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

PRESSURE RISES ON CHINA OVER ISLAND-BUILDING DRIVE


AUGUST 6 ---China came under mounting pressure Wednesday over its land reclamation in the South China Sea with both the US and Japan criticizing it for militarizing the disputed waters. US Secretary of State John Kerry raised the issue during a meeting with China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi on the sidelines of a regional diplomatic gathering in Malaysia that has been dominated by tensions over the Chinese moves. “Secretary Kerry reiterated his concern about rising tensions over disputed claims in the South China Sea and China’s large-scale reclamation, construction and mili-tarization of features there,” a senior State Department official told reporters. “He encouraged China, along with the other claimants, to halt problematic actions in order to create space for diplomacy.” The Asian giant has sparked alarm by expanding tiny reefs in the flashpoint sea and constructing military posts on some of them to try to shore up its territorial claims. The United States and Southeast Asian nations have called for a halt to such activities, but China has refused. Southeast Asian foreign ministers warned Tuesday after they met in Kuala Lumpur that China’s moves were raising regional tensions, with the Philippines slamming Beijing’s “unilateral and aggressive activities.” State Minister Minoru Kiuchi, Japan’s envoy to the talks, told delegates to the forum on Wednesday he had “deep concern over... large-scale land reclamation, the construction of outposts and their use for military purposes”, according to a Japanese government statement. Tokyo is locked in a confrontation of its own with Beijing over disputed islands in the East China Sea.  The annual gathering is hosted by the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), and includes countries from across Asia, the United States, Russia and elsewhere. It continues until Thursday. READ MORE...

ALSO: US proposes halt to provocative South China Sea activities


AUGUST 6 --U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, chat after the group photo session before the East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015. AP
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — US Secretary of State John Kerry is proposing that China and other claimants to disputed territories in the South China Sea immediately halt provocative activities that have ratcheted up tensions in some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. In remarks to East Asian officials in Malaysia on Thursday, Kerry said a joint commitment to halting land reclamation projects and construction would lower tensions and risks for miscalculation. He said the step would also create space to finalize a binding code of conduct.
His comments were directed primarily at China, which has been engaged in massive reclamation projects in areas contested by its smaller neighbors. China has rejected outside interference in the disputes.
Kerry said the US would not accept restrictions on navigation or overflights of the disputed territories. TVJ READ MORE...

ALSO: ASEAN nations struggle to agree communique wording on South China Sea


AUGUST 6  Indonesia and Myanmar said the priority was to finalise the code of conduct.
KUALA LUMPUR – Southeast Asian nations have yet to agree a concluding statement at a regional meeting in Malaysia because of wrangling over how to refer to the disputed South China Sea, Singapore’s foreign minister said on Thursday.
The delay is a sign of the divisions within the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in dealing with China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea, in particular Beijing’s recent construction of artificial islands in the waterway. “The joint communique should have been done by yesterday. It has not been finalised as of now,” Singapore Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam told a news conference in Kuala Lumpur. “The paragraph relating to the South China Sea is causing some problems,” he said, adding there was “no consensus on how the paragraph ought to be”. He declined to give details on the wording. Tensions over the South China Sea have dominated talks this week in the Malaysian capital, where ASEAN foreign ministers have also met their counterparts from various countries including China and the United States. China claims most of the waterway, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei also have overlapping claims. READ MORE...

ALSO: US vows to keep China Sea open


AUGUST 7 --Bilateral meeting. US Secretary of State John Kerry and Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario stand together before a bilateral meeting in Kuala Lumpur on Aug. 6. AFP
WASHINGTON will not tolerate any navigation restrictions in the South China Sea, US Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday at a regional security meeting dominated by tensions over Beijing’s island building. “Let me be clear: The United States will not accept restrictions on freedom of navigation and overflight, or other lawful uses of the sea. These are intrinsic rights that we all share,” he said according to a transcript of his remarks. Kerry made his comments at a security meeting hosted by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Kuala Lumpur. China has sparked alarm by expanding tiny reefs and constructing military posts, steps viewed by some of its neighbors as violating a regional pledge against provocative actions in the area. The long simmering dispute has flared at the Malaysia meet, attended by members of the 10-nation regional grouping as well as more than a dozen others including China, Japan, South Korea and the US. The US and Southeast Asian nations have called for Beijing to halt both reclamation in the South China Sea and construction on reefs, something Beijing has staunchly resisted. “I have urged all claimants to make a joint commitment to halt further land reclamation and construction of new facilities or militarization on disputed features,” Kerry told delegates, arguing such a step would “lower tensions”. ASEAN members were at loggerheads Thursday over how hard to press China on its contentious efforts to assert control over the South China Sea, with the issue threatening to fray regional unity. Diplomatic sources said the Philippines and Vietnam in particular were pushing for stronger language on Chinese land reclamation, which could help shore up Beijing’s disputed territorial claims. But there was pushback from traditional China allies among the ASEAN. “China’s friends are taking a hard stance,” said one diplomat familiar with the drafting. READ MORE...

ALSO: Church thru NASSA-Caritas begins 2nd phase of its Yolanda-rehab program
[NASSA-Caritas Philippines represents the country to Caritas Internationalis, a global confederation of 165 member countries based in Vatican and is currently headed by Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, the first Asian president of the confederation.]


AUGUST 8 ---The Tent City in Tacloban days after the supertyphoon Yolanda battered Eastern Visayas. Philstar.com/File photo
The Catholic Church, through its social action arm, NASSA-Caritas Philippines, has started the second phase of its three-year P432.15 million rehabilitation program for supertyphoon Yolanda last April. NASSA-Caritas Philippine national director Rolando Tria Tirona, said that the second stage of the rehab program, which covers April 1, 2015 to March 31,2016, will be focusing on interventions geared towards sustaining resilient communities. Tirona announced the beginning of the second phase during a visit to the country by Caritas Internationalis Humanitarian director Suzana Tkalec and following the completion of the initial phase of the rehabilitation program last March 31. "If last year we focused on building back structures such as disaster-resilient houses and on restoring the livelihood of those affected, this year we will be empowering the communities further through capacity building and community-managed disaster risk reduction activities," Tirona said. Among this year’s proposed interventions are the formation of various people’s organization within the communities that would maintain and repair the shelter, and water and sanitation facilities. There would also be financial management trainings for livelihood beneficiaries, ecosystem restoration and forging of long-term and deeper partnerships with local government units on disaster risk reduction management. The program called REACHPhilippines (Recovery Assistance to Vulnerable Communities Affected by Typhoon Haiyan) aims to reach 184,750 individuals from the nine provinces worst-hit by Yolanda. These are the provinces of Palawan, Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Iloilo, Eastern Samar, Western Samar, Leyte and Cebu. The targets this year include the construction and repair of 920 shelters, the installation of 28 piped water systems that would benefit 2,616 households, 220 protected wells for 4,097 households and sustainable livelihood for 7,312 households, among others. READ MORE...

ALSO: Yolanda rehabilitation not a priority for Aquino – Lacson


AUGUST 6 ---LACSON 
Former rehabilitation czar and senator Panfilo Lacson yesterday said he was not surprised that President Aquino did not mention Yolanda rehabilitation efforts during his last State of the Nation Address (SONA) as Malacañang clearly had no intention of prioritizing the rehabilitation of Yolanda-hit provinces. Lacson in particular blamed the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for releasing funds for Yolanda rehabilitation in trickles during the last two years. “The bottleneck is in the DBM. I don’t think Yolanda victims have been a priority of this administration,” Lacson said during a round table discussion at the Manila Bulletin. Meanwhile, NASSA/Caritas Philippines Executive Secretary Fr. Edwin Gariguez expressed alarm over the possible use of Typhoon Yolanda funds for the May 2016 polls. As the social action arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines , Gariguez questioned the government’s prolonged delays in fund releases under its Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan (CRRP) for Super Typhoon Yolanda. “The problem is 2016 is already nearing. When are they going to release the funds? Are they waiting for 2016?” he said in a statement. Lacson, who served as the presidential adviser on the rehabilitation and recovery in areas devastated by the typhoon, also mentioned there was clearly distrust between the local government officials and President Aquino. Lacson recalled that when he recommended that some rehabilitated projects be delegated to the local government unit (LGU) executives, the President hesitated on taking the proposal. “The first time I mentioned it to the President, he said ‘how can we trust the LGUs?’ I said, ‘Sir it’s about time we give them the responsibility, anyway the Commission on Audit (COA) is here and we can monitor the developments,” Lacson said. Lacson said he is disappointed that Aquino did not even brief the public about the status of the Yolanda rehabilitation programs during his last public address. “It would have been okay if he forgot to mention it had he not mentioned and thanked his hairdresser and his nanny,” Lacson pointed out. “It was not included in his priority list, it’s not in his memory,” he said. READ MORE...

ALSO: Yolanda funds to be used in polls, CBCP exec warns


AUGUST 6 --Gariguez
AN OFFICIAL from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines on Wednesday expressed alarm over the possible use of the government’s Typhoon Yolanda funds in next year’s elections.
NASSA/Caritas Philippines Executive Secretary Edwin Gariguez expressed this view following recent studies supposedly showing the Aquino administration’s prolonged delays in releasing the funds under its Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan for Super Typhoon Yolanda.“The problem here is that 2016 is fast approaching,” Gariguez said. “When are they going to release the funds? Are they waiting to release it until 2016? What is sad is they may be waiting for 2016 before they release the funds. That’s not good. They may be waiting for 2016 so they could give away this big money. That should not happen.” Gariguez made his statement even as the Department of Budget and Management said the releases of money for the rehabilitation of the areas devastated by Yolanda were made as urgently as possible, and that former Senator Panfilo Lacson’s basis on the slow releases was wrong. The agency said Lacson’s allegations on the slow Yolanda releases were untrue and based on incorrect data. Lacson was the head of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery until he resigned in December 2014. “Lacson’s points do not give an accurate picture of the government’s efforts to help the Yolanda survivors. Not only that—his claims are based on erroneous information,” Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said. Lacson claimed that the P80-billion requirement for the Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Program was not included in the 2014 budget. Data from a recent study by NASSA/Caritas Philippines, Development & Peace and other advocacy groups showed that only P73.51 billion or 41.61-percent of the total P170 billion in funding requirements had been released as of March 2015. READ MORE...

ALSO By Ernesto Maceda: No Yolanda release


AUGUST 8 --By Ernesto M. Maceda
Former Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery (PARR) Secretary Panfilo “Ping” Lacson said he found P350 billion in savings in the 2014 budget which was carried over to this year, but Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Florencio Abad has failed to release P80 billion approved for Yolanda rehabilitation. “When I told Abad to be ready with the P80 billion this year, he told me he will look for ways to raise it. I insisted that he did not need to look for funds for it since there is P350 billion in savings available,” Lacson said. “What I can’t understand is the funds were not released. There is a total of 205,000 housing units needed for the resettlement from hazard zones, for people to be relocated to safe zone,” the former czar said. Lacson stated that only 2.5 percent has been accomplished. The P75 billion for resettlement has not been released. Lacson blamed the DBM for releasing the funds in trickles during the last two years. Lacson also complained that P80 billion for the Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Program (CRRP) was not included in the 2015 national budget. He was frustrated that budget for Yolanda rehabilitation was not included in the administration’s priority list, it’s not even in their consciousness. The reason why he was not surprised the President failed to mention Yolanda rehabilitation efforts during his last State of the Nation Address (SONA), clearly an indication that he had no intention of prioritizing the Yolanda reconstruction and rehabilitation program.
These claims of Lacson validate the report of United Nations Special Rapporteur, Dr. Chaloka Beyani, that the government efforts to rehabilitate the Yolanda- affected areas is inadequate. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Pressure rises on China over island-building drive



MANILA, AUGUST 10, 2015  
(TRIBUNE) Written by AFP and Tribune Wires Thursday, 06 August 2015 - China came under mounting pressure Wednesday over its land reclamation in the South China Sea with both the US and Japan criticizing it for militarizing the disputed waters.

US Secretary of State John Kerry raised the issue during a meeting with China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi on the sidelines of a regional diplomatic gathering in Malaysia that has been dominated by tensions over the Chinese moves.

“Secretary Kerry reiterated his concern about rising tensions over disputed claims in the South China Sea and China’s large-scale reclamation, construction and militarization of features there,” a senior State Department official told reporters.

“He encouraged China, along with the other claimants, to halt problematic actions in order to create space for diplomacy.”

The Asian giant has sparked alarm by expanding tiny reefs in the flashpoint sea and constructing military posts on some of them to try to shore up its territorial claims.

The United States and Southeast Asian nations have called for a halt to such activities, but China has refused.

Southeast Asian foreign ministers warned Tuesday after they met in Kuala Lumpur that China’s moves were raising regional tensions, with the Philippines slamming Beijing’s “unilateral and aggressive activities.”

State Minister Minoru Kiuchi, Japan’s envoy to the talks, told delegates to the forum on Wednesday he had “deep concern over... large-scale land reclamation, the construction of outposts and their use for military purposes”, according to a Japanese government statement.

Tokyo is locked in a confrontation of its own with Beijing over disputed islands in the East China Sea.

The annual gathering is hosted by the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), and includes countries from across Asia, the United States, Russia and elsewhere. It continues until Thursday.

READ MORE...

Kerry to meet Russia’s Lavrov

Beijing claims control over nearly the entire South China Sea, a key shipping route thought to hold rich oil and gas reserves.


KERRY --AFP News Photo By Brendan Smialowski

Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei — all Asean members — also have various claims as does Taiwan, many of which overlap.

China’s neighbors have increasingly chafed at what is seen as mounting violations by Beijing of a regional pledge not to take actions that could stoke conflict.

Before their meeting, Kerry had said he and Wang would also discuss a range of bilateral issues including plans for a September US visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping and China’s “great cooperation” on the recent Iran nuclear deal.

A US diplomat also said Kerry would meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov later Wednesday to “discuss a range of ?issues of mutual concern”.

They last met in Doha on Monday alongside Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, where the ongoing civil war in Syria topped the agenda.

After that meeting, Lavrov hit out at an announcement by Washington that it was willing to take extra measures to defend US-allied fighters in Syria, describing the plan as “counterproductive”.

Kerry, in a meeting Wednesday with Asean foreign ministers, said Washington shared their desire “to preserve peace and stability in the South China Sea”.
He stressed the need to maintain the security of sea lanes and fishing grounds and to settle disputes peacefully.

Beijing has insisted it will not discuss the South China Sea during formal meetings at the forum, saying disagreements must be handled on a bilateral basis between rival claimants.

Diplomats and analysts say this stance is aimed at preventing Asean from presenting a more united front.

A Washington-based think-tank said this week Beijing could be preparing to build a second airstrip on an artificial island.

China is already building a 3,000-meter (10,000-foot) runway on Fiery Cross reef, which could ultimately be used for combat operations, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Kerry and Chinese FM discuss tensions over islands


US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Chinese counterpart discussed rising tensions over the South China Sea
-AFP News Photo By Brendan Smialowski

Kerry and his Chinese counterpart Wednesday discussed rising tensions over the South China Sea.

Beijing has sparked alarm in the region by expanding tiny reefs and constructing military posts to reinforce its claims over the strategic waters.

The United States and Southeast Asian countries have called for Beijing to halt such activities, which have dominated discussions at the regional security forum, but China has refused.

Kerry and China’s foreign minister Wang Yi discussed the matter in Kuala Lumpur on the sidelines of the gathering, hosted by the 10-member Asean, which runs until today.

But they downplayed the issue, a day after Southeast Asian warned the row was threatening peace and stability.

“I would just add I had a good meeting with the foreign minister of China and I hope very much that at this meeting over the course of (yesterday) and today, we will find a way to move forward effectively together, all of us,” Kerry said after their talks.

Wang, meanwhile, told reporters that Kerry “welcomed China’s support for peacefully resolving the South China Sea issue.”

Beijing claims control over nearly the entire South China Sea, a key shipping route thought to hold rich oil and gas reserves.

Before their bilateral meeting, Kerry had said it was just one of the issues in the two power’s complex relations that would command attention in the talks.
On Tuesday, Southeast Asian foreign ministers said China’s land-reclamation activities were raising regional tensions, with the Philippines slamming Beijing’s “unilateral and aggressive activities”.

The US and some Southeast Asian countries have called for China to freeze such activities.

Kerry, in a meeting Wednesday with Asean foreign ministers later Wednesday, said Washington shares their desire “to preserve peace and stability in the South China Sea”.

He stressed the need to maintain “the security of critical sea lanes and fishing grounds and to see that disputes in the area are managed peacefully and on the basis of international law.”

But he otherwise avoided strong language.

China has insisted it will not discuss the issue during formal meetings at the forum, saying disagreements must be handled on a bilateral basis between rival claimants.

Diplomats and analysts say this stance is aimed at preventing Asean from presenting a more united front.


INQUIRER

US proposes halt to provocative South China Sea activities SHARES: 2 VIEW COMMENTS @inquirerdotnet Associated Press 04:30 PM August 6th, 2015


U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, chat after the group photo session before the East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015. AP

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — US Secretary of State John Kerry is proposing that China and other claimants to disputed territories in the South China Sea immediately halt provocative activities that have ratcheted up tensions in some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.

In remarks to East Asian officials in Malaysia on Thursday, Kerry said a joint commitment to halting land reclamation projects and construction would lower tensions and risks for miscalculation. He said the step would also create space to finalize a binding code of conduct.

His comments were directed primarily at China, which has been engaged in massive reclamation projects in areas contested by its smaller neighbors. China has rejected outside interference in the disputes.

Kerry said the US would not accept restrictions on navigation or overflights of the disputed territories. TVJ


REUTERS WORLD NEWS

ASEAN nations struggle to agree communique wording on South China Sea Aug 06, 2015 15:51 pm


Indonesia and Myanmar said the priority was to finalise the code of conduct.

KUALA LUMPUR – Southeast Asian nations have yet to agree a concluding statement at a regional meeting in Malaysia because of wrangling over how to refer to the disputed South China Sea, Singapore’s foreign minister said on Thursday.

The delay is a sign of the divisions within the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in dealing with China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea, in particular Beijing’s recent construction of artificial islands in the waterway.

“The joint communique should have been done by yesterday. It has not been finalised as of now,” Singapore Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam told a news conference in Kuala Lumpur.

“The paragraph relating to the South China Sea is causing some problems,” he said, adding there was “no consensus on how the paragraph ought to be”.

He declined to give details on the wording.

Tensions over the South China Sea have dominated talks this week in the Malaysian capital, where ASEAN foreign ministers have also met their counterparts from various countries including China and the United States.

China claims most of the waterway, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei also have overlapping claims.

READ MORE...

ASEAN foreign ministers concluded their talks on Tuesday after rebuffing a request from China to leave the dispute off the agenda. Some foreign ministers, including from host Malaysia, said it was too important to ignore.

An earlier draft communique said ASEAN was concerned about developments in the South China Sea and emphasised there should be no use of threats or force.

It also expressed concern over the pace of negotiations in trying to agree a code of conduct that is intended to bind China and ASEAN to detailed rules of behaviour at sea.

A statement was expected by the end of the day, senior officials said.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Wednesday that Beijing had halted land reclamation in the South China Sea and that ASEAN and China shared a desire to resolve the thorny issue through dialogue.

In June, China said it would soon complete some of its reclamation in the Spratly archipelago of the South China Sea, while adding it would continue to build facilities on the man-made islands.

Indonesia and Myanmar said the priority was to finalise the code of conduct.

Arrmanatha Nasir, a spokesman for Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry, said he could not say how long that would take.

“As long as there’s engagement, that’s a good sign,” he said.

Thailand’s foreign minister, General Tanasak Patimapragorn, on Wednesday said talks on the code of conduct had moved to “the next level”. He did not elaborate. -Reuters


MANILA STANDARD

US vows to keep China Sea open By AFP, Sandy Araneta and Vito Barcelo | Aug. 07, 2015 at 12:01am


Bilateral meeting. US Secretary of State John Kerry and Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario stand together before a bilateral meeting in Kuala Lumpur on Aug. 6. AFP

WASHINGTON will not tolerate any navigation restrictions in the South China Sea, US Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday at a regional security meeting dominated by tensions over Beijing’s island building.

“Let me be clear: The United States will not accept restrictions on freedom of navigation and overflight, or other lawful uses of the sea. These are intrinsic rights that we all share,” he said according to a transcript of his remarks.

Kerry made his comments at a security meeting hosted by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Kuala Lumpur.

China has sparked alarm by expanding tiny reefs and constructing military posts, steps viewed by some of its neighbors as violating a regional pledge against provocative actions in the area.

The long simmering dispute has flared at the Malaysia meet, attended by members of the 10-nation regional grouping as well as more than a dozen others including China, Japan, South Korea and the US.

The US and Southeast Asian nations have called for Beijing to halt both reclamation in the South China Sea and construction on reefs, something Beijing has staunchly resisted.

“I have urged all claimants to make a joint commitment to halt further land reclamation and construction of new facilities or militarization on disputed features,” Kerry told delegates, arguing such a step would “lower tensions”.

ASEAN members were at loggerheads Thursday over how hard to press China on its contentious efforts to assert control over the South China Sea, with the issue threatening to fray regional unity.

Diplomatic sources said the Philippines and Vietnam in particular were pushing for stronger language on Chinese land reclamation, which could help shore up Beijing’s disputed territorial claims.

But there was pushback from traditional China allies among the ASEAN.

“China’s friends are taking a hard stance,” said one diplomat familiar with the drafting.

READ MORE...

The diplomat did not specify which countries were taking a hard line, but Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar traditionally ally with China within ASEAN.

The tug-of-war raises the specter of a 2012 ASEAN meeting hosted by Cambodia, when the bloc was unable for the first time in its four-decade history to issue a joint statement.

Cambodia was accused of precipitating the debacle by refusing to allow criticism of China over its maritime territorial assertions.

“China has already figured out how ASEAN works on the South China Sea, it knows how to divide us. Look at what happened in Cambodia,” one diplomat at the talks in Kuala Lumpur said.

Envoys from 27 nations -- including the United States and China -- were in Kuala Lumpur for the final day of regional security talks dominated by long-running disputes over the strategic sea.

Beijing claims control over nearly the entire South China Sea, a key shipping route thought to hold rich oil and gas reserves.

Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei -- all ASEAN members -- also have various claims, as does Taiwan, many of which overlap.

Each year the regional bloc, which prides itself on its history of consensus diplomacy, releases a joint communique after the annual meeting of its foreign ministers, which took place Tuesday.

Singapore Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam told reporters Thursday morning that the joint statement was supposed to have been completed the previous day.

“It has not been finalized as of now. There are difficulties,” he said.

“The paragraphs relating to the South China Sea are causing some problems,” he added.

A draft of the communique obtained by Agence France-Presse makes no mention of halting reclamation.

Instead it warns that recent developments in the sea “have the very potential of undermining peace, security and stability”.

It adds: “There is an imperative need to urgently address the erosion of trust and corrosion of confidence amongst parties on these matters”.

Delegates said they still hoped to get a final joint statement by the end of the day.

The United States and Southeast Asian nations have called for a halt to further land-reclamation and construction.

China had so far refused, but on Wednesday Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said land reclamation had “already stopped”.

However some delegates in Kuala Lumpur have played down those claims.

One diplomat told reporters: “They’re not saying they’re stopping construction, nor are they saying they’ll stop future reclamation.”

The Philippines said it would only be satisfied once Beijing halts construction in the disputed sea.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said Thursday that the East Asia Summit should play a major role in crafting the region’s security architecture and it must address all major issues that prevent the creation of a region of peace and cooperation.

Del Rosario made the call during high-level meetings of the ASEAN and East Asia summit in Kuala Lumpur, and emphasized that recent provocative actions by China constituted an infringement on the rights of the Philippines and other countries under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and a violation of the 2002 ASEAN China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.

The Palace on Thursday said that China’s claims that it has already stopped construction on disputed areas in the South China Sea still needed to be verified.

“Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario had earlier said there must be a halt to reclamation, halt to construction and halt to activities that tend to escalate tensions in the region,” said Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr.

Coloma also said there were reports that there is a second phase of construction, which he said must also be stopped.

He could not verify, however, reports that Japan will provide the Philippines with surveillance planes.

“This must be verified first from the Department of National Defense,” he said.


PHILSTAR

Church thru NASSA-Caritas begins 2nd phase of its Yolanda-rehab program By Dennis Carcamo (philstar.com) | Updated August 8, 2015 - 9:41am 1 11 googleplus0 0


The Tent City in Tacloban days after the supertyphoon Yolanda battered Eastern Visayas. Philstar.com/File photo

MANILA, Philippines - The Catholic Church, through its social action arm, NASSA-Caritas Philippines, has started the second phase of its three-year P432.15 million rehabilitation program for supertyphoon Yolanda last April.

NASSA-Caritas Philippine national director Rolando Tria Tirona, said that the second stage of the rehab program, which covers April 1, 2015 to March 31,2016, will be focusing on interventions geared towards sustaining resilient communities.

Tirona announced the beginning of the second phase during a visit to the country by Caritas Internationalis Humanitarian director Suzana Tkalec and following the completion of the initial phase of the rehabilitation program last March 31.

"If last year we focused on building back structures such as disaster-resilient houses and on restoring the livelihood of those affected, this year we will be empowering the communities further through capacity building and community-managed disaster risk reduction activities," Tirona said.

Among this year’s proposed interventions are the formation of various people’s organization within the communities that would maintain and repair the shelter, and water and sanitation facilities.

There would also be financial management trainings for livelihood beneficiaries, ecosystem restoration and forging of long-term and deeper partnerships with local government units on disaster risk reduction management.

The program called REACHPhilippines (Recovery Assistance to Vulnerable Communities Affected by Typhoon Haiyan) aims to reach 184,750 individuals from the nine provinces worst-hit by Yolanda. These are the provinces of Palawan, Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Iloilo, Eastern Samar, Western Samar, Leyte and Cebu.

The targets this year include the construction and repair of 920 shelters, the installation of 28 piped water systems that would benefit 2,616 households, 220 protected wells for 4,097 households and sustainable livelihood for 7,312 households, among others.

READ MORE...

Deemed as the most massive relief and rehabilitation program by the Catholic Church, via NASSA-Caritas Philippines, spent a total of P816.96 million and was able to construct 3,117 houses for typhoon survivors during the first year of the program implementation.

"We make sure that every penny is well accounted for by institutionalizing financial monitoring and evaluation policies, not to mention a regular monitoring and evaluation of programs done both in the national and diocesan levels. This is our commitment to the donors, to every Catholic around the world who entrusted these funds to us," Tirona said.

NASSA-Caritas Philippines represents the country to Caritas Internationalis, a global confederation of 165 member countries based in Vatican and is currently headed by Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, the first Asian president of the confederation.


MANILA BULLETIN

Yolanda rehabilitation not a priority for Aquino – Lacson August 6, 2015 Share1 Tweet0 Share0 Email0 Share903


LACSON

Former rehabilitation czar and senator Panfilo Lacson yesterday said he was not surprised that President Aquino did not mention Yolanda rehabilitation efforts during his last State of the Nation Address (SONA) as Malacañang clearly had no intention of prioritizing the rehabilitation of Yolanda-hit provinces.

Lacson in particular blamed the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for releasing funds for Yolanda rehabilitation in trickles during the last two years.

“The bottleneck is in the DBM. I don’t think Yolanda victims have been a priority of this administration,” Lacson said during a round table discussion at the Manila Bulletin.

Meanwhile, NASSA/Caritas Philippines Executive Secretary Fr. Edwin Gariguez expressed alarm over the possible use of Typhoon Yolanda funds for the May 2016 polls.

As the social action arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines , Gariguez questioned the government’s prolonged delays in fund releases under its Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan (CRRP) for Super Typhoon Yolanda.

“The problem is 2016 is already nearing. When are they going to release the funds? Are they waiting for 2016?” he said in a statement.

Lacson, who served as the presidential adviser on the rehabilitation and recovery in areas devastated by the typhoon, also mentioned there was clearly distrust between the local government officials and President Aquino.

Lacson recalled that when he recommended that some rehabilitated projects be delegated to the local government unit (LGU) executives, the President hesitated on taking the proposal.

“The first time I mentioned it to the President, he said ‘how can we trust the LGUs?’ I said, ‘Sir it’s about time we give them the responsibility, anyway the Commission on Audit (COA) is here and we can monitor the developments,” Lacson said.

Lacson said he is disappointed that Aquino did not even brief the public about the status of the Yolanda rehabilitation programs during his last public address.

“It would have been okay if he forgot to mention it had he not mentioned and thanked his hairdresser and his nanny,” Lacson pointed out.

READ MORE...

“It was not included in his priority list, it’s not in his memory,” he said.

“But how could you forget an international event that the whole world is aware of and even went to visit the place. And you would even forget putting an item for that in the national budget,” he pointed out recalling that he even pleaded with Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad to put even just P1 item in the national budget for rehabilitating communities in Leyte and Samar during a budget call. Abad eventually allocated P1 billion for the rehabilitation.

Lacson said he can only agree with the report of Chaloka Beyani, United Nations special rapporteur on Yolanda rehabilitation activities.

He said Malacanang’s efforts to dispute Beyani’s assessment on the state of rehabilitation efforts alreadycame “too late.”

“They should have preempted Beyani and implemented the necessary response to the plight of the disaster victims,” he said.

LACK OF TRANSPARENCY

Data from a recent study by NASSA/Caritas Philippines, Development & Peace and other advocacy groups showed that only P73.51 billion or 41.61-percent of the total P170 funding requirements have been released as of March 2015.

The study further said that only P2.4 billion of the targeted P26 billion for social services was funded in 2014. This is apart from the P13.6 billion released for the resettlement of the required P75 billion, P2.4 billion of the P26 billion for target social services, P9.8 billion of the P33 billion funds for livelihood, and P21.5 billion of the P35 billion budget for infrastructure.


MANILA STANDARD

Yolanda funds to be used in polls, CBCP exec warnsBy Sara Susanne D. Fabunan, Sandy Araneta | Aug. 06, 2015 at 12:01am


Gariguez

AN OFFICIAL from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines on Wednesday expressed alarm over the possible use of the government’s Typhoon Yolanda funds in next year’s elections.

NASSA/Caritas Philippines Executive Secretary Edwin Gariguez expressed this view following recent studies supposedly showing the Aquino administration’s prolonged delays in releasing the funds under its Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan for Super Typhoon Yolanda.

“The problem here is that 2016 is fast approaching,” Gariguez said.

“When are they going to release the funds? Are they waiting to release it until 2016? What is sad is they may be waiting for 2016 before they release the funds. That’s not good. They may be waiting for 2016 so they could give away this big money. That should not happen.”

Gariguez made his statement even as the Department of Budget and Management said the releases of money for the rehabilitation of the areas devastated by Yolanda were made as urgently as possible, and that former Senator Panfilo Lacson’s basis on the slow releases was wrong.

The agency said Lacson’s allegations on the slow Yolanda releases were untrue and based on incorrect data.

Lacson was the head of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery until he resigned in December 2014.

“Lacson’s points do not give an accurate picture of the government’s efforts to help the Yolanda survivors. Not only that—his claims are based on erroneous information,” Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said.

Lacson claimed that the P80-billion requirement for the Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Program was not included in the 2014 budget.

Data from a recent study by NASSA/Caritas Philippines, Development & Peace and other advocacy groups showed that only P73.51 billion or 41.61-percent of the total P170 billion in funding requirements had been released as of March 2015.

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The study further said that only P2.4 billion of the targeted P26 billion for social services was funded in 2014. This was apart from the P13.6 billion released for the resettlement of the required P75 billion, P2.4 billion of the P26 billion for target social services, P9.8 billion of the P33 billion funds for livelihood, and P21.5 billion of the P35 billion budget for infrastructure.

Gariguez also cited the lack of transparency on how the funds for Yolanda were used.

A report from the Department of Budget and Management apparently showed that the budget for the Yolanda reconstruction was shared with other rehabilitation efforts for other calamities such as the Bohol earthquake.

“This is another cause for concern. Why do they have to mix up the funds for the rehabilitation efforts of different calamities? This is a clear disregard of basic accounting principles. Again, this clearly shows the government’s super inefficiency,” Gariguez said.

The priest also raised alarm over the indebtedness incurred by the government as the “financial requirements of the rehabilitation have become the government’s pretext in accessing loan obligations with multilateral financial institutions.”

So far, the government has incurred a total of P126.2 billion i9n debts.

“These are the issues that we wanted President Aquino to clarify during his last State of the Nation Address. Unfortunately, this did not happen,” Gariguez said.


PHILSTAR OPINION

No Yolanda release SEARCH FOR TRUTH By Ernesto M. Maceda (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 8, 2015 - 12:00am 1 13 googleplus0 0


By Ernesto M. Maceda

Former Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery (PARR) Secretary Panfilo “Ping” Lacson said he found P350 billion in savings in the 2014 budget which was carried over to this year, but Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Florencio Abad has failed to release P80 billion approved for Yolanda rehabilitation.

“When I told Abad to be ready with the P80 billion this year, he told me he will look for ways to raise it. I insisted that he did not need to look for funds for it since there is P350 billion in savings available,” Lacson said.

“What I can’t understand is the funds were not released. There is a total of 205,000 housing units needed for the resettlement from hazard zones, for people to be relocated to safe zone,” the former czar said.

Lacson stated that only 2.5 percent has been accomplished. The P75 billion for resettlement has not been released.

Lacson blamed the DBM for releasing the funds in trickles during the last two years.

Lacson also complained that P80 billion for the Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Program (CRRP) was not included in the 2015 national budget. He was frustrated that budget for Yolanda rehabilitation was not included in the administration’s priority list, it’s not even in their consciousness. The reason why he was not surprised the President failed to mention Yolanda rehabilitation efforts during his last State of the Nation Address (SONA), clearly an indication that he had no intention of prioritizing the Yolanda reconstruction and rehabilitation program.

These claims of Lacson validate the report of United Nations Special Rapporteur, Dr. Chaloka Beyani, that the government efforts to rehabilitate the Yolanda- affected areas is inadequate.

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Also to validate Beyani’s assessment, the Social Watch Group shared their findings earlier over their study on the Yolanda reconstruction plan – the plan was poorly implemented; the release of funds delayed; and the sources of funds, allocation and status of spending unclear.

Even if Malacañang disputed Beyani’s assessment on the state of rehabilitation efforts, Lacson agrees with his comprehensive report on Yolanda rehabilitation activities.

Lacson said that even after the UN suggested to speed up the rebuilding efforts for internally displaced persons (IDPs), the release of the funds remained in trickles.

Lacson recalled that he even pleaded with Abad to allocate budget for rehabilitating communities in Leyte and Samar during a budget call, which Abad eventually allocated only P1 billion for the rehabilitation.

Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and some critics expressed alarm over the possible use of Typhoon Yolanda funds for the May 2016 polls.

It is probably not impossible, since there is a lack of transparency with specific amount for each of the Yolanda programs in the list.

With the necessary budget, the President should designate a person that has technical and administrative competence to implement the CRRP and other reconstruction efforts.

More food poisoning

Seventy persons were hospitalized in Ligao City, Albay after eating pancit palabok at a birthday party.

Twenty persons were hospitalized in Tiboli, South Cotabato after eating pancit bihon guisado.

Nineteen persons were hospitalized after eating in a buffet in Pampanga.

Meanwhile, after a series of tests on the 50-gram rice sample from Davao City, Food Security Secretary Francis Pangilinan announced the rice is not fake, but contaminated with a plasticizer chemical compound, an isolated case which may have been the result of mishandling. The National Food Authority (NFA) assured there is no fake rice in the Philippines so far.

David protest vs Poe

Ang Kapatiran Party 2013 senatorial candidate Lito David has filed an electoral protest before the Senate Electoral Tribunal seeking to disqualify Senator Grace Poe as a senator, for not being a natural born Filipino citizen and lacks the required number of years of residency in the Philippines when she filed her certificate of candidacy in the 2013 senatorial elections.

His party mates raised P50,000 required filing fee.

Senator Poe welcomed the protest as she would be able to answer the allegations against her. But she reiterated that she is a Filipino and a resident of the Philippines.

Meanwhile, various political groups, as well as party mates of former senator Richard “Dick” Gordon, are convincing him to file a separate disqualification petition against Senator Poe since he is next line if she is disqualified. But the former senator stressed that he is not opportunistic. He said that it is up to Poe to prove she has followed the law and deserves to stay in the Senate.

Tidbits

Secretary Leila de Lima has finally filed the third batch of charges in connection with Napoles PDAF-related scam.

Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay visited President Aquino’s home province of Tarlac. He was welcomed by former Congressman Peping Cojuangco, the President’s uncle in Gerona Town.

Floods have hit Iloilo City, Bukidnon, Maguindanao and General Santos.

Senator Bongbong Marcos said there is no guarantee of the Basic Bangsamoro Law (BBL) passage during President Aquino’s term.

New People’s Army (NPA) rebels raided a banana plantation in Tampakan, South Cotabato, killing a security guard and wounding five soldiers.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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