PHNO HEADLINE NEWS THIS PAST WEEK
(Mini Reads followed by Full Reports below)

CHINA TO END RECLAMATION, START BUILDING STRUCTURES


JUNE 17 ---File photo BEIJING
– China will complete land reclamation projects on its disputed South China Sea territorial claims as planned within “upcoming days,” the Foreign Ministry said yesterday.
However, in a sign that developments were far from over, a statement posted to the ministry’s website said China would follow up by building infrastructure to carry out functions ranging from maritime search and rescue to environmental conservation and scientific research.
“It is learned from relevant Chinese competent departments that, as planned, the land reclamation project of China’s construction on some stationed islands and reefs of the Nansha Islands will be completed in the upcoming days,” the statement said, using the Chinese term for the Spratly islands, which lie at the heart of the South China Sea territorial dispute. Apart from satisfying defense goals, it said the main purpose of such projects was civilian in nature and not targeted at any third parties. It said the projects fell within the scope of Chinese sovereignty and were “lawful, reasonable and justified,” while causing no harm to the marine environment. The statement said the projects “do not affect the freedom of navigation and overflight enjoyed by all countries in accordance with international law in the South China Sea.” That will likely be scrutinized by the US military following an incident last month during which a US Navy plane flying near one of the reclaimed islands was repeatedly challenged by the Chinese military and told to leave the area. READ MORE...

ALSO: Chinese creeping into Rizal Reef


JUNE 19 ---THAT’S OURS: Businessman Mel Velarde points to the Kalayaan (Spratlys) islands as shown on the replica of a 1734 Philippine map which he acquired through auction in London as female soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army ham it up for the cameras in one of the pictures purportedly taken at the Kagitingan (Fiery Cross) Reef which China occupied and reclaimed. PHOTOS BY RENE H. DILAN AND SINA.COM.CH
MARIVELES, Bataan: Fishermen here on Thursday alerted the government to the presence of Chinese naval patrols in the Rizal (Commodore) Reef, one of the 10 remaining areas in the Kalayaan (Spratlys) island group under Philippine control. Donie Cabacungan, skipper of the fishing boat MB Denmark, said they could no longer get near the reef as armed Chinese Coast Guard personnel on board speed boats would chase and drive them away. “We call on the government to protect our territory. The Chinese are already there even at Commodore which is very near a Philippine military outpost. The Chinese Navy has been circling the area,” he told The Manila Times in Filipino. The Rizal Reef is approximately 200 nautical miles from Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, and closest to the Palawan town of Balabac. The reef has a total land area of 3.7 hectares if not submerged under water during high tide. Cabacungan said that about a week ago, they monitored a radio message from a boat captain from Iloilo claiming that a Chinese naval boat with bow number 29 drove them away from the reef. READ MORE...

ALSO: US says China’s building activities ‘troubling’; 84% of Filipinos worried


JUNE 20 ---The United States finds China’s efforts to build military facilities on reclaimed South China Sea islands “troubling” and plans to raise the issue during annual talks in Washington this month. Daniel Russel, assistant U.S. secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs said, “the recent announcement out of Beijing that the Chinese government intends to continue and expand the construction of facilities on the reclaimed outposts that it’s been constructing in the South China Sea is troubling.”
“Frankly, we’re concerned, and others are concerned,” Russel said at a briefing Thursday in Washington. The US will levy its protest during the Sino-US talks, which are slated to start Monday and include Secretary of State John Kerry and Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang. Adding to tensions in this year’s meetings are claims that US government computers were hacked by Chinese cyber spies and preparations for President Xi Jinping’s state visit planned for September. China’s island-building program, which has reclaimed 2,000 acres of land, three-quarters of that amount since December, has upset smaller neighbors with competing territorial claims such as the Philippines. US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter last month called on all those involved in the dispute to stop reclaiming land. READ MORE...

ALSO IN PHOTOS: Pre-/-post-reclamation in Spratlys


JUNE 17 ---China has ongoing massive reclamations on seven reefs - Fiery Cross Reef, Cuarteron Reef, Gaven Reef, Johnson South Reef, McKennan Reef, Mischief Reef and Subi Reef - in the South China Sea. SC Justice Antonio Carpio
China is currently conducting massive reclamation activities on seven reefs - Fiery Cross Reef, Cuarteron Reef, Gaven Reef, Johnson South Reef, McKennan Reef, Mischief Reef and Subi Reef - across the South China Sea.
The Philippines earlier filed an arbitration case against China before the United Nations, questioning the latter's nine-dash line claim. Two of the said reefs - Fiery Cross Reef and Cuarteron Reef - is outside the Philippines' exclusive economic zone but lies within its continental shelf. The Philippines asked the tribunal not to rule which state owns the islands but to decide the extent of its maritime entitlements over the islands or rocks. China noted that the purpose of the reclamation activities was for their military defense. "The primary purpose of these activities is to improve the working and living conditions of personnel stationed there, to better fulfill our international obligations concerning maritime search and rescue, disaster prevention, and mitigation, and to enable China to provide better services to vessels from China, her neighbors, and other countries sailing in the South China Sea," China deputy representative to the United Nations Wang Min said. READ MORE...

ALSO: Marine officer who led Ayungin contingent at Phl sea is home for Father’s Day


JUNE 21 ---LAST YEAR's PHOTO: For 2Lt Salacoddin Mangidia, being a member of the Philippine Marines means repeatedly choosing between duty and family. On Aug. 6, 2014, he was stationed on Ayungin Shoal as his wife Navy Ens. Haidelyn Mangidia was giving birth to their first son. A Marine officer was not around when his wife gave birth to their first son in August last year as he was deployed to Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea to lead a group of Marines stationed on the BRP Sierra Madre. Today, Marine 2Lt. Salacoddin Mangidia will have the chance to celebrate Father’s Day with his family. After completing his duty on Ayungin Shoal, Mangidia intends to make up for lost time with his wife, Navy junior officer Haidelyn Mangidia, and their 10-month-old son Shariff. “I will bring my wife and son to a mall for a simple dinner to celebrate Father’s Day,” he said. The Salaccodins live in Gen. Trias, Cavite, near Sangley Point where he is taking up a six-month training on basic weapons communications electronics and information systems. Mangidia, a native of Lanao del Norte, was deployed to Ayungin Shoal on June 17 last year, two months before his wife gave birth to their first son at the Fort Bonifacio Naval hospital on Aug. 6, 2014. READ MORE...

ALSO: China-claimed reef rises from obscurity


JUNE 18 ---Pag-asa Island Unahai image
It’s a harbinger of what’s in store for reefs turned into artificial islands by China. Zamora (Subi) Reef, once recognizable from a distance with only a small bunker and a lighthouse, is now highly visible from the Philippines’ Pag-Asa island as China begins building large structures on what is now an artificial island and potential military base. Mayor Eugenio Bito-onon Jr. of Kalayaan town in the Pag-Asa island group said his constituents have started expressing concern over the presence of tall buildings on Subi, once faintly visible from Pag-asa only during low tide. Last month, structures on Zamora and ships around it could be seen only from a six-story watchtower on Pag-Asa Island, which is home to more than 200 Filipinos. Zamora reef is just 12 nautical miles from Pag-Asa Island. “Aside from ships and buildings at Subi, China has completed construction of a long runway on their man-made island,” Bito-onon said when told about Beijing’s announcement that it was wrapping up its reclamation activities in the disputed region. READ MORE...

ALSO: West PH sea exploration projects put on hold due to sea dispute with China


JUNE 19 ---Some exploration projects in the West Philippine Sea have been put on hold, possibly for years, because of the territorial row. Still, companies are willing to wait even if China beats them to the punch. - ANC, The World Tonight, June 18, 2015 READ RELATED NEWS....

ALSO: Fewer Filipinos back gov't moves in South China Sea
[The latest SWS survey also shows at least 80% of Filipinos have been concerned that the South China Sea dispute could escalate into a full-blown conflict with China]


JUNE 19 ---DISPUTED ISLANDS. Filipino soldiers conduct a flag-raising ceremony during the visit of Armed Forces of the Philippines military chief General Gregorio Catapang Jr in Pag-asa Island (Thitu Island) in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, west of Palawan, Philippines, on May 11 2015. Photo by Ritchie B. Tongo/EPA/Pool
 Unlike in the past two years, fewer Filipinos support the Philippines' moves in its dispute with China over Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal) in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), a recent survey showed. In a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey published Thursday, June 18, around 49% of respondents said they approve of the Philippine government's "actions regarding the tension" in Panatag. Of the 49%, the breakdown is as follows: 33% "somewhat approve" of the government's moves 16% "strongly approve" So far, the Philippines' moves have included the following: A historic case against China before a United Nations (UN)-backed arbitral tribunal based in The Hague, The Netherlands A call to implement a 2002 regional declaration against moves that disrupt the status quo and raise tensions in the South China Sea A call to craft a binding Code of Conduct in the disputed waters The SWS survey, conducted from March 20 to 23, shows a significant decline from previous ratings. In September 2013, around 65% approved of the government's moves. In June 2014, around 62% posted their approval. The latest survey also showed an increase in the number of people who disapprove of the Philippines' moves. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

China to end reclamation, start building structures


File photo BEIJING – China will complete land reclamation projects on its disputed South China Sea territorial claims as planned within “upcoming days,” the Foreign Ministry said yesterday.

MANILA, JUNE 22, 2015 (PHILSTAR) June 17, 2015 - However, in a sign that developments were far from over, a statement posted to the ministry’s website said China would follow up by building infrastructure to carry out functions ranging from maritime search and rescue to environmental conservation and scientific research.

“It is learned from relevant Chinese competent departments that, as planned, the land reclamation project of China’s construction on some stationed islands and reefs of the Nansha Islands will be completed in the upcoming days,” the statement said, using the Chinese term for the Spratly islands, which lie at the heart of the South China Sea territorial dispute.

Apart from satisfying defense goals, it said the main purpose of such projects was civilian in nature and not targeted at any third parties. It said the projects fell within the scope of Chinese sovereignty and were “lawful, reasonable and justified,” while causing no harm to the marine environment.

The statement said the projects “do not affect the freedom of navigation and overflight enjoyed by all countries in accordance with international law in the South China Sea.”

That will likely be scrutinized by the US military following an incident last month during which a US Navy plane flying near one of the reclaimed islands was repeatedly challenged by the Chinese military and told to leave the area.

READ MORE...

The reclamation work has sharply increased tensions with the United States, and Vietnam and other countries in the region which fear China will use the artificial islands as military bases and to assert control over navigation in the South China Sea.

According to the US, Beijing’s building program on reefs and atolls now totals more than 2,000 acres (800 hectares).

Most recently, US officials said that China had placed two motorized artillery vehicles on one of its reclamation sites, but they have now been removed.

“While firmly safeguarding her territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, China will continue to dedicate herself to resolving relevant disputes with relevant states directly concerned, in accordance with international law, through negotiation and consultation on the basis of respecting historical facts, pushing forward actively the consultation on a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea together with ASEAN member states within the framework of fully and effectively implementing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said.

In Manila, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Monday that the Philippines is preparing for the oral arguments in the arbitral tribunal in The Hague next month.

The oral argument is scheduled on July 7 to 13.

China has refused to participate in the case filed by the Philippines, saying it does not accept international arbitration over the South China Sea disputes.

But Beijing released a position paper saying that the arbitral tribunal does not have the jurisdiction to decide the case.

The Philippines filed the case against China to challenge Beijing’s nine-dash line claim that is inconsistent with the principles of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

China continues to ignore the serious concern raised by nations and neighboring countries on Beijing’s large scale reclamation in the South China Sea and attempts to unilaterally “change the status quo” in the region, claiming its construction of airstrips being accelerated and what it has done in the disputed water is beyond any “reproach.” – AP, Pia Lee-Brago


MANILA TIMES

Chinese creeping into Rizal Reef June 19, 2015 11:19 pm
by ERNIE ESCONDE CORRESPONDENT


THAT’S OURS: Businessman Mel Velarde points to the Kalayaan (Spratlys) islands as shown on the replica of a 1734 Philippine map which he acquired through auction in London as female soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army ham it up for the cameras in one of the pictures purportedly taken at the Kagitingan (Fiery Cross) Reef which China occupied and reclaimed. PHOTOS BY RENE H. DILAN AND SINA.COM.CH

MARIVELES, Bataan: Fishermen here on Thursday alerted the government to the presence of Chinese naval patrols in the Rizal (Commodore) Reef, one of the 10 remaining areas in the Kalayaan (Spratlys) island group under Philippine control.

Donie Cabacungan, skipper of the fishing boat MB Denmark, said they could no longer get near the reef as armed Chinese Coast Guard personnel on board speed boats would chase and drive them away.

“We call on the government to protect our territory. The Chinese are already there even at Commodore which is very near a Philippine military outpost. The Chinese Navy has been circling the area,” he told The Manila Times in Filipino.

The Rizal Reef is approximately 200 nautical miles from Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, and closest to the Palawan town of Balabac. The reef has a total land area of 3.7 hectares if not submerged under water during high tide.

Cabacungan said that about a week ago, they monitored a radio message from a boat captain from Iloilo claiming that a Chinese naval boat with bow number 29 drove them away from the reef.

READ MORE...

“There are Filipino soldiers stationed at Commodore but nonetheless, the Chinese continue to encircle the reef to prevent us from fishing in the area,” he added.

Valeriano Quimson, skipper of the fishing boat John Alex, said they have not returned to Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal since April after their boat got destroyed when a Chinese Coast Guard ship trained its water cannon at them.

“We just use a payaw [a fish aggregating device] fo fish. The catch is low and we only get smaller fish. It’s just enough to make us afford to buy rice for our families,” he added.

“It would’ve been better if we could fish at Scarborough. The fish are bigger there and command a higher price in the market.”

Quimson said their income has dropped by 30 to 50 percent since they were barred from Scarborough.

War not an option

Malacańang on Friday sought to allay fears that a maritime and territorial dispute with China in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) would lead to war.

Its deputy spokesman Abigail Valte said the government will not let the dispute escalate into an armed conflict.

“The government is very cautious in dealing with the issue as we don’t want incidents that have a tendency of escalating to happen,” she told reporters in Filipino.

“Should things escalate, what will happen to our soldiers who are there facing danger, and also to ordinary people like us/” Valte was reacting to a Social Weather Stations survey, which said eight of 10 Filipinos fear a possible armed conflict between the Philippines and China over the Panatag Shoal.

“It will be unnatural if you don’t worry about armed conflict because in an armed conflict, no one wins,” she said.

Girl power
A Chinese website has posted pictures showing female soldiers hamming it up for the camera at the Kagitingan (Fiery Cross) Reef, one of the areas in the West Philippine Sea where a massive land reclamation is in progress.

A slideshow of the pictures on the website sina.com.ch also shows soldiers tending to vegetable gardens, pigs in a pen and a dog lazing around.

One female soldier was photographed posing on a marker with an inscription that reportedly says “Awe-inspiring South China Sea.”  With CATHERINE S. VALENTE


MANILA BULLETIN

US says China’s building activities ‘troubling’; 84% of Filipinos worried by Bloomberg June 20, 2015

The United States finds China’s efforts to build military facilities on reclaimed South China Sea islands “troubling” and plans to raise the issue during annual talks in Washington this month.

Daniel Russel, assistant U.S. secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs said, “the recent announcement out of Beijing that the Chinese government intends to continue and expand the construction of facilities on the reclaimed outposts that it’s been constructing in the South China Sea is troubling.”

“Frankly, we’re concerned, and others are concerned,” Russel said at a briefing Thursday in Washington.

The US will levy its protest during the Sino-US talks, which are slated to start Monday and include Secretary of State John Kerry and Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang.

Adding to tensions in this year’s meetings are claims that US government computers were hacked by Chinese cyber spies and preparations for President Xi Jinping’s state visit planned for September.

China’s island-building program, which has reclaimed 2,000 acres of land, three-quarters of that amount since December, has upset smaller neighbors with competing territorial claims such as the Philippines. US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter last month called on all those involved in the dispute to stop reclaiming land.

READ MORE...

China’s statement Tuesday announcing the completion of the program was seen as an attempt to ratchet down tensions.

“The prospect of militarizing those outposts runs counter to the goal of reducing tensions.” Russel said. “That’s why we consistently urge China to cease reclamation, to not construct further facilities, and certainly not to further militarize outposts in the South China Sea.”

China claims 80 percent of the water body based on a nine-dash line drawn on a 1940s map. Five other countries have rival claims, which China has said it would only resolve through two-way negotiations. Vietnam, Malaysia and Taiwan have each reclaimed land in the sea.

“What we’re looking for is a South China Sea in which the smallest fishing boat from the Philippines or Vietnam or Malaysia has the ability to traverse international waters with the same confidence that the largest American warship can demonstrate in the same space,” he said.

A Washington-based think tank said Thursday that active land reclamation still appears to be taking place at two of the seven Chinese land reclamation projects in the Spratly island chain.

Dozens of dredging vessels and support craft were visible in satellite imagery of Mischief Reef and Subi Reef this month, according to the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative.

84% FILIPINOS WORRIED

A survey conducted by the Social Weather Station (SWS) conducted last March showed that 84 percent of Filipinos are worried over escalating tension in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

While the government is pursuing a diplomatic and legal track in dealing with the territorial dispute, only 49 percent of the 1,200 respondents approve of how the government deals with the tension over the disputed Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal. About 46 percent strongly disapprove of government efforts.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte assured the government is veering away from an armed conflict with China and will continue to address disputes in a peaceful manner. (With reports from AP, Ellalyn De Vera, and Madel Sabater Namit)


PHILSTAR

IN PHOTOS: Pre- and post-reclamation in Spratlys By Patricia Lourdes Viray (philstar.com) | Updated June 17, 2015 - 6:30pm 0 1 googleplus1 0


China has ongoing massive reclamations on seven reefs - Fiery Cross Reef, Cuarteron Reef, Gaven Reef, Johnson South Reef, McKennan Reef, Mischief Reef and Subi Reef - in the South China Sea. SC Justice Antonio Carpio

MANILA, Philippines - China is currently conducting massive reclamation activities on seven reefs - Fiery Cross Reef, Cuarteron Reef, Gaven Reef, Johnson South Reef, McKennan Reef, Mischief Reef and Subi Reef - across the South China Sea.

The Philippines earlier filed an arbitration case against China before the United Nations, questioning the latter's nine-dash line claim.

Two of the said reefs - Fiery Cross Reef and Cuarteron Reef - is outside the Philippines' exclusive economic zone but lies within its continental shelf.

The Philippines asked the tribunal not to rule which state owns the islands but to decide the extent of its maritime entitlements over the islands or rocks.

China noted that the purpose of the reclamation activities was for their military defense.

"The primary purpose of these activities is to improve the working and living conditions of personnel stationed there, to better fulfill our international obligations concerning maritime search and rescue, disaster prevention, and mitigation, and to enable China to provide better services to vessels from China, her neighbors, and other countries sailing in the South China Sea," China deputy representative to the United Nations Wang Min said.

READ MORE...

Last Monday, Supreme Court senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio gave a talk on the rule of law and the South China Sea dispute.

Carpio stressed that the South China Sea dispute is rooted from China's nine-dash line claim which takes up the exclusive economic zones of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

China considers the nine-dash line as its national boundary. Carpio noted that the maritime dispute may overturn the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea which is the constitution for the oceans and seas.

With this, Carpio presented the state of China's reclamation activities which are reported to be finished within "upcoming days."

IN PHOTOS: Philippine military's aerial shots of China's man-made islands


Fiery Cross (Kagitingan) Reef pre-reclamation 2012


Fiery Cross (Kagitingan) Reef - May 7, 2015


Fiery Cross (Kagitingan) Reef - April 17, 2015


Fiery Cross (Kagitingan) Reef - January 28, 2015


One of the reclamation projects of China will be an airbase with a seaport, expected to be completed in 2015. The airbase, with a 3,000 meter runway, will be in a 200-hectare reclamation on Fiery Cross Reef. This reclamation will be larger than the combined area of the 12 largest islands in the Spratlys, and twice the area of Diego Garcia Island, the U.S. airbase in the Indian Ocean.


Johnson South (Mabini) Reef pre-reclamation


Johnson South (Mabini) Reef - May 9, 2015

MORE PHOTOS: CLICK HERE AND START WITH PHOTO NO. 8 >>>TO 16.

FOR MORE RELATED PHOTOS APRIL 2015 NEWS REPORT: Philippine military's aerial shots of China's man-made islands


PHILSTAR

Marine officer who led Ayungin contingent home for Father’s Day By Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 21, 2015 - 12:00am 4 282 googleplus1 1


Marine 2Lt. Salacoddin Mangidia (standing, seventh from left) when he was still commander of the contingent deployed at Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea. Jaime Laude

MANILA, Philippines - A Marine officer was not around when his wife gave birth to their first son in August last year as he was deployed to Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea to lead a group of Marines stationed on the BRP Sierra Madre.

Today, Marine 2Lt. Salacoddin Mangidia will have the chance to celebrate Father’s Day with his family.

After completing his duty on Ayungin Shoal, Mangidia intends to make up for lost time with his wife, Navy junior officer Haidelyn Mangidia, and their 10-month-old son Shariff.

“I will bring my wife and son to a mall for a simple dinner to celebrate Father’s Day,” he said.

The Salaccodins live in Gen. Trias, Cavite, near Sangley Point where he is taking up a six-month training on basic weapons communications electronics and information systems.

Mangidia, a native of Lanao del Norte, was deployed to Ayungin Shoal on June 17 last year, two months before his wife gave birth to their first son at the Fort Bonifacio Naval hospital on Aug. 6, 2014.

READ MORE...

“I was furious at him because he promised me that he would be home to see the delivery of his son,” Haidelyn, who is three months pregnant with their second child, said.

But she said she understands her husband’s situation since they are both members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Haidelyn said she would take advantage of her husband’s presence and would spend this special day with him and their son.

“Maybe we would eat out or walk around all day. The important thing is we are together this time,” she said.

Also a sailor with the Philippine Fleet, Haidelyn is stationed at Fort Bonifacio in Taguig.

“We can never refuse when duty calls. It is part of my sworn duty as a soldier,” said Mangidia, whose unit, the 12th Marine Battalion Landing Team based in Palawan, was tasked to guard the regime of islands in the disputed Spratlys from foreign intruders.

“I asked for her understanding and support when I left for Ayungin Shoal and reminded her of our duties as soldiers,” he said.

The STAR first met Mangidia in July last year when a group of local and foreign journalists bound for Pag-Asa Island, along with Kalayaan Mayor Eugenio Bito-on Jr., got stranded for five days on the Sierra Madre, the Navy ship grounded on Ayungin Shoal.

Leading a group of Marines who were all sad about spending Father’s Day away from their children was a challenge for Mangidia.

“I filled our calendars with things to do to fight off boredom and loneliness. We had TINEs (Troops Information and Education) where we deliver presentations of our respective specializations. We also had water games and days where we outdo each other in lifting weights,” he said.

Free movie tickets for soldiers pushed Defending the country is not an easy job and from time to time, soldiers need some rest and recuperation.

If Sen. Nancy Binay would have her way, she wants free movie admission for members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in recognition of their service to the country.

Binay filed Senate Bill 2832, which seeks to provide incentives to cinema operators or owners granting free admission or discounted tickets to soldiers.

She cited Section 5(2), Article XVI of the 1987 Constitution, which states that the government should strengthen the patriotic spirit and consciousness of the military and respect for people’s rights in the performance of their duty.

The same provision also states that the government should show concern for the remuneration and benefits of the armed forces and its members.

Binay proposed that theaters granting free admission or discounted rates to members of the military be given tax deductions and exemption from amusement tax. – With Marvin Sy


PHILSTAR

China-claimed reef rises from obscurity By Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 18, 2015 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


Pag-asa Island Unahai image

MANILA, Philippines - It’s a harbinger of what’s in store for reefs turned into artificial islands by China.

Zamora (Subi) Reef, once recognizable from a distance with only a small bunker and a lighthouse, is now highly visible from the Philippines’ Pag-Asa island as China begins building large structures on what is now an artificial island and potential military base.

Mayor Eugenio Bito-onon Jr. of Kalayaan town in the Pag-Asa island group said his constituents have started expressing concern over the presence of tall buildings on Subi, once faintly visible from Pag-asa only during low tide.

Last month, structures on Zamora and ships around it could be seen only from a six-story watchtower on Pag-Asa Island, which is home to more than 200 Filipinos.

Zamora reef is just 12 nautical miles from Pag-Asa Island.

“Aside from ships and buildings at Subi, China has completed construction of a long runway on their man-made island,” Bito-onon said when told about Beijing’s announcement that it was wrapping up its reclamation activities in the disputed region.

READ MORE...

Bito-onon said there was no way to verify if China was telling the truth.

There were reports that Beijing is stopping its island-building activities, not because of mounting pressure from the international community, but rather due to the need to secure its floating assets in the area in preparation for the typhoon season.

China said the facilities it was preparing to set up on the artificial islands would be used mainly for maritime search and rescue as well as environmental conservation and scientific research.

But China, Bito-onon said, has in fact doubled the length of its runway on Zamora Reef, thus causing more concerns in Pag-Asa. The Chinese are likely to use the artificial island to restrict travel between Kalayaan and mainland Palawan, the town mayor said.

China has also completed construction of a 3,000-meter long airstrip on Kagitingan (Fiery Cross) Reef, now another artificial island.

Kagitingan Reef, while outside the Philippines’ 200-nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), is still within the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG) and is part of the nation’s continental shelf.

The Department of National Defense (DND), for its part, expressed doubt on Beijing’s announcement that its reclamation projects in the West Philippine Sea are almost complete.

“We have to validate the report. Beijing has not been transparent in all its actions. For us, they should not only stop but they should also dismantle (their man-made islands),” Peter Paul Galvez, DND spokesman said.

He said there would be no letup in DND’s effort to make the world aware of China’s coercive way of staking its claim in the West Philippine Sea.

“We need to counter all the lies behind China’s claims. We want all the Chinese to know that what their government is doing (in the region) is contrary to what has already been agreed by the international community several years ago,” Galvez said.

Remaining option With China’s ignoring global calls to stop its island-building activities, the option left for Manila is to vigorously pursue its case before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, Malacańang said yesterday.

In a press briefing, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said ITLOS would be conducting hearings on the country’s case against China next month.

By filing the case, the Philippines is seeking to clarify its maritime entitlements in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The case is also meant to contest China’s nine-dash line, which encompasses almost the entire West Philippine Sea and South China Sea.

“We have to take the diplomatic track owing to certain limitations that we have,” Lacierda said, noting the Philippines was consistently raising and exposing the kind of reclamation activities being done by China. – Aurea Calica, Pia Lee Brago


ABS-CBN

West PH Sea exploration projects put on hold due to sea dispute with China Posted at 06/19/2015 4:48 AM 2.9K22

Some exploration projects in the West Philippine Sea have been put on hold, possibly for years, because of the territorial row.

Still, companies are willing to wait even if China beats them to the punch. - ANC, The World Tonight, June 18, 2015

------------------------------------

RELATED FLASHBACK APRIL 27, 2015

Maximum restraint for PH troops in West Philippine Sea By Alexis Romero, The Philippine Star Posted at 04/27/2015 9:30 AM

MANILA - The military has advised its pilots conducting surveillance in the West Philippine Sea to exercise maximum restraint even if they are being bullied by Chinese troops.

Armed Forces spokesman Brig. Gen. Joselito Kakilala said all actions of the pilots should be consistent with the declaration of conduct signed by claimant countries.

“There are rules of engagement. (They should exercise) maximum restraint when it comes to contentious issues in these areas in the West Philippine Sea,” Kakilala said in an interview yesterday.

Armed Forces public affairs chief Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc said the Philippines should remain on moral high ground when it comes to the territorial dispute.

“Even if we are being bullied, we should follow that guidance,” Cabunoc said.

“If you are a pilot, just ignore it (bullying) as long as you are not being fired at. Do not counter with aggressive actions,” he added.

A Chinese ship fired illumination rounds last week at a Philippine military plane on reconnaissance patrol over the Kalayaan Island Group.

Officials said the harassment happened in the morning of April 19 within the vicinity of Zamora (Subi) Reef, one of the disputed areas where China is conducting construction activities.

Sources said the harassment had delayed the air evacuation of Chito Pastor, who had set up a radio station in Pag-Asa Island to inform locals that the area belongs to Philippine territory. Pastor is suffering from a kidney ailment.

Despite last week’s incident, Cabunoc said they would continue their maritime patrols. He admitted though that the incident might not be the last time China bullies Philippine troops and assets.

“China is now using its power. How much more if they have established all the reclaimed areas and structures believed to have military purposes?” he said.

“It is possible that in the future they will shoo away any seacraft or any aircraft that will be passing through or near these reclaimed areas,” he added.


RAPPLER.COM

Fewer Filipinos back gov't moves in South China Sea Paterno Esmaquel II @paterno_ii Updated 4:44 PM, June 19, 2015 1 1K 11 Reddit Email 1K

The latest SWS survey also shows at least 80% of Filipinos have been concerned that the South China Sea dispute could escalate into a full-blown conflict with China


DISPUTED ISLANDS. Filipino soldiers conduct a flag-raising ceremony during the visit of Armed Forces of the Philippines military chief General Gregorio Catapang Jr in Pag-asa Island (Thitu Island) in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, west of Palawan, Philippines, on May 11 2015. Photo by Ritchie B. Tongo/EPA/Pool

MANILA, Philippines – Unlike in the past two years, fewer Filipinos support the Philippines' moves in its dispute with China over Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal) in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), a recent survey showed.

In a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey published Thursday, June 18, around 49% of respondents said they approve of the Philippine government's "actions regarding the tension" in Panatag.

Of the 49%, the breakdown is as follows:

33% "somewhat approve" of the government's moves 16% "strongly approve" So far, the Philippines' moves have included the following:

A historic case against China before a United Nations (UN)-backed arbitral tribunal based in The Hague, The Netherlands A call to implement a 2002 regional declaration against moves that disrupt the status quo and raise tensions in the South China Sea A call to craft a binding Code of Conduct in the disputed waters The SWS survey, conducted from March 20 to 23, shows a significant decline from previous ratings.

In September 2013, around 65% approved of the government's moves. In June 2014, around 62% posted their approval.

The latest survey also showed an increase in the number of people who disapprove of the Philippines' moves.

READ MORE...

The survey said 46% of Filipinos disapprove of the government's actions in the disputed waters.

Of the 46%, the breakdown is as follows:

27% "somewhat approve" 19% "strongly disapprove" In September 2013, only 27% disapproved of the government's moves. In June 2014, around 32% did.

'Worried' about armed conflict

The March 2015 SWS survey also showed that 84% of respondents were "worried" about armed conflict with China.

About half were "worried a great deal," while more than a third were "somewhat worried."

The same poll has been conducted every year since 2012, and in each of the surveys at least 80% of respondents have been concerned that the sea dispute could escalate into a full-blown conflict with China.

"It is natural for us to worry about armed conflict as it is a fact that it does not benefit anyone," Philippine presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte told Agence France-Presse, reacting to the survey results.

"This is precisely why our government has pursued peaceful means to resolving the dispute," Valte said.

The March 2015 SWS Survey had 1,200 adult respondents and a margin of error of +/- 3% for national results.

'Incompetent officials' blamed

Another survey, conducted nearly two months after the SWS survey, showed that Filipinos remain divided on the means to resolve Manila's dispute with Beijing.

In a survey published by Philippine broadsheet The Standard, 53% of respondents said it "is better if the Aquino administration resolved this diplomatically."

In contrast, 47% said it "is better that the Aquino administration complained to the United Nations," according to the survey conducted by veteran pollster Junie Laylo.

The two surveys come as the Philippines prepares for oral arguments in its case against China before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, The Netherlands.

At the same time, China has also ramped up construction of artificial islands in the area to reinforce its sovereignty claim over most of the sea, even waters close to the shores of its neighbors.

(READ: IN PHOTOS: China's creeping expansion)

Party-list group Anakpawis on Friday, June 19, said the Philippines' Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) should urgently seek the UN's help in stopping China's island building.

“We are about to lose not only our islands but also our sovereignty and dignity because of such highly incompetent government officials in the DFA and the Aquino administration is doing nothing to correct this," Anakpawis said in a statement. – with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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


PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE [PHNO] WEBSITE