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PAVING THE WAY FOR FUTURE DIPLOMATIC TALKS: FVR TO 'REKINDLE' TIES WITH CHINA
[ALSO: Japan vows to support Philippine maritime security]


AUGUST 10 -FVR: Former President Fidel V. Ramos yesterday left for Hong Kong to “rekindle” ties with Beijing that have soured over a territorial dispute in the South China Sea.Ramos, 88, whom President Rodrigo Duterte named as his envoy for talks with Beijing, stressed he was not going as a negotiator, but that he hoped to reopen dialog between the two countries. “I am just the icebreaker, to rekindle, to warm up again our good, friendly relations with China,” Ramos, who served as president from 1992 to 1998, told reporters. Ties between Manila and Beijing have cooled especially since a UN-backed tribunal handed the Philippines a sweeping victory last month when it ruled that China’s claims over most of the South China Sea were invalid. China has refused to recognize the tribunal’s decision.
A longtime advocate of closer Philippine-Chinese ties, Ramos said he would be gone for four to five days to meet with old Chinese contacts, former government officials who are now working in the private sector. “At this point, I do not know who I am meeting (in Hong Kong). But they are old Philippines friends, probably the young assistants before. I don’t know what topics my friends (Chinese counterparts) will bring up. My mission is to rekindle friendship,” he added.Ramos said formal bilateral talks would only take place after this trip, but hinted that he may travel on from Hong Kong to mainland China for further informal talks. Asked if he would bring up the decision of the UN-linked Permanent Court of Arbitration, the former leader said “it is not up to me to bring it up because that is not my mission.” Malacañang, for its part,confirmed Ramos’ trip to Hong Kong. According to presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella, Ramos would “meet with old friends and possibly (play) a few rounds of golf.” “This may also pave the way for future diplomatic talks,” he said without elaborating.READ MORE...ALSO: Japan vows to support Philippine maritime security...

ALSO Rody on China: We want talks, not war
[RELATED: China welcomes FVR visit for talks]


AUGUST 13 -Photo provided by former DILG secretary Rafael Alunan III shows former president Fidel Ramos, special envoy to Beijing, with China’s National People’s Congress Foreign Affairs Committee chair and former ambassador to Manila Fu Ying in Hong Kong.
The Philippines is gearing up for talks, not war, with China, President Duterte said yesterday, as he expressed confidence in the ability of his special envoy to Beijing – former president Fidel Ramos – to help set the mood for formal negotiations. “Ramos, being the statesman of the Republic of the Philippines, (told me) that I had a soft-landing about the judgment,” Duterte said, referring to the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague invalidating China’s expansive nine-dash line claim in the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea. “Hindi tayo aporado na maki-pag-giyera, aporado tayo makipag-usap (We’re not rushing to go to war, we’re rushing to dialogue),” he told troops at Camp Teodulfo Bautista in Jolo, Sulu yesterday afternoon. Duterte also noted how the drug syndicates in China have been operating in the Philippines to the detriment of the country’s peace and order situation. He said Chinese top drug dealers have resorted to the use of high-tech gadgets such as GPS to send in illegal drugs and distribute them around the country. Ramos met in Hong Kong with his old friends led by a senior Chinese official of the National People’s Congress to discuss the way “forward” for the Philippines and China. READ MORE...RELATED,
China welcomes FVR visit for talks...

ALSO:
RP, China eye ‘two-track’ mode in settling dispute
[RELATED: FVR to report first to President Duterte before “next step” on talks with China]


AUGUST 14 -Former President and Special Envoy to China, Fidel V. Ramos (right) with former Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Rafael Alunan III (left)
The Philippines and China are looking at a “two-track” system to allow them to cooperate in some areas while separately handling “contentious issues” such as their South China Sea territorial dispute. Former president Fidel Ramos and former interior secretary Rafael Alunan discussed the proposal at meetings with Chinese representatives in Hong Kong on a trip aimed at improving relations. Ramos, a longtime advocate of closer ties, said the talks were “very hospitable... very encouraging, in the sense that we have a common interest” in such goals as fighting global warming. They met with Fu Ying, chairman of the foreign affairs committee of the National People’s Congress, China’s communist-controlled legislature. Alunan said both sides discussed “encouraging track two or think-tank exchanges... where we will be discussing contentious issues.”  “That would relieve us (of) the burden of discussing contentious issues because we have another group doing that while we explore ways and means on how to move our relations forward,” he told reporters. He did not say which “think-tanks” would be involved in these issues, apparently referring to the two countries’ territorial dispute over the South China Sea. When asked if they discussed a UN-backed tribunal’s ruling last month that Beijing’s claims over most of the South China Sea were invalid, Ramos said “we never mentioned that.” The decision by the Permanent Court of Arbitration was widely seen as a victory for the Philippines which has challenged China’s claims to the vital waterway. China refused to recognise the decision and had demanded that the Philippines disregard it in future talks. The Philippines rejected this. Both Ramos and Alunan stressed that they were only informal envoys and that further formal talks would be handled by other parties. Ramos said they also “talked about fishing,” referring to China driving away Filipino fishermen from a shoal it occupied in 2012 after a stand-off with Philippine authorities. The shoal is 230 kilometres (140 miles) off the main island of Luzon and 650 kilometres from Hainan island, the nearest major Chinese landmass.READ MORE...RELATED, FVR to report first to Duterte before “next step” on talks with China...

ALSO: RP, MILF relaunch peace negotiations
[RELATED: Gov’t, MILF resume talks; Duterte hopes to meet Nur Misuari]


AUGUST 14 -PH, Muslim rebels relaunch peace talks. 13 of august 2016. The Philippines on Saturday restarted peace talks with the country's largest Muslim rebel group ...
KUALAL LUMPUR — The government yesterday restarted peace talks with the country’s largest Muslim rebel group, the first under President Duterte aimed at ending decades of violence that has claimed tens of thousands of lives. Negotiators for the two sides said the weekend talks in Malaysia would discuss details of Duterte’s peace road map. “They will discuss the road map to clarify certain issues. But let me warn everyone, it is not an easy task. It is very complicated,” Jesus Dureza, presidential adviser on the peace process, told reporters in Kuala Lumpur without elaborating. The 12,000-strong Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has waged a bloody insurgency in the mainly Muslim southern Philippines since the 1970s but an accord signed in 2014 had raised hopes of a lasting peace. Under the accord, the rebels would have only given up their arms after a law was only given up their arms after a law was passed creating an autonomous homeland in Mindanao and a regional government was elected. The vote was meant to take place alongside the May 2016 general election. But a bungled raid into MILF territory that killed 44 police commandos in 2015 helped derail the passage of the law and stalled the peace process with the rebels. READ MOIRE...RELATED, Gov’t, MILF resume talks; Duterte hopes to meet Nur...

ALSO: A Manila court frees 4 Reds ahead of peace gab in Oslo
[RELATED: Pres. Duterte reiterates peace talks with NPA rebes]


AUGUST 13 -
A MANILA court has granted bail to communist leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, Rafael Baylosis, and Adelberto Silva just ahead of peace talks in Oslo, Norway this month. Judge Thelma Bunyi-Medina, of the Manila RTC Branch 32, granted the motion for the release of the communist leaders on bail, and allowed them to travel with Satur Ocampo and Randal Echaniz to Oslo for the talks, lawyer Edre Olalia said.
The Tiamzons, Ocampo and their co-accused face multiple murder charges for the killing of 15 civilians discovered in a mass grave in 2006 in Inopacan, Leyte. The military says the bodies belong to communist rebels who were killed in a purge because they were believed to be government spies. The military arrested the Tiamzons, along with five others, in 2014 based on a warrant issued by the regional trial court in Leyte. The Tiamzons, however, cannot be released yet because the courts handling their other cases have yet to approve their motion for bail. The two also face charges of kidnapping with serious illegal detention before the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 216, murder and frustrated murder in Laoang, Northern Samar and illegal possession of explosives in Toledo City, Cebu. “We’re still waiting for feedback from these courts,” Olalia said. The National Democratic Front considers the Tiamzons and Silva consultants in the peace talks that will resume on Aug. 22. The court set different bail amounts—P100,000 to P150,000—for each of the detainees. The court granted the request for bail after prosecutors for the Justice Department did not oppose their motion. Baylosis is among the 22 consultants identified by the NDF, the political wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, who have key roles in the peace talks. “He [Baylosis] surfaced because he was encouraged by the coming resumption of the peace negotiations and he wanted to perform his role fully as a consultant. He failed to attend his arraignment on July 30, 2015 due to intense surveillance and reports of threats to him and his family,” Olalia said. Earlier, the government asked the Supreme Court to order the temporary release of 10 NDF leaders to enable them to join the peace talks in Oslo. In an urgent motion filed by the Office of the Solicitor General this week, the government sought the release of Tirso Alcantara, Alex Birondo, Winona Birondo, Maria Concepcion Bocala, Reynante Gamara, Alan Jazmines, Ma. Loida Magpatoc, Adelberto Silva, and the Tiamzons. READ MORE...RELATED, Pres. Duterte reiterates peace talks with NPA rebels...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

FVR to ‘rekindle’ ties with China

MANILA, AUGUST 15, 2016 (TRIBUNE) Written by Tribune Wires Tuesday, 09 August 2016 00:00 - Former President Fidel V. Ramos yesterday left for Hong Kong to “rekindle” ties with Beijing that have soured over a territorial dispute in the South China Sea.

Ramos, 88, whom President Rodrigo Duterte named as his envoy for talks with Beijing, stressed he was not going as a negotiator, but that he hoped to reopen dialog between the two countries.

“I am just the icebreaker, to rekindle, to warm up again our good, friendly relations with China,” Ramos, who served as president from 1992 to 1998, told reporters.

Ties between Manila and Beijing have cooled especially since a UN-backed tribunal handed the Philippines a sweeping victory last month when it ruled that China’s claims over most of the South China Sea were invalid. China has refused to recognize the tribunal’s decision.

A longtime advocate of closer Philippine-Chinese ties, Ramos said he would be gone for four to five days to meet with old Chinese contacts, former government officials who are now working in the private sector.

“At this point, I do not know who I am meeting (in Hong Kong). But they are old Philippines friends, probably the young assistants before. I don’t know what topics my friends (Chinese counterparts) will bring up. My mission is to rekindle friendship,” he added.

Ramos said formal bilateral talks would only take place after this trip, but hinted that he may travel on from Hong Kong to mainland China for further informal talks.

Asked if he would bring up the decision of the UN-linked Permanent Court of Arbitration, the former leader said “it is not up to me to bring it up because that is not my mission.”

Malacañang, for its part,confirmed Ramos’ trip to Hong Kong.


ABELLA

According to presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella, Ramos would “meet with old friends and possibly (play) a few rounds of golf.”

“This may also pave the way for future diplomatic talks,” he said without elaborating.

READ MORE...

Last month, Manila rejected Beijing’s demand that it “disregard” the tribunal’s ruling before the two countries could negotiate on the issue.

Philippine-Chinese ties have been frayed in recent years due to growing tensions over conflicting claims in the South China Sea.

Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims to the sea, a major sea lane that is believed to hold vast mineral resources.

Meanwhile, China’s official press agency said Ramos’ visit “brings a whiff of hope that the two countries will return to bilateral negotiations over the issue.”

“Ramos is probably the best choice for the job of breaking the ice since he is a revered statesman widely respected in his own country and in Asia. His long history of friendly exchanges with China also gives him a unique advantage in helping revive chilly bilateral ties,” Xinhua said in its commentary.

It also slammed the Aquino administration for disregarding regional consensus and his country’s previous agreements with China.

“It is still worth mentioning that the Manila-initiated arbitration case is nothing more than an abuse of international law and the deeply biased ruling on the case should have no place whatsoever in future bilateral talks over the South China Sea issue between China and the Philippines,” the editorial stressed.

While it said “Ramos’ visit, which represents the first concrete step on the Philippine side to engage in bilateral talks with China on the South China Sea, could open a new chapter in settling disputes,” Xinhua claimed a return to the normal track of settlement depends largely on the sincerity of the Philippines.

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RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

Japan vows to support Philippine maritime security By Edith Regalado (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 12, 2016 - 12:00am 0 1 googleplus0 0


President Duterte walks with visiting Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida to the executive room of the presidential guest house in Panacan, Davao City yesterday.

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Japan Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida reaffirmed his country’s commitment “to provide support for the improvement of the maritime security of the Philippines” even as he stressed the preeminence of the rule of law – not of force – in resolving maritime disputes.

“Maritime order based on the rule of law is indispensable for regional stability and prosperity,” Kishida said at a joint press conference with Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. at the Marco Polo Hotel here yesterday.

Earlier in the day, Kishida met with President Duterte at the Malacañang of the South at the Department of Public Works and Highways compound.

Kishida said Japan – just like the Philippines – is a maritime nation that needs to secure and protect its territorial waters.

He said Japan is ready to turn over vessels to the Philippines to help the latter boost its maritime patrol capabilities.

“So I have conveyed during our meeting that Japan will continue to provide support for the improvement of the maritime security of the Philippines,” Kishida said.

Kishida likewise called on the international community to help in the peaceful resolution of the conflict between China and the Philippines over territories and land features in the West Philippine Sea.

“I have believed that in achieving the rule of law at the sea, the international community should work in closer partnership that is important, like Japan, to continue to cooperate closely with the relevant countries for the peaceful resolution of the conflict,” he added.

Yasay, for his part, said the Philippines shares Japan’s position that rule of law should always be the basis of any action in disputed waters.

READ MORE...

“We are one also in articulating such concern and we both have urged China to make sure maritime order and security and rule of law must completely and uncompromisingly be respected,” Yasay said.

“We have the same experience in the East China Sea and the South China Sea – for that matter with respect to certain actions that use force and intimidation and provocation in order to assert one’s claim over a particular territory,” he said.

“So we share the same experience with Japan and we would like to say in the strongest manner everyone must indeed respect our maritime order and security in this area, in the South China Sea, in the East China Sea and urge them to be firm in their respect for the rule of law,” he maintained.

Duterte and Kishida also discussed the West Philippine Sea and various issues over merienda.

Yasay said the Philippines and Japan are vigorously working on strengthening their relations as he cited Japan’s being the Philippines’ biggest provider of Official Development Assistance, accounting for 35 percent of total ODA.

“We have to enhance the momentum between the two countries with high level of exchanges to strengthen and enhance our relationship. This is a very important opportunity for us reinforce our strategic partnership,” Yasay added.


PHILSTAR

Rody on China: We want talks, not war By Pia Lee-Brago, Paolo Romero, Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 13, 2016 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


Photo provided by former DILG secretary Rafael Alunan III shows former president Fidel Ramos, special envoy to Beijing, with China’s National People’s Congress Foreign Affairs Committee chair and former ambassador to Manila Fu Ying in Hong Kong.

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines is gearing up for talks, not war, with China, President Duterte said yesterday, as he expressed confidence in the ability of his special envoy to Beijing – former president Fidel Ramos – to help set the mood for formal negotiations.

“Ramos, being the statesman of the Republic of the Philippines, (told me) that I had a soft-landing about the judgment,” Duterte said, referring to the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague invalidating China’s expansive nine-dash line claim in the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea.

“Hindi tayo aporado na maki-pag-giyera, aporado tayo makipag-usap (We’re not rushing to go to war, we’re rushing to dialogue),” he told troops at Camp Teodulfo Bautista in Jolo, Sulu yesterday afternoon.

Duterte also noted how the drug syndicates in China have been operating in the Philippines to the detriment of the country’s peace and order situation.

He said Chinese top drug dealers have resorted to the use of high-tech gadgets such as GPS to send in illegal drugs and distribute them around the country.

Ramos met in Hong Kong with his old friends led by a senior Chinese official of the National People’s Congress to discuss the way “forward” for the Philippines and China.

READ MORE...

A joint China-Philippine statement said Ramos met with National People’s Congress Foreign Affairs Committee chair and former ambassador to Manila Fu Ying and China’s National Institute for South China Sea Studies president professor Wu Shicun in a friendly atmosphere.

“They discussed, in their private capacity, the way forward in the spirit of universal brotherhood and sisterhood for peace and cooperation between the two countries,” the statement said.

Their informal discussions focused on the need to engage in discussions to build trust and confidence to reduce tensions and pave the way for overall cooperation for the benefit of both their peoples and the region.

“They stressed that building trust is very important to the long-term beneficial relationship between the Philippines and China,” the statement said, emphasizing the long history of friendship between the two countries.

Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara lauded the administration’s starting informal talks with China and sending someone of Ramos’ stature as special envoy.

“This is the stage of communicating and building trust and it is best if both countries are not rushed into anything,” Angara said.

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RELATED FROM THE INQUIRER

China welcomes FVR visit for talks By: Leila B. Salaverria @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer
02:20 AM August 13th, 2016


In this Aug. 9, 2016 file photo, former Philippine President Fidel Ramos listens to a question during a press briefing at the Philippines consular office in Hong Kong. AP FILE PHOTO


Former President Fidel V. Ramos on Friday said China had welcomed him to visit Beijing for discussions in the wake of last month’s ruling of an international arbitration tribunal in favor of the Philippines over China’s excessive claims in the South China Sea.

President Rodrigo Duterte has appointed Ramos his special envoy to China to initiate talks with Beijing after the UN-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled last month that China’s claim to almost all of the South China Sea had no basis in international law.

The tribunal also found that China violated the Philippines’ rights to fish and explore resources in waters within its 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone in the strategic waterway.

Ramos, speaking in Hong Kong near the end of a two-day trip undertaken to rekindle Philippine ties with China, said he had met with two Chinese officials and they had discussed the need to build trust and confidence to reduce tensions in the South China Sea through talks.

A longtime advocate of closer Philippine-Chinese ties, Ramos said he had discussions with Fu Ying, chair of the foreign affairs committee of the National People’s Congress, China’s communist-controlled legislature. Fu Ying is a former ambassador to the Philippines.

Formal discussions

Ramos said he also had discussions with Wu Shichun, president of China’s National Institute of South China Sea Studies.
The two Chinese officials met with Ramos in Hong Kong in their private capacity, according to a statement released by Malacañang.

A statement signed by Ramos, Fu Ying and Wu described the meeting as between “old friends” and had taken place “in a friendly atmosphere.”

Ramos “expressed the Philippine government’s desire to hold formal discussions with the Chinese government on issues of mutual concern and interest at the appropriate time to explore pathways to peace and cooperation,” the statement said.

“They explored possible human and ecological security options and suggestions for the benefit of their people,” Malacañang said in its own statement.

The discussions covered avoiding tensions and promoting fishing cooperation, encouraging marine preservation, cooperation in the fight against drugs, crime and corruption, and encouraging think tank exchanges on issues of mutual concern and interest, the Palace said.

Fishing rights

Ramos told reporters in Hong Kong that he, Fu Ying and Wu did not discuss territorial disputes in the South China Sea, but talked about fishing rights there.

Their joint statement said they “discussed, in their private capacity, the way forward in the spirit of universal brotherhood and sisterhood for peace and cooperation between the two countries.”

It added that all parties “looked forward” to the start of formal talks, which it said would be held in Beijing and Manila.
Ramos said there would be a second round of discussions soon.

“As to where this will take place, we don’t know yet. We have to go back to Manila to find out the latest developments on the official side,” he said and suggested another negotiator might take his place.

There would be ample opportunities for talks between the two governments at a series of upcoming international gatherings, he added.

Panatag Shoal

Philippine-Chinese relations have frayed in recent years due to tensions over Beijing’s claims to almost all of the 3.5-million-square-kilometer South China Sea.

The Philippines brought the action against China in 2013 after Beijing seized Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal), a traditional fishing ground for Filipino fishermen off Zambales province, after a two-month maritime standoff in 2012.

Insisting it had “undisputed sovereignty” over the South China Sea, China refused to take part in the proceedings and rejected the tribunal’s ruling, calling it “waste paper.”

Besides the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam also have overlapping claims in the South China Sea. They stand to benefit from the tribunal’s ruling should they decide to bring their disputes with China to the court.

The South China Sea is crisscrossed by sea-lanes through which $5 trillion in shipborne global trade passes every year.
It is dotted by islets, reefs and atolls that are believed to be sitting atop vast oil and gas reserves.

Militarization

To bolster its claims, China has built artificial islands on seven of the reefs in the Spratly archipelago, topping some of them with runways, radar towers, hangars and bunkers that can be used for military operations.

On Wednesday, it launched a satellite to protect its interests in the South China Sea.

Responding to China’s militarization of the area, Vietnam has deployed new mobile rockets to several of its islands in the area.

The United States, a defense treaty ally of the Philippines, has challenged China’s excessive claims with freedom of navigation operations near the artificial islands Beijing has built in the disputed waters.

Washington, however, has called on the claimants to avoid actions that build tensions and take steps toward a peaceful resolution of the disputes. With reports from AP

RELATED STORIES
Ramos cracks joke on arrival in Hong Kong

ASEAN rift raising risk of conflict in South China Sea – experts


TRIBUNE

RP, China eye ‘two-track’ mode in settling dispute Written by Ted Tuvera Sunday, 14 August 2016 00:00


Former President and Special Envoy to China, Fidel V. Ramos (right), in a press conference together with former Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Rafael Alunan III (left)

The Philippines and China are looking at a “two-track” system to allow them to cooperate in some areas while separately handling “contentious issues” such as their South China Sea territorial dispute.

Former president Fidel Ramos and former interior secretary Rafael Alunan discussed the proposal at meetings with Chinese representatives in Hong Kong on a trip aimed at improving relations.

Ramos, a longtime advocate of closer ties, said the talks were “very hospitable... very encouraging, in the sense that we have a common interest” in such goals as fighting global warming.

They met with Fu Ying, chairman of the foreign affairs committee of the National People’s Congress, China’s communist-controlled legislature.

Alunan said both sides discussed “encouraging track two or think-tank exchanges... where we will be discussing contentious issues.”

“That would relieve us (of) the burden of discussing contentious issues because we have another group doing that while we explore ways and means on how to move our relations forward,” he told reporters.

He did not say which “think-tanks” would be involved in these issues, apparently referring to the two countries’ territorial dispute over the South China Sea. When asked if they discussed a UN-backed tribunal’s ruling last month that Beijing’s claims over most of the South China Sea were invalid, Ramos said “we never mentioned that.”

The decision by the Permanent Court of Arbitration was widely seen as a victory for the Philippines which has challenged China’s claims to the vital waterway.

China refused to recognise the decision and had demanded that the Philippines disregard it in future talks. The Philippines rejected this.


Former interior secretary Rafael Alunan may be tapped as replacement of former president Fidel Ramos if the latter turns down President Duterte’s request to be the Philippines’ special envoy to China. Alunan campaign/Released

Both Ramos and Alunan stressed that they were only informal envoys and that further formal talks would be handled by other parties.

Ramos said they also “talked about fishing,” referring to China driving away Filipino fishermen from a shoal it occupied in 2012 after a stand-off with Philippine authorities.

The shoal is 230 kilometres (140 miles) off the main island of Luzon and 650 kilometres from Hainan island, the nearest major Chinese landmass.

READ MORE...

Ramos said he discussed restoring the previous situation where Chinese, Filipino and even Vietnamese fishermen freely plied their trade in the Scarborough Shoal.

However both Ramos and Alunan said the Chinese side made no commitments and merely noted their proposals.

While the territorial dispute has strained ties, new President Duterte has previously said he would seek Chinese help for vital infrastructure projects.

FVR focus on rekindling China ties

In a press conference in Camp Aguinaldo, the 88-year old former President, said that in a bid to “rekindle friendly ties” they were able to discuss points of cooperation to ease apparent tensions.

“We focused on the need to engage in discussions to build trust and confidence to reduce tensions to pave the way for overall cooperation for the benefit of both their peoples and the region,” the former President said.

Ramos said among points of concerns discussed with the Chinese were encouraging marine preservation; avoiding tension and promoting fishing cooperation; anti-drug and anti-smuggling cooperation; anti-crime and anti-corruption cooperation; improving tourism opportunities; encouraging trade and investment facilitation, and encouraging track II (think tank) exchanges on relevant issues of mutual concern and interest.

Alunan said that up to this point they are having a hard time how to utilize the UN-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) ruling that theoretically dashed Beijing’s claims over the SCS of which some parts are oherwise known as the West Philippine Sea.

“It was not discussed thoroughly in our meetings. However, it remains to be an important factor that should be discussed when the formal bilateral talks between the President’s official team and China’s,” Alunan said in the same press conference with Ramos.

“Raising it will not restore friendship if we did raise it,” he added.

Alunan, however, said that China should be wary of the ecological damages accordingly caused by China’s orbiting at the portions claimed to be the Philippines.

Ramos said the negotiating team will report first to Duterte before planning to go to Beijing, China for official talks.

“We will report first to our appointing authority, which is President Duterte, but he is in Mindanao right now and may not be back right away. So we reported to two secretaries concerned, National Security Adviser, Vice Admiral (Vicente) Agdamag and the Department of Foreign Affairs represented by Ambassador Lea Rodriguez,” Ramos said.

He further said that they have done the official protocol reports.

“But as soon as they are back in Manila, we will report to the President personally and then he will tell us what is the next step,” he added.

Ramos said the talks with the Chinese were very encouraging in the sense that “(we have) common interest. Our common interests are the 2030 United Nations 17 Sustainable Goals. Can you imagine (what we can do if we are helping one another), poverty will be removed and (in the end) world brotherhood (will be established), and then World (War) III and violence will be (eliminated).”

“This is a point that China cannot deny. It should have thought of that beforehand. It cannot say one thing and do another, and then threaten protesters who cite agreements China signed to maintain ecological security,” Alunan said. AFP

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RELATED FROM THE CANADIAN INQUIRER

FVR to report first to President Duterte before “next step” on talks with China By Philippine News Agency on August 13, 2016


Former President and Special Envoy to China, Fidel V. Ramos (right), in a press conference on Saturday together with former Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Rafael Alunan III (left) at Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo in Quezon City, says he will report first to his appointing authority, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, before planning to go to Beijing, China for official talks. The former president met with ranking Chinese officials in Hong Kong last Aug. 10 to 11. (PNA photo by Joey O. Razon)

MANILA—Former president Fidel V. Ramos on Saturday announced that they will report first to President Rodrigo R. Duterte before planning to go to Beijing, China for official talks.

Ramos, the country’s Special Envoy to China, has been tasked to initiate talks with the Chinese after the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled that China’s claims to the South China Sea have no basis in international law.

“Good question, we are here to report first to our appointing authority, which is President Duterte, but he is in Mindanao right now and may not be back right away. So we reported to two secretaries concerned, National Security Adviser, Vice Admiral (Vicente) Agdamag and the Department of Foreign Affairs represented by Ambassador Lea Rodriguez,” Ramos said.

He further said that they have done the official protocol reports.

“But as soon as they are back in Manila, we will report to the President personally and then he will tell us what is the next step,” he added.

The former president met with ranking Chinese officials in Hong Kong last August 10-11.

Ramos described the talks with the Chinese as “very, very hospitable”.

“But beyond that, very encouraging in the sense that (we have) common interest. Our common interests are the 2030 United Nations 17 Sustainable Goals. Can you imagine (what we can do if we are helping one another), poverty will be removed and (in the end) world brotherhood (will be established), and then World (War) III and violence will be (eliminated),” he said.

During their meeting in Hong Kong, Ramos said they talked about returning the status quo ante for fishing.

“We talked about fishing, (returning the) status quo ante (before the Scarborough Shoal incident in 2012 when China took control of the maritime area), fishing according to the rights accorded by tradition and that means, (the) Philippines, China and Vietnam (are part of the fishing tradition),” he said.

Ramos said he is hopeful that these talks would lead to bigger talks.


TRIBUNE

RP, MILF relaunch peace negotiations Written by Tribune Wires Sunday, 14 August 2016 00:00


PH, Muslim rebels relaunch peace talks. 13 of august 2016. The Philippines on Saturday restarted peace talks with the country's largest Muslim rebel group ...

KUALAL LUMPUR — The government yesterday restarted peace talks with the country’s largest Muslim rebel group, the first under President Duterte aimed at ending decades of violence that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.

Negotiators for the two sides said the weekend talks in Malaysia would discuss details of Duterte’s peace road map.

“They will discuss the road map to clarify certain issues. But let me warn everyone, it is not an easy task. It is very complicated,” Jesus Dureza, presidential adviser on the peace process, told reporters in Kuala Lumpur without elaborating.

The 12,000-strong Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has waged a bloody insurgency in the mainly Muslim southern Philippines since the 1970s but an accord signed in 2014 had raised hopes of a lasting peace.

Under the accord, the rebels would have only given up their arms after a law was only given up their arms after a law was passed creating an autonomous homeland in Mindanao and a regional government was elected.

The vote was meant to take place alongside the May 2016 general election.

But a bungled raid into MILF territory that killed 44 police commandos in 2015 helped derail the passage of the law and stalled the peace process with the rebels.

READ MORE...

Dureza described the relaunching of the talks in Malaysia, the first formal sit-down between the two sides since Duterte took office, as a “big milestone for peace in Mindanao.”

MILF chief Murad Ebrahim said he welcomed fellow Muslim rebel Nur Misuari, chairman of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), to join the transition commission to establish the “Bangsamoro” autonomous region in Mindanao.

“For the inclusion of brother Nur Misuari, the MILF welcomes him joining because we believe there has to be inclusivity in finding a solution to the problem in the Bangsamoro homeland. We need all the players to be onboard,” he said.

While there were some people in the southern Philippines inspired by the Islamic State jihadists, Ebrahim said “if the peace process was successful, they (IS) will not garner the people’s support.”


DUREZA

There is, however, an apparent difference in what the MILF demands of the Duterte administration and Dureza’s proposal to the insurgent group that failed to win the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) under the 16th Congress and the former Aquino administration due to constitutional questions.

Ebrahim said they want the BBL to progress in the 17th Congress while Dureza maintained that there is still a need to pass Duterte’s Charter change to accommodate his federalism bid first before “passing an enabling law without contentious issues.”

“We hope for progress on the Bangsamoro Basic Law in the 17th Congress. There must be a final closure in the cycle of violence in Mindanao. The peace process is the only reasonable pathway to bring lasting peace in Mindanao,” the MILF leader said.

But Dureza said the government is not negotiating anymore, stressing it is high time for parties to implement what were signed and agreed upon.

“We decided to launch the implementation stage of the Mindanao peace agreement between the Philippines and MILF. We have moved from the negotiation stage. Remember that President Duterte’s first policy statement is to publicly commit the government’s signed agreement,” Dureza said.

“The road to peace is not well-paved. There will be humps and bumps along the way but please stay the course with us. We can sign a hundred peace agreements but if we do not improve the lives of people on the ground, all this will be all for naught,” he added.

The Muslim separatists comprise three main groups — the MNLF and breakaway factions the MILF and the Abu Sayyaf kidnap-for-ransom group.

Armed Muslim groups have been fighting since the 1970s for an independent Islamic state or autonomous rule in the south, which they regard as their ancestral home, and the conflict has claimed more than 100,000 lives.

The conflict has condemned millions of people across Mindanao to brutal poverty and created fertile conditions for Islamic extremism, with the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf and other hardline militants making remote areas their strongholds. Ted Tuvera and AFP

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RELATED FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

Gov’t, MILF resume talks; Duterte hopes to meet Nur by Elena L. Aben August 14, 2016 Share1 Tweet0 Share1 Email0 Share46

The Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have formally resumed talks yesterday as President Duterte expressed hopes of meeting Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chairman Nur Misuari.

The two-day meeting kicked off in Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur, where representatives from the Philippine government arrived in full force for the launching the implementing phase of the Bangsamoro peace accord.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza hailed the entering of the implementing phase of the peace process, as he emphasized the Duterte administration’s commitment to implement all the peace agreements entered into by the Philippine government.

“We are pleased to be back in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to launch a crucial phase of the Bangsamoro peace process – the implementing phase,” Dureza said in a statement.

Dureza said both parties have agreed that the negotiations phase is over and now it is time to implement what they have agreed to do. “So today, we are officially launching the implementing phase of the Bangsamoro peace agreements between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF),” he stated.

ROLE OF CONGRESS

With Dureza in Kuala Lumpur are House Speaker, Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez and Majority Floor Leader, Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas. He said their presence is a testament that the Congress is a strong partner for peace, not just for the Bangsamoro and Mindanao, but for the entire Philippines.

“By being present on day one, we are assured that the executive and the legislative branches are both on the same page as we implement our peace agreements,” he said.

These congressional leaders will also make sure that the Bangsamoro enabling law will be in sync with the proposed shift to a federal system of government, said Dureza.

“In fact, we are envisioning that the new Bangsamoro government entity can be the pilot of a federal state that embodies meaningful autonomy. With their support, we have no doubt we will see an early enactment of an inclusive Bangsamoro enabling law,” he continued.

Also present are key members of the the President’s Cabinet – Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr., Interior and Local Government Secretary Mike Sueno, and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Jr.

“We are also inspired by the presence of the governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Gov. Mujiv Hataman, which signifies ARMM’s commitment to work for the convergence of all the Bangsamoro peace agreements to make it truly inclusive with no group or sector left behind,” said Dureza.

The peace adviser further said that the implementing phase of the Bangsamoro peace process also marks the transition of the role of the Malaysian government as third-party facilitator of the successful peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the MILF toward that of a supporter of Bangsamoro development.

“This ceremony today is also a public recognition of the significant contribution of Malaysia to the Bangsamoro peace process. We sincerely thank them and invite them now to become one of our Global Partners for Peace, joining the rest of our international development partners here present,” said Dureza.

“President Rodrigo R. Duterte, the first-ever Mindanawon president of the Philippines, has given us a clear directive – no more waiting, start implementing what can be done now while we are crafting a more inclusive enabling law. He also emphasized how it is important to make this implementing stage primarily an all-Filipino process consistent with the principles of self-determination and autonomy,” he added.

And because the present administration takes women seriously, Dureza said the government implementing panel is being led by Irene M. Santiago, who has been involved in the Bangsamoro peace process for almost 40 years.

“With her leadership, we are assured that it will be an inclusive and transparent and, I believe, very fast implementing process,” said Dureza.

Santiago is joined in the panel by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) executive team composed of Undersecretary Diosita Andor, Undersecretary Nabil Tan, Assistant Secretary Dickson Hermoso, and Assistant Secretary Rolando Asuncion.

Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak welcomed the re-launch of the Bangsamoro peace.

As he stressed that Malaysia would remain committed to the peace process for as long as desired, Najib said that the resumption of the talks would pave the way for a peaceful solution to the decades-long conflict in southern Philippines.

MEETING WITH NUR


NUR MISUARI

Meanwhile, President Duterte failed to meet the MNLF in Jolo last Friday, and the Chief Executive said he hopes to meet with Misuari early next year after the discussions between government and the MILF.

“I will meet Misuari for sure because pagkatapos ng panel-panel it goes up to us. Kami na ang mag-usap,” Duterte told reporters during his visit at Camp Teodulfo Bautista in Barangay Busbus, Jolo, Sulu.

According to Duterte, his meeting with the MNLF leader could help usher in peace in Mindanao.

“When I shall have met Misuari, I think there’s a better chance,” he said.

The President had earlier said that given Misuari’s fragile age, he does not want the MNLF leader to be pursued and detained anymore.

“Misuari is getting old,” Duterte said, adding that it would affect the peace negotiations if something bad happens to the 77-year-old MNLF leader while in detention.

“You can never have talks again… Kapag may nangyari sa kanya, malaking problema yan,” said Duterte.


MANILA STANDARD

Court frees 4 Reds ahead of peace gab in Oslo posted August 13, 2016 at 12:01 am by Sandy Araneta and John Paolo Bencito

A MANILA court has granted bail to communist leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, Rafael Baylosis, and Adelberto Silva just ahead of peace talks in Oslo, Norway this month.

Judge Thelma Bunyi-Medina, of the Manila RTC Branch 32, granted the motion for the release of the communist leaders on bail, and allowed them to travel with Satur Ocampo and Randal Echaniz to Oslo for the talks, lawyer Edre Olalia said.

The Tiamzons, Ocampo and their co-accused face multiple murder charges for the killing of 15 civilians discovered in a mass grave in 2006 in Inopacan, Leyte. The military says the bodies belong to communist rebels who were killed in a purge because they were believed to be government spies.

The military arrested the Tiamzons, along with five others, in 2014 based on a warrant issued by the regional trial court in Leyte.

The Tiamzons, however, cannot be released yet because the courts handling their other cases have yet to approve their motion for bail.

The two also face charges of kidnapping with serious illegal detention before the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 216, murder and frustrated murder in Laoang, Northern Samar and illegal possession of explosives in Toledo City, Cebu.

“We’re still waiting for feedback from these courts,” Olalia said.

The National Democratic Front considers the Tiamzons and Silva consultants in the peace talks that will resume on Aug. 22.

The court set different bail amounts—P100,000 to P150,000—for each of the detainees.

The court granted the request for bail after prosecutors for the Justice Department did not oppose their motion.

Baylosis is among the 22 consultants identified by the NDF, the political wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, who have key roles in the peace talks.

“He [Baylosis] surfaced because he was encouraged by the coming resumption of the peace negotiations and he wanted to perform his role fully as a consultant. He failed to attend his arraignment on July 30, 2015 due to intense surveillance and reports of threats to him and his family,” Olalia said.

Earlier, the government asked the Supreme Court to order the temporary release of 10 NDF leaders to enable them to join the peace talks in Oslo.

In an urgent motion filed by the Office of the Solicitor General this week, the government sought the release of Tirso Alcantara, Alex Birondo, Winona Birondo, Maria Concepcion Bocala, Reynante Gamara, Alan Jazmines, Ma. Loida Magpatoc, Adelberto Silva, and the Tiamzons.

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The OSG also included in its pleading Baylosis, who already posted bail in a criminal case but forfeited it by failing to appear in hearings.

Government lawyers led by Solicitor General Jose Calida told the high court that the NDF leaders would have a crucial role in the peace talks where they are supposed to serve as consultants.

In seeking temporary release of the NDF leaders, the OSG proposed several conditions to the Supreme Court.

The OSG said the accused would be released Òonly for the purpose of their attendance and participationÓ in the formal peace negotiations in Oslo, Norway starting Aug. 20, 2016.

The period of their temporary release, it added, would not exceed six months.

The OSG also proposed that a cash bond of P100,000 each be posted, and that the NDF leaders must provide complete contact information both in the Philippines and Norway, and would return to the Philippines after the peace talks.

Presidential Peace Process Adviser Jesus Dureza earlier explained the talks were moved from July to August to ensure that the CPP-NPA-NDF would be well represented.

Also on Friday, a Quezon City court granted a motion for the release on bail of another NDF negotiator, Ernesto Lorenzo.

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RELATED FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

Pres. Duterte reiterates peace talks with NPA rebels by Philippines News Agency August 9, 2016 Share140 Tweet1 Share0 Email0 Share174


President Rodrigo Duterte talks to former New People’s Army (NPA) rebels during an August 5, 2016 visit at Camp Peralta, the headquarters of the Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (3rd ID) in Jamindan town, Capiz province. (Tara Yap) /mb.com.ph

CATBALOGAN CITY, Samar –- President Rodrigo Duterte would love to see the Armed Forces of the Philippines and New People’s Army (NPA) talking about peace instead of fighting for as long as insurgents will stop using landmines.

Talking to 500 soldiers at the covered court of the Philippine Army’s 8th Infantry Division in Camp Lukban, this city late Monday afternoon, Pres. Duterte said he really wanted to end the four decades of fighting between government troops and NPAs.

“I want to show to them the good faith on the part of the government by going ahead with the ceasefire. I would insist to talk with the rebels with or without their leader (Jose Maria) Sison,” he said.

However, peace negotiations will only proceed if rebels will completely stop using landmines.

“If you will continue to use landmines, I will withdraw from the talks and there will be no ceasefire. I am prepared for another 45 years (of fighting). Do you want to fight for another 45 years?” he asked.

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“I am just saying if you will use landmine again, I will forego peace talks and forget about it.”

“My job as a President is not to look for fight and to allow people die. My job is to seek peace with everybody so that we can move on to the next generation. The next generation after us has no more problems with insurgency. They can go anywhere through the country and develop the Republic for their children,” he said.

Pres. Duterte noted the communist insurgents were quick to invoke the Geneva Conventions when it is to their favor. “When it is not, then you invoke on it. If you are caught, you file cases against soldiers.”

The 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons in Geneva specified the use of landmines, booby traps, incendiary weapons and blinding laser weapons, among others, as “excessively injurious” or “to have indiscriminate effects.”


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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