FEW BARRIERS TO CHINA'S PUSH IN SOUTH CHINA SEA

China's planting of an oil platform in contested waters off Vietnam drew robust complaints from Hanoi, a messy standoff between ships and violent protests among Vietnamese — but nothing to dislodge the rig and no broader pushback in the region. Southeast Asian countries, with diverging interests and wariness of angering Beijing, are shunning any collective action that might halt China as it relentlessly nudges forward its sovereignty claims in disputed seas seen as a possible flashpoint for the world's next major conflict. Despite its accusations of Chinese bullying, Vietnam can expect little in the way of outside help as its patrol boats continue to spar with Chinese vessels guarding the rig in the South China Sea. "The divisions already existed (among Southeast Asian countries), but China is very adept at exploiting them," said Ian Storey, an expert on regional politics at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore. "At the end of the day, Vietnam is on its own," Storey said. The lack of unity encourages China as it looks to cement its claim to virtually the entire South China Sea, its island groups and its maritime wealth — including potentially significant deposits of petroleum needed to keep the Chinese economy booming. READ MORE...

ALSO: Palace mum on new U.S. 'security architecture' in Asia-Pacific

Malacañang made no comment over the new “security architecture” the United States is reportedly developing in the Asia-Pacific region. Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said yesterday the issue should be studied carefully. “If there is a formal request or proposal, it usually passes through official channels and not through press releases only,” Coloma said. Sources revealed the US is working out a new security architecture in the Asia-Pacific region with its strategic partners and treaty allies, including the Philippines. The new security arrangement is being forged as regional tensions rise over China’s increasingly aggressive moves to stake its territorial claim over surrounding waters, including nearly the entire South China Sea. Coloma said Malacañang is ready to listen to whatever proposal to be presented by the US over the crafting of the new alliance in the region. Coloma also assured the public that all actions of the government would be consistent with the country’s interests. “We are ready to listen to whatever proposal of the United States because we consider them as our ally or strategic partner,” Coloma said. “Everything we do is in line with the national interest of the Philippines to strengthen national security and our capacity to face the new realities in the region,” he added. As this developed, Armed Forces chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista stressed they are ready to work with the US to meet any aggressor while remaining as responsible members of the international community. “We will always stand up for our rights as a sovereign country,” Bautista said during the US Memorial Day ceremony in Taguig yesterday.

ALSO: Vietnam closely following Phl case vs China -Palace

The Vietnamese government is looking at the progress of the arbitration case the Philippines filed against China in the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea, Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said on Thursday. Lacierda's statement came after the arrival of Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung in the Philippines on Wednesday to participate in the World Economic Forum on East Asia. "Through the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs), they're looking at how the Philippines has resorted to the diplomatic track," he said. Lacierda added that the Philippines is also looking at mechanisms to work on a strategic partnership with Vietnam, along with coastal agreements and cooperation discussions with the Vietnamese Navy and its defense agency. The Philippines and Vietnam are both embroiled in a territorial dispute with China over territories in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea). China recently deployed an oil rig off the coast of Vietnam and started reclamation in Mabini Reef which the Philippines claims. Dung said China's move is illegal and threatens the stability in the disputed sea, while President Benigno Aquino III said China is violating the informal sea code with its recent move. THIS IS THE FULL REPORT.

ALSO: Chinese fishermen plead not guilty to poaching

The nine Chinese fishermen caught poaching off Half Moon Shoal in the disputed Spratly Islands yesterday pleaded “not guilty” to the charges against them before the Puerto Princesa regional trial court. Assisted by an interpreter provided by the Chinese embassy, they were presented to the Puerto Princesa RTC Branch 51 for arraignment proceedings that lasted for two hours. Palawan provincial prosecutor Allen Ross Rodriguez said the accused also finally agreed to be represented by a public attorney. They had initially refused, saying the Philippines has no jurisdiction over them. Judge Ambrosio de Luna of the environmental court assigned public attorney Jocelyn Fumera to the Chinese fishermen facing charges of violation of Republic Act 8550 (Fisheries Code) and RA 9147 (Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act). The court set a pre-trial hearing on June 4, according to Rodriguez. He explained that the fishermen’s acceptance of the public attorney and submission to court proceedings mean that “they have submitted to the jurisdiction of our criminal justice system.” Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, meanwhile, stressed that the cases against the fishermen would proceed despite demand from China for their immediate release.READ MORE...

(ALSO) Agents of peace led by Rep. Gina de Venecia: China commends Philippine sincerity in improving ties

China has commended the Philippines for sending an all-women congressional delegation to Beijing at a “sensitive time,” saying that it showed the Philippine government’s “courage and sincerity” in improving bilateral ties between the two countries. At the same time, Vice Minister Chen Fengxiang of the International Department of the Communist Party of China (IDCPC) said China is “not closing our door” on the Philippines “and our stand is not confrontational.” Chen was reported to have been visibly moved when he faced the 12-member Philippine delegation led by Pangasinan Rep. Gina P. De Venecia during a courtesy call in Beijing last May 15. “I commend you for your courage to come here at this sensitive time. Now that you’re here, it fully shows your courage and sincerity to improve our bilateral relations,” Chen said. The delegation came to China upon the Chinese government’s invitation after the Philippine government formally challenged China’s territorial claims in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) by filing a memorial at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) in The Hague, The Netherlands, last March 30. The Philippines made its move despite China’s unequivocal refusal to subject the territorial row between the two countries to international mediation. The delegation’s Beijing visit also came three weeks after US President Barack Obama visited Manila. READ MORE...

ALSO: More reforms set before Noy’s term ends

The government is bent on implementing more structural and governance reforms before President Aquino’s term ends in 2016, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said on the sidelines of the recently concluded World Economic Forum on East Asia. This is to ensure that the administration’s good governance agenda is institutionalized and sustained beyond 2016, Purisima said. “The people have come to know the impact of good governance on their lives as the economy makes huge strides,” he said. He said economic growth can be sustained with the passage of a number of bills pending in Congress such as the amendments in the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP)’s charter, the streamlining of procedures at the Bureau of Customs, a rationalization of fiscal incentives and the easing of restrictions on foreign investments. READ MORE...


Read Full Stories here:

Few barriers to China's push in South China Sea


A Vietnamese protester holds a banner in a rally against Beijing's deployment of an oil rig in the contested waters of the South China Sea, outside the Chinese Embassy on Sunday, May 11, 2014 in Hanoi, Vietnam. The deployment of the rig has a triggered a tense standoff in the ocean and raised fears of confrontation between the neighboring countries. AP/Chris Brummitt

BEIJING, MAY 26, 2014 (PHILSTAR) By Christopher Bodeen (Associated Press) - China's planting of an oil platform in contested waters off Vietnam drew robust complaints from Hanoi, a messy standoff between ships and violent protests among Vietnamese — but nothing to dislodge the rig and no broader pushback in the region.

Southeast Asian countries, with diverging interests and wariness of angering Beijing, are shunning any collective action that might halt China as it relentlessly nudges forward its sovereignty claims in disputed seas seen as a possible flashpoint for the world's next major conflict.

Despite its accusations of Chinese bullying, Vietnam can expect little in the way of outside help as its patrol boats continue to spar with Chinese vessels guarding the rig in the South China Sea.

"The divisions already existed (among Southeast Asian countries), but China is very adept at exploiting them," said Ian Storey, an expert on regional politics at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore.

"At the end of the day, Vietnam is on its own," Storey said.

The lack of unity encourages China as it looks to cement its claim to virtually the entire South China Sea, its island groups and its maritime wealth — including potentially significant deposits of petroleum needed to keep the Chinese economy booming.

China calibrates the pitch of its assertiveness depending on surrounding events and the amount of push-back it receives. So far, its actions have mainly targeted the Philippines and Vietnam, while other countries that also claim parts of the South China Sea such as Malaysia and Brunei are left alone. To avoid escalating matters too quickly, China generally relies on its coast guard rather than the navy when confronting ships of other nations.

It isn't clear why China chose May 1 to move the rig from the state-run China National Offshore Oil Corporation into position about 32 kilometers (20 miles) from the China-controlled Paracel Islands and 278 kilometers (173 miles) from the coast of Vietnam.

While China says that's simply part of its ongoing search for resources, some have speculated it was a deliberate test of Vietnamese resolve and a warning to Hanoi against closer security ties with the Beijing's main rival, the U.S.

"It seems to be a put-up-or-shut-up move," said Carl Thayer, a Vietnam and regional security expert at Australia's University of New South Wales.

China's action was met with immediate, though apparently fruitless, opposition by Vietnam, which also claims the Paracels and says the rig is inside its exclusive economic zone.

Hanoi sent ships to harry Chinese craft protecting the rig.

Anti-Chinese anger, ever-present in Vietnam, bubbled to the surface last week in violent attacks that left at least two Chinese workers dead and 140 injured. Thousands of Chinese have since been evacuated by sea and air.

The latest confrontation is among several Chinese moves bolstering its hold on the South China Sea since around 2008. China has expelled Philippine fishing boats from reefs and atolls, built scattered military outposts, demanded that foreign countries apply for permission to fish in the area, and dispatched a naval flotilla to reassert Chinese sovereignty over James Shoal off the coast of Borneo — a full 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) south of China's island province of Hainan.

Despite scattered protests and steps by its neighbors to shore up their own presence in the area, nothing has effectively impeded China's progress.

Storey said both the Philippines and Vietnam dearly desire the backing of their fellow members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in their disputes with China. The grouping had shown some degree of unity in the 1990s, closing ranks behind the Philippines in an earlier territorial dispute with China, he said.

However China's growing clout, politically and economically, has sapped the group's resolve. So has the entry into ASEAN of Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar, all of which have strong ties to Beijing and no direct stake in the South China Sea dispute, Storey said.

This month's ASEAN summit, about a week after China installed its rig off Vietnam's coast, expressed concern about maritime disputes but did not even mention China by name.

Some Southeast Asian countries also may want to stay out of what they suspect are moves that are actually directed at the U.S., which has been increasingly critical of what it describes as Chinese provocations, said Tan See Seng, of Singapore's Nanyang Technological University.

China chafes at U.S. dominance, including its security alliances with the Philippines and others, and has long sought to curtail U.S. intelligence gathering and military operations in the South China Sea.

Washington's moves to beef up its presence in Asia after a decade of war in the Middle East have particularly riled Beijing, which says that is emboldening its neighbors and raising tensions.

"Why draw unwanted attention to oneself if a backlash only strengthens Chinese suspicions that one is indeed in cahoots with the Americans," Tan said.

So far, the U.S. has offered mere rhetorical support for Beijing's rivals, saying issues must be resolved peacefully and without hindering navigation.

"We just need to cool off, move in a deliberate manner and hopefully solve this diplomatically," U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert said Monday when asked about the China-Vietnam dispute.

Such statements pale in comparison to strong U.S. assertions of support for treaty partner Japan, with whom China is engaged in a dangerous feud over uninhabited islands in the East China Sea that are controlled by Japan but claimed by both.

China may be hurting its reputation by being seen as bullying smaller countries in a region where it wants to be seen as a benign regional overlord that will one day replace the U.S.

Yet Beijing apparently has calculated that strong trade and investment ties with the region will head off any major rift, Tan said.

"China seems prepared to absorb any short-term costs its actions might incur for what it perceives is the fundamental strategic gain of ensuring its rise is not unduly, and — in its view — unfairly constrained by the U.S. and its partners," Tan said.

Although China says its oil rig will cease drilling at the start of typhoon season in August, Beijing seems likely to keep raising the stakes in the South China Sea.

One way would be by declaring an air defense zone over all or part of the area, similar to what it did last year over a wide swath of the East China Sea. Storey called the move "only a matter of time."

New Asia alliance: Palace mum By Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 26, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang made no comment over the new “security architecture” the United States is reportedly developing in the Asia-Pacific region.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said yesterday the issue should be studied carefully.

“If there is a formal request or proposal, it usually passes through official channels and not through press releases only,” Coloma said.

Sources revealed the US is working out a new security architecture in the Asia-Pacific region with its strategic partners and treaty allies, including the Philippines.

The new security arrangement is being forged as regional tensions rise over China’s increasingly aggressive moves to stake its territorial claim over surrounding waters, including nearly the entire South China Sea.

Coloma said Malacañang is ready to listen to whatever proposal to be presented by the US over the crafting of the new alliance in the region.

Coloma also assured the public that all actions of the government would be consistent with the country’s interests.

“We are ready to listen to whatever proposal of the United States because we consider them as our ally or strategic partner,” Coloma said.

“Everything we do is in line with the national interest of the Philippines to strengthen national security and our capacity to face the new realities in the region,” he added.

As this developed, Armed Forces chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista stressed they are ready to work with the US to meet any aggressor while remaining as responsible members of the international community.

“We will always stand up for our rights as a sovereign country,” Bautista said during the US Memorial Day ceremony in Taguig yesterday.

“While mutually guided by the principles of a just international order and the peaceful resolution of conflicts, may we not hesitate to act in our collective capacity to meet any aggressors threatening to undermine international peace and security, shoulder to shoulder, just as our forefathers had done,” he added.

Bautista is hopeful the alliance between the two countries will remain responsive and committed to maintain stability in Southeast Asia and the greater Asia Pacific.

On Sunday, The STAR reported the plan to establish the new regional security in Asia Pacific that would require the US to work with “spokes” including Australia, Japan, the Philippines, and possibly Singapore and Thailand.

The US is also convincing Malaysia to join the new “security architecture,” which is part of Washington’s plan to rebalance its forces in Asia Pacific.

Three of the countries being eyed to join the alliance – Japan, Philippines and Malaysia – are embroiled in territorial disputes with China.

Japan and China are claiming the uninhabited Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

Meanwhile, China’s territorial claim in the West Philippine Sea covers about 90 percent of the potentially oil and gas-rich area and overlaps with those of the Philippines and Malaysia as well as Vietnam, Brunei and Taiwan.

US officials previously claimed that they do not seek to contain China and that they won’t take sides on territorial disputes.

Palace: Vietnam closely following Phl case vs China By Jovan Cerda (philstar.com) | Updated May 22, 2014 - 11:35am googleplus


Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda

MANILA, Philippines - The Vietnamese government is looking at the progress of the arbitration case the Philippines filed against China in the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea, Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said on Thursday.

Lacierda's statement came after the arrival of Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung in the Philippines on Wednesday to participate in the World Economic Forum on East Asia.

"Through the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs), they're looking at how the Philippines has resorted to the diplomatic track," he said.

Lacierda added that the Philippines is also looking at mechanisms to work on a strategic partnership with Vietnam, along with coastal agreements and cooperation discussions with the Vietnamese Navy and its defense agency.

The Philippines and Vietnam are both embroiled in a territorial dispute with China over territories in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea).

China recently deployed an oil rig off the coast of Vietnam and started reclamation in Mabini Reef which the Philippines claims.

Dung said China's move is illegal and threatens the stability in the disputed sea, while President Benigno Aquino III said China is violating the informal sea code with its recent move.

Chinese fishermen plead not guilty to poaching By Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 22, 2014 - 12:00am 88 333 googleplus0 0


A file photo shows Chinese fishermen caught off Palawan.

MANILA, Philippines - The nine Chinese fishermen caught poaching off Half Moon Shoal in the disputed Spratly Islands yesterday pleaded “not guilty” to the charges against them before the Puerto Princesa regional trial court.

Assisted by an interpreter provided by the Chinese embassy, they were presented to the Puerto Princesa RTC Branch 51 for arraignment proceedings that lasted for two hours.

Palawan provincial prosecutor Allen Ross Rodriguez said the accused also finally agreed to be represented by a public attorney. They had initially refused, saying the Philippines has no jurisdiction over them.

Judge Ambrosio de Luna of the environmental court assigned public attorney Jocelyn Fumera to the Chinese fishermen facing charges of violation of Republic Act 8550 (Fisheries Code) and RA 9147 (Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act).

The court set a pre-trial hearing on June 4, according to Rodriguez.

He explained that the fishermen’s acceptance of the public attorney and submission to court proceedings mean that “they have submitted to the jurisdiction of our criminal justice system.”

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, meanwhile, stressed that the cases against the fishermen would proceed despite demand from China for their immediate release.

“The case will proceed. We have them in custody so the appropriate legal proceedings need to continue,” she told reporters yesterday.

“That (poaching) is covered by our laws,” she stressed.

Last week, Rodriguez approved the indictment of nine of the 11 arrested fishermen and filed the case before the Puerto Princesa City RTC after inquest proceedings.

Two of the Chinese fishermen turned out to be minors and were turned over to the custody of the Department of Foreign Affairs before being deported back to China.

Fortifying KIG

Senior administration lawmakers, meanwhile, are seeking a P1-billion appropriation to build new fortifications and upgrade old structures in the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG) in the West Philippine Sea to protect the country’s sovereignty, solidify its claim over the area and promote tourism.

Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, president of the Centrist Democratic Party, said the proposed appropriation would be used for the construction of a safe harbor, berthing facilities and the repair of the Rancudo airfield on Pag-asa island, where a small contingent of Marines is stationed.

The fund would also be used to enhance the tourism industry of the KIG, he said.

“In order to strengthen our claim and protect our sovereignty, we need to build more structures and fortify our defense of these islands, particularly the construction of a safe harbor as well as the repair of the Rancudo airfield.

“Aside from solidifying our claim, the construction of structures in the Kalayaan Islands would also improve the tourism industry there,” he said.

The KIG is a fifth class municipality in Palawan, and has a population of around 300 to 400 people. It has one barangay, Pag-asa, and a 1.3-kilometer airstrip used by both military and civilian planes.

He said at present, different countries, particularly China, have built strong fortifications and military structures in the KIG.

In several instances, Chinese gunboats have confiscated fishing nets of Filipino fishermen. Increasing Chinese intrusions as well as their illegal occupation of Mischief (Panganiban) Reef are already alarming to the country’s security, he said.

Rodriguez’s proposal is contained in House Bill 4167.

Under the bill, an annual report regarding the use of the funds appropriated shall be submitted to both the Senate and the House.

The bill is now pending at the House committee on appropriations chaired by Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab Jr.

The KIG is being claimed in whole or in part by other countries including Vietnam, Palau, Malaysia and China.

The Philippines controls seven islands and two reefs in the KIG.

The government said the areas covered by Vietnam’s unilateral partial submission are “disputed because they overlap with those of the Philippines.”

The Philippines also contested the submission by the Republic of Palau establishing the outer limits of its continental shelf that lie beyond 200 nautical miles.

It said the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea of Palau is measured overlap with the maritime jurisdiction of the Philippines. – With Paolo Romero, Jaime Laude

FROM THE MANILA DAILY BULLETIN

China commends Philippine sincerity in improving ties by Charissa Luci May 26, 2014


AGENTS OF PEACE – The 12 members of the all-women Philippine congressional delegation pose in Beijing during their meeting with Vice Minister Chen Fengxiang (right) of the International Department of the Communist Party of China. From left are: Rep. Maria Lourdes Acosta-Alba of Bukidnon, Rep. Josephine R. Sato of Occidental Mindoro, Rep. Julieta R. Cortuna (A Teacher Partylist), Rep. Rosenda Ann Ocampo of Manila, Rep. Gwendolyn F. Garcia of Cebu, Association of Women Legislators President Rep. Gina P. de Venecia of Pangasinan, Rep. Leah S. Paquiz (ANG NARS Partylist), Rep. Belma A. Cabilao of Zamboanga Sibugay, Rep. Elisa ‘Olga’ T. Kho of Masbate, Rep. Mercedes C. Cagas of Davao del Sur, Rep. Julieta T. Uy of Misamis Oriental, and Rep. Marie Anne S. Pernes of Siquijor.

China has commended the Philippines for sending an all-women congressional delegation to Beijing at a “sensitive time,” saying that it showed the Philippine government’s “courage and sincerity” in improving bilateral ties between the two countries.

At the same time, Vice Minister Chen Fengxiang of the International Department of the Communist Party of China (IDCPC) said China is “not closing our door” on the Philippines “and our stand is not confrontational.”

Chen was reported to have been visibly moved when he faced the 12-member Philippine delegation led by Pangasinan Rep. Gina P. De Venecia during a courtesy call in Beijing last May 15. “I commend you for your courage to come here at this sensitive time. Now that you’re here, it fully shows your courage and sincerity to improve our bilateral relations,” Chen said.

The delegation came to China upon the Chinese government’s invitation after the Philippine government formally challenged China’s territorial claims in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) by filing a memorial at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) in The Hague, The Netherlands, last March 30. The Philippines made its move despite China’s unequivocal refusal to subject the territorial row between the two countries to international mediation.

The delegation’s Beijing visit also came three weeks after US President Barack Obama visited Manila.

In the meeting, Chen put forth the arbitration issue as the heart of the disagreement between the two countries. “Our bilateral relation is low right now,” he said. “Our relationship has become more complicated now that the Philippines has taken a confrontational stance on this issue by going to arbitration. Now, you have closed the door for negotiation. The move to settle our dispute through arbitration, it will not help in the resolution of it all. It’s a great concern for us.”

ENDURING RELATIONS

In response, De Venecia, in a statement read by Rep. Rosenda Anne Ocampo, cited the need to rebuild the bilateral ties between the two countries, citing the enduring relations that “go beyond the territorial dispute.”

“These temporary disturbances in Philippines-China relations are nothing in the context of the blood ties and the thousands of years of friendship between our peoples,” she said.

Underscoring the strong bond of friendship between the two nations, De Venecia said: “It is no secret that the Philippines was the first nation in the world that embraced the Chinese people, as evidenced by the establishment of the very first Chinatown in Binondo, Manila in 1594, where the Chinese people thrive to this day, not as strangers but as one of our own.”

“And just recently, despite the sometime hurtful words both our spokesmen have exchanged, China was among the first responders to save and help the victims of super-typhoon Yolanda in central Philippines. No Filipino could ever forget the kindness and generosity of China and your wonderful people,” De Venecia said.

For her part, Rep. Gwendolyn Garcia told their Chinese host: “Our countries can be likened to a house with shut windows, but the occupants’ hearts and minds remain open. We (Philippines) will always remain so. With open mind, we will extend our heart to make peace with brother China.”

After thanking the Vice Minister for the invitation, Ocampo praised the Communist Party of China for its commitment to peace. “The Central Committee has invited our delegation, which means that the IDCPC is firm in its stand that we need more bridges, and foster more people-to-people relations between China and the Philippines. When diplomacy fails, enduring friendship will save the day and take us on the next phase of our relationship,” Ocampo said.

EXCHANGE OF IDEAS

Agreeing, Chen said: “I think that we can still find solution for our mutual development as nations. There may be misconceptions but we can have an exchange of ideas.”

Both parties later decided to continue people-to-people dialogues and work for the improvement of the bilateral ties between the two countries.

“The dispute does not paint the whole picture of our relationship. Our party is eager to develop relations on a mutual benefit. So, more party-to party exchanges between the CPC and Philippine political parties. We are not closing our door and our stand is not confrontational. Let’s work together for the future of our nations,” Chen said.

The other members of the all-women delegation to China are: Rep. Maria Lourdes Acosta-Alba of Bukidnon, Rep. Belma A. Cabilao of Zamboanga Sibugay, Rep. Mercedes C. Cagas of Davao Del Sur, Rep. Julieta R. Cortuna (A Teacher Partylist), Rep. Gwendolyn F. Garcia of Cebu, Rep. Elisa “Olga” T. Kho of Masbate, Rep. Rosenda Ann Ocampo of Manila, Rep. Leah S. Paquiz (ANG NARS Partylist), Rep. Marie Anne S. Pernes of Siquijor; Rep. Josephine R. Sato of Occidental Mindoro, and Rep. Julieta T. Uy of Misamis Oriental.

‘TOUCHING TO US’

Chen thanked De Venecia who had to cut short her visit and rush back to the Philippines after receiving word that her mother, Azucena Vera Perez, was in critical condition. Unfortunately, Mrs. Vera Perez died two hours before De Venecia’s plane landed in Manila.

“I feel sorry that she (De Venecia) was in China and she wasn’t able to say farewell to her mother,” the Vice Minister said. “Before going to China, her mother was already in critical condition, but she was very determined to come. It is very touching to us. And it displays how serious she is to go in this business. Thanks to leaders like Mrs. De Venecia. We hope, through you, we will overcome our difficulties,” Chen said.

The 10-day people-to people visit took the delegates to the cities of Chongqing and Beijing and the historic province of Shandong. They learned China’s best practices in governance through their exchanges with women representatives of Chongqing Municipal People’s Congress and the officials of Chongqing and Shandong Foreign Affairs Office. They also studied the methods of the China’s Women Federation in implementing their micro-credit projects for the “left-behind” women and children, as well as China’s academic and urban housing programs.

PRIVILEGE SPEECH

Meanwhile, in a privilege speech set to be delivered at the House of Representatives today, De Venecia is expected to call for the creation of a Philippines-China Council to address the West Philippine Sea issue and to enrich the other areas of cooperation between the two countries – trade, tourism, cultural exchange, security, labor, education and cooperation on climate change.

She said the Council should be composed of eminent persons, peace-makers, economic experts, representatives from the academe, historians, geo-political experts, and civil society leaders who will meet with their counterparts in China.

The prime purpose is “to specifically address the problem in the China Sea and strengthen bilateral ties, and areas of common concern and mutual benefit in trade, tourism, education, cultural exchange, security, labor and education, women and youth development, and mutual cooperation in the battle against climate change,” De Venecia said.

“In the end, we have to admit that our bilateral ties go far beyond this maritime conflict over a few islets. As pointed out by Deputy Director Rao Huihua of IDCPC’s Asia- Pacific Affairs: ‘It is hard to believe that we will go to conflict because of those little rocks,’” De Venecia said.

FROM PHILSTAR

More reforms set before Noy’s term ends By Kathleen Martin (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 26, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


PURISIMA AND PNoy

MANILA, Philippines - The government is bent on implementing more structural and governance reforms before President Aquino’s term ends in 2016, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said on the sidelines of the recently concluded World Economic Forum on East Asia.

This is to ensure that the administration’s good governance agenda is institutionalized and sustained beyond 2016, Purisima said.

“The people have come to know the impact of good governance on their lives as the economy makes huge strides,” he said.

He said economic growth can be sustained with the passage of a number of bills pending in Congress such as the amendments in the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP)’s charter, the streamlining of procedures at the Bureau of Customs, a rationalization of fiscal incentives and the easing of restrictions on foreign investments.

The bill seeking to amend the central bank’s charter is aimed at strengthening the BSP’s regulatory powers over banks and other non-bank financial institutions. It also seeks to recapitalize the BSP so it could better perform its market operations.

The bill seeking to rationalize fiscal incentives is aimed at lifting unnecessary tax perks and increase the revenue collection of the government.

The proposed measure that seeks to streamline Customs procedures aims to curb smuggling.

Easing foreign ownership restrictions, meanwhile, is expected to boost investments and generate more jobs for Filipinos.

Purisima said some of the key reforms implemented during President Aquino’s first four years in office were the Sin Tax Reform Law, the Reproductive Health Law, an aggressive campaign against smugglers and tax evaders and a reform in the creation of the national budget process to ensure transparency.

The government hopes to attain economic growth by 6.5 to 7.5 percent this year, and by seven to eight percent in 2015.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

© Copyright, 2014 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE
All rights reserved


PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE [PHNO] WEBSITE