Posts Tagged ‘Permanent Court of Arbitration’

South China Sea: Defense Secretary’s visit in islands “just routine” for the Philippines — But China was “gravely concerned about and dissatisfied” with the trip

April 23, 2017
Pag-asa Island, part of Palawan province, in the disputed West Philippine Sea is controlled by the Philippines despite Chinese claims of sovereignty over it. STAR/File photo
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MANILA, Philippines — The visit of security officials to Pag-asa Island was routine and was in line with international law, Malacañang said Sunday after China expressed alarm over their trip to the island in the disputed Spratly chain.

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Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and top military officials visited Pag-asa Island in Palawan province on Friday to inspect the facilities in the area, which is inhabited by about 200 people.
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The visit was meant to enable officials to assess what improvements can be done in the island, the second largest in the Spratlys.
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The government has earmarked around P1.6 billion to develop Pag-asa and is planning to build a beaching ramp, fish port, radio station, ice plant, water desalination facility, sewage facility and houses for soldiers.
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The visit did not sit well with China, which claims historical rights over almost 90 percent of areas in the South China Sea, including Pag-asa.
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Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said China was “gravely concerned about and dissatisfied” with the trip, which he claimed went against the consensus reached by Manila and Beijing “to properly deal with the South China Sea issue.”
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Image result for Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang, photos
Lu Kang — File Photo
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Lu also urged the Philippines to “faithfully follow the consensus” between the two countries, “maintain general peace and stability in the South China Sea” and “promote the sound and steady development of China-Philippine relations.”
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Routine patrol

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Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said Lorenzana’s visit to Pag-asa was just part of a “routine” patrol in the South China Sea, which the Philippines calls the West Philippine Sea.
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“The Philippines has long been undertaking customary and routine maritime patrol and overflight in the West Philippine Sea which are lawful activities under international law. Such flights will likewise enable us to reach our municipality,” Abella said in a statement.
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Abella said the visit was also in line with the government’s aim to improve the quality of life of Filipinos in the island.
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“The visit of the Department of National Defense and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to Pag-asa Island is part of the efforts to improve the safety, welfare, livelihood of Filipinos residing and living in the municipality of Kalayaan which is part of the province of Palawan,” the presidential spokesman said.
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China has used a similar argument to justify reclamation activities in the South China Sea.
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China challenges PAF planes

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While on its way to Pag-asa, the military plane carrying Lorenzana and military officials were warned by Chinese forces to leave the area but the pilot insisted that they were in Philippine airspace.
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Lorenzana has downplayed the incident, saying Philippine air assets conducting resupply operations usually receive warnings from Chinese forces.
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During President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit to China last October, Manila and Beijing agreed to hold dialogues on the South China Sea dispute, a move that Chinese officials claimed signaled the “full recovery” of the friendship between the two countries.
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The Duterte administration’s decision to hold dialogues with China on the dispute is a departure from the policy of former President Benigno Aquino III, who preferred that the issue be tackled through multilateral channels.
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In 2013, the Philippines challenged the legality of China’s expansive claim in the South China Sea before an international arbitral tribunal in Hague.
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The court decided in favor of the Philippines last year, ruling that China’s maritime claim has no legal basis.
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China has refused to recognize the ruling, dismissing it as a “mere piece of paper” that would not affect its territorial rights.
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Duterte has said he is ready to set aside the arbitral ruling to enhance the Philippines’ ties with China. He stressed, though, that he would not bargain away the Philippines’ maritime claims and that there would be a time when he would bring up the arbitral ruling before the Chinese government.
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Related:
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 (The problem of Islamic rebels in the Philippines — Real or Not?)
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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.

Despite all this:

Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana Visit To South China Sea “Alarms” China — Beijing lodges protest

April 22, 2017
China has expressed alarm over the visit of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Armed Forces chief Gen. Eduardo Año to Pag-Asa Island last Friday, saying it ran counter to an “important consensus” reached between the leaders of the two countries. FMPRC/Released
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MANILA, Philippines – China has expressed alarm over the visit of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Armed Forces chief Gen. Eduardo Año to Pag-Asa Island last Friday, saying it ran counter to an “important consensus” reached between the leaders of the two countries.

“Gravely concerned about and dissatisfied with this, China has lodged representations with the Philippine side,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said in a press briefing before the weekend.

Lu said China’s President Xi Jinping and President Duterte had reached a consensus “to properly deal with the South China Sea issue.”

“We hope that the Philippine side could cherish the hard-won sound momentum of development the bilateral relations are experiencing, faithfully follow the consensus reached between the two leaderships, maintain general peace and stability in the South China Sea, and promote the sound and steady development of China-Philippine relations,” he added.

But Lu said they are still verifying the facts regarding the visit, and that Manila and Beijing have been in constant communication on how to manage maritime issues since Duterte’s visit to China last year.

“We hope that this momentum can continue. We hope that the Philippines can work with China to jointly maintain regional peace and stability as well as the sound momentum of moving bilateral relations forward,” said the Chinese official.

On Friday, Lorenzana and Año – along with other military officials and several members of the media – flew to Pag-Asa Island in the disputed Spratlys.

They attended a flag ceremony with the defense chief assuring government troops that the Duterte administration is looking after their welfare amid the tension over the conflicting territorial claims in the region. He also revealed the allocation of P1.6 billion for the development of the island community.

En route to Pag-Asa, the plane carrying Lorenzana and Año received a warning from Chinese forces to leave the area.

The pilot of the C-130 transport plane carrying the officials responded that they were in Philippine airspace.

Lorenzana downplayed the incident, saying Philippine aircraft in resupply operations normally receive warnings from Chinese forces.

But in a separate statement, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said the administration is taking the challenge seriously.

“A challenge is not something that is really positive. But a challenge could just be to identify yourself but it could also mean that you’re challenging because you think that’s your territory,” he was quoted as saying.

Part of mandate

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), for its part, defended the Philippine officials’ visit to Pag-Asa, saying it was part of government’s mandate to ensure the welfare of citizens in the island community.

DFA spokesman Robespierre Bolivar also confirmed that Beijing has already lodged a protest against the visit.

“The Chinese have conveyed their sentiments. We have already stated our position that Pag-Asa, and the larger Kalayaan Group, is a municipality of Palawan and that our visits there are part of the government mandate to ensure the safety, well-being livelihood and personal security of our citizens there,” Bolivar said in a text message to The STAR.

Meanwhile, Año said the Chinese forces deployed near Pag-Asa were just doing their job when they challenged a military aircraft flying top defense and military officials to the island.

“They were just doing their job. If they will not, they will be answerable to their superiors,” Año said.

The Chinese forces told the pilots of the C-130 plane that they were straying into China’s airspace and that they should leave at once to avoid miscalculations.

Filipino aviators and sailors also described last Friday’s incident as routine as Chinese forces would normally communicate with any aircraft or vessels not their own, while flying or sailing over or near their occupied controlled areas in the disputed region.

Of the six claimant countries in the West Philippine Sea, only the Philippines has strictly observed a moratorium on development activities on land features in disputed waters. Brunei has no military presence in the areas it claims as its own. Aside from the Philippines, China and Brunei, the other countries with claims in the South China Sea are Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.

China has already built artificial island fortresses over reefs and shoals in disputed waters.

While Beijing has kept on assuring concerned neighbors that its infrastructure development on land features in the area is for civilian purposes, it has remained mum on reports that many of them have sophisticated weapons system.

Vietnam, for its part, has been pursuing infrastructure development on all its 23 occupied outposts.

The Taiwanese, who control Itu Aba, the biggest island in the region, have also been continuously conducting developments in areas they occupy.

Developments on Itu Aba include expansion of an airfield as well as installation of water, power and communication facilities. The Taiwanese government has also set up heavy armaments in the island.

For its part, Malaysia has put up a diving resort, with hotel and swimming pool, on its Layang-Layang outposts. It has also expanded its presence in the region by occupying two more reefs nearby. – With Jaime Laude

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/04/23/1692913/dnd-chiefs-island-visit-alarms-china

Related:

Background:

 (From 2014)

 (From 2013)

Image result for China’s Major General Zhang Zhaozhong, photos

China’s Major General Zhang Zhaozhong talked at length in 2013 about the “Cabbage Strategy,” also called “salami slicing.” Lately it has been called “Talk and Take.” Technically, it is extralegal appropriation of land, rights, minerals and resources. The South China Sea has been taken by China from the Philippines and other claimants. But there will apparently be a “Code of Conduct” after the taking is over…

Related:

 (The problem of Islamic rebels in the Philippines — Real or Not?)
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No automatic alt text available.

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.

Despite all this:

In this July 14, 2016, file photo, Marcopolo Tam, a member of a pro-China business group in Hong Kong, points to what is now known as the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea on a Japanese World War II-era map purporting to support China’s claims to vast parts of the South China Sea, in Hong Kong. AP/Kin Cheung, File

Philippines- China South China Row — Talk of establishing a ‘no-take zone’ — Apparently to Counter China’s ‘Talk and Take’ Strategy — What happened to international law?

April 22, 2017
/ 04:45 AM April 22, 2017

Chinese structures and an airstrip on the man-made Subi Reef at the Spratly archipelago in the South China Sea are seen from a Philippine Air Force C-130 transport plane on Friday. —AP

Chinese structures and an airstrip on the man-made Subi Reef at the Spratly archipelago in the South China Sea are seen from a Philippine Air Force C-130 transport plane on Friday. —AP

On the heels of its victory in the arbitration case against China, the Philippines must lead the other claimant states in exploring ways to reinforce the ruling by “improving both the national and regional fisheries management agenda” in Southeast Asia, an expert said.

This agenda can include establishing transboundary marine parks, areas of joint protection, or “no-take zones,” a setup that can work in the 100 or so small islands and reefs in the hotly contested Spratly islands, said

Ma. Carmel Ablan Lagman of De La Salle University’s Center for Natural Resource and Environment Research.

The study is part of a series of special papers commissioned by think tank Stratbase ADRi.

“Doing this will preserve the living resources they harbor, hopefully so they will replenish adjacent habitats,” she said.

Based on ecological considerations, such as the duration of pelagic larvae, surface circulation patterns, and seasonability of adults and larvae, the Spratlys are among the few remaining healthy, resource-rich areas and habitats in the West Philippine Sea and can thus benefit from multistate intervention.

“There are other reef areas within the region which may serve as refuge, sources or sinks of juveniles and larvae,” Lagman said.

Other strategies that the Philippines can consider include taking advantage of other international ocean policy instruments that can encourage regional cooperation in the region and developing regional-level policies targeted toward small-scale fisheries.

“Small-scale fisheries are seen as a solution, rather than a contributor, to the problem of overfishing. Similar efforts might be due among countries in the West Philippine Sea,” Lagman said.

Dindo Manhit, president of Stratbase ADRi,  said  the Philippines’ unique achievement in bringing China to task in the South China Sea placed the government in a position to take a more active role in advancing its own fisheries management policy.

“But more crucially, this national policy should be connected to a broader regional platform that respects mutual interests and aims for sustainability,” Manhit said.

Manhit said  Stratbase ADRi will host a forum on April 25 at the Tower Club with international relations experts to discuss the latest developments in South China Sea, the Benham Rise and the role of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in achieving stability in the region.

Read more: http://globalnation.inquirer.net/155193/establish-no-take-zone-spratlys-govt-urged#ixzz4eyarSkxN
Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

Background:

 (From 2014)

Image result for China’s Major General Zhang Zhaozhong, photos

China’s Major General Zhang Zhaozhong talked at length in 2013 about the “Cabbage Strategy,” also called “salami slicing.” Lately it has been called “Talk and Take.” Technically, it is extralegal appropriation of land, rights, minerals and resources. The South China Sea has been taken by China from the Philippines and other claimants. But there will apparently be a “Code of Conduct” after the taking is over…

Related:

 (The problem of Islamic rebels in the Philippines — Real or Not?)
.
.

No automatic alt text available.

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.

Despite all this:

In this July 14, 2016, file photo, Marcopolo Tam, a member of a pro-China business group in Hong Kong, points to what is now known as the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea on a Japanese World War II-era map purporting to support China’s claims to vast parts of the South China Sea, in Hong Kong. AP/Kin Cheung, File

China alarmed, angered by Philippine government, military visit to Pag-asa Island — “We are gravely concerned about and dissatisfied with this.” — South China Sea Being Run By China Upon Oral Agreement With Philippine President Duterte

April 22, 2017
Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (3L) gestures as he and military chief Eduardo Ano (R) inspect the runway of the airport during a visit to Thitu island in The Spratlys on April 21, 2017. Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana flew to a disputed South China Sea island on April 21, brushing off a challenge by the Chinese military while asserting Manila’s territorial claim to the strategic region. AFP/Ted Aljibe

BEIJING (Philippines News Agency) – China has lodged representations with the Philippine side following a visit by the Filipino defense and military officials in Pag-asa Island, according to the spokesman of the Chinese foreign ministry.

”Gravely concerned about and dissatisfied with this, China has lodged representations with the Philippine side,” Lu Kang said in a press statement posted on China’s Foreign Ministry Affairs website.

Image may contain: 1 person

 Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang. File photo. Peace and Freedom screengrab

Last Friday, Philippines Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Armed Forces Chief Gen. Eduardo Año, along with other military officials, visited Pag-asa Island, a Philippine-occupied territory that is part of the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea or West Philippine Sea.

Lu said the move of the Philippines defense and military officials has negated the important consensus reached between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

”This move runs counter to the important consensus reached between the two leadership, which is to properly deal with the South China Sea issue,” Lu said.

Lu said China is hoping that the Philippine government would continue to cherish a five-decade China-Philippines bilateral relations which rejuvenated under the leadership of Duterte.

FILE — In this Dec. 24, 2015, photo, provided by Filipino fisherman Renato Etac, a Chinese Coast Guard boat approaches Filipino fishermen near Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea. Scarborough Shoal has always been part of the Philippines, by international law. The Chinese say they are enforcing fishing rules in the South China Sea now. Renato Etac

”We hope that the Philippine side could faithfully follow the consensus reached between the two leadership, maintain general peace and stability in the South China Sea, and promote the sound and steady development of China-Philippine relations,” he said.

Since Duterte’s visit in China last year, Lu said China and the Philippines have been keeping good communication to properly manage and resolve the maritime disputes in the South China Sea.

”We hope that this momentum can continue,” the Chinese foreign ministry official said.

In media reports, Lorenza described the trip to Pag-asa Island as a “normal visit within our territory”.

”We believe and we know that this is our territory and I am just visiting to look at the conditions of our people here,” the top Filipino defense official said.

Image result for chinese coast guard ships, photos

Above: While Lorenzana visited Pag-asa Island he personally witnessed the presence from a distance of four to five Chinese Coast Guard ships

Pag-asa Island was occupied by the Philippines in the late 1960s and is categorized as a fifth-class municipality of Palawan province.

Lorenza has revealed a plan to set aside at least P1.6 billion to develop Pag-asa Island and a proposal by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to build a fish port in the area.

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/04/22/1692807/china-alarmed-philippine-military-execs-visit-pag-asa-island

Related:

 (The problem of Islamic rebels in the Philippines — Real or Not?)
.
.

No automatic alt text available.

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.

Despite all this:

In this July 14, 2016, file photo, Marcopolo Tam, a member of a pro-China business group in Hong Kong, points to what is now known as the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea on a Japanese World War II-era map purporting to support China’s claims to vast parts of the South China Sea, in Hong Kong. AP/Kin Cheung, File

South China Sea: Philippines acting like a colony or a lackey of China

April 21, 2017

Peace and Freedom Commentary

Philippine media reports today detail the level of control China has on the South China Sea.

The Philippine Defense Secretary could not fly in sovereign air space over sovereign sea toward a sovereign Philippine island without first answering a challenge from the Chinese military.

Filipino fishermen are required to follow the instructions of Chinese fishing supervisors. The Philippine Star reported on April 22, 2017 that Chinese fired warning shots near Filipino fishermen at Union Bank recently. The Filipino fishermen scurried away to save their own skins — without any fish.

From Pag-asa island, a possession of the Philippines, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana observed four to five Chinese Coast Guard ships.

No automatic alt text available.

The Filipinos most knowledgeable of the situation at Pag-asa refer to one side of the island as “the dangerous side” or the “Chinese side.”

Sounds like the well know Chinese plan of salami slicing — that is, incrementally taking liberties including encroaching on sovereign territory and rights until Chinese full ownership is fait accompli — has worked wonders in the Philippines. The Chinese method of “talk and take” has worked marvelously. If Filipinos can’t fish in their own sovereign sea, what hope has the Philippines of “sharing” with China any oil and gas from beneath the sea?

Philippine news reports seem to be telling us that a large swath of the South China Sea is already turning into a Chinese lake.

And the Philippines seems to be turning into a Chinese colony or vacation destination or lackey — without any true rights or sovereignty of its own.

My family has loved the Philippines for decades. But now that rule of law is no longer honored and enforced, we’ll retreat to safer ground. Or learn to speak Chinese.

Image result for Vietnamese fishing boat Dna 90152 sinking May 2014 after being rammed intentionally by a Chinese Coast Guard vessel

Related:

 (The problem of Islamic rebels in the Philippines — Real or Not?)
.
.

No automatic alt text available.

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.

Despite all this:

In this July 14, 2016, file photo, Marcopolo Tam, a member of a pro-China business group in Hong Kong, points to what is now known as the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea on a Japanese World War II-era map purporting to support China’s claims to vast parts of the South China Sea, in Hong Kong. AP/Kin Cheung, File

Chinese challenge Philippines defense chief’s plane (If another sovereign power can question why you are in your own sovereign air or sea space your own sovereign power is worthless)

April 21, 2017
Chinese structures and an airstrip on Zamora or Subi Reef in the Spratly islands in the South China Sea are seen from a Philippine Air Force C-130 transport plane yesterday. AP

MANILA, Philippines – A military aircraft flying Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Armed Forces chief Gen. Eduardo Año over the West Philippine Sea received a warning yesterday from Chinese forces to leave the airspace.

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) C-130 transport aircraft was circling over Zamora or Subi Reef for its final approach to the unpaved Rancudo airfield on Pag-Asa Island in the Spratlys when it received a radio warning from the Chinese to stay away from the area.

The PAF pilot responded that the aircraft was flying in Philippine airspace.

Lorenzana downplayed the incident. “It’s already normal because each time our planes conduct resupply operations here they are challenged (by the Chinese),” he said.

“We replied that we are flying over Philippine territory,” Lorenzana later told reporters.

AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said the Chinese told the Filipino pilots to stay away from Subi to avoid a miscalculation.

“As before, (the pilots) were once again challenged as they made their pattern of landing,” Padilla said.

From being merely a “seabed” in “international waters” under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Subi Reef has metamorphosed into a bustling artificial island, with massive structures, a 3,000-meter runway, two ports, gun emplacements, and radar domes.

There were reports the Chinese have installed a missile defense system on the reef. Based on UNCLOS, there can be no territorial waters for features built on the seabed. Subi Reef is about 40 nautical miles from Pag-asa Island.

With Lorenzana and Año on the plane were Army commanding general Lt. Gen. Glorioso Miranda, Western Command (Wescom) commander Lt. Gen. Raul del Rosario, and other AFP officials and members of the media. The aircraft touched down at around 8 a.m. The DND chief attended a flag ceremony along with 45 military officials and personnel stationed on the island.

FILE — In this Dec. 24, 2015, photo, provided by Filipino fisherman Renato Etac, a Chinese Coast Guard boat approaches Filipino fishermen near Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea. Scarborough Shoal has always been part of the Philippines, by international law. Renato Etac

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The group, with Palawan Gov. Jose Alvarez and representatives of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), toured the island.

On the West side of Pag-asa facing the West Philippine Sea, Lorenzana personally witnessed the presence from a distance of four to five Chinese Coast Guard ships.

Image result for chinese coast guard ships, photos

Above: Lorenzana personally witnessed the presence from a distance of four to five Chinese Coast Guard ships

In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said it welcomed efforts of the Department of National Defense and the AFP to secure Pag-asa Island.

“We defer to the DND and the Armed Forces on how best to fulfill their Constitutional mandates with respect to improving the safety, welfare, livelihood and personal security of Filipinos in the Palawan municipality of Kalayaan,” the DFA said.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana touring Pag-asa Island near the reef. The visit yesterday was aimed to assert the country’s claim to the heartland of a disputed area where China is believed to have added missiles on man-made islands. A UN court has invalidated China’s territorial claim in the South China Sea. The dispute is expected to be discussed at the 20th Asean summit next week.
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‘Unsafe side’

Soldiers assigned on Pag-asa island told The STAR they call the Eastern side of the island the Philippine side and the Western part the “unsafe side” as they wouldn’t want to call it the Chinese side.

In remarks, Lorenzana assured government troops the administration of President Duterte and the AFP are looking after their welfare despite the Chinese menace.

The Chinese, he explained, “believe that this is theirs, they protest to say that they do not want what we are doing here.”

The Philippines maintains that the island group including Pag-asa is part of its territory, which Filipinos occupied as early as the late 1960s, and on which a runway was built in 1975.

“I don’t think I should give them any message. This is just a normal visit within our territory, we believe and we know that this is our territory and I am just visiting to look at the conditions of our people here,” Lorenzana said.

Reacting to China’s challenging the PAF’s flight over Subi, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said the administration takes seriously the Chinese action.

“We mind and we respond appropriately. We have our challenges and answers where protocols to be made if it is bad enough that that could be the basis for some note verbales,” Esperon said after President Duterte’s visit to Russian ship Varyag yesterday.

“A challenge is not something that is really positive. But a challenge could be just to identify yourself but it could also mean that you’re challenging because you think that’s your territory,” he added.

Asked if Duterte would go to Pag-asa island in the future, Esperon said: “In the future? Let me answer you that in the future.”

Pressed if the President would spend a night in the island, the national security adviser replied: “Why not? But not now.”

Meanwhile, Loranzana also revealed the administration has set aside at least P1.6 billion to develop Pag-asa.

He said the building of a beaching ramp would be prioritized and hopefully done by July this year so that construction materials like gravel and cement as well as heavy equipment could be brought to the island by sea.

He told reporters in a press briefing that BFAR also intends to build a fish port in the area.

The government also wants to put up a radio station, an ice plant, water desalination facility, homes for soldiers stationed in the island, and put up a sewage system.

“We will develop this into a tourism area and marine research (facility),” Lorenzana said.

“These are our plans, the plans of the President and he said do it now and do not delay. That’s why we are here now,” he stressed.

“We’ve been here since 1971, and our flag has been planted way back in the 1970s. We were here first, the others just followed,” he said of the country’s claim on the Kalayaan Islands.

Lorenzana said the development of Pag-asa has long been delayed because of the arbitration case filed by the Philippines that resulted in a moratorium on the implementation of projects.

The DND chief said President Duterte’s treatment of China shows that he is just trying to develop friends around the neighborhood.

“China is the most powerful country in our neighborhood, economically and militarily, and we are trying to manage the issue and talk to them one-on-one bilaterally, settle this dispute in the South China Sea,” he said.

“I believe that the President is right in talking to the Chinese leadership on how to manage the issue here in South China Sea,” he added.

The second biggest island next only to the Taiwanese-occupied Itu Aba, Pag-asa is a fifth class municipality in Palawan exercising overall jurisdiction over the country’s regime of islands in the disputed Spratlys region.

Lorenzana’s trip to Pag-asa came only a day after reports came out about Chinese coast guards firing warning shots to drive a group of Bataan-based Filipino fishermen from Union Bank. The incident, which reportedly happened on March 27, involved Chinese coast guards securing the reclaimed Gaven Reef.

Philippine Coast Guard spokesperson Commander Armand Balilo confirmed receiving information about the Chinese harassment of Filipino fishermen around Union Bank.

He said a Chinese coast guard speedboat with guns and carrying seven personnel fired shots at the fishing boat Princess Johann, which is owned and operated by Dionisio Cabacungan.

The Chinese reportedly fired warning shots when the Filipino boat dropped anchor some two nautical miles from Union Bank. The crew panicked, cut off their anchor line and fled the area.

Balilo said they were not able to interview the fishermen as they had already returned to the sea. “We were only able to communicate with them via radio. But according to the boat captain, the Chinese Coast Guard did not directly fire shots at them,” he said.

Vietnamese and Chinese forces have already occupied most of the maritime features within the Union Bank, a wide body of submerged features right within the country’s 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone.

Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei also have overlapping maritime claims in the region. Only Brunei has no military presence in the areas it claims.  – With Evelyn Macairan, Helen Flores, Alexis Romero

Related:

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/04/22/1692733/chinese-challenge-philippines-defense-chiefs-plane

Preace and Freedom OPINION: By disregarding human rights law and international norms, and by ignoring international law entirely in the South China Sea, the Philippines has demonstrated itself to be a lawness land — and is starting to reap what it has sown which will be its own horrific reward — a situation likely to continue until rule of law is restored — if it can be.

Related:

 (The problem of Islamic rebels in the Philippines — Real or Not?)
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.

No automatic alt text available.

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.

Despite all this:

In this July 14, 2016, file photo, Marcopolo Tam, a member of a pro-China business group in Hong Kong, points to what is now known as the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea on a Japanese World War II-era map purporting to support China’s claims to vast parts of the South China Sea, in Hong Kong. AP/Kin Cheung, File

South China Sea: Philippines To Avoid Discussion of International Law, Hague Court Arbitration Ruling With China

April 20, 2017
In this July 14, 2016, file photo, Marcopolo Tam, a member of a pro-China business group in Hong Kong, points to what is now known as the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea on a Japanese World War II-era map purporting to support China’s claims to vast parts of the South China Sea, in Hong Kong. AP/Kin Cheung, File

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines will not raise the ruling of a United Nations-backed tribunal on the South China Sea in its bilateral talks with China, acting Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo said Wednesday.

The Philippines’ top diplomat clarified that President Rodrigo Duterte is not setting aside the award issued by the Permanent Court of Arbitration based in the Hague, Netherlands.

“China has disassociated itself from the arbitral ruling and the president has been quite clear that he will not be raising the arbitral ruling. He’s not setting it aside but he won’t be raising it until an appropriate time during his administration,” Manalo said in an interview with CNN Philippines’ The Source.

This does not mean that the Philippines will not be discussing issues of concern in its upcoming dialogue with China, Manalo said.

On July 2016, the arbitral tribunal ruled that Beijing’s historic nine-dash line claim over the disputed South China Sea does not have legal basis.

The arbitral tribunal also concluded that China violated its commitment under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea by building artificial islands within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

READ: How the Hague court ruled on the Philippines’s 15 arguments

Manalo, however, noted that the ruling of the arbitral tribunal is already part of international law.

“The issue now is how to address the problems which, for example, the arbitral ruling sought to address. But you see the arbitral ruling did not discuss, did not pronounce on the disputes and they did not pronounce on some other issues,” the secretary said.

The upcoming bilateral talks between the Philippines and China next month might even cover issues outside of the arbitral award.

“I would even say that the talks would be much broader than the coverage of the arbitral ruling,” Manalo said.

“We have many things to look forward to in this mechanism and the most important thing is that it could hopefully develop more trust and confidence when we dialogue with China and that could create the atmosphere to try and achieve some possible breakthroughs,” the Foreign Affairs secretary added.

The exact details of the bilateral talks are yet to be finalized. Manalo confirmed that the first session of the dialogue will be held in May in China.

China earlier invited officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs to start discussions on a bilateral consultation mechanism on the South China Sea.

Manalo said that this mechanism is an important step forward as it will focus on issues in the South China Sea or West Philippine Sea.

“That’s not the only mechanism we have with China since President Duterte took over. We have also reestablished our ongoing political consultation mechanism which really looks at our entire relationship with China but naturally we have to discuss issues of concern there,” Manalo said.

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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.

South China Sea: G7 Supports Adherence To International Law, Hague Court Ruling

April 19, 2017
Foreign ministers of the Group of Seven (G7) industrialized nations have issued a joint communiqué calling for the implementation of a ruling by a UN-backed arbitral court invalidating China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea. File

MANILA, Philippines –  Foreign ministers of the Group of Seven (G7) industrialized nations have issued a joint communiqué calling for the implementation of a ruling by a UN-backed arbitral court invalidating China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea.

In the communiqué, the G7 ministers also reiterated their strong opposition to the building of new military outposts in disputed waters as well as the use of threat or force in settling maritime disputes.

Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States comprise the G7.

“We consider the July 12, 2016 award rendered by the Arbitral Tribunal under the UNCLOS as a useful basis for further efforts to peacefully resolve disputes in the South China Sea,” the G7 joint communiqué read, referring to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The ruling, issued by the Permanent Court of Arbitration based in The Hague, also reaffirmed the Philippines’ entitlements in the West Philippine Sea. Beijing has refused to honor the ruling.

In the communiqué, the G7 ministers reiterated their commitment to maintaining a rules-based maritime order based firmly on international law, specifically UNCLOS.

They stressed settlement of disputes should be through legal means and supported by confidence building measures.

The ministers have also expressed concern over the situation in the East and South China Seas.

“We reiterate our strong opposition to any unilateral actions which increase tensions, such as the threat or use of force, large scale land reclamation, building of outposts, as well as their use for military purposes and urge all parties to pursue demilitarization of disputed features and to comply with their obligations under international law,” they said,

They maintained their commitment to freedom of navigation, over-flight and other internationally lawful uses of the seas.

In the communiqué, the G7 ministers also encouraged dialogues based on international law in pursuit of an effective Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea.

“We call for the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea in its entirety,” they said. Beijing insists it has indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea.

Upbeat on COC

Meanwhile, foreign affairs acting spokesman Robespierre Bolivar said Manila is hopeful that a framework of the COC for the South China Sea dispute would be completed during its chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) this year.

Bolivar said the Philippines is upbeat about the prospects of a framework as there has been an “increasing level of trust and confidence” among ASEAN member-countries and China.

“We are more hopeful now than we were maybe a year or two years ago that we would have significant progress and there’s a commitment from ASEAN and China to complete the framework, in fact, by middle of this year,” Bolivar said in a press briefing yesterday at Malacañang.

“We hope that ASEAN and China will make more significant progress. There has been increasing level of trust and confidence among the parties. And we are very hopeful that we will complete the framework by 2017,” he added. –  With Alexis Romero

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/04/20/1692064/g7-urges-compliance-un-ruling-sea-row

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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: Chinese Coast Guard stationed in Scarborough to administer fishing activities (Chinese strategy is “Talk and Take”)

April 11, 2017

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FILE — In this Dec. 24, 2015, photo, provided by Filipino fisherman Renato Etac, a Chinese Coast Guard boat approaches Filipino fishermen near Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea. Renato Etac

via AP

MANILA, Philippines — The Chinese Foreign Ministry confirmed that the country’s Coast Guard vessels are stationed in waters near Scarborough Shoal to administer fishing activities.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said that the Philippines and China made arrangements for fishing activities in the area.

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 Hua Chunying, China’s foreign ministry — more reliable than Malacañang

“Last year, based on the friendliness between China and the Philippines, China made proper arrangement for fishing activities by Philippine fishermen in the relevant part of waters near Huangyan Dao,” Hua said in a press briefing Monday.

Reuters earlier reported that a small Philippine fishing crew is being allowed to fish in the area by the Chinese Coast Guard.

Chinese Coast Guard vessels are also present in the area to preserve peace, tranquility and order, the spokesperson said.

Asked about the statement of President Rodrigo Duterte that he would not place weapons on Philippines-controlled islets in the South China Sea, Hua stressed that China’s position on the issue has been clear and consistent.

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President Rodrigo Duterte shakes hands with Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua. Photo by EPA

“We are firm in upholding our territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea,” Hua said.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry reiterated that Beijing is committed to settling disputes peacefully through negotiation and consultations with countries directly involved, including the Philippines.

China is also committed to working with ASEAN countries to preserve peace and stability in the region, Hua said.

“China has maintained close and effective communication with the Philippines on relevant issues. We hope that the Philippines can work with us to continue to properly handle differences and create favorable atmosphere for the sound and steady growth of bilateral relations,” the spokesperson said.

Duterte earlier ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to occupy the country’s controlled islets and land features in the South China Sea.

The president, however, clarified that there are no new weapons being eyed for the islets as the Philippine military seeks to exercise greater control.

“We are just there to claim the island for us because that is really ours and I have ordered the AFP to build structures there to signify, atin ito,” Duterte said before departing for Saudi Arabia.

RELATED: AFP: Philippines to upgrade island facilities, not launch land grab

The president made the order for the military to occupy South China Sea following reports that China is nearly finished with its construction of military facilities on three islands in the Spratly Group.

http://www.france24.com/en/20170411-lebanon-army-order-evicts-3000-syria-refugees-camps

Related:

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A Vietnamese fishing boat was reportedly ambushed and looted by a China Coast Guard vessel off Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago. Here the fisher make a reort to Vietnamese police, March 2016.

See article:

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  (November 24, 2015)

 (December 28, 2015)

 (Also called “Talk and Take”)

Chinese J-11 Fighters Deployed To Woody Island In South China Sea

China posted pictures of an armed J-11 Flanker fighter

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 (Philippine Star)

Image may contain: ocean, outdoor, water and nature

 

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 — From March 25, 2017 with links to other related articles

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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.

FILE – In this undated file photo released by Xinhua News Agency, a Chinese H-6K bomber patrols the islands and reefs in the South China Sea. The Philippines’ top diplomat says China remains opposed to a legally-binding code of conduct in the disputed South China Sea even as negotiations have progressed on other elements of such a code. Acting Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo said Tuesday, April 4, 2017, talks between China and Southeast Asian countries on the code’s framework have made headway but have not yet touched on whether the code will be legally-binding – as the Philippines and its neighbors want. Liu Rui/Xinhua via AP, File

China: Our South China Sea stations “They have been there since always.”

April 10, 2017
FILE – In this undated file photo released by Xinhua News Agency, a Chinese H-6K bomber patrols the islands and reefs in the South China Sea. The Philippines’ top diplomat says China remains opposed to a legally-binding code of conduct in the disputed South China Sea even as negotiations have progressed on other elements of such a code. Acting Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo said Tuesday, April 4, 2017, talks between China and Southeast Asian countries on the code’s framework have made headway but have not yet touched on whether the code will be legally-binding – as the Philippines and its neighbors want. Liu Rui/Xinhua via AP, File

MANILA, Philippines — Beijing reiterated that its construction activities on several islands in the disputed South China Sea are for the benefit of its people stationed there.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry, however, stressed that China has never used the term “artificial islands” where they have stationed people.

“Relevant islands where we station our personnel are not created by magic tricks. They have been there since always,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said in a press briefing last Friday.

Hua added that the construction on islands in the South China Sea is to improve the working and living conditions of people stationed in the region.

The statement was made in response to a report that the Chinese Defense Ministry spokesperson said that there is no such issue of artificial islands amid Beijing’s construction and deployment of radars on islands and reefs in the disputed waters.

“The Chinese side has repeatedly expressed its position on construction in the South China Sea. Necessary construction by the Chinese side on some of its islands is to improve the working and living conditions of people stationed there, and better its public services for international vessels passing by,” Hua said.

Hua added that the deployment of defense facilities in the region is part of China’s safeguarding of its own territory.

President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines to occupy the country’s claimed islands in the South China Sea following reports that Beijing’s facilities in the disputed region are early finished. The AFP has since clarified that it will focus on improving the living conditions of troops in established outposts.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry had expressed concern over Duterte’s order to occupy Manila-claimed islets in the South China Sea.

“Having noted the report, the Chinese side is concerned about it. We hope the Philippine side will continue to properly manage maritime disputes with China and work with us to maintain the sound and steady growth of China-Philippines relations,” Hua said.

The Philippines controls nine islets in the Spratly Islands: Pag-asa Island, Ayungin Shoal, Lawak Island, Parola Island, Patag Island, Kota Island, Rizal Reef, Likas Island and Panata Island.

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/04/10/1689545/china-south-china-sea-stations-have-always-been-there

Related:

  (November 24, 2015)

 (December 28, 2015)

Chinese J-11 Fighters Deployed To Woody Island In South China Sea

China posted pictures of an armed J-11 Flanker fighter

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 (Philippine Star)

Image may contain: ocean, outdoor, water and nature

 

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 — From March 25, 2017 with links to other related articles

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

 

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A combined task force of Chinese and Russian warships trained together in the western Pacific in 2016 and 2014. Reuters photo

Students burn a replica of Chinese surveillance ships in Manila in March 2016.

Students burn a replica of Chinese surveillance ships in Manila in March 2016. Photographer: Ted Aljibe/AFP via Getty Images

No automatic alt text available.

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.