Sunday, June 12, 2022

US stands with PH to uphold rules, int'l law in SCS

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 10, 2022): US stands with PH to uphold rules, int'l law in SCS (By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora)

Chargé d'Affaires Heather Variava (left) and Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman

The United States supports the Philippines "completely" to ensure its sovereignty and freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.

In a recent media roundtable, visiting Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said this US commitment is part of its Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) with the Philippines.

"The Philippines has been a leader and a champion for upholding freedom of navigation in the South China Sea in the face of increasing encroachments," she said.

"The United States remains committed to standing with the government of the Philippines to uphold the rules and laws underpinning the international maritime order, and we have spoken up against infringements of the Philippines’ sovereign rights," she said.

The statement came hours before the Philippine government on Thursday said it protested the return of some 100 illegal Chinese vessels in the Julian Felipe Reef.

READ: DFA protests return of 100 Chinese vessels to Julian Felipe

Sherman noted that the existing bilateral maritime dialogue between the US and the Philippines serves as an instrument for the two nations to discuss issues in the South China Sea and "build strategies and work together" to make sure that people's livelihoods are protected.

"There are so many issues in the maritime domain, security is certainly one of them. Unregulated, underreported, illegal fishing is another, the climate is another," she said.

"There are huge numbers of issues and I'm really glad that this maritime dialogue has gotten underway," she added.

During her trip to Manila on Thursday, Sherman met with Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. and President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Among the topics discussed during the meetings were economic recovery efforts, energy, health, the Ukraine war, and human rights.

On human rights, the Philippines reiterated its invitation for the US to support the three-year United Nations Joint Program on Human Rights (2021-2024).

Bilateral, multilateral talks with China on SCS continue: Carlos

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 10, 2022): Bilateral, multilateral talks with China on SCS continue: Carlos (By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos)

Incoming National Security Adviser Clarita Carlos

Incoming National Security Adviser Clarita Carlos on Friday said the bilateral and multilateral negotiations with China to settle the South China Sea (SCS) dispute will continue under the Marcos administration.

During the Laging Handa program, Carlos said the country would also pursue talks with other SCS claimants.

"We would continue to do bilateral and multilateral talks with China and other powers because it’s not only China who is laying claims to the contested South and the East China Sea,"
she said.

Carlos made the statement, as she acknowledged that a hostile approach would only aggravate the sea disputes among the sea claimants.

"Let’s just continue to talk because the alternative is something unacceptable to all of us," she said.

She, however, ensured the continued filing of diplomatic protests against provocative acts in the contested waters, saying the country would not "acquiesce to the situation on the ground."

China, the Philippines, and several other littoral states are locked in a territorial dispute over the SCS where Beijing claims around 80 percent of the strategic waters.

To date, concerned parties are holding bilateral and multilateral negotiations to discuss the maritime row.

The talks include the crafting of the binding Code of Conduct with other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

In 2016, the bilateral consultation mechanism on SCS was established to allow China and the Philippines to ensure the stable development of bilateral relations while addressing differences and managing incidents at sea.

On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague, Netherlands ruled in favor of the Philippines' petition against China after the arbitral tribunal invalidated Beijing's claim of supposed historic rights over almost the entire SCS.

China has repeatedly ignored the SCS ruling, while the Philippines has maintained its stance to resolve the sea disputes through peaceful and diplomatic negotiations.

Outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte pursued a peaceful settlement of the SCS dispute with China.

Duterte's successor, President-elect Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., earlier vowed to uphold the PCA ruling against China.

DFA files new protest vs. illegal Chinese activities in Ayungin

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 11, 2022): DFA files new protest vs. illegal Chinese activities in Ayungin (By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora)

The Philippine government has filed another diplomatic protest over China's activities in the Ayungin Shoal, including the installation of buoys blocking its entrance.

In a report dated June 10, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Chinese Coast Guard vessels have shadowed Philippine boats on a rotation and re-provision mission.

Among others, it illegally fished in the area and installed buoys and fish nets "that blocked the shoal's entrance."

"The 2016 Arbitral Award affirmed that Ayungin Shoal is within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone and continental shelf. China has no right to fish, monitor, or interfere with (the Philippines') legitimate activities therein," the DFA report added.

The department reiterated its calls on Beijing to comply with its obligations under international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the Arbitral Award.

The latest protest came a day after DFA said it lodged a note verbale against the return of 100 Chinese fishing vessels in the Julian Felipe Reef.

Groups urges Dutch gov’t anew to stop coddling terrorist Joma

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 10, 2022): Groups urges Dutch gov’t anew to stop coddling terrorist Joma (By Lade Jean Kabagani)

SEND JOMA HOME. Members of the Makabagong Alyansa, Liga Independencia Pilipinas, and League of Parents of the Philippines rally in front of the Netherlands embassy along Paseo de Roxas Avenue, Makati City on Friday (June 10, 2022). They asked the Dutch government to send back Communist Party of the Philippines founding chair Jose Maria “Joma” Sison to the Philippines to stand trial for his criminal cases. (Contributed photo)

Parents’ groups and multisectoral organizations believe that the terrorism perpetrated by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) will be halted if the Dutch government will dispatch Jose Maria “Joma” Sison back to the Philippines.

Members of Makabagong Alyansa (MK), Liga Independencia Pilipinas, and League of Parents of the Philippines staged a picket rally in front of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Makati City on Friday, asking the Dutch government to stop coddling Sison, the CPP founding chair.

Nolan Tiongco, MK secretary general, said the Netherlands should let Sison face all his criminal cases in the Philippines and not allow its country to become a “safe haven” for terrorists.

“May kasalanan siya sa batas ng Pilipinas kaya nararapat lamang na harapin niya ito dito (He has crimes against the Philippine so it is just proper that he face them here) and that’s why we plead for the Dutch government to stop coddling a terrorist,” Tiongco said during the rally along Paseo de Roxas Avenue.

Over the past five decades, Tiongco lamented that Sison and his colleagues have been freely planning terroristic attacks and atrocities against their fellow Filipinos without being reprimanded in the Netherlands.

Sison is being taken care of as a political refugee when in fact, all he is doing is maneuver the violent acts of the CPP-NPA-NDF and wage war against the government, added Tiongco.

“Sison is doing his remote-control war in Netherlands habang ‘yung mga namumundok ng mga rebeldeng NPA ay nagugutom, samantalang siya masarap ang buhay sa (while the NPA rebels in the mountains are starving, he is living the good life) abroad,” he said.

Tiongco said they sent yet another letter to the Dutch government, formalizing their request to terminate the asylum status of Sison and his communist comrades.

“We ask the Dutch government to hand over these criminals to our country so that they can face all the cases filed against them in various courts. Stop protecting Joma Sison,” he added.

Tiongco said the removal of Sison’s status as a political refugee will help end the communist armed revolution in the country.

The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

The Anti-Terrorism Council also formally designated the NDF as a terrorist organization on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and separate part” of the CPP-NPA that was created in April 1973.

UN recognizes Galvez’s commitment to peace process

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 11, 2022): UN recognizes Galvez’s commitment to peace process (By Lade Jean Kabagani)

RECOGNITION. United Nations Resident Coordinator in the Philippines, Gustavo González (left), hands a plaque of recognition to Presidential Peace Adviser, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., at the Makati Diamond Residences on Wednesday (June 8, 2022). The UN agency lauded Galvez’s commitment and professionalism in peace-building efforts. (Photo courtesy of OPAPRU)

The United Nations (UN) honored Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity (PAPRU), Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., for his “commitment and professionalism” in pursuing peace-building initiatives in the country.

UN Resident Coordinator in the Philippines, Gustavo González, said the Philippine government has “scored an important number of achievements” and “achieved major milestones” in pushing for a genuine peace process.

“[We are] looking forward to our continued close collaboration with the Government of the Philippines, and we hope that the collective investment made in peace and reconciliation will be nourished and expanded by the new administration,” González said as he presented a plaque of recognition to Galvez on Wednesday at the Makati Diamond Residences for “major contributions to the comprehensive Philippine peace process.”

The UN agency invited the ambassadors of Australia, Canada, Norway, France, Japan, and the European Union to the cocktail reception in honor of Galvez.

According to an OPAPRU statement released Saturday, González cited how Galvez's leadership pushed for the strengthening of the role of women and the youth in the peace process, conflict transformation, and the protection of human rights,” which are deemed crucial for securing sustainable peace.

Galvez urged the next administration to fully support the gains of the peace process achieved under the tutelage of President Rodrigo Duterte.

“We would like to call on our international partners to provide the incoming administration with the same level of support you have given to the Duterte administration, as we continue to lay the foundation for genuine peace and sustainable development,” he said in a statement.

Galvez thanked the UN and other international development partners of the government for their invaluable contribution to strengthening the Philippine peace process.

“The United Nations and its attached agencies are among the longest and most active partners of the OPAPRU in carrying out its mandate of managing, directing, integrating, and supervising the implementation of the comprehensive peace process, including initiatives that promote and reinforce national reconciliation and unity,” he said.

Galvez assured the OPAPRU is committed “to continue what it has started”.

“Even as we transition to the new administration, I would like to assure the UN, its attached agencies, and all International Peace Partners present, the OPAPRU is committed to implementing all signed agreements, including all efforts in promoting and reinforcing National Reconciliation and Unity,” he said.

Galvez also hopes that the international community will support President-elect Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.’s administration priorities including agricultural and food security; climate change adaptation; economic recovery; improved health care and education; enhanced infrastructure projects, including digital infrastructure; utilization of renewable energy sources; strengthened tourism and jobs reaction; and sustainable development.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin has previously lauded Galvez’s key role in the liberation of Marawi in 2017 when he was still commander of the Western Mindanao Command and leadership in the implementation of pandemic response efforts.

“When he [Galvez] was appointed to fight Covid, well, the outcome is a foregone conclusion and I can say we had a victory on that front,” Locsin said.

Lorenzana stable after fainting at Rizal Park’s Freedom Day rites

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 12, 2022): Lorenzana stable after fainting at Rizal Park’s Freedom Day rites (By Priam Nepomuceno and Wilnard Bacelonia)

I’M OKAY. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana is all smiles and gives the thumbs-up sign to assure he’s feeling fine after fainting during the 124th Independence Day celebration at Rizal Park in Manila on Sunday (June 12, 2022). He attributed the collapse to heat, lack of sleep, and exhaustion as he had just arrived from a Singapore security summit hours before proceeding to the event. (Facebook photo)

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana is in stable condition after fainting during the 124th Independence Day flag-raising ceremony at Rizal Park in Manila Sunday.

Arsenio Andolong, DND spokesperson, said in a statement that Lorenzana “is currently in stable condition and has been advised to rest after fainting during the Independence Day Flag Raising Ceremony at Rizal Park this morning, June 12".

He added that Lorenzana had just arrived from Singapore early Sunday morning after attending the IISS (International Institute for Strategic Studies) Shangri-La Dialogue, Asia’s premier security summit.

The DND chief spoke at the 4th plenary session on the topic "Military Modernization and New Defense Capabilities".

"The Secretary also traveled recently to South Korea and other parts of the Philippines, while overseeing the defense operations of the country and transition to a new administration. His hectic schedule during the last few weeks and the extreme temperatures in Luneta earlier today (Sunday) may have resulted in his fatigue," Andolong said.

Lorenzana's head executive assistant, Dr. Peter Paul Galvez, also confirmed that the defense chief is in stable condition and resting in a hospital.

"Stable naman na sya ngayon. Wala namang problema. Papahingain muna namin kasi puyat, galing Singapore, tapos the past few days puyat din din sya e, daming ginagawa tapos syempre sa Singapore, baka bitin din sa tulog tapos mainit kanina (He is stable now. There is no problem. We will let him rest for a while, he might be exhausted due to lack of sleep as he just came from Singapore. He did a lot of work there. I also think that he lacked sleep and of course, it was quite hot there [at Rizal Park])," Galvez said.

HE'S FINE. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (left) joins President Rodrigo Duterte and other officials at the 124th Independence Day celebration at Rizal Park in Manila on Sunday (June 12, 2022). Lorenza later collapsed, attributed to heat and exhaustion due to his hectic schedule the previous weeks, but is now in stable condition. (PNA photo by Joey Razon)

Speedy recovery

Senators also wished Lorenzana well and said they are praying for his immediate recovery.

"Prayers, prayers for SND Del’s health," outgoing Sen. Panfilo Lacson tweeted.

Lacson, a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class 1971, graduated two years ahead of Lorenzana.

"Get well and get some rest, Secretary Delfin Lorenzana," Senator Cynthia Villar posted on social media.

Senator Christopher "Bong" Go, who was with Lorenzana at Rizal Park, assured the Defense chief is already in good condition.

"Let's pray that he is okay. Talagang galing sa trabaho, lumipad siya at walang tulog (He flew in from work and without sleep)," Go said in an interview.

Go and President Rodrigo Duterte talked to Lorenzana via video call.

Lorenzana later confirmed on Facebook that he is fine and resting since the results of the tests conducted on him are okay.

“My lack of rest and sleep from my recent successive international security engagements may have taken its toll on me. Late na kami nakabalik (We returned late) from Singapore, tapos napaka-init pa sa Luneta kanina (and the weather was too hot in Luneta earlier). But as the saying goes, a true soldier always gets up quickly after a fall,” he posted.

“I’m deeply moved by your concern and well wishes. Thank you and God bless us all,” he added.

PH-US troops warfight drill provides 'deterrence options'

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 13, 2022): PH-US troops warfight drill provides 'deterrence options' (By Priam Nepomuceno)

Philippine Army Signal Regiment commander, Brig. Gen. Milton Beset (right) and US Army Pacific (USARPAC) 1st Multi-Domain Task Force (MDTF) commander, Brig. Gen. James Isenhower III (left). (Photo courtesy of Philippine Army)

Aside from providing Filipino troops with knowledge of cutting-edge military technologies and techniques, the ongoing Multi-Domain Warfighting Exchange between the Philippine Army (PA) and the US Army Pacific (USARPAC) will also provide deterrence options for combat commanders.

USARPAC 1st Multi-Domain Task Force (MDTF) commander Brig. Gen. James P. Isenhower III made this remark as he visited the ongoing Multi-Domain Warfighting Exchange between Filipino and American troops at Fort Bonifacio last June 11.

The American military official said the MDTF is a “new, networked, maneuver theater assets, focused on adversary anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) networks”.

"MDTF capabilities also provide deterrence options for combatant commanders," the Philippine Army (PA) said in a statement Sunday.

It can be recalled that the two armies commenced the nearly three-week exercise at Fort Bonifacio on May 31.

The bilateral activity tackles military technologies such as the high mobility artillery rocket system (HIMARS), multi-domain operations (MDO), and high-altitude balloons; cyber and electronic warfare; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) integration; and MDO warfighting exchange.

The MDTF subject matter expert exchange (SMEE) will be conducted in two phases: the Philippine Army Senior Leaders’ Orientation Seminar at Fort Bonifacio and the SMEE proper at Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija.

PA chief Lt. Gen. Romeo S. Brawner Jr. earlier said that the bilateral activity will help PA personnel gain knowledge on cutting-edge military technologies and techniques.

Brawner also emphasized that upgrading soldiers' individual skills and unit capabilities will help propel the PA in attaining its vision of becoming a world-class organization in the coming years.