© Copyright, 2015 (PHNO)
 http://newsflash.org | APEC NOVEMBER 18 -19, 2015


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

OBAMA: US WILL SCALE UP NAVAL AID TO SEA


NOVEMBER 18 -US President Barack Obama approaches the podium following a tour of the BRP Gregorio del Pilar at Pier 13 in Manila yesterday. The 378-foot ship formerly belonged to the US Coast Guard, but was acquired by the Philippines in 2011. Kriz John Rosales President Barack Obama renewed yesterday the United States’ commitment to its allies as he announced that Washington will provide two more ships to the Philippine Navy to boost its maritime security capabilities. Obama said the pair of ships – a US Coast Guard cutter and a research vessel to map out local territorial waters – were part of a broader American plan to scale up assistance to naval forces in Southeast Asia, where coastal nations feel threatened by China’s aggressive moves to assert control over the South China Sea. Obama reiterated that the US had an “ironclad commitment” to the Philippines – a US treaty ally – and a mutual commitment to free and safe navigation at sea. He said the transfer of the two vessels is part of his country’s larger plan to support its allies and partners across the region, including the Philippines. “We intend to transfer two additional ships to the Philippine Navy – a research vessel to help man its territorial waters and another Coast Guard cutter to bolster the Navy’s ability to conduct long endurance patrols,” Obama said during his visit to the Philippine Navy ship BRP Gregorio del Pilar in Manila yesterday. “More capable navies and partnership with the United States are critical for the security of this region,” he added. Obama made the announcement amid the ongoing territorial dispute in the South China Sea. China claims more than 90 percent of the potentially oil-and-gas rich area while the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have overlapping claims. To assert what it claimed as its historic rights over the South China Sea, China occupied and built military facilities on some disputed areas, including those that are being claimed by the Philippines. The Philippines, one of the weakest in the region in terms of military might, has challenged China’s expansive territorial claim before an international arbitral tribunal. The US has vowed not to take sides in the dispute but has called on claimants to follow the rule of law and to settle the issue peacefully. Obama, who arrived in the country yesterday for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, said the US plans to provide $250-million worth of maritime security assistance to its partners and allies in the region. He reiterated that the US’s alliance with the Philippines – its treaty partner and oldest ally in Asia – is “unbreakable.” READ MORE...

ALSO: US ship docks in Manila ahead of Obama arrival


NOVEMBER 18 -The Arleigh Burke-class USS Fitzgerald arrived in Manila Bay a day before US President Barack Obama’s scheduled arrival yesterday. US Navy photo
A United States Navy destroyer docked in Manila Monday as the Philippines steps up security measures for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.
The Arleigh Burke-class USS Fitzgerald arrived in Manila Bay a day before US President Barack Obama’s scheduled arrival yesterday. The ship’s arrival was “in general support of APEC,” a statement released by the US embassy said. It was also stated that the five-day visit is in line with its routine patrol in the area of operations of the US Navy’s 7th Fleet, which is the largest with as many as 100 vessels. There were reports that two other US warships are “within the general vicinity” to provide support if the need arises. READ MORE...

ALSO Obama: China must stop all reclamation


NOVEMBER 19 -US leader pitches for EDCA : President Benigno Aquino III and his sister Maria Elena Aquino-Cruz, right, greet U.S. President Barack Obama to the welcome dinner at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Manila, Philippines Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015. AP/Bullit Marquez
“Bold steps” are needed to ease tensions in the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea, including making China stop its reclamation and building of military structures in disputed waters, US President Barack Obama said yesterday. “We discussed the impact of China’s reclamation and construction activities on regional stability. We agreed on the need for bold steps to lower tensions including pledging to halt further reclamation, new construction and militarization of disputed areas in the South China Sea,” Obama said in a statement after a bilateral meeting with Aquino on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summot in Manila. Obama cited his visit last Tuesday to the Philippine Navy flagship BRP Gregorio del Pilar where he announced increased maritime assistance to the Philippines. For his part, Aquino said he and Obama discussed the maritime disputes and security in the region and agreed that international law should guide behavior and actions of all countries with stakes in the region. “I take this opportunity to reiterate the Philippines’ view that the freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea must be continuously upheld, consistent with international law,” Aquino said. READ MORE...

ALSO China to Obama: Back off from sea dispute


NOVEMBER 19 -President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference with Philippines' President Benigno Aquino III in Manila, Philippines, Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015, ahead of the start of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. AP/Susan Walsh
Beijing on Wednesday warned United States President Barack Obama to keep out of the South China Sea issue.
"The United States should stop playing up the South China Sea issue, stop heightening tensions in the South China Sea and stop complicating disputes in the South China Sea," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said in a press briefing. Obama earlier called on China to halt all reclamation activities in the West Philippine Sea and South China so as to ease tensions in the disputed seas. The Chinese official, however, stressed that no country has the right to "point fingers" at China's massive reclamation activities. The American leader said in a statement after a bilateral meeting with President Benigno Aquino III that they discussed the impacts of China's reclamation and construction activities on regional stability. "We agreed on the need for bold steps to lower tensions including pledging to halt further reclamation, new construction and militarization of disputed areas in the South China Sea," Obama said. Obama earlier assured the commitment of the US to defend its longtime ally, the Philippines. The US president is in the country for the 23rd Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. RELATED: Obama: US has 'rock solid' commitment to defend Philippines THE FULL REPORT.

ALSO FROM KUALA LUMPUR: Asean can’t let any country claim entire sea - PNoy


NOVEMBER 22 -The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) must not allow any country – “no matter how powerful” – to claim an entire sea as its own and use force and intimidation to send its message across, President Aquino told a gathering of regional leaders yesterday.
Aquino delivered the message in a speech at the ASEAN-China summit here, in the presence of Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang. He said China should stop its massive land reclamation and other activities in the South China Sea and West Philippine Sea and called on the Asian power to use might in fostering unity and progress and not in stirring up tension in the region. The Chinese have built airfields and other military facilities on reclaimed lands in the West Philippine Sea. “We have not resolved, even amongst ASEAN members, the competing claims, especially among the Spratlys. These improvements further complicate and increase the difficulty of coming to compromises that will be necessary to prevent further tension from rising,” Aquino said. He cited the importance of a rules-based approach in settling maritime disputes, as he noted the case filed by Manila against Beijing before an international arbitral tribunal based in The Hague. In filing a case against China with the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the Philippines seeks to clarify once and for all its maritime entitlements in the disputed seas. Aquino reminded regional leaders that arbitration had worked in the case of India versus Bangladesh. Aquino said that while rival claimants should continue to work for a code of conduct in the South China Sea and West Philippine Sea, they should not wait for its completion to ensure and keep peace and stability in the region. “At this point when we are trying to manage issues, does not conducting massive reclamation and building of structures in contested waters make our collective task harder? We believe it does. Features that were once of limited use now potentially have a lot of use in so many different areas; conceivably, such a situation makes the give-and-take more difficult for parties involved, making a previously complex issue even more complex,” Aquino said. “None of us benefits in the long run; therefore, such actions should be stopped. This, at the very least, could return the issue to more manageable levels,” the President said. Aquino said China must take the lead in pushing for mechanisms that would ensure stability and peaceful rise of the whole region. READ MORE...

ALSO: China tells others don’t ‘stir up trouble’ in South China Sea
[KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: China on Sunday told other countries not to "deliberately stir up trouble" in the disputed South China Sea, while insisting it has no intention of militarizing the strategically vital area even though it has increased construction activities there. Deputy foreign minister Liu Zhenmin reiterated China's position that its construction of artificial islands in the sea was designed to "provide public service" to the region by helping ships and fishermen and disaster relief efforts. This also includes military facilities to protect the islands and reefs, which are located far from mainland China, he said.]


NOVEMBER 22 -President Barack Obama, center right, meets Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, center left, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Nov 22, 2015. (AP photo)
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — China on Sunday told other countries not to “deliberately stir up trouble” in the disputed South China Sea, while insisting it has no intention of militarizing the strategically vital area even though it has increased construction activities there.Deputy Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin reiterated China’s position that its construction of artificial islands in the sea was designed to “provide public service” to the region by helping ships and fishermen and disaster relief efforts. This also includes military facilities to protect the islands and reefs, which are located far from mainland China, he said.
Since 2013, China has accelerated the creation of new outposts by piling sand atop reefs and atolls, and then adding buildings, ports and airstrips big enough to handle bombers and fighter jets — activities seen as an attempt to change the territorial status quo by changing the geography. “One should never link the military facilities with efforts to militarize the South China Sea,” Liu said. “This is a false argument. It is a consistent Chinese position to firmly oppose the militarization of the South China Sea.” Other countries “should not deliberately stir up trouble but contribute to the peace and stability of the region,” he said.Although Liu’s statement broke no new ground — China has said this in various ways before — the setting for his remarks was significant: an Asian summit also attended by President Barack Obama, whose administration has backed the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries who have long-standing disputes with China in the South China Sea.Liu’s comments also serve to send a notice to China’s rivals in the region that it will not back down from its position on the resource-rich sea, irrespective of pressure from the United States. While it opposes any U.S. military incursion, China sees its own military presence there as justifiable.READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Obama: US to scale up naval aid to SEA


US President Barack Obama approaches the podium following a tour of the BRP Gregorio del Pilar at Pier 13 in Manila yesterday. The 378-foot ship formerly belonged to the US Coast Guard, but was acquired by the Philippines in 2011. Kriz John Rosales

MANILA, NOVEMBER 23, 2015 (PHILSTAR) By Alexis Romero  November 18, 2015 -

 MANILA, Philippines - President Barack Obama renewed yesterday the United States’ commitment to its allies as he announced that Washington will provide two more ships to the Philippine Navy to boost its maritime security capabilities.

Obama said the pair of ships – a US Coast Guard cutter and a research vessel to map out local territorial waters – were part of a broader American plan to scale up assistance to naval forces in Southeast Asia, where coastal nations feel threatened by China’s aggressive moves to assert control over the South China Sea.

Obama reiterated that the US had an “ironclad commitment” to the Philippines – a US treaty ally – and a mutual commitment to free and safe navigation at sea.

He said the transfer of the two vessels is part of his country’s larger plan to support its allies and partners across the region, including the Philippines.

“We intend to transfer two additional ships to the Philippine Navy – a research vessel to help man its territorial waters and another Coast Guard cutter to bolster the Navy’s ability to conduct long endurance patrols,” Obama said during his visit to the Philippine Navy ship BRP Gregorio del Pilar in Manila yesterday.

“More capable navies and partnership with the United States are critical for the security of this region,” he added.

Obama made the announcement amid the ongoing territorial dispute in the South China Sea.

China claims more than 90 percent of the potentially oil-and-gas rich area while the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have overlapping claims.

To assert what it claimed as its historic rights over the South China Sea, China occupied and built military facilities on some disputed areas, including those that are being claimed by the Philippines.

The Philippines, one of the weakest in the region in terms of military might, has challenged China’s expansive territorial claim before an international arbitral tribunal. The US has vowed not to take sides in the dispute but has called on claimants to follow the rule of law and to settle the issue peacefully.

Obama, who arrived in the country yesterday for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, said the US plans to provide $250-million worth of maritime security assistance to its partners and allies in the region. He reiterated that the US’s alliance with the Philippines – its treaty partner and oldest ally in Asia – is “unbreakable.”

READ MORE...

“The United States has been committed to the security of this region for more than 70 years. We have a treaty obligation, ironclad commitment to the defense of our ally the Philippines,” the US president said.

Philippine Fleet Commander Rear Adm. Leopoldo Alano said the two frigates would be acquired though the US excess defense program.

“It will add (more ships) to our inventory (that can be used) in patrolling our territorial waters and exclusive economic zone,” Alano said in a chance interview.

Alano said the processing of transfer documents takes about six to eight months. He is hopeful that the two vessels will arrive before President Aquino steps down from office in 2016.

When asked what the US would get in return for the donation, Alano said: “We contribute to the security of the region so that would basically be the contribution that we would be giving to them.”

Alano was mum on China’s possible adverse reaction to the US donation.

“I am not in the position to state any relationship between this (donation) and the issues of the West Philippine Sea. My only reply is indeed, this would boost the capabilities of the Philippine Navy,” he said.

The US has provided two frigates to the Philippine Navy –BRP Gregorio del Pilar, which arrived in the country in 2011, and BRP Ramon Alcaraz, which was commissioned in 2013.

Obama yesterday toured the BRP Gregorio del Pilar hours after his arrival at the Villamor Airbase.

He said the visit underscored the “shared commitment” of the Philippines and the United States to secure the waters of the region and freedom of navigation.

“The ship that I just toured, a former US Coast Guard vessel, helps the Philippines respond to disasters, perform counter terrorism missions and patrol the South China Sea,” Obama said.

Alano said BRP Gregorio del Pilar was chosen as the venue of the visit because it was the first frigate donated by the US to the Philippines.

Alano said Obama and crewmembers of the BRP Gregorio del Pilar discussed the performance of the ship as well as its missions in the Philippine exclusive economic zone, territorial waters and disaster-hit areas.

The US president stayed inside the ship for about 30 minutes.

Also present during the tour were Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Armed Forces chief Gen. Hernando Iriberri and BRP Gregorio del Pilar commanding officer Capt. Vincent Sibala.

Aquino and Obama to meet President Aquino wants to talk to Obama about retirement plans when they meet in the APEC summit, since both of them are leaving office next year.

Aquino said in a recent interview with the APEC Secretariat when asked about his personal experiences in interacting with leaders of the APEC member-economies and what he would like to do as he was meeting them again.

“It would be nice to see some of the leaders. For instance, President Obama and myself will be leaving office. I’ll be leaving by next year; I think he’ll be a little later by something like six months or so. Perhaps the exchange is on what we will do after leaving office,” said Aquino, who is set to meet Obama for bilateral talks and also during the leaders’ meetings.

Aquino said the APEC meetings also give him the opportunity to talk with Latin American leaders on how to tackle similar problems in governing their countries.

The President said when he met the leaders, most of them for the first time, he was in awe.

“Some of them have been in office and have gathered such media attention, in certain cases, for several years, decades even. You have all these questions on how did you manage such and such a problem, and so on and so forth,” Aquino said.

“Being at the top of the pyramid sometimes is extremely lonely, there’s no higher office that you could ask help from. When you finally do get a chance to talk to them, you find out that there is commonality of problems; there are sometimes commonality also of situations that happen in the solution of these problems,” the President said, adding: “At the end of the day, you find kindred spirits.” – With Aurea Calica, AP


PHILSTAR

US ship docks in Manila ahead of Obama arrival By Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 18, 2015 - 12:00am 0 5 googleplus0 0


The Arleigh Burke-class USS Fitzgerald arrived in Manila Bay a day before US President Barack Obama’s scheduled arrival yesterday. US Navy photo

MANILA, Philippines - A United States Navy destroyer docked in Manila Monday as the Philippines steps up security measures for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.

The Arleigh Burke-class USS Fitzgerald arrived in Manila Bay a day before US President Barack Obama’s scheduled arrival yesterday.

The ship’s arrival was “in general support of APEC,” a statement released by the US embassy said. It was also stated that the five-day visit is in line with its routine patrol in the area of operations of the US Navy’s 7th Fleet, which is the largest with as many as 100 vessels.

There were reports that two other US warships are “within the general vicinity” to provide support if the need arises.

READ MORE...

The destroyer’s visit also came amid the ongoing territorial row in the South China Sea, which is not on the agenda of the APEC meet but is nevertheless seen to overshadow trade issues in the conference. Washington said territorial disputes will be a “central issue” when Obama meets Asian leaders but downplayed hopes for a “Code of Conduct” to ease tensions.

“During its short visit, there will be no scheduled liberty for US sailors aboard,” the US embassy said.

Named after US Navy Cross awardee Lt. William Fitzgerald, the ship was commissioned in 1995 and can provide multi-mission offensive and defensive capabilities. – With Pia Lee-Brago, Jaime Laude


PHILSTAR

Obama: China must stop all reclamation By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 19, 2015 - 12:00am 1 3 googleplus0 0


US leader pitches for EDCA : President Benigno Aquino III and his sister Maria Elena Aquino-Cruz, right, greet U.S. President Barack Obama to the welcome dinner at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Manila, Philippines Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015. AP/Bullit Marquez

MANILA, Philippines - “Bold steps” are needed to ease tensions in the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea, including making China stop its reclamation and building of military structures in disputed waters, US President Barack Obama said yesterday.

“We discussed the impact of China’s reclamation and construction activities on regional stability. We agreed on the need for bold steps to lower tensions including pledging to halt further reclamation, new construction and militarization of disputed areas in the South China Sea,” Obama said in a statement after a bilateral meeting with Aquino on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summot in Manila.

Obama cited his visit last Tuesday to the Philippine Navy flagship BRP Gregorio del Pilar where he announced increased maritime assistance to the Philippines.

For his part, Aquino said he and Obama discussed the maritime disputes and security in the region and agreed that international law should guide behavior and actions of all countries with stakes in the region.

“I take this opportunity to reiterate the Philippines’ view that the freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea must be continuously upheld, consistent with international law,” Aquino said.

READ MORE...

The Philippines resorted to arbitration to clarify its maritime entitlements in the South China Sea as China became more aggressive in reclaiming disputed islands apparently to change their features and expand its exclusive economic zone under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Under the UNCLOS, arbitration is one of the avenues that claimant-countries can resort to for dispute settlement.

Obama expressed support for Manila’s resorting to arbitration and reaffirmed his country’s unwavering commitment to the security and defense of the Philippines.


APEC FAMILY PHOTO: APEC leaders and their spouses pose for the traditional group photo wearing the host country’s native garb, the barong Tagalog, with President Aquino and his sister Ballsy Aquino-Cruz before the welcome dinner held at the Mall of Asia Arena last night. AP

“As I have said earlier, we are not claimants ourselves, but we fully support a process in which through international law and international norms these issues are resolved,” Obama said in a press briefing after his meeting with Aquino.

“And we look forward to working with all parties to move disputes through these channels,” Obama said.

Aquino said they did not discuss getting other claimants to join the Philippines in the arbitration with the US.

But he disclosed that they have been discussing the arbitration case with some of the other claimants, which have been asking the Philippines about its experience and “the studies we have done leading us to the arbitration mode.”

“I think we will just pan or look at a search of previous statements by the other claimant countries are indicative of their watching us closely in this arbitration and are very close to a decision whether or not to join us in arbitration,” Aquino said.

Upon his arrival on Tuesday, Obama said two more ships would be delivered to Manila as part of US commitment to scale up assistance to allied naval forces in Southeast Asia.

“We intend to transfer two additional ships to the Philippine Navy – a research vessel to help man its territorial waters and another Coast Guard cutter to bolster the Navy’s ability to conduct long endurance patrols,” Obama said during his visit to BRP Gregorio del Pilar.

In his meeting with Aquino yesterday, Obama said the US and the Philippines “stand shoulder-to-shoulder” or balikatan.

“I am grateful for my partnership with President Aquino who has been a valuable and trusted friend to the United States,” Obama said.

The US president lauded Aquino for pursuing reforms and good governance as well as for his advocating “rules-based order in the region, which is critical to regional security and the global economy.”

“Now, our rebalance to the Asia Pacific is rooted in our treaty alliances including with the Philippines. Our Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement when implemented will bring our militaries even closer together, and we are especially committed to ensuring maritime security in the region, including freedom of navigation,” Obama said.

“As President Aquino indicated, disputes need to be resolved peacefully, that’s why the United States support the Philippines’ decision to use arbitration under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea to peacefully and lawfully address differences,” Obama said.

For his part, Aquino said he was honored to welcome Obama back to the Philippines after the US leader’s state visit in April last year.


LAST BUT NOT LEAST: Three APEC leaders arrived yesterday, completing the representation for the summit. Photos show (clockwise, from top left) Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong with Ambassador to Manila Kok Li Peng, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie, and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. JOVEN CAGANDE

Reaffirming partnership

Prior to engaging in comprehensive exchanges in this week’s APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting, Aquino said he and Obama took the opportunity to meet and continue their discussions on the enduring bilateral partnership between the Philippines and the US.

“We reaffirmed our treaty alliance, the strategic partnership and the historic friendship between our countries. I am confident that this firm foundation of broad cooperation and shared values will enable the Philippines and the United States to face the challenges of the present and those in the decades to come,” Aquino said.

“Our defense and security alliance commenced more than 60 years ago; to this day, it remains a cornerstone of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific,” Aquino said.

As a treaty ally of the US, Obama said the Philippines has been receiving security assistance from the US government, particularly through Foreign Military Financing (FMF).

“We recognize, with the deepest appreciation, the significant contribution to our efforts by the United States – contributions that help us ensure that we can ably respond to current security challenges, particularly in the area of maritime security and maritime domain awareness,” Aquino said.

Aquino said the National Coast Watch Center (NCWC), completed early this year, was established with significant assistance from the US. He said the project was first discussed during his visit to Washington in 2012.

“Our administration is pleased to see it come to fruition this year,” Aquino said.

EDCA urgency The two leaders also expressed confidence the Supreme Court would decide favorably on EDCA, as Obama called the agreement proof of the US “rock solid” commitment to assist the Philippines militarily.

After his meeting with Obama, Aquino explained that EDCA “seeks to make the operationalization of both forces much more real.”

Aquino cited the “longstanding” Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951 and noted that EDCA would allow the Philippines to have access to the most modern technology that would vastly improve its military’s capabilities.

“And that is why we welcome now with very open arms this agreement pending before our Supreme Court,” Aquino said.

“Now, as America gets the use of our bases to be able to have more stability in its ability to project its own power within the region in an effort to help in the stability and the orderliness and the diffusion of the tension (within) the region,” Aquino said.

On the pending SC case against EDCA, Obama said “we are confident that it is going to get done and we are going to be able to implement effectively the provisions and the ideas that have come forward during the course of these discussions.”

“The broader point is that, as a treaty ally, we have a rock solid commitment to the defense of the Philippines,” Obama said.

“And part of our goal is to continue to help our treaty partners build up capacity, to make sure that the architecture of both defense work, but also humanitarian work, and other important activities in the region are coordinated more effectively, and we think that the (EDCA) is going to help us do that,” he added.

Meanwhile, leaders of the House of Representatives welcomed yesterday the pledge of Obama to supply additional military hardware to the Philippines.

“That would be a welcome addition to our under equipped naval forces,” Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said.

Muntinlupa City Rep. Rodolfo Biazon, chairman of the House national defense committee; and Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, leader of the independent bloc, said the additional vessels could help secure the West Philippine Sea from further encroachment by China.

“I’m however very interested in the acquisition process. What are the terms? How much would it cost? Are they donations or are we buying them?” Biazon told The STAR.

“We welcome this gesture of the US to improve the country’s naval forces. We thank President Obama and all heads of state committing any and all types of support,” Romualdez said.

He said the international community and aid groups have also been helpful in assisting the country after Super Typhoon Yolanda and other disasters.

House Senior Deputy Minority Leader and 1-BAP party-list Rep. Silvestre Bello III said Obama should also provide new patrol vessels to the Philippines. Paolo Romero


PHILSTAR

China to Obama: Back off from sea dispute By Patricia Lourdes Viray (philstar.com) | Updated November 19, 2015 - 12:37pm 4 247 googleplus0 0


President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference with Philippines' President Benigno Aquino III in Manila, Philippines, Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015, ahead of the start of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. AP/Susan Walsh

MANILA, Philippines - Beijing on Wednesday warned United States President Barack Obama to keep out of the South China Sea issue.

"The United States should stop playing up the South China Sea issue, stop heightening tensions in the South China Sea and stop complicating disputes in the South China Sea," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said in a press briefing.

Obama earlier called on China to halt all reclamation activities in the West Philippine Sea and South China so as to ease tensions in the disputed seas.

The Chinese official, however, stressed that no country has the right to "point fingers" at China's massive reclamation activities.

The American leader said in a statement after a bilateral meeting with President Benigno Aquino III that they discussed the impacts of China's reclamation and construction activities on regional stability.

"We agreed on the need for bold steps to lower tensions including pledging to halt further reclamation, new construction and militarization of disputed areas in the South China Sea," Obama said.

Obama earlier assured the commitment of the US to defend its longtime ally, the Philippines.

The US president is in the country for the 23rd Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.

RELATED: Obama: US has 'rock solid' commitment to defend Philippines


PHILSTAR

PNoy: Asean can’t let any country claim entire sea By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 22, 2015 - 12:00am 0 4 googleplus0 0


(KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia) Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III link arms with Republic of Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong,Kingdom of Thailand Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha,People's Republic of China Premier Li Keqiang,Republic of India Prime Minister Narendra Modi,Malaysian Prime Minister Dato Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak,Lao People’s Democratic Republic Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong,Brunei Darussalam His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, Kingdom of Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen,Republic of Indonesia President Joko Widodo,Kingdom of Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen,Republic of the Union of Myanmar President Thein Sein for a group photo session before the start of the 13th ASEAN–India Summit at the Conference Hall 1 of the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre on Saturday (November 21, 2015) at the sidelines of the 27th ASEAN Summit and Related Summits. ASEAN-India dialogue relations have grown rapidly from a sectoral dialogue partnership in 1992 to a full dialogue partnership in December 1995. The relationship was further elevated with the convening of the ASEAN-India Summit in 2002 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Since then the ASEAN-India Summit has been held annually. (Photo by Lauro Montellano Jr. / Malacañang Photo Bureau)

KUALA LUMPUR – The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) must not allow any country – “no matter how powerful” – to claim an entire sea as its own and use force and intimidation to send its message across, President Aquino told a gathering of regional leaders yesterday.

Aquino delivered the message in a speech at the ASEAN-China summit here, in the presence of Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang.

He said China should stop its massive land reclamation and other activities in the South China Sea and West Philippine Sea and called on the Asian power to use might in fostering unity and progress and not in stirring up tension in the region. The Chinese have built airfields and other military facilities on reclaimed lands in the West Philippine Sea.

“We have not resolved, even amongst ASEAN members, the competing claims, especially among the Spratlys. These improvements further complicate and increase the difficulty of coming to compromises that will be necessary to prevent further tension from rising,” Aquino said.

He cited the importance of a rules-based approach in settling maritime disputes, as he noted the case filed by Manila against Beijing before an international arbitral tribunal based in The Hague.


Philippines' President Benigno Aquino III listens during the 27th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Saturday. (AP/Joshua Paul)

In filing a case against China with the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the Philippines seeks to clarify once and for all its maritime entitlements in the disputed seas.

Aquino reminded regional leaders that arbitration had worked in the case of India versus Bangladesh.

Aquino said that while rival claimants should continue to work for a code of conduct in the South China Sea and West Philippine Sea, they should not wait for its completion to ensure and keep peace and stability in the region.

“At this point when we are trying to manage issues, does not conducting massive reclamation and building of structures in contested waters make our collective task harder? We believe it does. Features that were once of limited use now potentially have a lot of use in so many different areas; conceivably, such a situation makes the give-and-take more difficult for parties involved, making a previously complex issue even more complex,” Aquino said.

“None of us benefits in the long run; therefore, such actions should be stopped. This, at the very least, could return the issue to more manageable levels,” the President said.

Aquino said China must take the lead in pushing for mechanisms that would ensure stability and peaceful rise of the whole region.

READ MORE...

A draft document showed the Philippines would like ASEAN to welcome the decision of the arbitral tribunal to assume jurisdiction over its case against China, stressing the importance of resolving disputes through peaceful means, in accordance with international law including 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

“China’s economy is larger than that of the entire ASEAN; its population is larger than that of all ASEAN nations combined. Any uncertainty in the region affects more of their people. Is it not therefore reasonable to expect China to take the lead in pushing for mechanisms that ensure stability, so that a peaceful rise may truly be achieved, not only by China, but the entire region?” Aquino argued.

“Likewise, all of our cultures tell us of the value of respecting elders; China claims to be among the oldest civilizations. We therefore hope that it sets an example for the rest of the region and take the lead in promoting harmony among neighbors,” Aquino said.

Uncertainty stalls growth Aquino emphasized that increasing tensions and uncertainty were factors that would hamper momentum towards collective prosperity.

“The conclusion of a code of conduct (in) the South China Sea would be a fitting symbol of the maturing relationship between ASEAN and China,” the President said.

“It has been 13 years since the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea forged our collective commitment to address disputes peacefully and with good will. We should not wait any longer to establish the Code of Conduct and reinforce, without ambiguity or reservation, our political will with respect to the issue,” Aquino said.

In his speech delivered during the plenary session of the ASEAN members, Aquino told fellow leaders that the region’s stability and prosperity were under threat “by unilateral actions such as the massive reclamation and building of structures on features in the Spratly islands.” He said such alarming developments have urgent and far-reaching implications in the region and the international community.

The President emphasized the Philippines has always adhered to the rule of law, and that its decision to resort to arbitration reflected its belief “that it is a transparent, friendly, durable and peaceful dispute settlement mechanism that can bring stability to the region.”

“We welcome the arbitral tribunal’s decision on jurisdiction, and look forward to the next round of hearings, scheduled for next week at The Hague,” Aquino said.

“The Philippines remains committed to pursuing arbitration to its final conclusion, and will abide by its decisions,” he pointed out.

The President repeated his message during the ASEAN Plus Three (China, Japan and South Korea) Summit, the ASEAN-India Summit and the ASEAN-US Summit to press for freedom of navigation and overflight.

The President, during the ASEAN-India Summit, also expressed appreciation for India’s opposition “to the threat or use of force, as well as its affirmation of the importance of safeguarding maritime security and ensuring the freedom of navigation and overflight, particularly in disputed areas” in the South China Sea.


Aquino and President Xi Jinping were both present in the Apec summit but did not discuss the issue among themselves in a dialog. No victory lap for ‘Pacific President’ US President Barack Obama voiced his determination to put Asia front and center in his foreign policy yesterday, even as a two-nation visit to the region was eclipsed by jihadist attacks in France and Mali. America’s self-styled “Pacific president” has been frustrated to see a trip to Malaysia and the Philippines — designed to highlight his stated re-focus on Asia — overshadowed once again. After years of talking about the need to deepen trade, security and diplomatic ties with the region, White House officials had hoped the trip would be a victory lap. FROM THE TRIBUNE

He said India was supportive of the peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law, including the UNCLOS, as it had already shown determination to settle disputes by peaceful means.

“Its acceptance of the decision on their Bay of Bengal maritime boundary case with Bangladesh shows that arbitration is not a hostile act but is, in fact, a conciliatory move mutually beneficial not only to direct stakeholders, but also to the entire global community,” Aquino said.

“Through efforts like this, we underscore the paramount importance of the rule of law, which consequently fosters multilateral relationships guided by mutual respect and transparent and honest dialogue,” he said.

The President said the tribunal clearly stated that its decision was legally-binding “and as a responsible member of the community of nations, the Philippines is committed to following India’s fine example in abiding by the decision of the tribunal.”


INQUIRER

China tells others don’t ‘stir up trouble’ in South China Sea SHARES: 240 VIEW COMMENTS @inquirerdotnet Associated Press 06:37 PM November 22nd, 2015


President Barack Obama, center right, meets Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, center left, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Nov 22, 2015. (AP photo)

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — China on Sunday told other countries not to “deliberately stir up trouble” in the disputed South China Sea, while insisting it has no intention of militarizing the strategically vital area even though it has increased construction activities there.

Deputy Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin reiterated China’s position that its construction of artificial islands in the sea was designed to “provide public service” to the region by helping ships and fishermen and disaster relief efforts. This also includes military facilities to protect the islands and reefs, which are located far from mainland China, he said.

Since 2013, China has accelerated the creation of new outposts by piling sand atop reefs and atolls, and then adding buildings, ports and airstrips big enough to handle bombers and fighter jets — activities seen as an attempt to change the territorial status quo by changing the geography.

“One should never link the military facilities with efforts to militarize the South China Sea,” Liu said. “This is a false argument. It is a consistent Chinese position to firmly oppose the militarization of the South China Sea.”

Other countries “should not deliberately stir up trouble but contribute to the peace and stability of the region,” he said.

Although Liu’s statement broke no new ground — China has said this in various ways before — the setting for his remarks was significant: an Asian summit also attended by President Barack Obama, whose administration has backed the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries who have long-standing disputes with China in the South China Sea.

Liu’s comments also serve to send a notice to China’s rivals in the region that it will not back down from its position on the resource-rich sea, irrespective of pressure from the United States. While it opposes any U.S. military incursion, China sees its own military presence there as justifiable.

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Liu is at the summit accompanying Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

At a separate news conference, Obama said the issue was a “key topic” at the summit of 18 countries that included China, as well as at a separate summit he had with leaders of 10 Southeast Asian countries.

“Many leaders spoke about the need to uphold international principles, including the freedom of navigation, and overflight and the peaceful resolution of disputes,” Obama said.

“My fellow leaders from Japan, Australia and the Philippines have reaffirmed that our treaty alliances remained the foundation of regional security. The United States is boosting our support for the Philippines maritime capabilities and those of our regional partners,” Obama said. The other claimants in Southeast Asia are Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei.

The U.S. and others have called on Beijing to halt the construction, saying they are destabilizing an increasingly militarized region. Washington angered China by sending a warship inside a 12-nautical-mile (22-kilometer) territorial limit around Subi Reef in the Spratly Islands archipelago, where China and the Philippines have competing claims.

Liu called the USS Larsen’s voyage last month a “political provocation.”

“Is this a trend of militarization that calls for our alert?” Liu asked. “We hope regional countries and those outside the region will make positive and constructive contribution to our efforts to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea. Don’t look for trouble.”

He said out of some 1,000 islands, reefs and atolls in the vast sea, China has occupied only seven small islands and reefs in waters under its jurisdiction. Without naming any country, he accused three of them of occupying 42 “illegally.” One of them, he said, controls 29, another one eight and the third country five.

With the waterway a crucial trade passage, he said freedom of navigation and peace and security of the area are crucial to China’s economic expansion.

Liu denied allegations that China is waiting to complete its construction activities in the sea before agreeing to a binding code of conduct, in a move to tie the hands of its rival claimants.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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