Posts Tagged ‘Gary Alejano’

Philippines Navy Stopped Patrolling Scarborough Shoal in January 2016 in Part of Great Giveaway To China — Philippines’ government “practically surrendered” the country’s rights

November 21, 2017
“The AFP was ordered to desist from conducting aerial patrols over Panatag Shoal. However, the AFP insisted otherwise,” Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano said., file

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Navy has stopped sending ships to patrol the Panatag or Scarborough Shoal in the disputed West Philippine Sea for almost two years now, Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano said Tuesday.

This revelation came in response to the statement of National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. that the government recently stopped sending Navy ships to Panatag Shoal.

The recent halt in Navy patrols was meant to ease tensions with China and prevent harassment from Chinese forces, according to Esperon

Alejano, meanwhile, claimed that he has received information that the Philippine Navy has not conducted a single mission to Panatag Shoal since January 2016.

“The frequent visits of Philippine Navy ships were noted in 2012 during a standoff with the Chinese Coast Guard. In the years that followed, very few patrols were conducted. In 2016, the government eventually ordered the complete halt of patrols in the area,” Alejano said.

The lawmaker added that Esperon’s statement attempts to hide the fact that the government has long ceased its efforts to strengthen the country’s claims on the disputed areas.

He also noted that there have been cases of Chinese harassment in the region since the Philippines reduced its presence in Panatag early last year.

“Instead of deterring incidence of harassment, Chinese forces have become more bold and fearless. In fact, some of our fishermen have opted not to venture anymore in Panatag for fear and worry of wasting their food and fuel just to be blocked by the Chinese,” Alejano said.

Alejano further claimed that the Philippine government ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines to stop aerial patrols over Panatag, which the military denied.

“It is extremely disheartening to see our own government limiting the AFP from performing its mandate,” the Magdalo lawmaker said.

The lawmaker lamented that the government “practically surrendered” the country’s rights in the West Philippine Sea by acceding to pressure from China.

“The Duterte administration has bargained our claims in the West Philippine Sea in exchange for promised economic concessions,” he said.

On the other hand, the Philippine Coast Guard might be tasked to patrol the disputed waters after receiving three newly commissioned multi-role response vessels.

Esperon earlier hinted at making the Coast Guard a lead agency in patrol operations in the western seaboard, along with the Philippine Navy and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.


South China Sea: Philippine President To Press China On Code of Conduct

November 9, 2017
President Duterte talks with Vietnam President Tran Dai Quang during a bilateral meeting at the Da Nang Convention Center, on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders’ Summit yesterday. Vietnam is also locked in a maritime dispute with China. AFP

DA NANG — President Duterte intends to press China to ratify the Code of Conduct on the South China Sea as he questioned Beijing’s moves to fortify disputed islands in the contested area.

Duterte said he would push the issue when he meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a bilateral meeting here tomorrow.

“China must come up with the Code of Conduct,” Duterte said in a press briefing after meeting with the Filipino community here yesterday.

Duterte had to push back his return flight to Manila by about two hours to be able to meet with Xi on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in this Vietnamese city.

He stressed that he had developed good relations with China and he wanted to nurture this.

“I do not want to lose the friendship of China,” he said.

But being this year’s chairman of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Duterte said he must put forward the interests of the claimant countries, which include Vietnam, the Philippines and Brunei Darrusalam.

He said it was China who created the “ruckus” when it started putting arms around the islands.

“It is not wrong for me to tell China that you have already placed heavy artillery there. It puts us worried and wary because we are also using the passage,” the President added.

“We are friends but what is the role here of everybody…I am chair of ASEAN and I have to carry the voice of the ASEAN. I have to tell the truth that everybody is worried,” Duterte said.

He mentioned that during his meeting with Xi, he will have “to ask questions and forward the ASEAN.”

Rody told: Assert UN tribunal ruling

Meanwhile, a former Marine captain-turned congressman is urging Duterte to assert the ruling of the UN-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration favoring the Philippines in its territorial dispute with China in the West Philippine Sea.

Gary Alejano of party-list Magdalo made the appeal a day after Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana revealed that the President ordered a halt to a construction project on a sandbar near the Philippine-occupied Pag-asa Island after China protested.

“I hope that the administration would now realize the importance and urgency of asserting the favorable ruling of the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration issued in July 2016. There could not be any more proper time to stress it than now. We do not want to waste time that we could use to peacefully strengthen our claims,” Alejano said.

He said China had no basis to protest the construction work on one of the sandbars.

“The Philippines did not violate the Declaration of Conduct. The planned construction in Sandy Cay was not a new occupation by the Philippines. In fact, the sand bars have traditionally been under effective control of the Philippine troops. Further, the sand bars are subject to regular patrols and visitations by the Philippine troops and our own fishermen,” he said.

He noted that the Duterte government halts its activities at the slightest protest from Beijing.

“Meanwhile, Chinese forces, military and coast guard, are illegally entering our exclusive economic zone (EEZ), yet our foreign affairs secretary and the President could only respond that we assume good faith in their actions. The administration has been downplaying the situation in the West Philippine Sea while China continues to push us into the corner,” he said.

Alejano and his party-list group have been calling attention to Chinese “encroachments” in the country’s EEZ.

Not too long ago, the former Marine officer exposed the alleged presence of Chinese ships near one of the sandbars of Pag-asa.

A few days later, Philippine and Chinese officials acknowledged that one ship of China passed by the area. – With Jess Diaz




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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.

Philippines: House panel kills impeachment complaint vs President Duterte

May 15, 2017
In this March 30, 2017 file photo, Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano shows a page from the impeachment complaint against President Rodrgio Duterte filed at the House of Representatives. AP/Bullit Marquez

MANILA, Philippines (Update 2, first published at 1:41 p.m.) — The House justice committee declared on Monday that the first impeachment complaint filed against President Rodrigo Duterte is sufficient in form but insufficient in substance.

Emerging from a closed-door session after a morning of public deliberations, 42 members of the committee effectively dismissed the complaint, filed by Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano who accuses Duterte of violating the Constitution.

The complaint, the first against Duterte who was inaugurated president last year, was filed in March by Alejano who accused the president of violating the Constitution in allowing killings linked to the war on drugs and treason in conferral with China on matters of the maritime domain.

An impeachment complaint requires the majority vote of committee members to move be endorsed to the House plenary, where the complaint would require the vote of a third of the chamber.

Monday’s session was the first step in the impeachment process, with the justice committee tasked to determine whether the verified complaint was “sufficient in form and substance,” stated in the rules of procedure.

“Form” refers to a complaint’s technical details following established methods, while “substance” refers to material allegations, of whether or not there is a cause of impeachment. It also refers to the jurisdiction of the body deliberating on it, according to a 2008 Supreme Court decision.

House rules also indicate that the requirement of “substance” is met if there is a detailed statement of facts constituting the offense charged.

The House of Representatives has the exclusive power to initiate cases of impeachment, which could be filed by any member of the lower chamber or citizen. Complaints should be accusations on culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes or betrayal of public trust.

At the session, members of the so-called supermajority allied to the Duterte administration grilled Alejano on the content of the complaint, which notes that there have been 8,000 individuals who have been killed in the context of the war on drugs.

Alejano said that the facts stated in his complaint have been verified, and were partly culled from news reports and testimonies of confessed hired killers who allegedly answered to orders of Duterte when he was still Davao City mayor.

Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, a member of the committee, however, argued that Alejano should demonstrate first-hand or “personal” knowledge of the violations alleged in the complaint.

“Newspaper reports are not authentic records,” Fariñas said.

“This is the last time the House will entertain a complaint that violates the rules of verification,” he added.

The Senate, however, has the sole power to hold trial and decide on cases of impeachment.

The dismissal of the complaint was the expected outcome in a Congress controlled by the popular Duterte, whose campaign against illegal drugs enjoys wide support but is also heavily criticized for its violence and high death toll.



South China Sea: Chinese Building Military Facilities On Philippine Soil

March 30, 2017
This March 9 satellite image released by the CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative shows that all hangars for 24 combat aircraft and four larger planes have been completed on Subi (Zamora) Reef. AMTI/CSIS via DigitalGlobe

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government said it is yet to verify the completion of Chinese military assets in the Spratly (Kalayaan) Islands in the South China Sea, the country’s top diplomat said Thursday.

This is despite Washington-based think tank CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative’s (AMTI) recently released satellite images showing the nearly complete construction of infrastructures on Subi (Zamora), Mischief (Panganiban) and Fiery Cross (Kagitingan) Reefs.

READ: China can now deploy military assets to South China Sea

Acting Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo said that the AMTI is basically suggesting that the facilities could accommodate military assets when it took the photos.

“We take it very seriously but I think when they say that this would accommodate this and that… We will have to verify with China,” Manalo said in an interview with ANC’s “Headstart.”

The think tank reported that the facilities in the three air bases would allow Beijing to deploy military assets including combat aircraft and mobile missile launchers to the Spratly Islands any time.

The hangars on the “Big Three” islands can accommodate 24 combat aircraft and four larger planes that can be used for transport or refueling, according to the report.

China’s facility on Woody Island of the Paracel Islands would allow military aircraft to operate nearly the entire South China Sea.

Manalo, however, said that the Philippines would have to ask China first on their intention of building the facilities.

“These could also be used for civilian uses and or military. We’re not yet sure so we have to really see what happens,” Manalo said.

The Foreign Affairs secretary said that the Philippines would have to look at this issue in the context of the country’s approach to the South China Sea issue.

“The Philippines is fully committed to seeking a peaceful resolution of the disputes in the South China Sea,” the secretary said.

Manalo reiterated that President Rodrigo Duterte made it clear that he would set aside the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration on the issue.

On July 12, 2016, the arbitral tribunal issued its award on Manila’s complaint against Beijing’s nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea. The United Nations-backed tribunal ruled that China violated its commitment to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea when it constructed artificial islands in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

The country’s top diplomat, however, said that Duterte will raise the arbitral tribunal’s ruling with China “at the appropriate time.”

“I can’t divulge exactly how we’d say it but we would be pointing out that these construction are taking place on islands within our EEZ,” Manalo said.


Comment from Peace and Freedom: Chinese resolve in the South China Sea has remained  the same for several years. The Philippines has been unable to set a policy and stick with it since Prersident Detarte was elected….



Philippine lawmaker wants President Duterte’s impeachment — Defeatist stance of Duterte gives the South China Sea to China — Unwillingness to defend the Philippines

March 30, 2017


Thu Mar 30, 2017 | 1:21am EDT

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A Philippines lawmaker filed supplementary charges on Thursday to an impeachment complaint against President Rodrigo Duterte, accusing him of taking a “defeatist stance” by doing nothing to challenge Beijing’s activities in the South China Sea.

Opposition congressman Gary Alejano said Duterte had made a slew of remarks that proved he had no intention to protect Philippine sovereignty and had alienated key allies like the United States through “rants and unstoppable outbursts”.

The complaint adds to a laundry list of what Alejano says are impeachable offences that amount to high crimes, abuse of power and betrayal of public trust.

He submitted the initial complaint two weeks ago, just as Congress went into a recess, a move aimed at keeping it in the public spotlight and preventing Congress from dismissing it right away. It reconvenes on May 2.

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A Chinese-bomber passes over the Philippines’ Scarborough Shoal

Duterte is frequently accused of abuse of power, though none of the allegations have so far stuck. The populist former city mayor commands a legislative majority and enjoys huge public support.

Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said Alejano’s additional complaint was groundless propaganda and part of a coordinated conspiracy by Duterte’s opponents.

Alejano said Duterte had failed to act on a ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration last year that invalidated China’s nine-dash line claim to most of the South China Sea, its justification for building man-made islands in Manila’s exclusive economic zone.

He said Duterte’s recent comments that he could do nothing to stop China if it were to build structures at the disputed Scarborough Shoal indicated his unwillingness to defend the country’s rights.

The criticism comes as Duterte intensifies his charm offensive to encourage China to invest billions of dollars in the Philippines, including its flagging infrastructure, an approach that contrasts sharply with his open hostility towards the United States.

He last week railed against Washington for allowing China to construct and arm its artificial islands, but placed no blame on Beijing.

On Wednesday Duterte said he had asked the U.S. ambassador to Manila “why did you not send the armada?”.

A U.S. think-tank on Monday said China had finished building military infrastructure on those islands and was now capable of deploying combat planes there.

(Reporting by Martin Petty; Editing by Michael Perry)



 (Contains links to several previous articles on the South China Sea)

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On July 12, 2016 a ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague said China’s nine-dash line claim (shown above) was invalid and not recognized in international law.

Philippines: President Duterte Foes Amend Impeachment Complaint, Call Duterte Stance on China ‘Dereliction of Duty’

March 20, 2017
Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano holds a copy of the impeachment complaint he filed against President Duterte at the House of Representatives on Thursday. photo
MANILA, Philippines — Magdalo Party-list Rep. Gary Alejano said that his group is considering  filing a supplemental complaint against President Rodrigo Duterte for allegedly being subservient to China.
Alejano’s statement came after Duterte claimed last week that he allowed China to send survey ships to Benham Rise as part of an agreement.
The Department of Foreign Affairs last week said it was not aware of an agreement or policy over the Benham Rise region.
In an interview on CNN’s ‘The Source,’ Alejano said that the president’s action is a matter of national security since there is a conflict of interest with China on the West Philippine Sea, the part of the South China Sea that Manila claims.
“We’re talking about national interest here, we’re talking about national security here because we have a clear conflict of interest in West Philippine Sea,” Alejano said.
China has repeatedly reiterated its position over the South China Sea, saying it has a historical and legal claim over the vast area.
An international tribunal however, ruled in favor of the Philippines in an arbitration case against China, saying that China’s “nine-dash line” claim over a large part of the South China Sea, including part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, has no basis.
In a speech on Sunday, Duterte also said that he cannot stop China from setting up a reported monitoring station in the Scarborough Shoal, also known as Panatag or Bajo de Masinloc.
“We cannot stop China from doing its thing. Hindi nga napara ng Amerikano,” Duterte said.
Duterte added that the country will lose all of its military and policemen if he declares war against China.
Alejano however, said that war is not the only solution, saying that the president could constantly raise issues in the West Philippines Sea.
“He’s not doing that because he’s afraid to offend China,” Alejano said.
He added that if Duterte said he cannot do anything to protect the country’s territory “then that’s dereliction of duty.”
 (Contains links to several previos articles on the South China Sea)

South China Sea: China says It Will Build Upon Scarborough Shoal — Apparently Breaking a Promise made to President Dutere

March 17, 2017


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The top official in Sansha City that has administered China’s island claims since 2012 was quoted by the official Hainan Daily newspaper as saying that preparations were underway to build an environmental monitoring station on Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal off the northwestern Philippines. File photo

BEIJING – China plans to build the first permanent structure on a South China Sea shoal at the heart of a territorial dispute with the Philippines, in a move likely to renew concerns over Beijing’s robust assertions of its claims in the strategically crucial waterbody.

The top official in Sansha City that has administered China’s island claims since 2012 was quoted by the official Hainan Daily newspaper as saying that preparations were underway to build an environmental monitoring station on Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal off the northwestern Philippines.

The preparatory work on the stations and others on five other islands in the strategically vital waterway was among the government’s top priorities for 2017, Sansha Communist Party Secretary Xiao Jie was quoted as saying in an interview published in the paper’s Monday edition seen online yesterday in Beijing. No other details were available.

Beijing seized tiny, uninhabited Scarborough in 2012 after a tense standoff with Philippine vessels. Taiwan also includes the island within its South China Sea claims that largely overlap with those of China.

The other stations mentioned by Xiao would be situated on features in the Paracel island group that China has controlled since seizing parts of it away from Vietnam in 1974.

China’s construction and land reclamation work in the South China Sea have drawn strong criticism from the US and others, who accuse Beijing of further militarizing the region and altering geography to bolster its claims. China says the seven man-made islands in the disputed Spratly group, which it has equipped with airstrips and military installations, are mainly for civilian purposes and to boost safety for fishing and maritime trade.

Prior to the announcement, South China Sea tensions had eased somewhat since Beijing erupted in fury last year after a Hague-based arbitration tribunal ruled on a case filed by the Philippines. The verdict invalidated China’s sweeping territorial claims and determining that China violated the rights of Filipinos to fish at Scarborough Shoal.

China has since allowed Filipino fishermen to return to the shoal following President Duterte’s calls for closer ties between the countries, but it does not recognize the tribunal’s ruling as valid and insists it has historical claims to almost the entire South China Sea, through which an estimated $5 trillion in global trade passes each year.

Scarborough has no proper land mass and any structure on it would likely have to be built on stilts. The shoal forms a triangle-shaped lagoon of rocks and reefs running for 46 kilometers, with its highest point just 1.8 meters (about 6 feet) above water at high tide. Known in Chinese as Huangyan Island, it lies about 200 kilometers (120 miles) west of the main Philippine island of Luzon, and about 600 kilometers (370 miles) southeast of China.

US diplomats have said privately that reclamation work on the shoal would be seen as crossing a red line because of its proximity to the main Philippine islands and the threat it could pose to US and Filipino military assets.

During his Senate confirmation hearing for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson compared China’s island-building and military deployments to Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and suggested China’s access to the islands should not be allowed. The US says China has reclaimed more than 1,295 hectares (3,200 acres) of land in the area.

The topic is likely to be high on the agenda when Tillerson visits Beijing for talks with top officials on Saturday and Sunday.

Meanwhile, Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang was visiting the Philippines, just days after Duterte said Monday that he had told the military to assert Philippine ownership of a large ocean region off the country’s northeastern coast where Chinese survey ships were spotted last year, in a discovery that alarmed Philippine defense officials.

China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei have long contested ownership of the South China Sea, which straddles one of the world’s busiest sea lanes and is believed to sit atop vast deposits of oil and gas.

Also this week, the commander in chief of China’s navy, Vice Adm. Shen Jinlong, noted improving relations in a meeting with his Vietnamese counterpart, Rear Adm. Pham Hoai Nam, in Beijing.

China and Vietnam have had long-running territorial disputes in the South China Sea. Tensions spiked in 2014 after China parked an oil rig near Vietnam’s central coast, sparking mass protests in Vietnam.

The two navies and their countries should “together play a positive role in maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea,” Shen was quoted as saying by China’s defense ministry.



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On July 12, 2016 a ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague said China’s nine-dash line claim (shown above) was invalid and not recognized in international law.


Philippines tells EU lawmakers to butt out after criticism of drugs war — “They should mind their own business.” — More than 8,000 people have been killed since Duterte took power on June 30

March 17, 2017


March 17, 2017

MANILA (Reuters) – The Philippines derided the European parliament on Friday for interfering in its affairs after it issued a resolution calling for the release of a top critic of the president’s war on drugs, which it said should target narcotics networks instead of users.

EU lawmakers on Thursday adopted a resolution condemning the “many extrajudicial killings” taking place in the Philippines and showing concern for the safety of Senator Leila de Lima, a fierce critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, who is being held on charges of involvement in the drugs trade.

“They should mind their own business,” said Salvador Panelo, chief presidential legal counsel.

“They cannot dictate on the Philippine government on what to do with its constituent facing criminal charges,” he said. “Nor can they can interfere with the judicial processes of our country.”

More than 8,000 people have been killed since Duterte took power on June 30 last year and delivered on his election promise to launch a merciless campaign against crime and drug users.

Police take responsibility for over 2,500 of those deaths during their anti-drugs operations, but reject allegations by local and international human rights groups that police are involved in thousands of mysterious murders of drug users.

The EU parliament’s resolution said it supported fighting drugs, but from the source, not the consumer.

It called on Manila to “prioritize” the fight against trafficking networks and drug barons over tracking down small-scale consumers.

Duterte’s spokesman, Ernesto Abella, singled out the EU for criticism, rather than the parliament, and said it had been “spooked” into making “unwarranted threats” as a result of flawed information.

Duterte’s ally and Senate President Aquilino Pimentel said the EU parliament was trying to “micro manage” the Philippines’ internal affairs.

De Lima, a former justice minister, was last month arrested in her Senate office after being accused of accepting bribes from convicts engaged in the drug trade.

She says the charges are politically motivated and intended to stifle criticism of Duterte, whom she has called a “sociopathic serial killer”.

The foreign ministry also rejected the resolution and said European lawmakers had no right to comment on the judicial system of a sovereign state.

“The Philippine government asks the international community to refrain from influencing the outcome of a case that is rightly under the jurisdiction of Philippine local courts,” it said in a statement.

It said the government was “taking pains to investigate the veracity of these allegations of state-sponsored extrajudicial killings”.

(Reporting by Manuel Mogato; Editing by Martin Petty)


Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (L) talks to Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald Dela Rosa (R) during a press conference at the Malacanang palace in Manila on January 30, 2017. © NOEL CELIS / POOL / AFP

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Philippines: Filipino’s killed by police without a court warrant or hearing in President Duterte’s “war on drugs.”

Amnesty International accused the Filipino police of murdering defenceless people or paying others to kill as part of President Rodrigo Duterte's drug war

Amnesty International accused the Filipino police of murdering defenceless people or paying others to kill as part of President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war ©NOEL CELIS (AFP/File)

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Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa

Philippines: Human Rights Watch director Phelim Kline also said the numbers of fatalities in the drug war launched by President Rodrigo Duterte when he assumed office on June 30, 2016, are “appalling but predictable” since he (Duterte) vowed to “forget the laws on human rights.”

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Philippines Policeman found tortured and strangled after some fellow police said he was involved in the illegal drug trade. Photo Credit Boy Cruz

 (December 23, 2016)

Discarded — The body of a dead Filipino girl looks like it has been put out with the trash…..

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 (Philippine Star, December 1, 2016)

 (Philippine Star, December 1, 2016)

“They are afraid the incident could cause President Duterte to declare martial law. I talked with some sultans and ulamas and elders here… and that’s what they have told me,” Ponyo said.

 (November 30, 2016)


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High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. UN Photo, Jean-Marc Ferré

Summary executions of supposed drug dealers and other criminals have become a common occurence in recent weeks. The STAR/Joven Cagande, file

 (November 16, 2016)


 (August 10, 2016)

Davao City’s Ronald dela Rosa has been appointed to become the next chief of the Philippine National Police to lead President-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s planned crackdown on illegal drugs. Facebook/Dela Rosa

Crime scene investigators examine a vehicle used by two drug suspects killed during an alleged shootout with officers along NIA Road in Quezon City on June 21, 2016. JOVEN CAGANDE/file

President Rodrigo Duterte's crusade against drug users and dealers is controversial


Workers burying cadavers in various stages of decomposition in a mass grave in Manila, after health officials recovered the cadavers from Henry's Funeral Home. Picture: AFP / Noel Celis.

Workers burying cadavers in various stages of decomposition in a mass grave in Manila, after health officials recovered the cadavers from Henry’s Funeral Home. Picture: AFP / Noel Celis.Source:AFP

A worker arranging cadavers in various stages of decomposition at the morgue of Henry's Funeral Homes in Manila. Picture: AFP/ Noel Celis.

A worker arranging cadavers in various stages of decomposition at the morgue of Henry’s Funeral Homes in Manila. Picture: AFP/ Noel Celis.Source:AFP

Health officials closed Henry's Funeral Home after recovering at least 120 unclaimed and rotting cadavers in Manila. The city health department conducted a surprise raid after receiving complaints about a foul odour coming from the funeral parlour. Picture: AFP / Noel Celis.

Health officials closed Henry’s Funeral Home after recovering at least 120 unclaimed and rotting cadavers in Manila. The city health department conducted a surprise raid after receiving complaints about a foul odour coming from the funeral parlour. Picture: AFP / Noel Celis.Source:AFP

Workers carrying cadavers in various stages of decomposition at the morgue of Henry's Funeral Homes in Manila, October 2016. Picture: AFP / Noel Celis.

Workers carrying cadavers in various stages of decomposition at the morgue of Henry’s Funeral Homes in Manila, October 2016. Picture: AFP / Noel Celis.Source:AFP

China to build on Scarborough Shoal in South China Sea — Did the Philippines Get Swindled? —

March 17, 2017


China will begin preparatory work this year for an environmental monitoring station on Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, an official said, as two U.S. senators introduced a bill to impose sanctions on its activities in the disputed waterway.

Last month, a Philippine minister said Chinese President Xi Jinping had promised his Philippine counterpart China would not build structures on the rocky outcrop both countries claim, but China called the comments “baffling and regrettable”.

China seized the shoal, which is northeast of the Spratly islands, in 2012 and denied access to Philippine fishermen. But after President Rodrigo Duterte visited China last year, it allowed them to return to the traditional fishing area.

This week, Xiao Jie, the mayor of what China calls Sansha City, said China planned to begin preparatory work this year to build environmental monitoring stations on a number of islands, including Scarborough Shoal.

Sansha City is the name China has given to an administrative base for the South China Sea islands and reefs it controls.

The monitoring stations, along with docks and other infrastructure, form part of island restoration and erosion prevention efforts planned for 2017, Xiao told the official Hainan Daily in an interview.

A spokesman for the Philippine foreign ministry, Charles Jose, declined to comment, saying it was trying to verify the reports.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrives in Beijing on Saturday for a two-day visit, where the South China Sea, almost all of which is claimed by China, is likely to figure.

Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also claim parts of the waters, which have rich fishing grounds, along with oil and gas deposits. About $5 trillion worth of trade passes through the waterway each year.

The United States has criticized China’s construction of manmade islands and its build-up of military facilities there, expressing concern they could be used to restrict free movement.

This week, U.S. Senators Marco Rubio and Ben Cardin introduced the South China Sea and East China Sea Sanctions Act that would ban visas for Chinese people contributing to building development projects in the South and East China Seas.

It would also put sanctions on foreign financial bodies that “knowingly conduct or facilitate a significant financial transaction for sanctioned individuals and entities” if China steps up activity at Scarborough Shoal, among other actions.

The senators’ proposal was “extremely grating,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Friday.

“I think the proposal put forward by individual senators shows their arrogance and ignorance,” Hua told a daily news briefing in Beijing.

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Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying

China resolutely opposes the proposal, which infringes international law and international relations norms, she added.

Tension over the South China Sea reached a flashpoint after the Philippines filed an arbitration case against China in the Hague and as China started militarizing artificial islands it built up on reefs in the region.

China is also involved in a separate dispute with Japan over a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Christian Shepherd; Additional reporting by Manuel Mogato in MANILA; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)



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On July 12, 2016 a ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague said China’s nine-dash line claim (shown above) was invalid and not recognized in international law.


Philippines — Editorial: Road to impeachment — At some point, an impeachment effort will prosper

March 17, 2017

 (The Philippine Star) |

Impeachment is a numbers game, as everyone knows in this country where a president, chief justice and ombudsman have been impeached.

Right now, President Duterte still has the numbers – 267 members out of 292 – in the House of Representatives, where all impeachment efforts are initiated. And the House super majority, consisting overwhelmingly of balimbings whose chief concern is self-preservation, isn’t about to impeach this President. At least not while he remains immensely popular, as indicated in surveys.

The only sure consequence of the complaint filed yesterday by party-list Rep. Gary Alejano, Sen. Antonio Trillanes’ brethren in the Magdalo, is the inoculation of Du30 for a year from further impeachment efforts.

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez accurately summed up the fate of Alejano’s impeachment complaint: “Everybody is entitled to his own stupidity.”

True enough, though mean – but it’s the mean season in our country.

*      *

At this point the only thing that might alter balimbing support is if lawmakers’ personal or family interests are threatened, or if there is a lobby as persuasive as the one that prompted the House ways and means committee to pass with impressive haste the bill imposing a two-tier excise tax on cigarettes.

No such factors are present in the impeachment complaint against Duterte.

Also, it’s early days yet – no longer a honeymoon period for a new president, but still too early for regime change, especially for someone who obtained a clear mandate in free elections.

Du30 hasn’t even fully repaid yet the political debts he incurred during the elections. Cabinet seats and other government posts await his allies who lost in the polls when the one-year prohibition on their appointment to public office lapses.

Except for the extrajudicial killings linked to Oplan Tokhang and Double Barrel (the original, not the reloaded version), the offenses cited in the impeachment complaint are enhanced versions of the accusations hurled against presidential candidate Duterte during last year’s vicious campaign.

Extrajudicial killings have always been raised against him, but candidate Duterte actually used the EJK issue as a campaign platform. He publicly and unequivocally promised to kill, kill, kill, using the same reasoning that he still invokes to explain the continuing deaths related to his war on illegal drugs.

Candidate Du30 was more incensed about the accusations of corruption, P2 billion in bank transactions and lying about his wealth. This is one of the issues cited in the impeachment complaint. His family members led by partner Cielito “Honeylet” Avanceña have been accused of questionable bank transactions.

Apart from the impeachment complaint, a new issue raised by Du30’s opponents is the Chinese incursion in Benham Rise in the Pacific Ocean, which the President indicated was mentioned if not cleared with him by his Chinese friends.

From the reactions of administration officials, it’s clear that the Chinese “research trip” in the Benham continental shelf, where the Philippines has sovereign rights recognized since 2012 by the United Nations, was not cleared with the defense or foreign affairs departments.

There is grumbling in the military / defense establishment in particular that Benham is shaping up to be the next Panatag or Scarborough Shoal, occupied and never relinquished by the Chinese even after the UN-backed Permanent Arbitration Court declared it a common fishing ground where no country can keep others away.

In Zambales and even Pangasinan, residents are lamenting that Panatag has been their traditional fishing ground for centuries.

Du30 can pass off as an oversight his failure to inform at least his defense chief about any agreement for a Chinese visit in Benham Rise. But he will still have some explaining to do in case inquiries on the Benham incident, planned in both chambers of Congress, push through.

*      *      *

Although Du30 enjoys a firm hold on the House, it would be prudent for him to consider how quickly political winds can change direction in this country.

He cannot afford to disregard the turbulence that has buffeted his administration so early in his term.

His daughter’s kumpareng sarado Joseph Estrada, now the godfather of Du30’s newest grandson Stonefish, can personally attest that reversal of political fortunes in this country can be brutally swift.

It’s useful to remember that Erap also won the presidency by a landslide, despite everything including the kitchen sink hurled at him during the bruising 1998 campaign.

There were stories, mostly accurate, about Erap’s extended family and his predilection for pricey Petrus wine, women, late-night carousing and high-stakes gambling. He was linked to the still unsolved disappearance of a PAGCOR employee who reportedly leaked a video showing Erap playing in a VIP casino pit accompanied by the redoubtable (up to now) gambling aficionado Atong Ang.

And yet Erap won, and enjoyed high ratings in the surveys for at least a year and a half. Pinoys, however, can only tolerate so much. Scandal after scandal chipped away at the popularity of the former movie superstar. In the end, Erap failed to serve even half of his term.

Dirty Rody seems to have keener survival instincts than “Erap para sa mahirap.” But if the ongoing turbulence, now including active destabilization (according to Du30 and some of his officials), doesn’t kick him out of office, it can make governance of this ungovernable land even more complicated.

Public service then suffers; business confidence is shaken and jobs and the economy are affected. Already, the employment picture this year isn’t encouraging.

Any sign of weakening public support for the President and his notoriously fickle super majority will smell blood.

That’s the time an impeachment effort will prosper.