PHNO HEADLINE NEWS EARLY THIS PAST WEEK

PHILIPPINES TOLD: GET USED TO CHINA'S ISLAND-CONSTRUCTION 

NOV 25 --PHOTO: Several photographs issued by the Philippine government showed different stages of reclamation work being done by the Chinese on Mabini (Johnson South) Reef. File MANILA, Philippines - In what could be a hint of more construction activities, a Chinese state-run paper is urging the Philippines to become accustomed to the Asian giant's land reclamation efforts in the disputed South China Sea. In an editorial published on Monday, the Global Times said China occupies an "advantageous military position" in the contested waters but it will not take the initiative to compete with Vietnam and the Philippines to get maritime features by force. "Vietnam and the Philippines should get used to China's island-construction in the South China Sea. We hope that the US can also get used to China's more frequent presence in the seas," the paper said. FULL REPORT BELOW...

(ALSO) EDCA ARGUMENTS: No assurance US will defend Philippines vs China 

NOV 25 --PHOTO: During his visit to the Philippines last April, President Barack Obama told American and Filipino troops that the US has an "ironclad" commitment to defend its treaty ally. MANILA, Philippines - The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) does not guarantee that the United States will come to the aid of the Philippines in case of an armed conflict in the contested South China Sea, the government's chief legal counsel said Tuesday. During the EDCA oral arguments at the Supreme Court, Solicitor General Florin Hilbay said the new defense deal will help the Philippines improve its military facilities although there is no assurance that that the United States (US) will defend its ally from attacks and invasions. "There is no guarantee about the future," Hilbay told Justice Antonio Carpio. "What is important with the EDCA, your honor, is it entangles the United States to the interest of the Philippines, and that is good." READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: 5 Filipino peacekeepers brought to V. Luna hospital—military

NOV 25 --Four Filipino peacekeepers from Liberia who recently arrived in Manila and one who was being kept for quarantine on Caballo island have been brought to V. Luna Medical Center in Quezon City, a military official said. The four peacekeepers, who arrived in the country through commercial plane last Saturday, were brought to the Armed Forces of the Philippines Medical Center (also known as V. Luna hospital) on the same day, military spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Harold Cabunoc said on Tuesday. Cabunoc said the four, who were cleared to travel after passing the Ebola screening by United Nations personnel, will undergo quarantine in the said military hospital. “The decision to let them undergo the quarantine at AFPMC is based on the guidance from Department of Health,” Cabunoc said. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Farmers to benefit from coco levy, Noy vows

NOV 26 --PHOTO: President Aquino receives a document containing recommendations on the use of coconut levy funds from a representative of farmers’ organizations during a dialogue at Malacañang yesterday. MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino has promised coconut farmers that he will certify as urgent a bill ensuring that proceeds of the P71-billion coconut levy fund, which has been under litigation for decades, will redound to the benefit of farmers. Aquino made the promise yesterday in a dialogue with coconut farmers and Cabinet officials at Malacañang. The President reassured coconut farmers of the government’s resolve to give them the fullest benefit by calling on his allies in Congress to pass the bill the soonest. “It ensures that benefits from the coconut levy fund will reach the next generations, and will prevent any legal battle in the future,” Aquino said in Filipino. READ FULL REPORT..

ALSO: Manny Villar for VP? No way, says wife

NOV 26 --Former Senate President Manny Villar, president of the Nactionalista Party, has no plans to run again for the president or even going for the vice-presidency, his wife, Sen. Cynthia Villar said Wednesday. Senator Villar said her husband will not run for the presidency in 2016 amid talks that there are some quarters trying to convince him to run again for a higher post in the next presidential elections. The senator also debunked insinuations, purportedly coming from the camp of Vice President Jejomar Binay, that her husband may consider running as Binay's vice-president. “Meron nagsasabi pero ‘di naman niya pinakikinggan. Because that’s out of the question, he’s not running for vice-president. Kasi i-weigh mo when you run, ano alternative mo? Eh siguro mas gusto niya business niya kesa VP,” said Mrs. Villar, who has been busy in helping distressed Filipinos abroad. READ FULL REPORT...

(ALSO) Tiangco firm: Binay has no assets in US

NOV 26--IF one of the purposes of former Makati City Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado in going to the United States is to look for pieces of property of Vice President Jejomar Binay there, his search will be futile, United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) interim president and Rep. Tobias Tiangco said on Wednesday.
According to the legislator from Navotas City (Metro Manila), Binay has no pieces of property in the US.
“Walang pag-aari si VP dun. Baka siya [Mercado] meron at sinusubukan na niyang itago [The Vice President has no assets there. Maybe Mercado does and he is trying to hide them],” Tiangco told The Manila Times in a text message.

ALSO: Trillanes for president? Binay unfazed 

NOV 26 --Vice President Jejomar Binay is unperturbed by reports that Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, one of his most vocal critics, may run against him in the 2016 presidential elections. “That’s news. It made my day,” Binay said on Trillanes’ possible presidential bid. Trillanes on Tuesday said he is one of the four possible presidential contenders of the Nacionalista Party (NP) for the May 2016 polls. Trillanes is one of the three senators leading the Senate probe into corruption allegations against Binay and his family. Cavite Gov. Jonvic Remulla, Binay’s spokesman for political concerns, said Trillanes’ latest pronouncement proves that the ongoing Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee probe was meant to discredit the Vice President and ruin his chances for the presidency. READ FULL REPORT...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Philippines told: Get used to China's island-construction


Several photographs issued by the Philippine government showed different stages of reclamation work being done by the Chinese on Mabini (Johnson South) Reef. File

MANILA, DECEMBER 1, 2014 (PHILSTAR) POSTED NOV 25, 2014 By Loius Bacani - In what could be a hint of more construction activities, a Chinese state-run paper is urging the Philippines to become accustomed to the Asian giant's land reclamation efforts in the disputed South China Sea.

In an editorial published on Monday, the Global Times said China occupies an "advantageous military position" in the contested waters but it will not take the initiative to compete with Vietnam and the Philippines to get maritime features by force.

"Vietnam and the Philippines should get used to China's island-construction in the South China Sea. We hope that the US can also get used to China's more frequent presence in the seas," the paper said.

The article came amid reports that China is turning the Fiery Cross Reef or Yongshu Reef into an artificial island capable of accommodating the country's first military airstrip in the Spratly Islands.

The London-based security group IHS Jane said satellite images taken in August and November showed that Chinese dredgers had created a land mass almost the entire length of the reef, which was previously under water.

IHS Jane said the new island — at least 3,000 meters (9,840 feet) long — is China's largest construction project in the Spratlys and might be aimed at helping Beijing impose its sovereignty claims over neighboring countries that also claim the territory.

"This facility appears purpose-built to coerce other claimants into relinquishing their claims and possessions, or at least provide China with a much stronger negotiating position if talks over the dispute were ever held," the report said.

The Global Times said the Fiery Cross Reef is becoming a big island, which shows China's "prominent construction capabilities."

"More importantly, it is worth noting that China's projects have avoided direct conflicts with Vietnam and the Philippines. It shows that China cherishes peace in the South China Sea," the paper claimed.

It also pointed out that Vietnam and the Philippines have also constructed facilities and allowed people to dwell on contested maritime features.

The paper said the Philippines is expected "to make a mountain out of a molehill" on China's new construction activities.

According to a Philippine News Agency report, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said they will validate the reported reclamation efforts on Fiery Cross Reef, which is called Kagitingan Reef in Filipino.

He noted that the reef, which is 257 nautical miles off the nearest point in Palawan, is part of the Philippines' Kalayaan Island Group, a cluster of islands, shoals, islets and reefs facing the South China Sea.

The Philippines had protested China's ongoing reclamation activities at the Burgos (Gaven) Reef, Kennan (Chigua) Reef and Calderon (Cuarteron) Reef.

Manila is questioning China's "indisputable" claim to virtually the entire South China Sea before a United Nations tribunal. -with AP


FROM PHILSTAR

EDCA ARGUMENTS: No assurance US will defend Philippines vs China By Louis Bacani (philstar.com) | Updated November 25, 2014 - 4:59pm 0 236 googleplus0 0


During his visit to the Philippines last April, President Barack Obama told American and Filipino troops that the US has an "ironclad" commitment to defend its treaty ally.

MANILA, Philippines - The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) does not guarantee that the United States will come to the aid of the Philippines in case of an armed conflict in the contested South China Sea, the government's chief legal counsel said Tuesday.

During the EDCA oral arguments at the Supreme Court, Solicitor General Florin Hilbay said the new defense deal will help the Philippines improve its military facilities although there is no assurance that that the United States (US) will defend its ally from attacks and invasions.

"There is no guarantee about the future," Hilbay told Justice Antonio Carpio. "What is important with the EDCA, your honor, is it entangles the United States to the interest of the Philippines, and that is good."

Hilbay denied claiming that the country can rely on EDCA for its defense.

"We're not starry-eyed and saying that EDCA will save the country from all its problems. What we're saying that this helps improves runways, barracks, training facilities, ports, those matters that are related to the training exercises between the Philippine and US forces," he said.

Hilbay said the Philippines has no other choice but to rely on itself. He added, however, that there is nothing preventing the Philippines from taking advantage of its existing defense alliance with the US.

Still, Hilbay maintained that despite EDCA, there is no guarantee that the US will defend the Philippines because its actions cannot be predicted.

The EDCA is a 10-year deal that allows a bigger American military presence in the country. Hilbay said the accord "might be part of a whole range of responses" of President Aquino to China's aggression in the contested waters.

The EDCA was signed during the visit here of US President Barrack Obama, who said the US has an "ironclad commitment" to defend the Philippines.

Obama also said, however, that it is not the goal of the US to contain China, which has expanded its activities in the disputed sea to press its "indisputable sovereignty."

In the EDCA oral arguments, Carpio pointed out the US government's statement that it will not take sides in the South China Sea dispute.

When asked by Carpio if he is hoping that the US will defend the Philippines against China, Hilbay said "We do what we do. We do what we can. And let's hope for the best... That is the reality."


FROM THE INQUIRER

5 Filipino peacekeepers brought to V. Luna hospital—military Frances Mangosing @FMangosingINQ INQUIRER.net 2:12 PM | Tuesday, November 25th, 2014


SCREENGRAB from www.afpmedicalcenter.com

MANILA, Philippines — Four Filipino peacekeepers from Liberia who recently arrived in Manila and one who was being kept for quarantine on Caballo island have been brought to V. Luna Medical Center in Quezon City, a military official said.

The four peacekeepers, who arrived in the country through commercial plane last Saturday, were brought to the Armed Forces of the Philippines Medical Center (also known as V. Luna hospital) on the same day, military spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Harold Cabunoc said on Tuesday.

Cabunoc said the four, who were cleared to travel after passing the Ebola screening by United Nations personnel, will undergo quarantine in the said military hospital.

“The decision to let them undergo the quarantine at AFPMC is based on the guidance from Department of Health,” Cabunoc said.

Meanwhile, a military source in Manila who spoke on condition of anonymity said the peacekeeper from Caballo island had “chest pain” and was transported via fastcraft to Sangley Point in Cavite and to V. Luna through an ambulance on Monday night.

A fellow peacekeeper told INQUIRER.net by phone that the patient, who had a rank of Staff Sergeant, suffered chest pains supposedly from playing basketball in the morning and afternoon of Monday.

Officials from V. Luna, Task Group Liberia and Department of Health are not answering calls as of posting.

The first batch of the 133 peacekeepers, composed of 108 from the AFP, 24 from the Philippine National Police and one from the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, arrived in the country last November 12.

The second batch, composed of four personnel from AFP, arrived a few days behind as they took charge of the transport of equipment and vehicles they used in Liberia.

These peacekeepers passed the Ebola screening conducted by UN doctors before their repatriation from Liberia. This meant they posed “no risk.” However, they were still subjected to a three-week quarantine for precautionary measures. The quarantine period will end on December 3.

One peacekeeper who developed fever and diarrhea days after their arrival to the island was brought to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Alabang. He was later diagnosed with malaria.

Some of the symptoms of Ebola include fever, headache, diarrhea, stomach pain, muscle pain and unexplained bleeding or bruising.

Over 5,000 have been killed by the deadly virus in West Africa since December last year, according to the World Health Organization.


FROM PHILSTAR

Farmers to benefit from coco levy, Noy vows By Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 27, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


President Aquino receives a document containing recommendations on the use of coconut levy funds from a representative of farmers’ organizations during a dialogue at Malacañang yesterday.

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino has promised coconut farmers that he will certify as urgent a bill ensuring that proceeds of the P71-billion coconut levy fund, which has been under litigation for decades, will redound to the benefit of farmers.

Aquino made the promise yesterday in a dialogue with coconut farmers and Cabinet officials at Malacañang.

The President reassured coconut farmers of the government’s resolve to give them the fullest benefit by calling on his allies in Congress to pass the bill the soonest.

“It ensures that benefits from the coconut levy fund will reach the next generations, and will prevent any legal battle in the future,” Aquino said in Filipino.

He explained that in crafting the law, the government would be consulting all the stakeholders every step of the way and in each and every provision of the proposed bill, which will be taken care of by food security czar Francis Pangilinan.

He stressed that coco levy funds should be distinct and separate from the funds allocated in the annual budget of the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), and said that the administration also agreed to proposals that “only the interest in the income” from the coco levy funds should be utilized, so that all generations to come will benefit from the multibillion-peso fund.

“The truth is we want to give farmers more: wider benefits and stable structures to ensure that the farming sector is taken care of,” Aquino added in Filipino.

In 2012, the Supreme Court issued two favorable decisions on the coconut levy fund. The problem with the two decisions, however, is that the hands of government still continues to be tied unless the high tribunal renders its final rulings on the Cocofed vs Republic case and the Cojuangco vs Republic case.

Aquino expressed openness to issuing an executive order benefiting farmers while the government and farmers are still waiting for the finality of the two SC decisions.

On Tuesday, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. and other leaders of the House of Representatives also met with coconut farmers led by Pambansang Kaisahan ng mga Magbubukid sa Pilipinas chairman Eduardo Mora.

The dialogue, initiated by Dinagat Islands Rep. Kaka Bag-ao, was with some 71 farmers who trekked for 71 days from Davao to Metro Manila, which they said symbolized the P71-billion coconut levy fund.

“Here at the House of Representatives, I can promise that all the members want the best for the beneficiaries in the coconut industry,” Belmonte said.

He also lauded President Aquino for committing to meet with the coconut farmers yesterday.

“All of us want the coconut industry to prosper again because it is an industry that helps the people, and we want to see that money (the coco levy fund) benefit all stakeholders, including the coconut farmers,” Belmonte said.

“Not only for scholarships but to truly level up the standard of living of the coconut farmers and their families…Having a P71-billion fund at hand and one thing for sure, the government is one with you in establishing the coconut farmers’ trust fund for the benefit of all the millions of coconut farmers of the country,” he added. With Aurea Calica, Zinnia Dela Peña, Paolo Romero


FROM PHILSTAR

Manny Villar for VP? No way, says wife By Christina Mendez (philstar.com) | Updated November 26, 2014 - 5:33pm 7 102 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - Former Senate President Manny Villar, president of the Nactionalista Party, has no plans to run again for the president or even going for the vice-presidency, his wife, Sen. Cynthia Villar said Wednesday.

Senator Villar said her husband will not run for the presidency in 2016 amid talks that there are some quarters trying to convince him to run again for a higher post in the next presidential elections.

The senator also debunked insinuations, purportedly coming from the camp of Vice President Jejomar Binay, that her husband may consider running as Binay's vice-president.

“Meron nagsasabi pero ‘di naman niya pinakikinggan. Because that’s out of the question, he’s not running for vice-president. Kasi i-weigh mo when you run, ano alternative mo? Eh siguro mas gusto niya business niya kesa VP,” said Mrs. Villar, who has been busy in helping distressed Filipinos abroad.

Manny Villar is now busy with expanding their business empire, Vistaland, where he is president and chief executive officer.

Senator Villar noted that the presidency is destiny. She recalled that the sudden turn of events when former President Corazon Aquino died on August 2009 led then Sen. Noynoy Aquino to run for the presidency. The rest, as they say, is history.

“Presidency naman is I think it’s destiniy, 'di naman yun something na pinag pa planuhan mo.. you cannot plan. Kung sa 'yo, sa 'yo, kung ‘di sa 'yo, ‘di sa 'yo,” she said.

As a wife, Senator Villar said she would prefer a simpler life rather than go through the tedious campaigning for the presidential polls.

Villar maintained that it was still too early to tell how the Nacionalista party will play in the upcoming 2016.

She said that there is no final decision yet on who among the NP members namely, Senators Ferdinand Marcos Jr, Antonio Trillanes III and Alan Peter Cayetano will be tapped as frontrunners during the elections.

A party decision will likely be made by middle of next year, a few months before the filing of the certificates of candidacy in October.


FROM PHILSTAR

Trillanes for president? Binay unfazed By Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 27, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


TRILLANES

MANILA, Philippines - Vice President Jejomar Binay is unperturbed by reports that Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, one of his most vocal critics, may run against him in the 2016 presidential elections.

“That’s news. It made my day,” Binay said on Trillanes’ possible presidential bid.

Trillanes on Tuesday said he is one of the four possible presidential contenders of the Nacionalista Party (NP) for the May 2016 polls.

Trillanes is one of the three senators leading the Senate probe into corruption allegations against Binay and his family.

Cavite Gov. Jonvic Remulla, Binay’s spokesman for political concerns, said Trillanes’ latest pronouncement proves that the ongoing Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee probe was meant to discredit the Vice President and ruin his chances for the presidency.

“It obviously shows that his (Trillanes) motives from the start were impure. It was never about the truth but about politics,” Remulla said in a text message to The STAR.

Remulla said despite the senators’ “demolition job” against Binay, the Vice President continues to enjoy the trust and support of the public.

“It’s really hard to put a good man down,” Remulla added.

Trillanes said the NP, led by former senator Manny Villar, is looking at four candidates to field in the May 2016 presidential race.

Trillanes said aside from him, NP’s possible standard-bearer are Villar and Sens. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Alan Peter Cayetano.

However, Sen. Cynthia Villar said yesterday her husband has no plans to run again for president or even go for the vice presidency. She also debunked insinuations, purportedly coming from Binay’s camp, that her husband may consider running as Binay’s vice president.

The former senator is now busy with expanding his family’s business empire, Vistaland, of which he is president and chief executive officer.

Cayetano, meanwhile, is also a member of the Senate subcommittee investigating Binay’s alleged ill-gotten wealth. Both Trillanes and Cayetano publicly announced their intention to run for higher office in the 2016 national elections.

But Sen. Villar noted that the presidency is destiny. She recalled the sudden turn of events after former president and democracy icon Corazon Aquino died of cancer in August 2009. She said the events led then senator Benigno Aquino III to run for president.

“The presidency, I think, it’s destiny. It is not something that you plan for,” she said. “If that is for you, then it will be given to you. If not, then it is not for you.” – With Christina Mendez


FROM THE MANILA TIMES

Tiangco firm: Binay has no assets in US November 26, 2014 10:16 pm  by FERNAN MARASIGAN REPORTER

IF one of the purposes of former Makati City Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado in going to the United States is to look for pieces of property of Vice President Jejomar Binay there, his search will be futile, United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) interim president and Rep. Tobias Tiangco said on Wednesday.

According to the legislator from Navotas City (Metro Manila), Binay has no pieces of property in the US.

“Walang pag-aari si VP dun. Baka siya [Mercado] meron at sinusubukan na niyang itago [The Vice President has no assets there. Maybe Mercado does and he is trying to hide them],” Tiangco told The Manila Times in a text message.

Mercado flew to the US last week apparently to visit his family but the opposition suspects there could be other reasons for his trip.

Tiangco has urged the Department of Justice (DOJ) to confirm Mercado’s trip to the US because his “secret” departure has raised all sorts of speculations.

He said the reluctance of the Bureau of Immigration to confirm Mercado’s departure apparently substantiates doubts that the Senate inquiry into Binay’s alleged wrongdoing is a sham.

The UNA official added that Mercado is free to travel but since he has been placed under the Witness Protection Program (WPP), he should inform government officials about his travels abroad.

Tiangco said the “secret trip” has boosted suspicions that the former vice mayor may have another agenda in the US.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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