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

FIRST CABINET MEETING

METAMORPHOSED DUTERTE SEEN AT INAUGURATION, SAYS UP PROF
[RELATED: Expecting snub, Leni ‘relieved’ after encounter with ‘sincere’ Rody]


JULY 1 -Manila, Philippines. Duterte was sworn in Thursday as president of the Philippines, with many hoping his maverick style will energize the country but others fearing he could undercut one of Asia's liveliest democracies amid his threats to kill criminals en masse. Holding the bible is President Duterte's daughter Veronica. The News and Information Bureau, Malacañang Palace via AP True to his words, newly-sworn President Rodrigo Duterte seemed to have “metamorphosed” as seen in his short and curse-free speech, a University of the Philippines educator said Friday. Criticized for his gutter language and rudeness, Duterte once promised to metamorphose from a "caterpillar into a butterfly” when he assumes office on June 30. “But that (metamorphosis) is yet to be fully seen,” political science professor Jan Robert Go told Philstar.com in an online interview. In a speech following his inauguration, the 71-year-old president called on Filipinos to give him a chance to lead the country, emphasizing the need for unity if they want true change. “The change, if it is to be permanent and significant, must start with us and in us,” Duterte said. The message of the inaugural speech, according to Go, meant that the new president requires changing not only from the top but from every Filipino, setting aside the doubts cast on him by his critics. Duterte also highlighted the country's problems of corruption, drugs, criminality and the erosion of faith and trust in government. The analyst said Duterte, who came in “strong and commanding in a positive way,” has displayed early demonstration of what he called as “political will.” “He ordered his Cabinet to work quickly,” he said. “This is a show of one’s sincerity to effect change.” Though Duterte may have speechwriters, the president’s “personal touch” on his speech was apparent, the analyst said. “His adlib in the end and his message for Turkey was very presidential,” Go said. READ MORE...RELATED,Expecting snub, Leni ‘relieved’ after encounter with ‘sincere’ Rody...

ALSO: Hundreds of drug users surrender
[RELATED: Bodies pile up as Filipino police show new boss they’re tough on drugs]


JULY 2 -NO ESCAPE Policemen queue up during a surprise mandatory drug test at a police station in Manila. AFP PHOTO
THEY keep coming out. Apparently driven by fear of execution, more than 900 drug pushers and users have surrendered to the police over the weekend as police and barangay (village) officials joined hands in carrying out a tough anti-drug program initiated by President Rodrigo Duterte. Rizal Provincial Police Director Senior Supt. Adriano Enong Jr. said 762 drug “suspects” from various barangays in the province trooped to the headquarters of the Rizal Provincial Police in Taytay town where they underwent medical and psychiatric examinations and drug tests. In Isabela province, at least 200 people involved in illegal drugs also surrendered to authorities in the towns of Ilagan and San Agustin. The youngest was 15 years old, police said. Senior Inspector William Agpalsa, San Agustin chief of police, said they will continue their operations against the drug personalities who have not surrendered. Those who turned up in police stations signed an affidavit that they will not use or peddle illegal drugs again. They will be given counseling, livelihood training and undergo rehabilitation, if needed. “The PNP anti-drug campaign operations have no timeline and it will never stop until said menace is totally eradicated in the province of Rizal,” Enong said. The Rizal surrenderers were the latest batch of drug personalities who turned themselves in since Duterte vowed to go after drug pushers and their police protectors. On Friday, 86 suspected drug users and pushers in San Juan City surrendered to the police. With the help of barangay [village] officials, the suspected drug users and pushers surrendered to San Juan acting police chief Senior Supt. Victor Arevalo. The suspected drug users and pushers were later presented to Mayor Guia Gomez. The mayor vowed to give them livelihood training. Last week, 210 suspected drug users and pushers also surrendered to the police in the cities of Pasig, Marikina, San Juan, and Mandaluyong In Caraga, 272 suspected pushers and users also surrendered to authorities amid the intensified campaign against illegal drugs. Caraga police spokesman Supt. Michael Lozada said the drug suspects turned up in different police stations in the region. READ MORE...RELATED, Bodies pile up as Filipino police show new boss they’re tough on drugs...

ALSO: Philippines hopes all countries will respect UN ruling
[RELATED: ARBITRAL RULING TO AFFECT OTHER CHINA CONFLICTS — GOV’T COUNSEL]


JULY 1 -A protester displays a placard and a Philippine flag outside of the Chinese Consulate in protest of China's occupation and island-building in the disputed Spratlys islands in the South China Sea Friday, June 10, 2016, at the financial district of Makati, Philippines. The protesters are calling on the new government to reject China's proposal of bilateral talks instead of the arbitration case filed by the Philippines in The Hague. AP/Bullit Marquez The Philippines on Thursday said that it will fully respect the decision of the United Nations' Permanent Court of Arbitration on its case against China, which is set to be issued on July 12, and urges other nations to similarly abide by it. "The Philippines believes that the rule of law prescribes a just and peaceful means of resolving differences, which is why the Philippines will fully respect the Tribunal’s Award as an affirmation of the UNCLOS and hopes that members of the international community and Parties to the Convention will do the same," according to the Department of Foreign Affairs in a statement.
In its statement, the DFA wished to state that the Philippines initiated the arbitration case against China's nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea but the latter refused to participate in the proceedings. The state agency also noted a timeline of the case since the proceedings started in January 2013. The arbitration proceedings commenced on 22 January 2013 when the Philippines filed a Notification and Statement of Claim “with respect to the dispute with China over the maritime jurisdiction of the Philippines on the West Philippine Sea” pursuant to Articles 286 and 287 of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and in accordance with Article 1 of Annex VII of the said Convention. The Philippines invited China to participate in the proceedings. READ MORE...RELATED, ARBITRAL RULING TO AFFECT OTHER CHINA CONFLICTS — GOV’T COUNSEL...

ALSO: China president congratulates Duterte, eyes better ties with PH
[RELATED: China calls on PH to properly solve maritime disputes via negotiation]


JULY 1 -Chinese President Xi Jinping. AP FILE PHOTO Beijing would like to improve relations with Manila through joint efforts, with bilateral ties facing important opportunities for growth, Chinese President Xi Jinping told the Philippines’ new president, who was sworn in on Thursday. Rodrigo Duterte, 71, took the oath of office at Malacañang Palace in Manila, becoming the 16th president of the Southeast Asian nation of 102 million people. Ties between the two countries have nosedived since a unilateral arbitration case over the South China Sea dispute was brought by outgoing Philippine president Benigno Aquino III.
Unlike his predecessor, Duterte, the first local mayor to be directly elected as president of the Philippines, is expected to take a pragmatic approach to the South China Sea dispute with China, analysts said. READ: Duterte wants friendly ties with China; okays direct talks Xi said in a congratulatory letter to Duterte that China and the Philippines are neighbors, and being friendly is a tradition of the two countries that has endured for more than 1,000 years. READ MORE...RELATED, China calls on PH to properly solve maritime disputes via negotiation...

ALSO: Abu Sayyaf wants to talk to Duterte admin for negotiation
[RELATED: Headless body believed to belong to 2nd beheaded Canadian found]


JULY 2 -An earlier file image posted on Site Intel Group’s Twitter account shows Abu Sayyaf members with the Samal Island hostages.
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines - The Sulu-based Abu Sayyaf group holding hostage foreign nationals expressed desire to talk to the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, according to its spokesman. But the Abu Sayyaf warned of executing the last Samal captive Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad should the government refused. Muammar Askali alias Abu Rami, spokesman of the Sulu-based Abu Sayyaf group, said over a local radio DXRZ on Friday that they have opened the line for the government to have a dialogue with them. Askali said they particularly want Presidential Peace Adviser Secretary Jesus Dureza to negotiate with them and relay their grievances to Duterte. The spokesman declined to divulge their “concessions” from the government except to Dureza whom they want to initiate the talks. READ MORE...RELATED,Headless body believed to belong to 2nd beheaded Canadian found...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

'Metamorphosed' Duterte seen at inauguration, says UP prof


Duterte was sworn in Thursday as president of the Philippines, with many hoping his maverick style will energize the country but others fearing he could undercut one of Asia's liveliest democracies amid his threats to kill criminals en masse. Holding the bible is President Duterte's daughter Veronica. The News and Information Bureau, Malacañang Palace via AP

MANILA, JULY 4, 2016 (PHILSTAR) By Kristine Daguno-Bersamina Updated July 1, 2016 - 3:09pm - True to his words, newly-sworn President Rodrigo Duterte seemed to have “metamorphosed” as seen in his short and curse-free speech, a University of the Philippines educator said Friday.

Criticized for his gutter language and rudeness, Duterte once promised to metamorphose from a "caterpillar into a butterfly” when he assumes office on June 30.

“But that (metamorphosis) is yet to be fully seen,” political science professor Jan Robert Go told Philstar.com in an online interview.

In a speech following his inauguration, the 71-year-old president called on Filipinos to give him a chance to lead the country, emphasizing the need for unity if they want true change.

“The change, if it is to be permanent and significant, must start with us and in us,” Duterte said.

The message of the inaugural speech, according to Go, meant that the new president requires changing not only from the top but from every Filipino, setting aside the doubts cast on him by his critics.

Duterte also highlighted the country's problems of corruption, drugs, criminality and the erosion of faith and trust in government.

The analyst said Duterte, who came in “strong and commanding in a positive way,” has displayed early demonstration of what he called as “political will.”

“He ordered his Cabinet to work quickly,” he said. “This is a show of one’s sincerity to effect change.”

Though Duterte may have speechwriters, the president’s “personal touch” on his speech was apparent, the analyst said.

“His adlib in the end and his message for Turkey was very presidential,” Go said.

READ MORE...

Lights and shadows

Duterte, who broke many traditions in his inauguration, has been criticized for a semblance of disunity created by the separate inaugurations of the two highest officials.

The president and Vice President Leni Robredo had their inaugural ceremony held separately at the Malacañang Palace and at the Quezon City Reception House in New Manila, respectively, which is a first in history.

While this move may not be within the tastes of traditionalists and conservatives, the analyst said separate inaugurations benefited both Duterte and Robredo as they are not required that they go together.

“Separate inaugurations gave us the opportunity to hear both the president and the vice president to speak. In the usual form, only the president gives an address,” Go said.

“Duterte might have lost the opportunity to forge unity, though. Nevertheless, we had enough moments and time to appreciate both leaders of our country as they begin their terms,” he added.

The analyst believes Duterte will be a “working president” amid criticisms as there were in former presidencies.

"There will always be critics and criticisms. In my view, his speech attempts to provide a positive outlook of the days, months and years to come. We must be optimistic, but remain vigilant," he said.

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RELATED FROM THE INQUIRER

Expecting snub, Leni ‘relieved’ after encounter with ‘sincere’ Rody
[VP EYES START OF ‘HARMONIOUS’ RELATIONSHIP WITH PRESIDENT] By: Yuji Vincent Gonzales @YGonzalesINQ
INQUIRER.net 05:25 PM July 2nd, 2016


WARM ENCOUNTER Smiles, the offer of a cold drink and an invitation to visit “anytime” mark the first meeting between Vice President Leni Robredo and President Duterte during Friday’s change of command ceremony at Armed Forces of the Philippines headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City. joan bondoc

The country’s newly sworn-in top two officials met for the first time on Friday almost two months after being elected, and Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo was “relieved” that it was not as bad as she expected.

Robredo on Saturday said she was bracing for the worst during her first encounter with President Rodrigo Duterte at the military’s change of command ceremony in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

“Ako, I was expecting for the worst na hindi niya ako papansinin. At alam mo iyon, parang nire-ready ko rin iyong sarili ko. Kaya noong pag-akyat niya pa lang sa stage na pagpalit ko sa kanya, agad naman na pinansin niya ako,” Robredo told reporters in an ambush interview in her hometown Naga.

“Actually iyong first niya atang sinabi sa akin, ‘At last nag-meet na tayo.’ Kaya sabi ko naman sa kanya, ‘Oo nga po, Mr. President.’ He was nice the entire time,” she said.

Contrary to her “apprehensions,” Robredo said she felt welcomed by the President, whom she called “very sincere.”

After shaking hands and exchanging pleasantries, Duterte in his speech acknowledged Robredo’s presence in the ceremonies and said he would have loved to be seated right beside her. For her part, the Vice President said she took the opportunity to set a courtesy call on Duterte, to which the President agreed.

“Ang sabi niya, ‘Actually may sinet na pero wala ka kasi noong sinet.’ Sabi ko, ‘Hindi po kasi ako nakunsulta noong date. I was out of the country. Sabi niya, ‘Anytime.’ Tingin ko naman very sincere, mabait naman siya sa akin. Kaya pagbalik ko sa opisina kahapon, iyon na ang ibinilin ko sa office. Mag-contact sa opisina ni Pangulong Duterte at makipag-set ng appointment soonest available time,” Robredo said, adding that she was hoping the appointment to be set next week.

The supposed distance between the two were fanned by speculations following their separate inaugurations on Thursday, a first in Philippine history.

A “noncommittal” Duterte also previously said there was “no compelling reason” for him to give Robredo a Cabinet position as he did not want to hurt the feelings of his friend, defeated vice presidential candidate Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. The son and namesake of the late dictator lost to the widow of the late interior chief Jesse Robredo by over 200,000 votes in the May elections.

Asked about the photos of their first meeting where she was seen laughing, Robredo said she was just happy for the opportunity to be able to meet and set an appointment with Duterte, who she said cracked jokes during their encounter.

“Nagbibiro siya. Binibigay niya sa akin iyong iniinom niyang coco water. Actually parang relieved naman ako noong pagkikita namin kasi siyempre marami rin akong apprehensions na magkikita kami yesterday kasi while kilalang kilala ko siya, talagang kahit ako first time ko siyang nakita,” Robredo said.

“Pinapagalitan nga ako ng mga anak ko kasi parang tawa daw ako nang tawa. Sabi ko, siguro na-manifest lang iyong saya ko. Na-manifest lang siguro iyong saya ko na ang fears ko nang first meeting namin ay hindi naman nangyari at parang na-exceed niya iyong expectations na napakabait naman niya sa akin kahapon,” she added.

The Vice President said she was hoping that their first cordial encounter would be the start of a “harmonious” relationship with Duterte.

“Palagay ko para sa bansa naman, kailangan na iyong parang healthy lang ang magiging working relationship namin kasi after all, kami naman ang nanay at tatay ng bansa. Kaya after yesterday mas naging hopeful naman ako na bumuti,” Robredo said


MANILA TIMES

Hundreds of drug users surrender July 2, 2016 10:28 pm by NEIL ALCOBER, Reporter


NO ESCAPE Policemen queue up during a surprise mandatory drug test at a police station in Manila. AFP PHOTO

THEY keep coming out.

Apparently driven by fear of execution, more than 900 drug pushers and users have surrendered to the police over the weekend as police and barangay (village) officials joined hands in carrying out a tough anti-drug program initiated by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Rizal Provincial Police Director Senior Supt. Adriano Enong Jr. said 762 drug “suspects” from various barangays in the province trooped to the headquarters of the Rizal Provincial Police in Taytay town where they underwent medical and psychiatric examinations and drug tests.

In Isabela province, at least 200 people involved in illegal drugs also surrendered to authorities in the towns of Ilagan and San Agustin. The youngest was 15 years old, police said.

Senior Inspector William Agpalsa, San Agustin chief of police, said they will continue their operations against the drug personalities who have not surrendered.

Those who turned up in police stations signed an affidavit that they will not use or peddle illegal drugs again. They will be given counseling, livelihood training and undergo rehabilitation, if needed.

“The PNP anti-drug campaign operations have no timeline and it will never stop until said menace is totally eradicated in the province of Rizal,” Enong said.

The Rizal surrenderers were the latest batch of drug personalities who turned themselves in since Duterte vowed to go after drug pushers and their police protectors.

On Friday, 86 suspected drug users and pushers in San Juan City surrendered to the police.

With the help of barangay [village] officials, the suspected drug users and pushers surrendered to San Juan acting police chief Senior Supt. Victor Arevalo.

The suspected drug users and pushers were later presented to Mayor Guia Gomez. The mayor vowed to give them livelihood training.

Last week, 210 suspected drug users and pushers also surrendered to the police in the cities of Pasig, Marikina, San Juan, and Mandaluyong

In Caraga, 272 suspected pushers and users also surrendered to authorities amid the intensified campaign against illegal drugs. Caraga police spokesman Supt. Michael Lozada said the drug suspects turned up in different police stations in the region.

READ MORE...

Meanwhile, police officials said more than 6,000 drug personalities have surfaced in Region 12 since May this year.
Supt. Romeo Galgo Jr., public information officer of Police Regional Office (PRO) 12, said a number of self-confessed drug pushers and users have been coming out daily.

“This is a positive development in our fight against illegal drugs,” Galgo said.

Region 12 is composed of the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and North Cotabato, and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

Stop drugs or get ax

Also on Saturday, Senior Superintendent Romulo Sapitula, acting District Director of the Eastern Police District (EPD), warned the four chiefs of police in Metro Manila’s eastern area to stop illegal drugs.

Sapitula said the police chiefs will be given a grace period of one month to solve the problem in their areas.

“I give the chiefs of police to show their accomplishment in one month. After one month that they do not perform well, we have to relieve them. They should perform well because I have to give myself three months,” he told this reporter after he briefed his men during his first command conference at the EPD headquarters in Pasig City.

Apart from making EPD as the most peaceful district in the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), Sapitula said he wants to clean their own ranks to regain the trust of the people.

“We have to cleanse not only the community, but also on our own the ranks [of the police force]. This could be a simultaneous cleansing. We need to restore the credibility of the police. I want to bring back the trust of the people of EPD area,” he said.
Sapitula said he wants also to bring the police closer to the people.

“I want to bring the policemen to the community. People should feel police’s presence. I have to go around and I want to inspect the police officer. I want to see them in the respected area of their assignments,” he noted.

He said he is set to visit all the barangay [village] chairmen in the coming days to ask their support in the fight against illegal drugs, noting that all barangays in Metro Manila have been plagued by the drug menace.

Sapitula expressed confidence that the problem on illegal drugs can be solved.

“I am confident because President [Rodrigo] Duterte is the only president who’s been very bold in dealing with drugs. He’s very passionate,” Sapitula said.


Hundreds of drug pushers and users have surrendered to the police in Philippines over the weekend


“This is now the golden opportunity for us, including the community and all the people who area against illegal drugs . . . let us join hands,” he said.

Drug test

Dela Rosa late Friday ordered senior PNP officials to undergo drug test.

The newly installed police chief said the test was to ensure that all senior officials holding key positions are capable of being role models to their subordinates.

The surprise drug test was in line with Duterte’s vow to rid the police force of rogue cops and bad eggs, Dela Rosa said as he warned that officials who will test positive for illegal drug used will be dismissed from the service.

“Automatic, matatanggal sa serbisyo,” the PNP chief told reporters.

Under the law, government employees found positive for use of dangerous drugs will undergo disciplinary and administrative proceedings.
With Leander Domingo and Anthony Vargas

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

RELATED FROM ASIA TIMES

Bodies pile up as Filipino police show new boss they’re tough on drugs BY AT EDITOR on JUNE 20, 2016 in ASIA TIMES NEWS & FEATURES, SOUTHEAST ASIA By Manuel Mogato


A drug addict lights a soda cover containing residues of shabu, or methamphetamine to re-use at an undisclosed drug den in Manila, Philippines June 20, 2016. REUTERS/Staff

MANILA (Reuters) – Philippine police killed 11 suspected drug dealers during operations at the weekend, police said on Monday, adding to a surge of drugs-related killings since Rodrigo Duterte swept an election in May on promises to wipe out crime.

Duterte’s single-issue campaign of tackling illegal drugs and other crime within six months, and his staunch advocacy of extrajudicial killings, struck a chord with Filipino voters. However, rights groups have rebuked him over concerns that, as president, he would live up to his nickname of “the punisher”.

The more than 40 drug suspects killed since Duterte’s May 9 election victory compares with the 39 deaths recorded in the four months before it, said National Police spokesman Wilben Mayor.

Duterte takes office on June 30 and has repeatedly reassured police they would have his full support if they killed criminals who resisted with violence. He has also warned that police found to be involved in the drug trade would suffer the same fate.

Speculation has been rife in Manila that some police involved in the drugs business were clearing the decks before Duterte takes office by eliminating criminals who could implicate them.

DRUG PEDDLERS KILLED IN LEGITIMATE OPERATIONS

However, incoming national police chief Ronald dela Rosa said drug peddlers were killed in legitimate operations.

“I would know if these people were killed in rub-outs,” he said in a radio interview.

Philippines media reported on Monday that drug dealers were killed when they resisted arrest during operations in Manila, Laguna, Bulacan, Rizal, Bohol and Cebu at the weekend.

Police said many of those killed in those raids and undercover stings had chosen not to go quietly.

“Our undercover agents killed two known drug peddlers in sting operations,” Adriano Enong, police chief in Rizal province just to the east of Manila, told reporters.

“There was a shootout between undercover police officers and drug peddlers when the men sensed they had sold 500 pesos ($10.80) worth of drugs to policemen,” he said.

BISHOP SPECIAL PRAYER

Manila Archbishop Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle gave special prayers on Sunday urging incoming state officials to avoid a culture of death and reprisal. Those prayers will be read each day before the new government takes office in the deeply religious, predominantly Catholic Philippines.

Catholic bishops have been disturbed by statements attributed to Duterte warning of killings, and by his plan to seek the return of the death penalty by hanging.

Duterte has also said some journalists were killed because they were corrupt.

In southern Davao City, where Duterte was mayor for more than 20 years, rights groups documented a total of 1,400 unsolved murders from 1998, most of them petty criminals and street-level drug peddlers. Duterte denies any involvement. (Reporting by Manuel Mogato; Editing by Martin Petty and Paul Tait)


PHILSTAR

Philippines hopes all countries will respect UN ruling By Patricia Lourdes Viray (philstar.com) | Updated July 1, 2016 - 11:20am 1 16 googleplus0 0


JULY 1 -A protester displays a placard and a Philippine flag outside of the Chinese Consulate in protest of China's occupation and island-building in the disputed Spratlys islands in the South China Sea Friday, June 10, 2016, at the financial district of Makati, Philippines. The protesters are calling on the new government to reject China's proposal of bilateral talks instead of the arbitration case filed by the Philippines in The Hague. AP/Bullit Marquez

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines on Thursday said that it will fully respect the decision of the United Nations' Permanent Court of Arbitration on its case against China, which is set to be issued on July 12, and urges other nations to similarly abide by it.

"The Philippines believes that the rule of law prescribes a just and peaceful means of resolving differences, which is why the Philippines will fully respect the Tribunal’s Award as an affirmation of the UNCLOS and hopes that members of the international community and Parties to the Convention will do the same," according to the Department of Foreign Affairs in a statement.

In its statement, the DFA wished to state that the Philippines initiated the arbitration case against China's nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea but the latter refused to participate in the proceedings.

The state agency also noted a timeline of the case since the proceedings started in January 2013.

The arbitration proceedings commenced on 22 January 2013 when the Philippines filed a Notification and Statement of Claim “with respect to the dispute with China over the maritime jurisdiction of the Philippines on the West Philippine Sea” pursuant to Articles 286 and 287 of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and in accordance with Article 1 of Annex VII of the said Convention. The Philippines invited China to participate in the proceedings.

READ MORE...

Following the constitution of the Arbitral Tribunal and the adoption of the Rules of Procedures, the Philippines submitted a Memorial on 20 March 2014.

China was requested by the Tribunal to submit a counter-memorial, but it rejected this request. However, on 7 December 2014, China issued a Position Paper, which the Tribunal treated together with certain communications from China as constituting a plea concerning jurisdiction. The Tribunal requested further written arguments from the Philippines for submission in March 2015.

The Tribunal heard Philippine oral arguments during the hearing on jurisdiction and admissibility on 7-13 July 2015. All Chinese arguments on jurisdiction and admissibility as contained in the Position Paper and other communications from China were properly considered.

Article 9 of Annex VII of the Convention provides that “absence of a party or failure of a party to defend its case shall not constitute a bar to the proceedings. Before making an Award, the Arbitral Tribunal must satisfy itself that it has jurisdiction over the dispute but also that the claim is well-founded in fact and law.”

On 29 October 2015, the Tribunal issued a unanimous Award on jurisdiction and admissibility. China’s Position Paper was duly considered and thoroughly discussed in the Tribunal’s Award. The Tribunal held that China’s decision not to participate in these hearings does not deprive the Tribunal of jurisdiction and that the Philippines’ decision to commence arbitration unilaterally was not an abuse of the Convention’s dispute settlement procedures.

On 24-30 November 2015, the Tribunal conducted hearing on the merits and remaining issues and admissibility. The Philippines and China were given until 9 December 2015 to review and submit corrections to the transcript of the hearing, which is published in the official website of the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

The Tribunal also decided to provide China with the opportunity to comment in writing, by 1 January 2016, on anything said during the meeting or submitted in writing by the Philippines.

The Tribunal entered deliberations soon after, stating its intention to issue the Award in 2016. Despite its non-appearance, China is and remains a Party to the arbitration and is bound under international law by an Award rendered by the Tribunal.


New DFA chief Yasay

New Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. said that the agency will study the implications of the tribunal ruling first before making a statement.

Yasay told President Rodrigo Duterte that some foreign government representatives have hinted that they would like the Philippines to send stronger statements regarding the maritime dispute.

READ: South China Sea row: Where countries stand

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

RELATED FROM THE TRIBUNE

China raps RP for ‘smear’ job Written by Tribune Wires Sunday, 03 July 2016 00:00 By Joyce Ann Rocamora


ARBITRAL RULING TO AFFECT OTHER CHINA CONFLICTS — AQUINO GOV’T COUNSEL

A word war erupted anew between China and the Philippines yesterday as the ruling by an international tribunal on the South China Sea dispute nears with an American counsel for the Philippines at The Hague, where the hearing is being held, saying the case would have ripples in China’s other territorial claims while China accused the Philippine panel of starting a “smear” campaign against it.

In a report of state news service Xinhua, China called on the Philippines to work with it to use the power of negotiation to solve disputes in the South China Sea.

China said it welcomes remarks made by President Duterte of hopefully starting a “conversation” with China to work out a “win-win relationship.”

China will continue to abide by international law and work with states directly concerned to resolve issues in the South China Sea through negotiation, to help maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea, it said.

LEAD COUNSEL

Paul Reichler, lead counsel for the Philippines in the case challenging China’s sweeping claims in the disputed South China Sea, said the response of other coastal states to the upcoming ruling by an international tribunal would be crucial.

Reichler said the ruling would be binding only on China and the Philippines but would affect other coastal states. He said those states would be unlikely to acquiesce in China’s claims if the court ruled against it.

“If the nine-dash line is unlawful as applied by China against the Philippines, then logically it is equally unlawful as applied by China” against other states, such as Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei,” Reichler said. He said if China persisted in trying to enforce illegal claims, that would affect relations with its neighbors.

China is not recognizing the arbitration procedure before The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration, which has announced its verdict will come July 12. The court has previously determined it has jurisdiction in the case.

The Philippines, a US ally, is challenging the validity of the so-called nine-dash line that China uses to demarcate its claims to most of the South China Sea, where tensions have been mounting.

China has built artificial islands in disputed areas and has been angered by periodic U.S. military patrols nearby.

OPTIMISM

Paul Reichler, counsel for the Philippines, said late he was optimistic that the court would rule in his client’s favor, and that although the court has no enforcement mechanism, international opinion would weigh on China.

“China has made very strong public statements that it does not intend to comply with the judgment of the arbitral tribunal, but that is not the end of the story,” said Reichler, an expert on international litigation and arbitration at the Washington-based private law firm Foley Hoag LLP.

The Xinhua report, however, said as an honest and responsible power, China has always abided by international law and basic norms governing international relations, and will continue to do so in the South China Sea issue while safeguarding its territorial sovereignty.

As the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague will announce the so-called “award” on July 12, a new smear campaign against China has emerged, this time by Reichler, the report said.

Reichler

It described Reichler as an international lawyer who has “a reputation for representing small countries against big powers.”
“He has no right to depict China as an outlaw state for no reason,” the Xinhua report said.

Reichler had said China risks being seen as an “outlaw state” unless it respects the outcome of the case.

“On the South China Sea arbitration initiated unilaterally by the Philippines, China has reiterated that it does not accept nor is it a participant in the arbitration, and will never recognize the so-called award,” it added.

The Xinhua report said the Arbitral Tribunal has violated the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLoS) and “has abused its power at will by hearing the case and exercising jurisdiction.”

“Under UNCLoS, the jurisdiction of an arbitral tribunal is limited to disputes concerning the interpretation or application of the convention. Territorial issues are not subject to UNCLOS, but to general international law,” according to the report.

The South China Sea case is in essence about territorial sovereignty and maritime delimitation, it added.
Int’l pressure factor

“What China may ultimately do in six months, or a year or two years, may be very different than what it says on July 12 or July 13. I think a lot will depend on the reaction to the award of the international community as a whole, particularly China’s neighbors that have coasts along the South China Sea,” Reichler said.

Declined comment on new Duterte admin plan

Reichler declined to comment on how the policy of the new administration of Duterte might shape the aftermath of the ruling. Duterte has shown readiness to mend frosty ties with China.

Southeast Asia’s regional bloc appears to be divided on the issue, with smaller pro-China nations complicating efforts to forge a consensus. China has been stepping up its public messaging as the ruling date approaches and garnering support among far-flung nations, mostly in Africa and Mideast. It asserts that its sovereignty over land features scattered around the South China Sea is indisputable, although several other governments have territorial claims or interests there.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said the Philippine case is “an abuse of international law and the international arbitration mechanism” and reaffirmed China would not accept its verdict, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

China contends the case addresses a question of sovereignty and so lies outside mandatory dispute settlement procedures under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea. However, the tribunal determined in October 2015 that the Philippine case was about interpretation of the convention, not sovereignty, and so it had jurisdiction.

Slams Aquino govt

Hong Lei repeatedly slammed the administration of former President Aquino claiming that it “went back on the agreement reached between the Philippines and China on resolving disputes through negotiation and consultation through a series of bilateral instruments and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, contravened UNCLoS.”

“The arbitration initiated by the Aquino administration is illegal and invalid,” Hong said.

He said relevant disputes could only be resolved through bilateral negotiation and consultation on the basis of respecting historical facts and in accordance with international law.


New DFA chief Yasay

Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. declined to comment on Hong’s allegation which was consistent with his earlier stand cautioning against generating provocative statements.

“We will wait for the decision award of the PCA and see what they have to say about that,” he said.

In recent pronouncements, PrDuterte has shown willingness to release the tension with China. “It should be a soft landing for everybody, we don’t taunt or flaunt it,” he said during his first Cabinet meeting on the possibility of favorable tribunal decision.

Not in UNCLoS

China has repeatedly claimed the Arbitral Tribunal circumvented a declaration under UNCLOS that China made in 2006 to exclude third parties from any dispute involving maritime delimitation. Therefore, the tribunal in The Hague has exceeded its jurisdiction by accepting the Philippines’ case.

Through Xinhua, China said UNCLoS stipulates that nothing impairs the right of states to settle a dispute through means of their own choosing. Further procedures will only be applied only where no settlement has been reached between parties.

It said given the fact that China and the Philippines have made a clear choice to settle their dispute through one-on-one negotiations, third-party settlement procedures were unapplicable.

The Philippines has violated an understanding reached with China on solving the disputes through negotiations, and its commitments under the Declaration on the Conduct (DOC) of Parties in the South China Sea, it added.

“Pacta sunt servanda” - or maintaining agreements - is a basic principle in international law. However, the Philippines’ unilateral initiation of the arbitration violates its agreement with China, it said.

China said it isn’t the first country in the world to claim that a court lacks jurisdiction.

“In 1986, the International Court of Justice ruled that the United States had violated international law by supporting the Contras rebels against the Nicaraguan government and by mining Nicaragua’s harbors. However, the United States refused to participate in the proceedings after the Court rejected its argument that the Court lacked jurisdiction to hear the case,” it said.

The so-called South China Sea arbitration, which is expected to produce a verdict on July 12, is yet another global deformity, another Xinhua report said.

International law is being exploited and distorted to meet the private interest of certain groups or countries, it added.

Glorified slogans

Glorified slogans surround territorial disputes in the South China Sea, where tensions created in the name of “freedom of navigation” and “international law” provide self-validation for the presence of U.S. military forces and lubricate the profitable arms business, it added.

Meanwhile, tensions or even potential conflict in the Asia-Pacific will bring extra perks to some politicians in Washington and Manila, as it could divert public attention from domestic problems such as gun violence, corruption and poverty, the Xinhua report said.

“Any misjudgment that leads to confrontation in the South China Sea will inevitably hurt the friendly relations and the intertwined business ties among the peoples of China, the United States and the Philippines. Special interest groups would be the sole profiteers at the cost of the peoples’ well being,” it said.


INQUIRER

China president congratulates Duterte, eyes better ties with PH SHARES: 97 VIEW COMMENTS @inquirerdotnet China Daily/Asia News Network 02:22 PM July 1st, 2016


Chinese President Xi Jinping. AP FILE PHOTO

Beijing would like to improve relations with Manila through joint efforts, with bilateral ties facing important opportunities for growth, Chinese President Xi Jinping told the Philippines’ new president, who was sworn in on Thursday.

Rodrigo Duterte, 71, took the oath of office at Malacañang Palace in Manila, becoming the 16th president of the Southeast Asian nation of 102 million people.

Ties between the two countries have nosedived since a unilateral arbitration case over the South China Sea dispute was brought by outgoing Philippine president Benigno Aquino III.

Unlike his predecessor, Duterte, the first local mayor to be directly elected as president of the Philippines, is expected to take a pragmatic approach to the South China Sea dispute with China, analysts said.

READ: Duterte wants friendly ties with China; okays direct talks

Xi said in a congratulatory letter to Duterte that China and the Philippines are neighbors, and being friendly is a tradition of the two countries that has endured for more than 1,000 years.

READ MORE...

This course is the right one and should be adhered to, he said.

READ: China optimistic Duterte gov’t can stabilize ties over sea issue

In his inaugural speech, Duterte promised a relentless and sustained fight against corruption, criminality and illegal drugs, but did not mention his government’s policy toward China.

During a speech in Davao City on Monday, Duterte said he would refrain from commenting on the territorial dispute in the South China Sea, pending the decision in the arbitration case, which will be announced on July 12.

In May, he said he wanted China to help improve his nation’s poor infrastructure by building a railway system linking the entire country, especially on the southern island of Mindanao, which is seen as a new area for economic growth.

Wilson Lee Flores, a Philippine political columnist, said: “President Duterte is a very pragmatic and politically clever leader. I really believe he can normalize China-Philippine relations.”

He said Duterte is likely to focus more on “win-win” economic advantages for both countries, rather than small misunderstandings and differences. “I hope the Chinese government reciprocates vigorously and enthusiastically,” he added.

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RELATED FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

China calls on PH to properly solve maritime disputes via negotiation by People's Daily July 2, 2016 (updated) Share2 Tweet0 Share0 Email0 Share69


Ayungin Shoal, West Philippine Sea, Chinese Coast Guard , Manila Bulletin, Navy ship, BRP Sierra Madre File photo shows a Filipino soldier in civvies aboard the marooned Navy ship BRP Sierra Madre flashes the peace sign to a Chinese Coast Guard vessel attempting to block a Philippine government vessel at the Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea on March 29, 2014.

BEIJING – China on Friday called on the Philippines to work with China to use the power of negotiation to solve disputes on the South China Sea.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei made the remarks at a daily press briefing in response to remarks made by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte during the first meeting of his Cabinet after his inauguration Thursday.

“God knows I don’t want to declare any fighting with anyone. If we can have peace by just talking I’ll be really happy,” said Duterte, who had previously said that he was open to talking with China about the maritime disputes.

Philippine presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said on Friday that Duterte wanted a “conversation” with China on the South China Sea to work out a “win-win relationship” with the country.

Hong said the disputes are ultimately issues between China and the Philippines.

Aquino initiated arbitration

The South China Sea arbitration initiated by former President Benigno S. Aquino III is invalid and illegal, he said.

“The disputes between China and the Philippines can only be solved via bilateral negotiation on the basis of fully respecting historical facts and in line with international laws,” said Hong.

“We hope the Philippines can work together with China and meet each other halfway so that the disputes are solved properly,” he said.

Alberto Encomienda, former secretary-general of the Maritime and Ocean Affairs Center of the Philippine Foreign Affairs department, said recently in an interview with Xinhua that the Philippine government had been behind the increasing tensions in the South China Sea.

“China has championed negotiations all along, but at the beginning we were not,” he said.

Hong said these facts revealed by the former Philippine diplomat “show once again the Aquino government lied” for the unilateral initiation of the arbitration on the South China Sea at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.

The tribunal said it would issue a ruling on July 12.

Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday that the Arbitral Tribunal has no jurisdiction over the case and the relevant subject-matter, and that it should not have heard the case or rendered the award.


PHILSTAR

Abu Sayyaf wants to talk to Duterte admin for negotiation By Roel Pareño (philstar.com) | Updated July 2, 2016 - 2:03pm 50 1361 googleplus0 1


An earlier file image posted on Site Intel Group’s Twitter account shows Abu Sayyaf members with the Samal Island hostages.

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines - The Sulu-based Abu Sayyaf group holding hostage foreign nationals expressed desire to talk to the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, according to its spokesman.

But the Abu Sayyaf warned of executing the last Samal captive Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad should the government refused.

Muammar Askali alias Abu Rami, spokesman of the Sulu-based Abu Sayyaf group, said over a local radio DXRZ on Friday that they have opened the line for the government to have a dialogue with them.

Askali said they particularly want Presidential Peace Adviser Secretary Jesus Dureza to negotiate with them and relay their grievances to Duterte.

The spokesman declined to divulge their “concessions” from the government except to Dureza whom they want to initiate the talks.

READ MORE...

Askali said they would be forced to execute Sekkingstad if they do not hear from the government starting Friday until Saturday next week.

“If they will just disregard us, as soon as possible, we will no longer issue any ultimatum we will execute him (Sekkingstad),” Askali said.

Askali didn’t mention anything about their new seven Indonesian captives.

The Abu Sayyaf group earlier demanded P300 million ransom in exchange for the release of Sekkingstad.

The group beheaded Sekkingstad’s fellow captives, Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall, but released Filipina Marites Flor last week following alleged payment of huge ransom.

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RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

Headless body believed to belong to 2nd beheaded Canadian found By Roel Pareño (philstar.com) | Updated July 2, 2016 - 3:06pm 13 205 googleplus1 0


Robert Hall was the second Canadian hostage beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf group after John Ridsdel last April 25. AP

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines - Government troops dug up and recovered the headless remains believed to belong to Canadian hostage Robert Hall Saturday shortly before noon in a village of Talipao town, Sulu, according to military official.

Maj. Filemon Tan Jr., spokesman of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), said the troops under the Joint Task Group Sulu (JGTS) recovered the body of Hall about 11:35 a.m. in Barangay Upper Kuntayan.

Tan said the recovery came after receiving information from the local residents of Barangay Upper Kamuntayan.

He said the remains were immediately exhumed from the shallow grave and brought to the JTGS headquarters in Barangay Busbus, Jolo for documentation before it was turned over to the Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) .

Hall was beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf group last June 13 after the Canadian government and his family stood firm on the no ransom policy.

The captive’s head was later recovered by civilians in front of the gate of the Jolo Cathedral after it was dumped by the Abu Sayyaf group.

Hall’s fellow captive and compatriot John Ridsdel was also beheaded last April 25 due to the failure to pay the P300-million ransom.

The two Canadians along with Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad and Hall’s fiancée Filipina Marites Flor were abducted on September 21 last year in Samal Island resort off Davao province and brought to Sulu as captives by the Abu Sayyaf group.

Last week, the Abu Sayyaf freed Flor but kept Sekkingstad to assert its P300-million ransom for the release of the last Samal captive.

Tan said Westmincom decried the barbaric act of the Abu Sayyaf group of beheading its captives, which they described to be contrary to the Islamic teachings.

The military official added they will continue with their focused military operations in Sulu to neutralize members of the Abu Sayyaf group and to rescue the remaining hostages.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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