PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE: Since 1997 © Copyright (PHNO) http://newsflash.org



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

REDS READY TO TALK PEACE WITH INCOMING PRESIDENT


MAY 19 -FILE - In this file photo taken on Dec. 26, 2010, members of the communist New Peoples Army have their faces painted to hide their identity during the celebration of the 42nd anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines at Mt. Diwata in southern Philippines. Communist rebel leaders welcomed on Wednesday a possible offer from the Philippines' presumptive president-elect Rodrigo Duterte of four Cabinet posts, raising the prospect of a government that includes Marxist guerrillas who have long demanded an end to the US military presence and the redistribution of land. AP Photo/Pat Roque, File A representative of the communist-led National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) met with incoming president Rodrigo Duterte last Tuesday and both sides agreed to resume peace talks. Duterte’s spokesman Salvador Panelo confirmed that Fidel Agcaoili, chief negotiator of the NDFP, met Duterte last Monday at the Matina Enclaves. “The talks have started. They already had a courtesy call led by Fidel Agcaoili. Both sides promised to resume talks,” Panelo told reporters yesterday. Agcaoili confirmed his meeting with Duterte in an interview with CNN Philippines. He said the meeting was supposed to be held at 6 p.m. last Monday but pushed through at 3 a.m. Tuesday. Agcaoili said the resumption of peace talks was tackled during the meeting. “President Duterte issued statements like the resumption of peace talks, the release of political prisoners and his meeting with (Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Ma. Sison),” Agcaoili said. READ MORE...

ALSO: Duterte says Joma Sison welcome to return home
[RELATED: Top Reds’ wives also longing for home].


MAY 16 -The leader of the Philippines' communist insurgency will be welcome to return home after nearly three decades in exile and participate in peace talks, presumptive President Rodrigo Duterte said late Sunday.
Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison wrote in a Facebook post last week he hoped to come home following the landslide May 9 election win of Duterte, with whom he has maintained ties while living in The Netherlands. In his first press conference since it became clear he had won the election, Duterte said late Sunday that Sison's return to the Philippines would be important in helping to end the communist insurgeny. The insurgency was is of Asia's longest and has claimed an estimated 30,000 lives since the 1960s. "Yes, he is welcome. I am happy with the statement that he is coming home. I would very much want to talk to him about resolving the insurgency problem," Duterte told reporters in Davao City where he has ruled as mayor for most of the past two decades. Duterte also said communist figures would be considered for Cabinet posts. Sison, now 77, fled to Europe soon after peace talks failed in 1987. READ MORE...Top Reds’ wives also longing for home...

ALSO: Aquino will be watching Duterte quietly At least for one year


MAY 22 -There will no longer be any Duterte-bashing from outgoing President Aquino, at least for a year.
For the love of the country, President Aquino has decided to give his successor, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte, a year-long honeymoon period to give him greater leeway to govern the country. Aquino, who will end his six-year term on June 30, said it was in the country’s best interest to give the next administration a boost as it starts to govern. “We are all patriots. It’s in our interest to help you,” the President said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal Thursday in Malacañang when asked about his advice to the country’s next president. “Actually, I think I’m violating my self-imposed rule that I will keep my mouth quiet at least for a year cause I’d like to afford him that which wasn’t afforded to me where I was nitpicked and criticized even before I stepped into office,” Aquino added. Still, Aquino expressed hope that Duterte “will do all of the right things that makes it easy for people to support him.” BETTER STATE Aquino said he does not see any conflict with Duterte for as long as “we are marching in the sense in that direction of really uplifting the lot of our people.” The President opted to give his successor a chance to prove his worth even after strongly campaigning against Duterte’s presidential bid due to his perceived dictatorial tendencies. A few days before the May 9 polls, Aquino warned he would fight any return of dictatorship and other abuses even at the cost of his life. Duterte, the tough-talking mayor of Davao City who promised a strong law and order campaign, won the presidency by a landslide, defeating Aquino’s pick, Mar Roxas by more than six million votes. The President has earlier promised to facilitate the smoothest transition to the incoming administration and give Duterte a leg up at the start of his term. READ MORE...

ALSO: China envoy lays out position in maritime dispute


MAY 22 -Ambassador Sung Kim. PHOTO FROM STATE.GOV  LONDON — Contrary to Washington’s claim, a Chinese official yesterday said Beijing is committed to peace and stability in the disputed South China Sea, and desires to solve disputes peacefully through negotiation. The Philippines has taken China to a United Nations-backed tribunal over the dispute, with a ruling expected in the middle of this year. Beijing has said it does not recognize the case. In a speech at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, Chinese Ambassador to the United Kingdom Liu Xiaoming stressed China has long exercised “a high-level of self-restraint and forbearance” regarding the territorial disputes in the region. “We have always approached the disputes in a constructive and responsible manner. If China had not maintained self-restraint, the South China Sea would not be what it is today,” news agency Xinhua quoted Liu as telling his audience. Expounding on China’s position and policy, Liu said the islands and reefs in the South China Sea have belonged to China since ancient times. China was the first to discover the islands in the South China Sea, the first to name the islands, the first to exercise administrative jurisdiction in the South China Sea, and also the first to develop the islands, he stressed. “The aforementioned four ‘Firsts’ are based on substantial and concrete historical evidence. They testify to the fact that the islands of the South China Sea have long been Chinese territory,” he added. Beijing has been building islets in the South China Sea into artificial islands with military facilities including radar systems and airstrips. Regional neighbors such as the Philippines and Vietnam have rival claims and the United States says China’s assertions have no basis in law.READ MORE... RELATED, Obama nominates new ambassador to Philippines...

ALSO: Duterte: PH will remain a US ally
[Obama given reassurance in call to Davao mayor]


MAY 21 -President-in-waiting Rodrigo Duterte
DAVAO CITY—President-in-waiting Rodrigo Duterte said Wednesday the Philippines will remain a staunch ally of the United States despite his willingness to work with China on their territorial dispute over the South China Sea.
Speaking to GMA News, Duterte said he told this to US President Barack Obama Tuesday night when the American leader congratulated him on his landslide victory on May 9 and hailed the country’s “vibrant democracy.” “I assured him [Obama] that we will continue with our mutual interests and that we are allied with the Western [world] on this issue on China Sea,” Duterte said. He said that while he would maintain the Aquino administration’s present track of taking a multilateral approach and pursuing arbitration, he was ready to try something else if this did not work.“If it goes on still waters, I said, [if] there’s no wind to move the sail, I might opt to go bilateral,” Duterte said, referring to direct talks with Beijing. Obama told Duterte that he should wait for the result of the arbitration case before the UN tribunal. In the case filed in January 2014, the Philippines challenged the validity of China’s sprawling territorial claims in the resource-rich waters and sought to clarify the territorial entitlements of certain Chinese-occupied features under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas. The White House, in a statement, highlighted “the enduring values that underpin” the US alliance with the Philippines, including “shared commitments to democracy, human rights, rule of law, and inclusive economic growth.” “The two leaders affirmed their interest in seeing the relationship continue to grow on the basis of these shared principles,” the statement read. Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser, said that while the United States did not refer directly to allegations of human rights abuses against Duterte, Rhodes noted that some “controversy” and “statements ... drew attention in the past.” READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Reds ready to talk peace with Duterte presidency


FILE - In this file photo taken on Dec. 26, 2010, members of the communist New Peoples Army have their faces painted to hide their identity during the celebration of the 42nd anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines at Mt. Diwata in southern Philippines. Communist rebel leaders welcomed on Wednesday a possible offer from the Philippines' presumptive president-elect Rodrigo Duterte of four Cabinet posts, raising the prospect of a government that includes Marxist guerrillas who have long demanded an end to the US military presence and the redistribution of land. AP Photo/Pat Roque, File

DAVAO CITY, MAY 23, 2016 (PHILSTAR) By Alexis Romero  May 19, 2016 - A representative of the communist-led National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) met with incoming president Rodrigo Duterte last Tuesday and both sides agreed to resume peace talks.

Duterte’s spokesman Salvador Panelo confirmed that Fidel Agcaoili, chief negotiator of the NDFP, met Duterte last Monday at the Matina Enclaves.

“The talks have started. They already had a courtesy call led by Fidel Agcaoili. Both sides promised to resume talks,” Panelo told reporters yesterday.

Agcaoili confirmed his meeting with Duterte in an interview with CNN Philippines. He said the meeting was supposed to be held at 6 p.m. last Monday but pushed through at 3 a.m. Tuesday.

Agcaoili said the resumption of peace talks was tackled during the meeting.

“President Duterte issued statements like the resumption of peace talks, the release of political prisoners and his meeting with (Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Ma. Sison),” Agcaoili said.

READ MORE...

“It seems that president Duterte does not have any problem with the release of political prisoners, a majority of whom were detained under (President) Aquino,” he added.

Talks between the government and the NDFP were stalled after the two parties failed to reach a deal on jailed rebel leaders.

President Aquino ended talks with the communists in 2013 over the rebels’ demand for the unconditional release of their detained comrades that his government was unwilling to grant.

The NDFP had demanded the release of rebels charged with criminal offenses, saying they are working as peace consultants and should therefore be immune from arrest.

The NDFP insisted that the releasing of peace consultants is consistent with the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) signed by peace negotiators in 1995.

Government negotiators, however, refused to yield, saying there is no way to validate the identities of the rebels, especially those using aliases.

Earlier, Sison, who has been in self-exile in the Netherlands since 1987, said the prospect for peace talks with the government “seems to be bright” under the Duterte administration.

He also said he is ready to end his decades-long exile if Duterte, his former student, visits him.

On Monday, Duterte said he is ready to give at least four Cabinet posts to the CPP, namely the labor, agrarian reform, environment and social welfare departments.

Panelo said the appointees for the four agencies would not necessarily be CPP members.

“Anybody who shares the ideas of the left is welcome,” he said.

Panelo, however, stressed that Duterte is against violent means of pursuing progressive ideals.

He believes the military would not react negatively to Duterte’s decision to appoint communists in government.

“They trust Mayor Duterte. They believe in him. In fact, he has received the trust of both the PNP (Philippine National Police) and the military. They will follow the commander-in- chief,” Panelo said.

Panelo also welcomed reports that Duterte is planning to grant a general amnesty to communist rebels.

“The communist rebels are not criminals. They fight for ideologies. The struggle is now an intellectual one. We have to give them a chance to start new lives. They need a new setup for a new order,” he said.

Luis Jalandoni, the communist rebels’ exiled chief peace negotiator, told radio dzMM that the rebels waging one of Asia’s longest running insurgencies welcomed the incoming administration’s peace overtures.

“We applaud the plans and programs announced by president-elect Duterte. We believe these would be key factors to achieving peace,” said Jalandoni.

Netherlands-based Jalandoni said the rebels were expected to shortly exchange delegation visits with the Duterte camp “as part of the process for preparing the resumption of peace talks” as well as to iron out terms of cooperation.

Duterte welcomed plans by CPP founder Sison to end nearly 30 years of exile to take part in the peace talks.

He said the return of Sison, his former political science professor at the Lyceum University of the Philippines, would be important in helping to end the rebellion, which has claimed an estimated 30,000 lives since the 1960s.

Both Jalandoni and Sison said no guerrillas would actually serve in Duterte’s Cabinet prior to reaching a political settlement, when the insurgents hoped to lay down arms and join a coalition government.

“We have relayed to president-elect Duterte that (guerrilla) personnel themselves would not be taking up government posts, but we will recommend a list of qualified, competent and dedicated persons that could fill the posts,” Jalandoni said.

He said this would include nominees to the labor, social welfare, environment and agrarian reform portfolios that were offered to them by Duterte, who takes office on June 30.

Jalandoni also told dzMM the rebels would consider a ceasefire and would ask the Duterte government to release 543 political prisoners.

In a statement, the party said it looks forward to “forging an alliance for national unity, peace and development with the Duterte government based on clearly stipulated principles and policies of national sovereignty and social justice.”

“We view the offer of key Cabinet positions made by presumptive president Duterte as an acknowledgement of the strength and political standing of the CPP and revolutionary forces, its effective representation of the interests of workers, peasants, minorities and the broad masses as well as its work in protecting the environment,” the CPP said.

The CPP said that a labor secretary can only effectively serve the interests of the labor sector when there are laws prohibiting contractualization, promoting unions, establishing a national wage system and substantially raising wages to decent levels.

An agrarian reform secretary “will only be able to serve the interests of the peasant masses when there is a genuine land reform program that upholds the social justice tenet of free distribution of land to the tillers and which prohibits landlords, plantations and contract-growers from grabbing and monopolizing lands.”

“An alliance or coalition between the Duterte regime and the CPP and revolutionary forces can be realized on the basis of such principles as national sovereignty and social justice, which are questions at the core of the current armed conflict,” the CPP explained.

Amnesty Duterte’s plan to grant general amnesty to all detained communist rebels is the sole prerogative of the chief executive, a group of military officers said yesterday.

However, they pointed out before this could be done all the legal processes should be first satisfied, including the conviction of these detainees.

“It is a bitter pill for the military and police establishments to swallow, but it is the prerogative of the president, being the commander-in-chief,” said one senior officer who refused to be identified.

The officer said in the case of CCP founder Sison, he should acknowledge that he rebelled only against the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, and that he should announce his complete trust to Duterte.

Another senior military officer pointed out that detained communist leaders Benito Tiamzon and his wife Wilma are facing criminal charges that could not be automatically absolved.

“Medyo magkakaproblema dyan, dahil may (there could be problems because of the) civil and common crimes sila (detained rebels),” said.

“It’s his prerogative as president to grant such clemency. But for him to grant an amnesty, the suspect must first be meted with a sentence of conviction, I believe, though I am not a lawyer,” another senior grade military officer said.

But he added that Duterte, being a lawyer, knows what he is doing, as he was also quoted as saying that all cases against the detained communist rebels would be subject to review.

Another officer, whose unit is directly in charge of monitoring national security threats, described Duterte’s plan of action in dealing with the country’s decades-old insurgency problem as an excellent move.

“It’s an excellent gesture (release of all political prisoners) of the new president for the whole political spectrum of our society, in pursuit of national unity and reconciliation,” he said.

He said the plan is similar to the action taken by the late President Corazon Aquino during the post EDSA People Power revolution in 1986, that disrupted the strategic revolutionary objectives of the communists.

Among the first beneficiaries of the Cory clemency was Sison, who soon after his release from prison went into exile. – With Jaime Laude, Christina Mendez, Artemio Dumlao, AFP, AP


GMA NEWS NETWORK

Duterte says Joma Sison welcome to return home Published May 16, 2016 1:19pm

The leader of the Philippines' communist insurgency will be welcome to return home after nearly three decades in exile and participate in peace talks, presumptive President Rodrigo Duterte said late Sunday.

Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison wrote in a Facebook post last week he hoped to come home following the landslide May 9 election win of Duterte, with whom he has maintained ties while living in The Netherlands.

In his first press conference since it became clear he had won the election, Duterte said late Sunday that Sison's return to the Philippines would be important in helping to end the communist insurgeny.

The insurgency was is of Asia's longest and has claimed an estimated 30,000 lives since the 1960s.

"Yes, he is welcome. I am happy with the statement that he is coming home. I would very much want to talk to him about resolving the insurgency problem," Duterte told reporters in Davao City where he has ruled as mayor for most of the past two decades.

Duterte also said communist figures would be considered for Cabinet posts.

Sison, now 77, fled to Europe soon after peace talks failed in 1987.

READ MORE...

The communists armed wing, the New People's Army, is believed to have fewer than 4,000 soldiers, down from a peak of 26,000 in the 1980s, according to the military, however it retains support among the deeply poor in the rural Philippines.

On Saturday, communist rebels killed three soldiers in the central Philippines, according to the military, in the first outbreak of deadly violence between the two sides since Duterte's election win.

Duterte is due to be sworn into office on June 30.

Outgoing President Benigno Aquino III revived peace talks soon after taking office in 2010 but shelved them in 2013, accusing the rebels of insincerity in efforts to achieve a political settlement.

The talks got bogged down after the communists demanded the release of scores of their jailed comrades whom they described as "political prisoners," which the Aquino government rejected.

Duterte, who was Sison's student at a Manila university in the 1960s, said Sunday he was open to releasing communist prisoners. — Agence France-Presse

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

RELATED FROM THE INQUIRER

Top Reds’ wives also longing for home @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 01:00 AM May 19th, 2016


LONGING TO COME HOME After 30 years of living in exile in The Netherlands, Juliet de Lima and husband, Communist Party of the Philippines founder JoseMaria Sison, look forward to returning home. PHOTO FROM NDF WEBSITE

LUCENA CITY—For the wives of top leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), the biggest plus in a Duterte presidency—and its promise of peace talks with the CPP—is the prospect of coming home after 30 years of exile in The Netherlands.

“I miss most our relatives and friends, the food and the sights and sounds of places we were familiar with,” Juliet de Lima-Sison told the Inquirer in an online interview on Wednesday.

Juliet Sison and her husband, CPP founder Jose Maria Sison, went into exile after the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution that ousted strongman President Ferdinand Marcos and settled in Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Consuelo “Coni” Ledesma, wife of National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace panel chair Luis Jalandoni, was as elated and said she hoped she would be coming home for good this time.

“The Philippines is home, and even if we’re able to return more often now than before, every time we return, I still experience the joy and happiness of returning,” Ledesma said in a separate online interview.

Presumptive President-elect Rodrigo Duterte said he would allow Sison, his former college professor, and other exiled communist leaders to return to the country for the resumption of peace talks.

READ MORE...

Juliet Sison, who chairs the NDFP Reciprocal Working Committee on Social and Economic Reforms, promised that the NDFP panel would work hard with representatives of the Duterte administration in forging a peace agreement.

“It appears that [Duterte] has the political will and should be encouraged to take initiatives in advancing the peace negotiations,” she said.

She added that her husband, the chief political consultant of the NDFP, was also looking forward to the prospect of coming home and “meeting with representatives of [Duterte] and to … drafting papers in connection with the peace negotiations.”

In an earlier interview, Jose Maria Sison said he and Duterte were planning to meet somewhere in Europe before the latter assumes office on June 30.

Coni Ledesma said that already, her husband was updating himself on news about the Philippines through the Internet.

“We sleep late to get the morning news from the Philippines. And once in a while, a telephone call in the middle of the night means an interview from a Philippine radio station,” she said. Delfin T. Mallari Jr., Inquirer Southern Luzon


MANILA  BULLETIN

Aquino will be watching Duterte quietly At least for one year by Genalyn Kabiling May 22, 2016 (updated) Share0 Tweet0 Share0 Email0 Share0

There will no longer be any Duterte-bashing from outgoing President Aquino, at least for a year.

For the love of the country, President Aquino has decided to give his successor, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte, a year-long honeymoon period to give him greater leeway to govern the country.

Aquino, who will end his six-year term on June 30, said it was in the country’s best interest to give the next administration a boost as it starts to govern.

“We are all patriots. It’s in our interest to help you,” the President said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal Thursday in Malacañang when asked about his advice to the country’s next president.

“Actually, I think I’m violating my self-imposed rule that I will keep my mouth quiet at least for a year cause I’d like to afford him that which wasn’t afforded to me where I was nitpicked and criticized even before I stepped into office,” Aquino added.

Still, Aquino expressed hope that Duterte “will do all of the right things that makes it easy for people to support him.”

BETTER STATE

Aquino said he does not see any conflict with Duterte for as long as “we are marching in the sense in that direction of really uplifting the lot of our people.”

The President opted to give his successor a chance to prove his worth even after strongly campaigning against Duterte’s presidential bid due to his perceived dictatorial tendencies. A few days before the May 9 polls, Aquino warned he would fight any return of dictatorship and other abuses even at the cost of his life.

Duterte, the tough-talking mayor of Davao City who promised a strong law and order campaign, won the presidency by a landslide, defeating Aquino’s pick, Mar Roxas by more than six million votes.

The President has earlier promised to facilitate the smoothest transition to the incoming administration and give Duterte a leg up at the start of his term.

READ MORE...

Given the administration’s accomplishments on economic growth, poverty reduction, among others, Aquino maintained that his successor will have lesser problems in office than he had when he started in 2010.

“At the very least, I think we have fulfilled our promise of leaving something better, doing better than what we found,” he said.

“You will have a more capacitated and empowered, not just people, but society, even the institutions, that will make the job of governing, if not a lot easier, definitely easier than what we found,” he added.

Aquino, meantime, credited Duterte for making an effective campaign strategy of promising change in the country. He said such pledge has captured the imagination of the majority of the voters.

Aquino, however, is still confused about the kind of change Duterte promised Filipinos.

“What does that actually mean? That was not responded to during the campaigns, what the substance of the change is,” he said.

“We have 4.6 million benefiting from the conditional cash transfer program. Does that mean we should change it to less, to eliminating the program?” he added.


TRIBUNE

China envoy lays out position in maritime disputeWritten by Tribune Wires Sunday, 22 May 2016 00:00


NEW ENVOY: Ambassador Sung Kim. PHOTO FROM STATE.GOV

LONDON — Contrary to Washington’s claim, a Chinese official yesterday said Beijing is committed to peace and stability in the disputed South China Sea, and desires to solve disputes peacefully through negotiation.

The Philippines has taken China to a United Nations-backed tribunal over the dispute, with a ruling expected in the middle of this year. Beijing has said it does not recognize the case.

In a speech at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, Chinese Ambassador to the United Kingdom Liu Xiaoming stressed China has long exercised “a high-level of self-restraint and forbearance” regarding the territorial disputes in the region.

“We have always approached the disputes in a constructive and responsible manner. If China had not maintained self-restraint, the South China Sea would not be what it is today,” news agency Xinhua quoted Liu as telling his audience.

Expounding on China’s position and policy, Liu said the islands and reefs in the South China Sea have belonged to China since ancient times.

China was the first to discover the islands in the South China Sea, the first to name the islands, the first to exercise administrative jurisdiction in the South China Sea, and also the first to develop the islands, he stressed.

“The aforementioned four ‘Firsts’ are based on substantial and concrete historical evidence. They testify to the fact that the islands of the South China Sea have long been Chinese territory,” he added.

Beijing has been building islets in the South China Sea into artificial islands with military facilities including radar systems and airstrips.

Regional neighbors such as the Philippines and Vietnam have rival claims and the United States says China’s assertions have no basis in law.

READ MORE...

Washington — which has embarked on a foreign policy “pivot” toward Asia — fears Beijing is seeking to impose military controls over the entire area.

The Philippines has approached the issue through unilaterally arbitration, which China rejects.

“China’s rejection of the arbitration is an act of exercising its legitimate rights empowered by international law.”

China and the Philippines reached a number of bilateral agreements on resolving disputes, according to the diplomat.

In the Declaration of Conduct reached between China and the Philippines and other Asean countries, it is clearly stipulated that “the parties concerned undertake to resolve their territorial and jurisdictional disputes by peaceful means,” he stressed.

He pointed out that the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) stipulates that states parties have the right to settle a dispute by any peaceful means of their own choice.

“The aforementioned arbitration was unilaterally forced by the Philippines, (which) did not seek consent from China. This violates China’s legitimate rights under the international law,” he stressed.

The 15 submissions made by the Philippines concern territorial sovereignty and maritime delimitation, Liu said, noting that “the Unclos has no jurisdiction over issues related to sovereignty.”

“As for maritime delimitation, China made a declaration in 2006 in accordance with Article 298 of the Unclos. This made it very clear China would exclude disputes on maritime delimitation from compulsory arbitration, so China has exercised its legitimate rights conferred by the Unclos. China’s action complies with international law,” he added.

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

RELATED FROM THE INQUIRER

Obama nominates new ambassador to Philippines By: Kristine Angeli Sabillo @KSabilloINQ INQUIRER.net 02:44 PM May 19th, 2016


File image from The White House Facebook page

United States President Barrack Obama has nominated a former envoy to South Korea as new ambassador to the Philippines, the White House announced.

In a statement, the White House said Obama has expressed his intent to nominate Sung Y. Kim as US ambassador to the Philippines.

BACKSTORY: Obama names next envoy to Philippines

Kim is a career member of the US foreign service and is the special representative for North Korea Policy. He has also been the Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of East Asia and Pacific Affairs at the Department of State since 2014.

Before that, he was the US ambassador to South Korea (2011 to 2014).

He was also special envoy for the Six Party Talks from 2008 to 2011, director of the Office of Korean Affairs in the Bureau of East Asia and Pacific Affairs from 2006 to 2008, and political-military chief at the US Embassy in Seoul, Korea from 2002 to 2006.

Since joining the US Foreign Service in 1988, he has also served in Hong Kong, Japan and Malaysia.

“Prior to joining the Foreign Service, Mr. Kim was a Deputy District Attorney in the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. Mr. Kim received a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, a J.D. from Loyola Law School, and an LL.M. from the London School of Economics and Political Science,” the White House said.

Kim, who was born in Seoul, Korea, was raised in Los Angeles. He completed degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and the Loyola University, and obtained a Master of Laws degree from the London School of Economics.

READ MORE...

Obama also nominated the following people to key administration posts:

Ysaÿe M. Barnwell – Member, National Council on the Arts

Daniel Becker – Member, Board of Directors of the State Justice Institute

Rena Bitter – Ambassador to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Department of State

Anne S. Casper – Ambassador to the Republic of Burundi, Department of State

Geoffrey R. Pyatt – Ambassador to Greece, Department of State

Douglas Silliman – Ambassador to the Republic of Iraq, Department of State

Marie L. Yovanovitch – Ambassador to Ukraine, Department of State

Their appointment will be subject to US Senate confirmation.

Philip Goldberg currently serves as US ambassador to the Philippines. IDL/rga


MANILA STANDARD

Duterte: PH will remain a US ally posted May 19, 2016 at 12:01 am by John Paolo Bencito and Vito Barcelo

Obama given reassurance in call to Davao mayor


President-in-waiting Rodrigo Duterte

DAVAO CITY—President-in-waiting Rodrigo Duterte said Wednesday the Philippines will remain a staunch ally of the United States despite his willingness to work with China on their territorial dispute over the South China Sea.

Speaking to GMA News, Duterte said he told this to US President Barack Obama Tuesday night when the American leader congratulated him on his landslide victory on May 9 and hailed the country’s “vibrant democracy.”

“I assured him [Obama] that we will continue with our mutual interests and that we are allied with the Western [world] on this issue on China Sea,” Duterte said.

He said that while he would maintain the Aquino administration’s present track of taking a multilateral approach and pursuing arbitration, he was ready to try something else if this did not work.

“If it goes on still waters, I said, [if] there’s no wind to move the sail, I might opt to go bilateral,” Duterte said, referring to direct talks with Beijing.

Obama told Duterte that he should wait for the result of the arbitration case before the UN tribunal.

In the case filed in January 2014, the Philippines challenged the validity of China’s sprawling territorial claims in the resource-rich waters and sought to clarify the territorial entitlements of certain Chinese-occupied features under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas.

The White House, in a statement, highlighted “the enduring values that underpin” the US alliance with the Philippines, including “shared commitments to democracy, human rights, rule of law, and inclusive economic growth.”

“The two leaders affirmed their interest in seeing the relationship continue to grow on the basis of these shared principles,” the statement read.

Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser, said that while the United States did not refer directly to allegations of human rights abuses against Duterte, Rhodes noted that some “controversy” and “statements ... drew attention in the past.”

READ MORE...

“But look, this is a new government and we’ll want to hear from them directly what their priorities are,” he said when asked about the May 9 presidential election in the Philippines.

Rhodes said Washington hoped “to build on progress made with the last administration” in the country.

“For us the priorities will remain the security and the prosperity of the Philippines; we’ll want to see continued efforts in the Philippines to respect the rule of law and combat corruption, just as we support those kinds of efforts across Asia and around the world,” Rhodes added.

During the campaign, when Duterte drew flak from the Australian and American ambassadors for saying he should have been first to have sex with an attractive Australian missionary who was raped and killed in the 1980s, he told the envoys to “shut their mouths” and to stay out of local politics.

In its 2014 human rights report, the US State Department said extra-judicial killings were the “most significant” human rights problem in the Philippines, its key ally in the Pacific.

Washington has since signaled its willingness to “work” with Duterte, despite allegations of rights abuses in the city he has led for over two decades.

“Washington respects the choice of the Philippine people. We gladly work with the leaders they’ve selected,” State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said.

In an interview, Duterte spokesperson Peter Laviña admitted that they have problems with at least three embassies over Duterte’s controversial statements during the campaign period, but said they may visit them once Duterte becomes president-elect.

“We have problems now with at least three embassies—the US, Australia, and Singapore,” Laviña said.

The State Department, however, emphasized that it is up to American officials in the country, led by Ambassador Philip Goldberg, to fix relations with him, after he criticized the mayor’s rape “joke.”

Goldberg has yet to pay the incoming president a visit in Davao City.

In an interview with The New York Times after his win, Duterte recounted how an American bombing suspect was arrested in Davao City, but was later “spirited away” by US Embassy officials, which was the source of his disgust.

Earlier, Duterte met with Chinese and the Japanese envoys in Davao City. He is also set to meet with the ambassador from Russia on Wednesday.

Incoming acting Foreign Affairs secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. on Wednesday assured the international community of continuity in the country’s foreign relations, particularly on the territorial dispute with China over the West Philippine Sea.

Yasay said that continuity was important in foreign relations, and assured the public that the Duterte administration would not bring drastic changes in the Department of Foreign Affairs.

He also said that the incoming administration would wait for the decision of the arbitration court in The Hague, The Netherlands. With AFP


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

© Copyright, 2016 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE
All rights reserved


PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE [PHNO] WEBSITE