 256 drug users turned themselves in for rehabilitation in Ilocos Sur province.

Quezon dead now 31

In Quezon province, Senior Supt. Eugenio Paquiquiran, provincial police chief, said the number of drug suspects killed since President Duterte came to power had risen from 13 to 31.

Lucena City police chief Supt. Dennis de Leon said among those killed recently was Delson Nazareno Beringuela, 25, a suspected drug pusher.

De Leon said Beringuela was shot dead when he tried to grab the gun of a police escort as he was being taken to a hospital for medical checkup after being arrested on Friday.

Chief Insp. Javier Baasis, Quezon provincial police information officer, identified the other slain suspects as Manolito Macalintal Centeno Jr., No. 10 on the list of suspects in Tiaong town, and Ramil Enriquez Mitra, who was also on the Tiaong drug suspects’ list.

Centeno was shot in the head by an unidentified assailant in his bedroom on Thursday.

Mitra was found dead in his backyard with multiple gunshot wounds.

In Sariaya town, Alejandro Sante Umbrete, another suspected pusher, was shot dead by an unidentified assailant in Barangay Talaan Aplaya early Friday.

Umbrete, according to Sariaya police chief Supt. Alex Dimaculangan, was on the list of drug suspects in Lucena City.

Another drug suspect, Midelito Montealto Chumacera, was killed while he was driving a jeepney by a motorcycle-riding assailant in Barangay Concepcion Uno in Sariaya.

In Infanta, Larry Agbayani, tagged as No. 1 drug suspect in the town, and an associate were gunned down in Barangay Libjoa past 8 p.m. on Thursday.

Chief Insp. Roberto Santos, Infanta police chief, said Agbayani had been in and out of jail.

2,913 surrender

In the Bicol region, 2,913 drug suspects and users have surrendered since the launch of the antinarcotics drive.

Police officials said 675 surrendered in Sorsogon province, 1,043 in Albay, 321 in Masbate, 535 in Camarines Sur, 303 in Camarines Norte and 36 in Catanduanes.

In Manila, a drug suspect was shot dead by police when he tried to grab the gun of one of the officers arresting him in Sampaloc district on Thursday night.

Police identified the suspect as Eduardo Bernardo, alias Doro.

Three drug suspects were killed by police in different parts of Quezon City early yesterday.

The first suspect, identified only as Ver, was shot dead when he tried to shoot it out with a policeman who was arresting him in Barangay Payatas.

Gilbert Rex, the second suspect, was killed in an exchange of fire with policemen in Project 8.

The third suspect, identified only as Johng, was shot dead when he drew a gun as policemen were approaching to arrest him.

In Pasig City, Allan Pula, a companion of a drug suspect accused in the killing of a Quezon City policeman last year, was killed when he traded shots with policemen in Pasig City early yesterday.

Senior Supt. Jose Hidalgo Jr., Pasig police chief, said Pula was going to have a transaction with suspected drug dealer Datumantog Boratong in San Miguel district when policemen moved in.

Pula and Boratong traded fire with the policemen as they tried to escape. Boratong managed escape, but Pula was hit.

Senior Insp. Robert Garcia, Pasig police investigation chief, said Boratong was wanted for the killing of PO2 Jason Cueto of the Quezon City Police on Feb. 8 last year.

New IS ‘battalion’ in Philippines has 10 Malaysians now, terrorism expert claims

From the Malay Mail Online (Jul 7): New IS ‘battalion’ in Philippines has 10 Malaysians now, terrorism expert claims

Malaysians have joined the terrorist group Islamic State's (IS) new battalion in the Philippines, a Singapore-based terrorism expert has said.

Dr Rohan Gunaratna, who heads the Singapore-based Nanyang Technological University's International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research, said the new regional base was set up due to difficulties faced by IS recruits in going to Syria and Iraq.

 “Now we have seen that in the Philippines, IS has created Katibah Al-Muhajir, the Battalion of Migrants. They are (made up of) Malaysians and Indonesians,” he was quoted as saying by the New Straits Times today.

 “There are about 10 Malaysians (there now),” he added, citing intelligence on the new battalion.

Citing an IS propaganda video released last month, Rohan said the militant group told its Southeast Asian supporters to head to the battalion in the Philippines instead if they found it hard to go to Syria and Iraq.

Rohan reportedly said the new battalion is based in the Philippines' island province of Basilan within the country's autonomous region of Muslim Mindan

“The Philippines can be a very important launching pad to reach Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore because southern Philippines is very centrally located,” he said, noting that regional militants have already changed their focus to the new battalion base instead of IS's base in Syria and Iraq.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar reportedly said the police is carrying out an investigation. Earlier this week, Khalid confirmed that the June 28 grenade attack which injured eight people at a bar in Puchong was the first successful attack in Malaysia linked to the IS.

IS supporters heading to southern Philippines

From New Straits Times Online (Jul 7): IS supporters heading to southern Philippines

In what is seen as a desperate attempt to increase their wavering manpower, Malaysian terrorists in the Philippines, who have before openly renounced their citizenships, have established a new battalion to continue their extremist struggles.

The new battalion, called the Katibah Al-Muhajir or Battalion of Migrants, was created to persuade supporters and sympathisers to join the Islamic State cause.

This was revealed by terrorism expert Dr Rohan Gunaratna, head of Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University’s International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research.

“Now we have seen that in the Philippines, IS has created Katibah Al-Muhajir, the Battalion of Migrants. They are (made up of) Malaysians and Indonesians,” he told the New Straits Times.

He said the battalion was created in response to the failure of recruits from Southeast Asia to travel to the Middle East to join IS.

The announcement, said Rohan, was made by IS in a propaganda video last month.“IS said that those (intending to join IS) from Southeast Asia need not (go) to Syria and Iraq if it is difficult, that (it is better) for them to go to the Philippines,” he said.

Malaysian police, in particular the Special Branch Counter-Terrorism Division operatives, are checking the veracity of the claims and the propaganda video.

In response to a question, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar told the NST that police were investigating the matter.

Rohan said intelligence showed that the battalion had recruited a number of Malaysians.

“There are about 10 Malaysians (there now),” he said.

The centre of operation for the new battalion, Rohan said, was in Basilan, an island province of the Philippines within the autonomous region in Muslim-majority Mindanao.

The Sulu archipelago, which is known as the home of Philippine militancy, was chosen following a declaration that it was the “soil of the caliphate”, he said.

Rohan said militants and radicals in Southeast Asia were already heading to the new rally point, shifting their direction from Syria and Iraq.

“We have seen, since the last few weeks, one or two people (who) were going from Southeast Asia to Syria and Iraq are instead going to the Philippines.

“The Philippines can be a very important launching pad to reach Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore because southern Philippines is very centrally located.”

Duterte: Abu Sayyaf members are not criminals

From Rappler (Jul 9): Duterte: Abu Sayyaf members are not criminals

President Rodrigo Duterte becomes the first Philippine Chief Executive not to tag the notorious group as a band of criminals

DIFFERENT DEFINITION. President Rodrigo Duterte says the Abu Sayyaf does not fit his definition of a criminal group. Photo by Rey Baniquet/PPD

DIFFERENT DEFINITION. President Rodrigo Duterte says the Abu Sayyaf does not fit his definition of a criminal group. Photo by Rey Baniquet/PPD

For President Rodrigo Duterte, the Abu Sayyaf does not fit his definition of a criminal group.

Duterte made the distinction while addressing Muslim leaders in Davao City on Friday night, July 8. This makes him the first Philippine president since the group emerged in the early 1990s not to brand the Abu Sayyaf as a band of criminals.

"I am not including Abu Sayyaf dito sa [in the definition of] criminality. You never heard me say, 'Mga kriminal (They are criminals),'" he said at the Mindanao Hariraya Eid'l Fit'r 2016 held at the SMX Convention Center in Davao City.

Duterte explained that the situation in Muslim Mindanao drove members of the group to desperation. "It is a different set up there because these are the guys driven to desperation," he said.

"From Nur (Misuari) to ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) there was no sufficient semblance of governance. That's why they were pushed to the wall. They became radicalized," the President added. (READ: Does it make sense to talk with the Abu Sayyaf?)

Though Duterte appears hesitant to label them as criminals, the terrorism and crime nexus is well-established.

Intelligence from law enforcement agencies indicates that the Abu Sayyaf network is also engaged in criminal activities like drug trafficking and robbery, aside from the crime of kidnap for ransom.

Duterte previously warned the Abu Sayyaf that a "time of reckoning" would come for them.

Chief Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza has received overtures from a supposed representative of the terrorist group. But Dureza has maintained that no discussion of ransom will be made during these talks.

Since the Abu Sayyaf entered the country's security landscape in the early 1990s, it has been tagged by Philippine presidents as a bandit group. In rejecting the prospect of negotiations with the Abu Sayyaf towards the end of his term in 1998, President Fidel Ramos dismissed its members as criminals, a view shared by the rest of his successors until Duterte.

The terrorist group gained international notoriety after several abductions involving mostly foreigners, particularly the incident in a dive resort in Sipadan, Malaysia, where it kidnapped 10 tourists and 11 resort workers in 2000.

The group is also responsible for the SuperFerry 14 bombing in Manila that killed over 100 people in 2004. The Abu Sayyaf, however, is seen as more focused now on kidnap-for-ransom activities targetting foreigners, a lucrative business that has seen the group even outsourcing some of its operations.

The group recently beheaded two Canadian hostages for non-payment of ransom, and threatened to kill a Norwegian hostage for the same reason.

It is also responsible for the spate of abductions in the seas between the Philippines and Indonesia, which had prompted the Indonesian government to ban ships from sailing to the Philippines.

Malaysia has also suspended the long-standing barter trade in Sabah's east coast following the abductions, driving up food prices in parts of the southern Philippines.

More IS killings loom in Mindanao

From the Manila Times (Jul 7): More IS killings loom in Mindanao

MORE atrocities are threatening Mindanao after several attacks in Lanao del Sur and Basilan provinces in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) have been claimed by the Islamic State (IS or ISIS) which hinted ties with local jihadists groups in the country.

The IS recently boasted to have carried out attacks during the last week of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, a few days after IS Asian fighters in Syria surfaced in a video ordering its supporters in Southeast Asian countries, such as Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, to wage more attacks and unify under one umbrella group.

Security forces confirmed the separate incidents in Al-Barka town in Basilan and Marawi City in Lanao del Sur but provided no further details. Marawi police said they were tracking down the suspects.

But in its bulletin on July 2, the IS’s Amaq news agency website claimed that “2 Filipino soldiers [were] killed in the municipality of Tugaya, in addition to the destruction of an armored vehicle, killing those inside, near a Filipino army base in the city of Marawi in the Southern Philippines.”
On June 29, the news agency also reported that “15 Filipino soldiers [were] killed, as Islamic State fighters carried out 2 attacks during the last 2 days in the city of Marawi.”

The Amaq reports were being shared online by IS Ranao, known to the military as “Maute group” or “foreign and local terrorist organization (FLTO)” in the remote town of Butig in Lanao del Sur and a jihadist group previously known as Khilafah Islamiyah Movement (KIM).

Meanwhile, Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr., Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesman, downplayed the threat, calling it a propaganda of the local jihadists to get the attention of the foreign terror group for support.

“They are part of the propaganda of these groups. They sensationalize and twist the atrocities like claiming that at least 200 of their armed members attacked a military detachment.

“Parang may nangyari tapos papalakihin nila at babaluktutin yung katotohanan para ma suit yung purpose nila para maisulong yung propaganda nila at maipakita na malakas sila (If something happened they will blow it out of proportion, twist the truth to suit their purpose and push their propaganda to show their might),” Padilla said.

Since June the military temporarily stopped its operation against Abdullah Maute’s group in respect to the sacred month of Ramadan while continuous military offensive was on-going in Basilan and Sulu against another local jihadists, the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) led by Isnilon Hapilon. The two groups had both pledged allegiance to the IS.

The ASG, know for kidnapping, bombing and beheading activities, is still holding several hostages in Sulu including Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad, who was snatched in Samal Island, Davao del Norte province last September 21, 2015 along with Robert Hall and John Ridsdel and a Filipina, Maritess Flor.

The group released Flor without ransom but decapitated Hall and Ridsdel after deadlines lapsed to pay the P300-million ransom they were demanding for each of their hostages.

The ASG has warned that Sekkingstad might have the same destiny of Hall and Ridsdel if the government fails to pay the ransom or express intent to negotiate.

Earlier reports said that private negotiations are taking place for the safe release of Sekkingstad under the Duterte administration.

How Might China React If The Hague Rules in Philippines' Favor?

From Defense News (Jul 7): How Might China React If The Hague Rules in Philippines' Favor?

Analysts are divided over how China will react if an international court in The Hague rules in favor of the Philippines, calling into question the legitimacy of China's mad-made islands and claim to the South China Sea.

The July 12 decision by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea could produce a reaction by China's armed forces beyond what it has already accomplished. The Chinese military has established air bases, radar facilities, air defense facilities, port facilities and land reclamation efforts on rocks, islets and shoals in the South China Sea.

Some analysts fear that China will declare an air identification defense zone (ADIZ) over the South China Sea, as they did over the East China Sea in November 2013. The abrupt announcement caught Japan and the United States unprepared on how to respond. China’s ADIZ covered the disputed islets of the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands, which China claims as the Diaoyu Islands.

Ching Chang, a naval analyst and research fellow at the Taipei-based Society for Strategic Studies, said that despite propaganda from state-controlled media outlets like China Daily indicating Beijing will take military action, the government itself has never officially threatened to do so.

The People’s Liberation Army has its own tempo and agenda in conducting exercises, construction work and routine patrol missions, Chang said. The arbitration has no bearing on its plans, he said, as the military will not respond to a legal decision. If an ADIZ is declared, it will likely be in reaction to strategic and tactical demands rather than a foreign court's decision. China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the sole responder to such a legal decision.

A contractor with US Special Operations Command, Robert Haddick, has a sliding scale of events that could happen following the international court's ruling in favor of the Philippines:
1. China does nothing.
2. China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs issues a strongly worded statement followed by more full-page advertisements like the recent one in the Wall Street Journal that explained China’s position.
3. China’s Coast Guard and related nonmilitary maritime agencies hold a large, visible exercise in the Spratly Islands (current exercises are held near the Hainan island and the Paracel Islands).
4. A large naval exercise takes place in the in the Spratly Islands.
5. J-11 (Su-27) fighter aircraft deploy to new runways in the Spratly Islands.
6. H-6 bomber and J-11 exercises take place over the Spratly Islands that involve at least a regiment.
7. Permanent installations of HQ-9 surface-to-air missiles (SAM) and anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCM) are set up on the Paracel Islands.
8. An ADIZ is declared with a detailed explanation of how it will be enforced.
9. Dredging and island-building takes place at Scarborough Shoal.
10. Permanent installations of HQ-9 SAMs and ASCMs are set up in the Spratly Islands.
11. A naval exercise kicks off in the Spratly Islands that includes live missile shots from ships and the Hainan island.
12. Live-fire tests of DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missiles take place against underway target ships in the Philippine Sea. 

Haddick, who wrote “Fire on the Water: China, America, and the Future of the Pacific,” said that if China executed No. 8 or higher, it would indicate that the Chinese leadership has concluded it possesses military escalation dominance in the South China Sea.

“I say this because I have read that the US government has privately warned Beijing that No. 9 and maybe No. 8 would lead to unspecified US responses," he said.

Haddick predicts that the US will ignore responses up through  No. 7, although there would be more US freedom-of-navigation operations and exercises in the future. “In other words, if it is No. 7 or less, no war, but more demonstrations by both sides.”

James Holmes, co-author of "Red Star over the Pacific: China's Rise and the Challenge to U.S. Maritime Strategy,” said China is politically and strategically predictable, but tactically unpredictable.

“Beijing has repeatedly gone on the record saying all of this has belonged to China since time immemorial … [and] can hardly back down from such public commitments now, lest it make itself look weak and vacillating," Holmes said.

Holmes, a professor at the U.S. Naval War College and a former US Navy surface warfare officer, said that tactically speaking, China will keep the world guessing, though China does use an incremental approach that has proven itself a winner — what is sometimes called a “nibbling strategy” or “salami slicing” approach.

“Sun Tzu and Mao Zedong do advise that there can never be too much deception in diplomacy and warfare, and China has taken that wisdom to heart,” he said.

“The trend lines are going China's way. Why change? Let the hubbub over the UNCLOS [United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea] tribunal ruling die down, and then make the next move once the new equilibrium settles in. The incremental approach is a proven winner thus far,” he added.

Holmes said China doubts the US or anyone else will do anything beyond complain, and that China will continue using a maritime militia made up of thousands of fishing vessels and a growing number of Coast Guard vessels, with the naval force in the background, to “softly … win without fighting.”

"This small-stick diplomacy has delivered the goods for four years now — why break with success?" Holmes said.

US envoy says goodbye, vows protection for PH

From the Manila Times (Jul 8): US envoy says goodbye, vows protection for PH

AFTER nearly two years in one of the top posts in the American foreign service, Ambassador Philip Goldberg is ending his tour of duty with an assurance that the United States will protect the Philippines from any threat.

“Our alliance is firmly invested in protecting the prosperity, security and peace in the region and a partnership between two sovereign partners,” Goldberg said in his speech Wednesday night during the Fourth of July celebrations in Makati City.

Goldberg is exiting as the new administration of President Rodrigo Duterte makes a pivot toward China to try to settle the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) territorial dispute, in contrast to the pro-US stance of the previous Aquino government.

But Goldberg said the Philippines could always count on the US for help, given existing agreements such as the Mutual Defense Treaty and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.

“That alliance is based on our shared commitment to democracy, the rule of law and the peaceful settlement of disputes. As allies we stand together whenever the other is threatened and we will always continue to do so,” he said.

The 59-year-old US envoy also said goodbye and took pride at having visited several places in the Philippines.

“This will be my last July 4th in the Philippines so I want to say that I’ve been all around from Ilocos Norte to Tawi Tawi, from the mountains of Benguet to the tuna market in General Santos City, Mindanao,” Goldberg said.

“I’ve seen the awe-inspiring beauty and unique character of your country, but above all, it is the warmth and the welcome of the Filipino people that I will remember most,” he said.

Goldberg was appointed in November 2013 to succeed Harry Thomas. He will be replaced by Sung Kim, Washington’s special representative for North Korea policy and a former envoy to South Korea. Kim, who will be the first Asian-American appointed to the Manila post, was nominated as the new US ambassador to the Philippines by President Barack Obama in May.

 Ties between the Philippines and the US have grown closer in recent years in terms of people-to-people exchanges, economic relations and security, Goldberg said.

But the warm ties should continue amid new challenges in the Asia-Pacific region, he said.

Escalating ISIS threat in Southeast Asia: Is the Philippines a weak link?

From CNN (Jul 7): Escalating ISIS threat in Southeast Asia: Is the Philippines a weak link? (By Joseph Chinyong Liow)

Story highlights
  • ISIS foothold in Southeast Asia is growing, warns Joseph Chinyong Liow
  • The terror group is especially active in the southern Philippines
  • Government inaction and widespread corruption has given ISIS space to operate in, Liow says
Since videos of Southeast Asian recruits fighting under the black flag of ISIS emerged two years ago, the appeal of the terror group has been gradually growing in the region.

Several militant groups in Indonesia have already sworn fealty to ISIS, as did those behind the Jakarta bombing, while in Malaysia, "lone wolf" ISIS sympathizers have been active on social media.
 Several hundred Southeast Asians are now in Syria and Iraq, where they have formed Katibah Nusantara, which claims to represent Southeast Asians fighting for the ISIS cause.
An upsurge in ISIS-related activity in the southern Philippines has heightened concerns that the region could soon become a de facto "wilayat," or province of the "Islamic State."

Philippine sanctuary


What would be provided would not just be sanctuary, but an opportunity to regroup, establish connections, build networks, train and plan operations. Indeed, there is evidence some such networks are already taking place.
Through interlocutors, Bahrumsyah, the self-proclaimed leader of "ISIS Indonesia" -- currently based in Syria -- has attempted to purchase guns from Ansar Khalifah Philippines militants on the south Philippines island of Mindanao for delivery to pro-ISIS groups based in Poso, on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.
A wilayat would require ISIS control of territory. Abu Sayyaf, the more prominent pro-ISIS group in the Philippines, has an entrenched position on the southern islands of Sulu and Basilan. Despite massive injections of cash and U.S. special forces advisors over the last decade and a half, the Philippine government has barely been able to make a dent on the capabilities of the extremist groups, let alone dislodge them from the region.

Fertile ground


Whether it is a state-appointed mufti in Malaysia openly calling non-Malay politicians "infidels at war with Islam" without fear of sanction, or the hardline stance of the Indonesian government against minority Muslim groups, extremist and intolerant voices have been allowed to operate with impunity in countries hitherto celebrated as bastions of "moderation."
The transnational nature of the ISIS threat by definition calls for transnational responses. The Sulu archipelago, where extremist activity is concentrated, is part of a triborder area that also includes the east Malaysian state of Sabah and the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, and the waters of the Sulu and Celebes seas that separate them.
This porous and ungoverned area presents a major problem by virtue of the ease of movement for militants and terrorists across these borders. Over time, this area has also developed its own insidious political economy which involves people smuggling and arms trafficking.
Needless to say, this plays no small part in sustaining the activities of militant and terrorist networks. While security agencies in the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore are already engaged in regular information sharing, it is clear from the persistence of this problem that this is not enough.

Abu Sayyaf threat


To be sure, Abu Sayyaf is not a homogenous organization, and there are elements within it that are more interested in money than ideology. But the reality is these "bandits" have proven a formidable adversary for Philippine security forces.
The professionalism of the Philippine military remains an issue. A significant impediment to counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations in the south comes from the graft and corruption endemic within the military.
According to a Rand Corporation study, the U.S. provided $441 million in assistance to the Philippine military between 2002 and 2013 to fight Abu Sayyaf. Yet militant attacks during that period did not noticeably diminish by any significant measure. Abu Sayyaf today is getting stronger, not weaker.
Regional cooperation will be needed to deal with the dangers emanating from Sulu. This porous and ungoverned region continues to present a major problem and the challenge posed by the ungoverned space will require multi-national cooperation to surmount.
Because of its long history of militant activity and violence, the Philippines is often overlooked. But Southeast Asia is very much on ISIS' radar given increased attempts by local ISIS supporters and sympathizers to capture attention, and the southern Philippines is presently the weakest link in the effort to curb the growing ISIS threat.
[Joseph Chinyong Liow is Dean and Professor of Comparative and International Politics at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang University, Singapore. He is also Lee Kuan Yew Chair in Southeast Asia Studies and Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. The views expressed below are solely his own.]

U.S. Special Operations Forces in the Philippines, 2001–2014

From RAND (Apr 6): U.S. Special Operations Forces in the Philippines, 2001–2014

[For a full PDF copy of the report go to the following URL:]

This report examines the 14-year experience of U.S. special operations forces in the Philippines from 2001 through 2014. The objective of this case history is to document and evaluate the activities and effects of special operations capabilities employed to address terrorist threats in Operation Enduring Freedom — Philippines through (1) training and equipping Philippine security forces, (2) providing operational advice and assistance, and (3) conducting civil–military and information operations. The report evaluates the development, execution, and adaptation of the U.S. effort to enable the Philippine government to counter transnational terrorist groups.
An average of 500 to 600 U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps special operations units were employed continuously under the command of a joint special operations task force. They provided training, advice, and assistance during combat operations to both Philippine special operations units and selected air, ground, and naval conventional units; conducted civil–military and information operations on Basilan, in the Sulu archipelago, and elsewhere in Mindanao; provided intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, medical evacuation, and emergency care; aided planning and intelligence fusion at joint operational commands and force development at institutional headquarters; and coordinated their programs closely with the U.S. embassy country team. The authors conclude that Operation Enduring Freedom — Philippines contributed to the successful degradation of transnational terrorist threats in the Philippines and the improvement of its security forces, particularly special operations units. It identifies contributing and limiting factors, which could be relevant to the planning and implementation of future such efforts.

Key Findings

U.S. Special Operations Forces' Activities in the Philippines Between 2001 and 2014 Contributed to a Reduced Transnational Terrorist Threat and Support for Threat Groups

  • The number of enemy-initiated attacks has dropped, the number of Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) militants has decreased, and polls show reduced support for the ASG and a substantial majority reporting satisfaction with Philippine security forces.

U.S. Special Operations Forces' Activities in the Philippines During That Period Also Increased Philippine Security Forces' Capabilities at the Tactical, Operational, and Institutional Levels

  • At the tactical level, U.S. special operations forces (SOF) provided training, advice, and assistance to conventional Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) units at all echelons throughout Mindanao, including Philippine Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force units. In the later years of Operation Enduring Freedom — Philippines, U.S. SOF also provided training, advice, and assistance to the PNP Special Action Forces. U.S. SOF interviewees judged that Philippine SOF are among the most proficient of those Asian SOF units with which they had worked.
  • At the operational level, U.S. SOF advised and assisted the AFP headquarters to improve its joint processes and integrate command and control, planning, and intelligence functions.
  • At the institutional level, U.S. SOF contributed somewhat to strategy, planning, and coordination at the AFP national headquarters, and they helped Western Mindanao Command develop its plans and intelligence analysis and fusion capabilities.

Activities During That Period Had Other Effects as Well

  • The activities enhanced the bilateral defense ties between the United States and the Philippines.


  • U.S. counterterrorism policy in recent years has sought to rely increasingly on indigenous forces. Some efforts have enjoyed greater success than others, including this Philippine example. The study found that key factors that contributed to success in this case were: 1) maintaining the sovereign government lead, which avoided U.S. dependency; 2) adjusting plans through regular assessments; 3) employing SOF and other capabilities in a synergistic way; and 4) creating and maintaining interagency coordination. These findings may be useful in developing policy options and plans for other long-term SOF and partner building missions.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One
  • Chapter Two
    U.S.-Philippine Relations in Historical Perspective
  • Chapter Three
    2001–2004: The Initiation of Operation Enduring Freedom — Philippines
  • Chapter Four
    2005–2007: The Move to Jolo and Operation Ultimatum
  • Chapter Five
    2008–2010: Expansion of Effort
  • Chapter Six
    2010–2012: Transitioning Up
  • Chapter Seven
    2012–2014: Zamboanga Siege and Transitioning Out
  • Chapter Eight
  • Appendix A
    Balikatan 02-1 Terms of Reference
  • Appendix B
    Plan Analysis Tool

US transfers 4 patrol boats to Philippines

From Update.Ph (Jul 8): US transfers 4 patrol boats to Philippines

PNP Patrol Boat

United States Embassy in Manila’s Deputy Chief of Mission, Michael Klecheski, has led the transfer of four patrol boats to the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Puerto Princesa to improve maritime law enforcement capabilities. Chief Supt. Jose Ma Victor ‎Ramos was in attendance to receive the donation on behalf of the PNP along with Sr. Supt. Edmund Gonzales.

In his dedication, Klecheski noted the importance of improving maritime police equipment in the region, highlighting that the maritime domain factors prominently into virtually all law enforcement and terrorism issues that the Philippines faces today.

He cited the impact that the Special Operations Units (SOU) have had on preventing illegal activity and assisting in regional cooperation with neighboring countries such as Malaysia and Vietnam.

The donation marks the latest significant milestone in a more than 10-year partnership between the PNP Maritime Group and the U.S Departments of State, Defense and Justice (through the International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program).

The goal of this high degree of cooperation is to modernize maritime law enforcement’s equipment to combat smuggling, drugs, human trafficking and other forms of seafaring crime.

The boats are all 30-foot vessels or larger and are collectively worth over USD 2.3 million. They were provided by the State Department Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) along with spare parts and supplies.

INL said it would continue to support this transition by funding the training of the personnel who will handle these vessels.

Since 2010 the State Department has donated 10 patrol boats that are the primary tools used by the SOU to rescue individuals or stop criminal behavior.

Southern Philippine waters not a new Somalia – gov't

From Rappler (Jul 8): Southern Philippine waters not a new Somalia – gov't

The foreign secretary's comments come after armed men suspected to be from the Abu Sayyaf group this year abducted 25 Indonesian and Malaysian sailors in the Sulu Sea

NEW SOMALIA? The kidnapping of Indonesian and Malaysian sailors in the Sulu Sea prompted Indonesian Security Minister Luhut Panjaitan to warn that the region was in danger of becoming a 'new Somalia.'

NEW SOMALIA? The kidnapping of Indonesian and Malaysian sailors in the Sulu Sea prompted Indonesian Security Minister Luhut Panjaitan to warn that the region was in danger of becoming a 'new Somalia.'

The Philippines denied Friday, July 8, that piracy in its waters bordering Indonesia and Malaysia had reached Somalian levels, after a recent spate of kidnappings of Southeast Asian sailors.

Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay said the situation in the southern Philippines was much more stable than in and around the African nation, where multinational military coalitions have worked together to quell rampant maritime piracy.

"The conditions in Somalia are not similar to the conditions here in the southern Philippines," Yasay told Agence France-Presse in an interview.

"We have effective governments that are in full control."

His comments came after armed men suspected to be from the Abu Sayyaf kidnap-for-ransom group this year abducted 25 Indonesian and Malaysian sailors in the Sulu Sea, a vital waterway off the southern Philippines.

The kidnapping spree prompted Indonesian Security Minister Luhut Panjaitan to warn in April that the region was in danger of becoming a "new Somalia".

In response to the third kidnapping of Indonesian sailors, Jakarta banned Indonesian-flagged vessels from sailing to the Philippines.

Yasay said he hoped an agreement on improved coordination with Indonesia and Malaysia, set to be completed in the coming months, would help prevent kidnappings.

The three nations have agreed on joint patrols and to consider a joint corridor which would serve as a designated sea lane.

"We are dealing here with criminals who have taken advantage of the geographical and topographical conditions in the place where they can just easily hide from one island to another," Yasay said.

The Abu Sayyaf is a loose network of a few hundred Islamic guerillas that was formed in the 1990s with seed money from Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda network and has earned millions of dollars from kidnappings-for-ransom.

The Philippine military has said it believes the Abu Sayyaf holds hostages in the remote Sulu archipelago, the group's main stronghold.

The Abu Sayyaf also kidnapped two Canadians and a Norwegian man from a southern Philippine marina in September last year. The Canadian men were beheaded in April and June after demands for multi-million-dollar ransoms were not met.

The Norwegian is still being held.

After assuming office on June 30, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the Philippine military to neutralise the Abu Sayyaf. But similar demands from previous Philippine leaders went unfulfilled.

Yasay: Philippines willing to share South China Sea

From InterAksyon (Jul 8): Yasay: Philippines willing to share South China Sea

Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay. Image from Facebook post.

The Philippines is willing to share natural resources with Beijing in contested South China Sea areas even if it wins a legal challenge next week, Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay told AFP Friday.

Yasay said President Rodrigo Duterte's administration hoped to quickly begin direct talks with China following Tuesday's verdict, with the negotiations to cover jointly exploiting natural gas reserves and fishing grounds within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.

"We can even have the objective of seeing how we can jointly explore this territory. How we can utilize and benefit mutually from the utilization of the resources in this exclusive economic zone where claims are overlapping," Yasay told AFP in an interview.

The Philippines, under Benigno Aquino's previous administration, filed a legal challenge with a UN-backed tribunal in The Hague contesting China's claims to nearly all of the strategically vital sea.

China's claims reach almost to the coasts of the Philippines and some other Southeast Asian nations, and it has in recent years built giant artificial islands in the contested areas to enforce what it says are its indisputable sovereign rights.

The Philippines' case enraged China, which repeatedly vowed to ignore the tribunal's ruling and is currently holding military drills in the northern part of the sea as a show of force.

Duterte, who took office on June 30, has adopted a more conciliatory approach to China than Aquino.

The previous president refused to hold direct talks, and likened China's expansionist efforts in the sea to Nazi Germany's march on parts of Europe ahead of World War II.

Yasay signaled on Friday that Duterte would be making no such analogies, emphasizing his administration would seek to ensure the best possible relations with China.

"I would like to be forward-looking on these matters," he said when asked to comment on Aquino's Nazi statement.

"I would like to make sure whatever actions this administration will take, the statements we will be making will be in the pursuit of strengthening our relationship with everybody and will be for the purpose of making sure there will be no stumbling block to our negotiating a peaceful solution to the issue."

He also said China and the Philippines had agreed not to make any "provocative statements" following the release of the ruling.

Yasay said after the ruling the Philippines would study it closely, discuss it with allies, and then seek to launch talks with China "as soon as possible".

Yasay said the Philippines was open to sharing Scarborough Shoal, a rich fishing ground within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone that China took control of in 2012.

He said the Philippines would also consider jointly exploring a natural gas field at Reed Bank, which is also within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.

However Yasay insisted the Philippines would not concede any of its rights in the sea.

Duterte and Yasay met with China's ambassador to the Philippines, Zhao Jianhua, on Thursday. Zhao was seen again at the Department of Foreign Affairs on Friday.

Beijing: No stepping back in South China Sea - media

From InterAksyon (Jul 8): Beijing: No stepping back in South China Sea - media

Beijing will not take a "single step back" in the contested West Philippine Sea (or South China Sea), state-run media said Friday, despite reports of US naval patrols close to its artificial islands ahead of a tribunal ruling in the dispute.

Beijing asserts sovereignty over almost all of the strategically vital waters in the face of rival claims from Southeast Asian neighbors, and has rapidly turned reefs into artificial islands capable of hosting military planes.

It is currently holding a week of military drills around the Paracel Islands in the northern part of the sea, during which other ships have been prohibited from entering the waters.

The Virginia-based Navy Times reported this week that three US destroyers -- the Spruance, Stethem and Momsen -- have been patrolling near the Chinese-claimed Scarborough Shoal and Spratly Islands further south.

The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and supporting vessels are also in the South China Sea, the US Navy has said.

The Navy Times cited experts describing the deployments as "a message of resolve to the Chinese and US allies in the region" and "a deliberate show of force" ahead of an international tribunal ruling.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague is set to release its final decision Tuesday in a case brought by the Philippines, challenging China's position.

In an editorial Friday the Global Times newspaper, which is close to the ruling Communist Party and often takes a nationalistic tone, said: "If the US and the Philippines act on impulse and carry out flagrant provocation, China will not take a single step back."

Faced with further escalation from Manila, the paper said China "will fight back".

It could turn Scarborough Shoal -- an islet it wrested from Philippine control in 2012 -- "into a military outpost", it said, and "tow away or sink" an old landing craft Manila grounded on the Chinese-claimed Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratlys to "resolve the standoff once and for all".

It blamed Vietnam and the Philippines for provoking tensions by carrying out reclamation work in the area earlier.

Beijing cites a vaguely defined "nine-dash line" on Chinese maps dating back to the 1940s as the source of its territorial claims, but Manila contests that the line has no basis under international law, and that Beijing has no historic right to the area.

Manila lodged the PCA suit against Beijing in early 2013, saying that after 17 years of negotiations it had exhausted all political and diplomatic avenues to settle the dispute.

Beijing has boycotted the proceedings, with an editorial in the China Daily newspaper Friday calling them a "farce" and the tribunal's forthcoming ruling "illegal, null and void from the outset", saying the court had no jurisdiction over the issue.

The ruling was likely to result in "increasing threats" to China, which "has to be prepared for all eventualities", it said, adding: "This is not being alarmist, it is being realistic."