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(Mini Reads followed by Full Reports below)

[CHINA & DUTERTE]

CHINESE ENVOY OPEN TO DISCUSSING PLIGHT OF PINOY FISHERMAN IN PANATAG SHOAL
[RELATED COMMENTARY: Reluctant pursuit - The Duterte administration’s defense policy]


AUGUST 29 -Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua on Monday said they are open to discussing the possibility of letting Filipino fishermen in the disputed Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal. "We can discuss the possibility," Zhao briefly said in a chance interview with reporters after the National Heroes Day commemoration at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Zhao's comment came after President Rodrigo Duterte in his speech made reference to the The Hague ruling favoring the Philippines that Scarborough Shoal is a common fishing ground. "If we continue to treat each other as brothers and continue to understand especially the plight of the fishermen... They are there because they are poor," Duterte said. "If the Chinese people this time find a place in their hearts for the Filipinos... I hope we treat each other as brothers, not enemies," Duterte added after he once again said that he will not bring the arbitration ruling in the upcoming ASEAN Summit in Laos.
Bilateral talks Meanwhile, Zhao said they want to discuss common interests in the bilateral talks. "But we do look forward to talk to the Philippines bilaterally... But right now we need to change our focus from differences to common interests so we can concentrate on cooperation that will benefit our people," the Chinese envoy said. He also asked the Filipino-Chinese community to be good citizens in the Philippines. READ MORE...RELATED COMMENTARY, Reluctant pursuit: The Duterte administration’s defense policy...

ALSO Duterte to Chinese: Treat Pinoys as brothers, not enemies
[RELATED: Peace the only way to go, Rody tells China envoy]
[RELATED(2): China helps build drug rehab center in Northern Luzon]

Duterte has been saying that more than six million Filipinos are into shabu, the most abused substance in the country. He also said that the brains of those taking shabu on a daily basis for a period of one year would shrink, making them useless and unsuitable for rehabilitation. These are also the kinds of people who lose their minds and usually figure in crimes, Duterte said.]


AUGUST 30 -Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua gestures as he talks briefly with the media after attending the wreath-laying ceremony on National Heroes Day Monday, Aug. 29, 2016 at the Heroes Cemetery in suburban Taguig city east of Manila, Philippines. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte Duterte said recently that he would not raise maritime disputes with China at a meeting of Southeast Asian nations in Laos next week but will talk with Chinese officials especially on Filipino fishermen's fishing in Scarborough Shoal. AP Photo/Bullit Marquez
MANILA, Philippines - President Duterte has urged the Chinese people to treat Filipinos as “brothers and not enemies” as the Philippines and China prepare to work on agreeable terms regarding the West Philippine Sea. Duterte made the call during yesterday’s tribute to Filipino heroes at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, with Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua among the guests. The two countries are ready to discuss matters that may unite them, amid a ruling of the UN’s Permanent Court of Arbitration rejecting Beijing’s nine-dash line claim on the disputed territory. “I hope the Chinese people will find a place in their heart for Filipinos, for after all there is Chinese blood in me. I hope you treat us as your brothers and not enemies and take note of the plight of our citizens,” Duterte said. The President appealed to Beijing to consider the plight of Filipino fishermen, who have been driven out of Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc by the Chinese navy. “Please understand the reason why they are there is because they are poor,” he said, apparently addressing Zhao. Recognizing the superiority of the Chinese military, Duterte said he has no option but to talk peace with China. “I don’t want to go to war. So if I don’t, there is always war and peace. If I am not ready for war, then peace is the only means,” he said. The President stressed the importance of taking the peaceful route toward settling the territorial dispute with China. “For now, Mr. Ambassador, I want to talk to you, and maybe give us time to build our forces. You have so much superiority. But if it comes to parity between as many ships as you have, maybe just maybe. But if we continue and treat each other as brothers and understand, especially the plight of the fishermen…” READ MORE...RELATED,  Peace the only way to go, Rody tells China envoy...RELATED(2), China helps build drug rehab center...

ALSO: Will China allow PH fishers in West PH Sea? Palace still doubtful
[RELATED SEPT 2 -Zambales fisherfolk welcome news they can now fish in Panatag Shoal]


AUGUST 30 -Duterte said China should be understanding of the Filipino fishermen who go to fish in the West Philippine Sea. “Please understand the reason why they are there is because they are poor,” he said. “I don’t want to go to war. So if I don’t, there is always war and peace. If I am not ready for war, then peace is the only means.”
DESPITE the plea of President Rodrigo Duterte, Malacañang remains uncertain if China would allow Filipino fishermen to fish at the disputed waters.“Maybe the best thing to do is just test the waters,” presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a press briefing on Tuesday. Abella earlier told Filipino fishermen who have been harassed by Chinese coastguard to “proceed with caution” in fishing at the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).During his speech at the National Heroes’ Day in Taguig City on Monday, the President urged China to consider the plight of poor Filipino fishermen and allow them to fish in the disputed waters.“That’s exactly one of the things na inilapit yata ng Presidente – to treat our people not as enemies; let us not be adversaries but instead [let’s be] friends, parang ganon; to allow them to be able to fish,” Abella said.In reaction, Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jinhua told reporters in an interview: “I do not know the situation on the sea but we are looking on the possibility.” Abella said the statement of the Chinese envoy was “a window of opportunity.” “There may be kinks in the relationship but there is a positive opening,” he said.Duterte has repeatedly said that bilateral talks with China on the country’s territorial claims on the West Philippine Sea should be based on the ruling of the United Nations arbitral tribunal, which favors the Philippines’ claims.
FULL REPORT, RELATED, Zambales fisherfolk welcome news they can now fish in Panatag Shoal...

ALSO: US VP Kerry says no military solution to South China Sea dispute
[RELATED: Duterte says talks with China on sea dispute 'within the year']


AUGUST 20 --U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry adjusts his ear phones during a joint news conference with India's External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj (not pictured) in New Delhi, India, August 30, 2016. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called on Wednesday on China and the Philippines to abide by an international tribunal's decision on the disputed South China Sea and said there was no military solution to the problem.
Kerry's remarks, made in a visit to India, came ahead of a G20 summit in China on Sunday and Monday that could be overshadowed by arguments over everything from territorial disputes to protectionism by China, diplomats say. An arbitration court in The Hague ruled in July that China did not have historic rights to the South China Sea. China dismissed the case lodged by the Philippines and rejected the ruling. "The United States continues to call on China and the Philippines to abide by the tribunal's recent decision which is final and legally binding on both parties," Kerry told a gathering of students in New Delhi. China claims most of the South China Sea, through which more than $5 trillion of trade moves annually. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam have rival claims. China has vowed to take all measures needed to protect its sovereignty over the South China Sea and says its actions there, which have included land reclamation and construction of air fields and docks on reefs, are peaceful. China has blamed the United States and its allies in the region, such as Japan and Australia, for stoking tension. The United States and Japan have no territorial claims in the South China Sea and say their priority is freedom of navigation. Kerry said the United States supported diplomatic efforts to resolve territorial disputes to which there was "no military solution". "We are also interested in not fanning the flames of conflict but rather trying to encourage the parties to resolve their disputes and claims through the legal process and through diplomacy," Kerry said. READ MORE... R3ELATED, Philippines' Duterte says talks with China on sea dispute 'within the year'...

ALSO EARLY REPORT: Fidel Ramos - Duterte’s icebreaker in South China Sea row
[RELATED Commentary: How a marine-protected area in the South China Sea is crucial for peace]


EARLY REPORT: FIDEL RAMOS: A wily operator who likes to emphasise his military past, the former president of the Philippines is hoping to capitalise on a ‘whiff of hope’ in the country’s South China Sea dispute
When Fidel Ramos, the former Philippine president, arrived in Hong Kong on Monday pledging to find “common points of interest” between Beijing and Manila in their territorial dispute in the South China Sea, he opened the latest chapter in a seven-decade career marked by savvy and achievement. Ramos, a special envoy for Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte in the maritime controversy, visited the city one month after a ruling by the International Court of Justice in the Netherlands that rejected China’s claims. China blasted the ruling and has vowed not to back down. But on Tuesday, news agency Xinhua ran an editorial saying the former president’s arrival in Hong Kong had brought “a whiff of hope” for a fresh diplomatic start. China-Philippines fishing deal ‘may help calm troubled South China Sea waters’ The former president, 88, said on Tuesday he would spend his five days in the city visiting old friends with ties to the central government. He spoke of those “common points of interest” between the countries and held up photos of President Xi Jinping (習近平) that he said were taken when the Chinese leader visited the Philippines in his youth. On Friday, Ramos revealed in a statement that his “informal discussions” with those friends stressed that building trust was “very important to the long-term beneficial relationship between the Philippines and China”. He added they all valued “the prospect of further cooperation” and noted China welcomed him to come to Beijing as Duterte’s envoy. Multimedia special: 70 years of construction, conflict and combat on the South China Sea Ramos’ unique role in one of the region’s most grave and sensitive matters attests to his status at home and abroad. By tapping Ramos to be his envoy, Duterte was drawing on the former president’s stature, analysts said. Bonnie Glaser, senior adviser for Asia and director of the China Power Project at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, described Ramos as “pragmatic when dealing with Beijing” during his own presidency and still well respected. China ‘open to dialogue’ with Philippines: foreign ministry READ MORE...RELATED,
Commentary: How a marine-protected area in the South China Sea is crucial for peace...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Chinese envoy open to discussing plight of Pinoy fishermen in Panatag Shoal

MANILA, SEPTEMBER 5, 2016 (GMA NEWS NETWORK) Published August 29, 2016 10:22am  By TRISHA MACAS - Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua on Monday said they are open to discussing the possibility of letting Filipino fishermen in the disputed Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal.

"We can discuss the possibility," Zhao briefly said in a chance interview with reporters after the National Heroes Day commemoration at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Zhao's comment came after President Rodrigo Duterte in his speech made reference to the The Hague ruling favoring the Philippines that Scarborough Shoal is a common fishing ground.

"If we continue to treat each other as brothers and continue to understand especially the plight of the fishermen... They are there because they are poor," Duterte said.

"If the Chinese people this time find a place in their hearts for the Filipinos... I hope we treat each other as brothers, not enemies," Duterte added after he once again said that he will not bring the arbitration ruling in the upcoming ASEAN Summit in Laos.

Bilateral talks

Meanwhile, Zhao said they want to discuss common interests in the bilateral talks.

"But we do look forward to talk to the Philippines bilaterally... But right now we need to change our focus from differences to common interests so we can concentrate on cooperation that will benefit our people," the Chinese envoy said.

He also asked the Filipino-Chinese community to be good citizens in the Philippines.

READ MORE...

"The Chinese community here, well, they are Filipinos of Chinese origin, I hope they can continue to make their contribution to the socio-economic develop and they continue to be law-abiding and to continue to be a force of peace and stability and prosperity," he urged them.

Common fishing ground

In a landmark decision on July 12, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague said the Scarborough Shoal's 12 nautical mile territorial sea is a common fishing ground for Chinese and Filipino fishermen.

The Chinese coast guard has been blocking Filipino fishermen who try to go to Scarborough Shoal since 2013.

Even with the PCA ruling, Filipinos were still barred by the Chinese from getting near the shoal.

Earlier this month, China's Supreme Court ruled that people caught illegally fishing in its waters could be jailed for a year.

Presidential spokesman Ernie Abella has told Filipino fishermen to "proceed with caution" if they plan to go in the area. — with Rose-An Jessica Dioquino/RSJ, GMA News

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

RELATED FROM PHILSTAR BY RENATO CRUZ DE CASTRO. Ph.D

Reluctant pursuit: The Duterte administration’s defense policy By Renato Cruz De Castro (philstar.com) | Updated September 2, 2016 - 11:59am 3 659 googleplus3 0


The Rizal day ceremony was highlighted by the fly-by of two FA-50PH and other PAF assets. Philippine Air Force/SSg Amable B Milay Jr., File photo

MANILA, Philippines - In 2010, President Benigno Aquino III declared his unequivocal support for the modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). Yet despite being determined to boost the AFP’s territorial defense capabilities, the Aquino administration had financial constraints.

And so while Aquino recognized the urgency of modernizing the military, especially the Navy and Air Force, he understood the limitations brought about by competing demands, especially funds for education and public infrastructure.

From his perspective, modernization’s goal was to build up a credible defense posture, not to project power long distances or fight wars. Aquino wanted the military to reach the minimum level necessary to defend the country’s territory and interests. Thus, despite its modest goals, the Aquino administration sank its teeth into challenging China’s encroachment into the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

By the end of Aquino’s term, the government had acquired two second-hand U.S. Coast Guard cutters (BRP Gregorio Del Pilar and BRP Alcaraz) and signed a contract for 12 FA-50 multi-purpose fighter planes from South Korea. Though the Navy acquired six Multi-Purpose Attack Crafts (MPACs), the Department of National Defense (DND) postponed the purchase of missile-armed MPACs until after the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) had releases the funds.

Because of a funding shortfall from Congress, the DND could not procure blue-water missile-armed ships, search-and-rescue vessels, naval helicopters, strategic sealift ships, and top-of-the-line interceptors to protect the country’s territorial claims and exclusive economic zone.

Is defense policy turning inward?

During the campaign leading up to the 2016 elections, then Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte was highly critical of the Aquino administration’s handling of the West Philippine Sea disputes. For his part, he declared his willingness to having bilateral talks with China and the possibility of joint exploration of the disputed waters’ natural resources.

Duterte even brought up China building railroads in Mindanao. On the other hand, he disparaged the Philippines-US alliance and said he had little confidence that the United States would honor its treaty commitment to the Philippines.

Before his inauguration, Duterte said he wouldn’t continue the military modernization program started by his predecessor, or at least not with the same vigor. Observers thought that Duterte would follow former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s national security policy of gravitating toward China and downplaying territorial defense to focus on neutralizing domestic security challenges, such terrorism and insurgencies.

Duterte said he wouldn’t continue the military modernization program started by his predecessor, or at least not with the same vigor. If he links the military’s modernization to Aquino’s agenda of challenging China’s expansive claim, Duterte’s agenda to improve bilateral relations with China may mean decrease in public investments on territorial defense, if not outright termination.

For instance, on the eve of his inauguration, Duterte announced that he would not continue the modernization program, calling the fighter planes (two FA-50s) decorative.

“Fighter jets are good only for ceremonial flybys,” Duterte said. “I am not in favor of building up external defense. I will not go to war with China.”

Military and defense department officials immediately clarified Duterte’s statement.

AFP Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Ricardo Visaya said that AFP modernization would continue, although internal security threats, such as the Abu Sayyaf group, will be prioritized, including equipment such as helicopters with night-fighting capabilities and fast craft.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has assured the AFP and the Filipino public that the current administration would pursue the modernization of the Philippine military. Lorenzana emphasized that territorial defense is one of the priorities of the Duterte government, saying, “It is very important as we need to protect our territories against encroachment by other parties.” He then added that the 15-year AFP modernization program would continue as scheduled.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has assured the AFP and the Filipino public that the current administration would pursue the modernization of the Philippine military. As with Visaya, however, Lorenzana clarified that there will be some “redirection” as the Duterte administration is determined to deal decisively with criminality, especially the Abu Sayyaf.

No clear defense agenda yet

The confusing statements of the Duterte administration on AFP modernization indicate that it still does not have a clear defense agenda.

Some analysts expected that Duterte would adopt a pragmatic foreign policy agenda for the Philippines, characterized by keeping the country’s security relations with the United States intact while exploring greater economic cooperation with China. Some government officials, however, observed that Duterte, just like other presidential candidates, simply did not have any concrete foreign policy or defense agenda coming into his post. Unfortunately, important foreign policy and defense decisions were some of the first for the president to make.

Some government officials observed that Duterte, just like other presidential candidates, simply did not have any concrete foreign policy or defense agenda coming into his post. After a three-year wait, the arbitral tribunal rendered its ruling on the maritime dispute between the Philippines and China on 12 July. The five-judge tribunal unanimously ruled in favor of the Philippines on almost all of the claims it made against China.

The tribunal rendered China’s nine-dash line in the South China Sea as contrary to international law. It further determined that none of the Spratlys are legally islands because they cannot sustain a stable human community or independent economic life.

Finally, it found China guilty of damaging the marine environment by building artificial islands and illegally preventing the Philippines from full and sole control of its exclusive economic zone. The tribunal’s decision is final and binding.

Sober response seeks to avoid retaliation

Despite its overwhelming legal victory in the most anticipated decision of any international tribunal on the law of the sea, the Duterte administration met the decision with a cautious and even muted reaction. The president fulfilled his earlier promise that he would not flaunt the decision or taunt China with a favorable ruling.

Although the domestic reaction was overwhelmingly positive, Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay merely said that he welcomed the ruling and called on the Filipinos to exercise restraint and sobriety.

During the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Laos, Yasay withdrew the country’s motion to include the ruling in the ASEAN Joint Communiqué after Cambodia objected to its inclusion.

Assigned to be the country’s special envoy to China, former President Fidel Ramos even suggested that the president should set the award aside as this administration pursues bilateral negotiations with China.

The government’s cautious reaction is the result of this government’s concern that flaunting a legal victory might force China to react adversely against Filipino fishermen and AFP units stationed in the South China Sea.

Because the arbitral tribunal has no enforcement mechanism, it is difficult to imagine China carrying out its activities in accordance with the ruling. Even so, despite the administration’s calm response, the ruling triggered tensions with China and the government cannot easily implement the ruling because of the relative weakness of our Navy and the Coast Guard.

Because the arbitral tribunal has no enforcement mechanism, it is difficult to imagine China carrying out its activities in accordance with the ruling.

Reluctant continuation of previous priorities

To enforce the law, the Philippine government will need a more modern Navy and Coast Guard. Thus, the ruling has put pressure on the Duterte administration to develop these forces, which could then send vessels to escort Filipino fishermen and survey ships.

In certain cases, the Navy will need to deploy its ships to show the flag and join allied navies in conducting free of navigation operations in the disputed waters.

In the aftermath of the award, Lorenzana again highlighted the urgent need for the Philippines to upgrade its armed forces.

Lorenzana underscored that the “15-year modernization program of the AFP will continue as scheduled.” He added that the DND would continue with the AFP modernization program, which jives with the administration’s plan to developing a credible deterrent force to secure Philippine territory.

These developments indicate that despite its pronouncements about reviving bilateral negotiations, pursuing joint developments, and shifting from territorial defense to internal security, the Duterte administration might end up reluctantly continuing its predecessor’s defense agenda out of necessity.

In addition to developing the military for territorial defense purposes, it may yet find itself bolstering closer Philippine-U.S. security relations, seeking from Washington an explicit security guarantee under the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) and promoting a strategic partnership with other regional players like Japan.

***

Renato Cruz De Castro, Ph.D. is a trustee and program convenor for foreign policy and regional security at the Stratbase Albert Del Rosario Institute (ADRi) and a professor at the De La Salle University.


PHILSTAR

Duterte to Chinese: Treat Pinoys as brothers, not enemies By Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 30, 2016 - 12:00am 0 74 googleplus0 0


Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua gestures as he talks briefly with the media after attending the wreath-laying ceremony on National Heroes Day Monday, Aug. 29, 2016 at the Heroes Cemetery in suburban Taguig city east of Manila, Philippines. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte Duterte said recently that he would not raise maritime disputes with China at a meeting of Southeast Asian nations in Laos next week but will talk with Chinese officials especially on Filipino fishermen's fishing in Scarborough Shoal. AP Photo/Bullit Marquez

MANILA, Philippines - President Duterte has urged the Chinese people to treat Filipinos as “brothers and not enemies” as the Philippines and China prepare to work on agreeable terms regarding the West Philippine Sea.

Duterte made the call during yesterday’s tribute to Filipino heroes at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, with Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua among the guests.

The two countries are ready to discuss matters that may unite them, amid a ruling of the UN’s Permanent Court of Arbitration rejecting Beijing’s nine-dash line claim on the disputed territory.

PRESIDENT's APPEAL


'...AFTER ALL, .THERE IS CHINESE BLOOD IN ME...'

“I hope the Chinese people will find a place in their heart for Filipinos, for after all there is Chinese blood in me. I hope you treat us as your brothers and not enemies and take note of the plight of our citizens,” Duterte said.

The President appealed to Beijing to consider the plight of Filipino fishermen, who have been driven out of Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc by the Chinese navy.

“Please understand the reason why they are there is because they are poor,” he said, apparently addressing Zhao.

Recognizing the superiority of the Chinese military, Duterte said he has no option but to talk peace with China.

“I don’t want to go to war. So if I don’t, there is always war and peace. If I am not ready for war, then peace is the only means,” he said.

The President stressed the importance of taking the peaceful route toward settling the territorial dispute with China.

“For now, Mr. Ambassador, I want to talk to you, and maybe give us time to build our forces. You have so much superiority. But if it comes to parity between as many ships as you have, maybe just maybe. But if we continue and treat each other as brothers and understand, especially the plight of the fishermen…”

READ MORE...

Duterte said he respects the decision of the UN tribunal awarding the Philippines historic rights over some areas in the West Philippines Sea.

U.N. RULING WILL NOT HAMPER 'TALKS WITH CHINA'

But he said he would not allow the arbitration ruling to hamper the talks between Manila and Beijing on the matter.

“I will state my case before you. I will never bring the matter up because it might lead to the suspension of talks and that is not good. I propose that I will not use the arbitral judgment now, but I will sit in front of a representative or you, and I will lay there my position and I will say: ‘This paper, I cannot get out with the four corners of this document,’ which is the arbitral ruling,” he said.

Beijing open for talks Beijing is ready for talks with Manila, Zhao said on the sidelines of yesterday’s ceremony where he called President Duterte “friend.”

“We will talk diplomatic matters that contribute to the well-being of our people,” he said as he reiterated Beijing’s stance that it does not adhere to the UN arbitral ruling.

“We cannot accept the arbitration award but we look forward to talking to the Philippines bilaterally over the topics that we have right now,” he said.

“We need to change our focus from differences to common interests so we can concentrate on cooperation that would benefit our people,” he added.

Zhao said Beijing is studying Duterte’s appeal for China to allow Filipino fishermen on Panatag Shoal.

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

RELATED FROM THE INQUIRER

Peace the only way to go, Rody tells China envoy By: Marlon Ramos @MRamosINQ Philippine Daily Inquirer
12:46 AM August 30th, 2016


President Rodrigo R. Duterte shakes hands with Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua during the celebration of the National Heroes’ Day at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City on August 29. KING RODRIGUEZ/PPD

WE’RE your brothers, not your foes.

President Duterte on Monday conveyed this message to Beijing as he reiterated that any bilateral talks between China and the Philippines on their contrasting territorial claims over the West Philippine Sea should be guided by the ruling of the international arbitral court.

Mr. Duterte also urged China to consider the situation of poor Filipino fishermen who had been barred by Chinese coast guard from entering their traditional fishing grounds in the disputed waters of the South China Sea.

Speaking at the National Heroes’ Day celebration in Taguig City, the President said the Philippines was not ready to go into war with China, stressing that “peace is the only way” in resolving the two nations’ territorial dispute.

“I hope that you will treat us as your brothers, not your enemies. And take note of the plight of our citizens,” he said, directly addressing Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua who was among the guests at the ceremony.

“The Chinese people, this time, might find a place in their hearts for Filipinos. After all … there’s Chinese blood in me,” he continued.

“(The Filipino fishermen) are there because they are poor.”

READ MORE...

‘Dynamics’

Mr. Duterte also said he understood the “dynamics” of China’s political system but insisted that the judgment rendered by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, which recognized the Philippines’ sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea, should be considered in any negotiation.

“But for now, Mr. Ambassador, I want to just talk to you for the moment. Maybe give us time to build our forces also. You have so much superiority,” he said, eliciting laughter from the crowd.

In July, the UN-backed tribunal ruled that China did not have historic rights to the South China Sea and that it had breached Philippine sovereignty by endangering its ships and fishing and oil projects in the energy-rich waters.

China claims more than 90 percent of the South China Sea, an area which accounts for more than a tenth of global fisheries production and is also claimed in part by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

In an interview after the event, Zhao maintained that China would not honor the decision of the arbitral court, which also ruled that Beijing’s “nine-dash line” had “no legal basis.”

“Our position [is] that we cannot accept the arbitration award, but we do look forward to talk to the Philippines bilaterally over the topics that we have,” the ambassador told reporters.

Read: WHAT WENT BEFORE

“Right now, we need to change our focus … from differences to common interests so that we can concentrate on cooperation that would benefit our two peoples,” he said.

‘Soft landing’

Asked if China would allow Filipino fishermen to enter the disputed waters now guarded by its Coast Guard, Zhao said: “I do not know the situation on the sea, [but] we are looking on the possibility.”

“We will talk diplomatic matters [that] contribute to the well-being of our two peoples. So don’t worry,” he added. “We are looking into the possibility [on] how we [should] handle it.”

In his speech, the President said the two countries should come together in looking for a “soft landing” in dealing with their territorial problem.

Silent for now

“I’ll keep silent [for] now … I will never bring the matter because it might lead only to the suspension of the talks with China and that is not good, Mr. Ambassador,” he told Zhao.

“I will not use the arbitral (ruling) now, but I would, one day, sit in front of your representative or you and then I will lay bare my position. And I would say that … ‘I cannot get out of the four corners of this … arbitral judgment,’”
Mr. Duterte said.

 
https://youtu.be/AAN3seiYSik
Duterte to China: Treat us as your brothers and not enemies INQUIRER.net INQUIRER.net Subscribe62,677 Add to Share More 2,104 views 16 3 Published on Aug 29, 2016 Treat us as your brothers and not enemies. President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday personally pleaded to the Chinese ambassador to the Philippines to allow Filipino fishermen to fish over the disputed West Philippine Sea.

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RELATED(2) FROM PHILSTAR

China helps build drug rehab center By Giovanni Nilles (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 2, 2016 - 12:00am 0 2 googleplus0 0


The insufficient number of rehabilitation centers in the country was highlighted after more than 600,000 drug users surrendered to the police in less than two months since Duterte took his oath of office on June 30. KJ Rosales

MANILA, Philippines - China has begun the groundwork for the construction of a drug rehabilitation center in Northern Luzon, Malacañang disclosed yesterday.

In a press briefing, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said this was part of phase two of the Duterte administration’s war against illegal drugs.

Phase two is more focused on the operations against drug lords, rehabilitation of drug addicts or dependents, case investigations and the filing of cases before the courts, among others.

Abella would not confirm that the rehabilitation center would be located at Fort Ramon Magsaysay in Palayan, Nueva Ecija province.

The fort is the largest military reservation in the country and one of the key training centers of the Philippine Army.

Earlier, President Duterte said China offered to help in the construction of drug rehabilitation facilities in the country.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has also summoned Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua to discuss the drug crisis in the country and seek assistance to end it.

The President and the police have said drug syndicates are operating in the Philippines even as the kingpins are abroad, many of them in China.

Duterte has been visiting military camps around the country to ask, among other concerns, for a lot where he could construct buildings that would serve as drug rehabilitation centers.

The insufficient number of rehabilitation centers in the country was highlighted after more than 600,000 drug users surrendered to the police in less than two months since Duterte took his oath of office on June 30.

Local governments also struggled to address the problem as some units were left with issuing warnings to those who surrendered and then sending them back home due to lack of facilities to treat them for drug dependence.

Other units offer an exercise program, like zumba, or impose community volunteer work, usually confined to coastal or street cleanup drives.

Duterte has been saying that more than six million Filipinos are into shabu, the most abused substance in the country.

He also said that the brains of those taking shabu on a daily basis for a period of one year would shrink, making them useless and unsuitable for rehabilitation.

These are also the kinds of people who lose their minds and usually figure in crimes, Duterte said.


INQUIRER

Will China allow PH fishers in West PH Sea? Palace still doubtful By: Nestor Corrales
@NCorralesINQ INQUIRER.net 07:10 PM August 30th, 2016


AUGUST 30 -Duterte said China should be understanding of the Filipino fishermen who go to fish in the West Philippine Sea. “Please understand the reason why they are there is because they are poor,” he said. “I don’t want to go to war. So if I don’t, there is always war and peace. If I am not ready for war, then peace is the only means.”

DESPITE the plea of President Rodrigo Duterte, Malacañang remains uncertain if China would allow Filipino fishermen to fish at the disputed waters.

“Maybe the best thing to do is just test the waters,” presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a press briefing on Tuesday.

Abella earlier told Filipino fishermen who have been harassed by Chinese coastguard to “proceed with caution” in fishing at the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

During his speech at the National Heroes’ Day in Taguig City on Monday, the President urged China to consider the plight of poor Filipino fishermen and allow them to fish in the disputed waters.

“That’s exactly one of the things na inilapit yata ng Presidente – to treat our people not as enemies; let us not be adversaries but instead [let’s be] friends, parang ganon; to allow them to be able to fish,” Abella said.

In reaction, Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jinhua told reporters in an interview: “I do not know the situation on the sea but we are looking on the possibility.”

Abella said the statement of the Chinese envoy was “a window of opportunity.”

“There may be kinks in the relationship but there is a positive opening,” he said.

Duterte has repeatedly said that bilateral talks with China on the country’s territorial claims on the West Philippine Sea should be based on the ruling of the United Nations arbitral tribunal, which favors the Philippines’ claims.

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RELATED FROM GMA NEWS ONLINE

Zambales fisherfolk welcome news they can now fish in Panatag Shoal Published September 2, 2016 8:19am


Fishermen in Subic, Zambales welcomed the news that China has allowed them to enter Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc) in the West Philippine Sea to fish, a report on Unang Balita on Friday said.

This is after four years of being chased away by the Chinese Coast Guard.

The fishermen said this will be a big boost to their livelihood.

It is in the shoal that they are able to catch big fishes such as lapu-lapu, maya-maya, and talakitok.

In April 2012, the Philippine Coast Guard and the Chinese Navy had a standoff in Panatag Shoal after Philippine forces spotted Chinese fishermen gathering marine species in the area.

Before he was sworn in, President Rodrigo Duterte asked China to allow Filipino fishermen to resume fishing in Panatag Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.

Panatag Shoal is a triangle of small islands in the West Philippine Sea, surrounding a 150-square-kilometer lagoon within the Philippines’ 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone, as spelled out by the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

China, however, is claiming ownership of the shoal, saying it first discovered the area in the 13th century during the Yuan Dynasty.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration came out with a decision in July invalidating China's massive claims in the South China Sea, parts of which the Philippines refers to as West Philippine Sea. —KG, GMA News


REUTERS

SOUTH CHINA SEA: Kerry says no military solution to South China Sea dispute   | Wed Aug 31, 2016 4:32am EDT By Lesley Wroughton | NEW DELHI


U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry adjusts his ear phones during a joint news conference with India's External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj (not pictured) in New Delhi, India, August 30, 2016. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called on Wednesday on China and the Philippines to abide by an international tribunal's decision on the disputed South China Sea and said there was no military solution to the problem.

Kerry's remarks, made in a visit to India, came ahead of a G20 summit in China on Sunday and Monday that could be overshadowed by arguments over everything from territorial disputes to protectionism by China, diplomats say.

An arbitration court in The Hague ruled in July that China did not have historic rights to the South China Sea. China dismissed the case lodged by the Philippines and rejected the ruling.

"The United States continues to call on China and the Philippines to abide by the tribunal's recent decision which is final and legally binding on both parties," Kerry told a gathering of students in New Delhi.

China claims most of the South China Sea, through which more than $5 trillion of trade moves annually. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam have rival claims.

China has vowed to take all measures needed to protect its sovereignty over the South China Sea and says its actions there, which have included land reclamation and construction of air fields and docks on reefs, are peaceful.

China has blamed the United States and its allies in the region, such as Japan and Australia, for stoking tension.

The United States and Japan have no territorial claims in the South China Sea and say their priority is freedom of navigation.

Kerry said the United States supported diplomatic efforts to resolve territorial disputes to which there was "no military solution".

"We are also interested in not fanning the flames of conflict but rather trying to encourage the parties to resolve their disputes and claims through the legal process and through diplomacy," Kerry said.

READ MORE...

The United States and India, in a joint statement issued on Tuesday after security talks, reiterated the importance of freedom of navigation and over flight in the South China Sea.

They said states should resolve disputes through peaceful means and "exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that could complicate or escalate disputes affecting peace and stability".

U.S. ally the Philippines welcomed the tribunal's ruling in July but it is keen not to anger China. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte says he will hold talks with China on the issue.

DU30 IN LAOS SEPT 5

Duterte is attending a summit next week in Laos of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), which both U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang are also going to.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin, asked in Beijing whether Li would meet Duterte there, said it was not clear what bilateral meetings might take place.

Liu did not refer directly to the United States but said interference by some countries outside the region was a challenge in China-ASEAN relations.

"Frankly, some countries outside the region don't want to see China-ASEAN relations develop so quickly and become so close. Some people, some countries, are constantly interfering in the development of China-ASEAN relations," Liu said.

(Additional reporting by Sanjeev Miglani, and Michael Martina in BEIJING; Writing by Krishna N. Das; Editing by Clarence Fernandez, Robert Birsel)

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RELATED FROM REUTERS

Philippines' Duterte says talks with China on sea dispute 'within the year'  Tue Aug 23, 2016 4:03pm EDT


Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a news conference in Davao city, southern Philippines August 21, 2016. Picture taken August 21, 2016. REUTERS/Lean Daval Jr By Manuel Mogato |

MANILA - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Tuesday he expects talks with China on their South China Sea dispute within a year and he would not raise an international ruling rejecting China's claims there when he attends a regional summit next month.

An arbitration court in the Hague infuriated China in July when it ruled that China had no historical title over the South China Sea and it had breached the Philippines' sovereign rights with various actions there.

Raising the issue at a summit in Laos of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, together with its "dialogue partners" including China, the United States and Japan, would inevitably compound China's anger.

Duterte, speaking to reporters at the presidential palace in Manila, said it was "better to continually engage China in a diplomatic dialogue rather than anger officials there".

Asked about a date for bilateral talks, he said: "Within the year."

The United States, a treaty ally of the Philippines that has been concerned about China's pursuit of territory in the South China Sea, said it welcomed efforts by rival claimants to manage and resolve differences peacefully.

At the same time, a spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department, Anna Richey-Allen, said Washington "urge(d) that negotiation should be undertaken on terms acceptable to all parties, free from coercion or the use or threat of force."

Washington was a strong backer of the case the Philippines brought against China, but has sought unsuccessfully to forge a unified position among Southeast Asia countries on the issue.

Richey-Allen did not comment on Duterte's comment that he would not raise the issue at Sept. 6-8 Laos summit, which U.S. President Barack Obama is due to attend.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, through which about $5 trillion worth of sea-borne trade passes every year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam have rival claims to parts of the sea.

Duterte said the Philippines had no intention of raising the arbitration ruling during the summit, although he added: "If somebody dwells on it, we will discuss, but for the Philippines, we have talks."

If formal negotiations with China were to fall through, "where do we go?" he asked.

A former Philippine president, Fidel Ramos, traveled to Hong Kong this month in an effort to rekindle damaged ties with Beijing.


FROM SOUTH CHINA MORNING

Fidel Ramos: Duterte’s icebreaker in South China Sea row  PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 August, 2016, 9:33pm UPDATED : Monday, 15 August, 2016, 9:13am COMMENTS: 3 Bong Miquiabas Bong Miquiabas 937SHARE 3


FIDEL RAMOS: A wily operator who likes to emphasise his military past, the former president of the Philippines is hoping to capitalise on a ‘whiff of hope’ in the country’s South China Sea dispute
When Fidel Ramos, the former Philippine president, arrived in Hong Kong on Monday pledging to find “common points of interest” between Beijing and Manila in their territorial dispute in the South China Sea, he opened the latest chapter in a seven-decade career marked by savvy and achievement.

Ramos, a special envoy for Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte in the maritime controversy, visited the city one month after a ruling by the International Court of Justice in the Netherlands that rejected China’s claims. China blasted the ruling and has vowed not to back down. But on Tuesday, news agency Xinhua ran an editorial saying the former president’s arrival in Hong Kong had brought “a whiff of hope” for a fresh diplomatic start.

China-Philippines fishing deal ‘may help calm troubled South China Sea waters’

The former president, 88, said on Tuesday he would spend his five days in the city visiting old friends with ties to the central government. He spoke of those “common points of interest” between the countries and held up photos of President Xi Jinping (習近平) that he said were taken when the Chinese leader visited the Philippines in his youth.

On Friday, Ramos revealed in a statement that his “informal discussions” with those friends stressed that building trust was “very important to the long-term beneficial relationship between the Philippines and China”.

He added they all valued “the prospect of further cooperation” and noted China welcomed him to come to Beijing as Duterte’s envoy.

Multimedia special: 70 years of construction, conflict and combat on the South China Sea

Ramos’ unique role in one of the region’s most grave and sensitive matters attests to his status at home and abroad.

By tapping Ramos to be his envoy, Duterte was drawing on the former president’s stature, analysts said. Bonnie Glaser, senior adviser for Asia and director of the China Power Project at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, described Ramos as “pragmatic when dealing with Beijing” during his own presidency and still well respected.

China ‘open to dialogue’ with Philippines: foreign ministry

READ MORE...

“He’s very active as an elder statesman,” she said, citing his efforts in launching, in 2001, the Boao Forum for Asia, an international NGO to boost regional dialogue for economic development. Glaser noted Ramos could “lay the foundation for a better relationship, but his task is not to negotiate specific deals”.

She said he could feel out the Chinese on various positions regarding the South China Sea, such as whether Beijing would “drop its demand that Manila accept Chinese sovereignty as a precondition”.

Richard Javad Heydarian, an assistant professor of political science at De La Salle University in Manila, went further, calling Ramos “an ideal choice” for special envoy.


A Philippine flag flies from BRP Sierra Madre, a dilapidated Philippine Navy ship that has been aground since 1999 and became a Philippine military detachment on the disputed Second Thomas Shoal, part of the Spratly Islands, in the South China Sea. Photo: Reuters

Heydarian said Ramos enjoyed the “utmost trust and confidence” of the Philippine leader. “Ramos also has a good track record of dealing with China and South China Sea disputes,” he said. “During his term, Ramos handled disputes very differently from other [Philippine] administrations, and adopted multiple approaches to develop a constructive relationship with China, including high-level dialogue with the Jiang Zemin (江澤民) administration.”

Like Glaser, Heydarian believed Ramos’ task was not to negotiate but to restart dialogue. “The aim is to lay down the foundation normalising frosty relations,” he said, noting the Philippines was keen to attract Chinese investment.

China building aircraft hangars on disputed islands in South China Sea, says US think tank

“The current relationship between the two countries is extremely toxic, and this visit hopefully could start restoring some goodwill,” he added. Heydarian regarded the choice of Hong Kong for Ramos’ visit as “a favourably quasi-neutral location” that could precede a more formal meeting “with higher leadership inside the Chinese mainland”.

He said he was “cautiously optimistic” that Ramos’ visit could prepare the groundwork for Duterte and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (李克強) to meet at the Asean summit in September. It would be, he said, “a first step in a long journey of reviving Philippine-Chinese ties”.


Rodrigo Duterte (second left) has made Fidel Ramos (second right) his envoy. Photo: Reuters

But Zhu Zhiqun, a professor of political science and director of the China Institute at Bucknell University in the US, was less optimistic. He said Ramos was “likely to return to Manila empty-handed” primarily because of how the two sides viewed the tribunal’s decision.

“While China considers the ruling ‘a piece of waste paper’, the Philippines insists that the ruling should serve as the foundation for bilateral talks now,” he said.

“So while the Chinese government welcomes Duterte’s initiatives and Ramos’ visit, the opposite positions regarding the ruling will hinder any real progress in the relationship. The ice is still too thick to break now.”

Ramos is no stranger to long journeys. Born in 1928 in the northern Philippine province of Pangasinan to Narciso Ramos, a five-term national lawmaker and former Secretary of Foreign Affairs, and his wife Angela Valdez, an educator, Ramos’ career spans seven decades.

Philippines holds informal TPP membership talks with US

He studied civil engineering at National University in Manila and later enrolled at the US Military Academy on a Philippine government scholarship.

He graduated from West Point in 1950. Upon returning home, Ramos steadily ascended through the Philippine military and held every rank possible – a feat that remains unmatched.


Ramos is a lover of cigars. Photo: AFP

Ramos’ appeal cuts a variety of directions; he is the only ever Protestant president in one of the world’s most staunchly Catholic nations.

A long-time cigar aficionado with a wry, self-deprecating sense of humour, he was known as “Eddie Ramos” to his American friends during his time in the US. And his enthusiasm for his military past – evidenced this week when he wore a hat bearing several insignia he was awarded over the years – endears him to many in a country that exalts strong men such as boxer Manny Pacquiao and the recently-elected Duterte.

South China Sea: what happened so far?

He also has a reputation as a wily operator who has kept analysts and political opponents guessing.

In 1986, as chief of the Philippine national police, he broke from then-president Ferdinand Marcos, who had just been re-elected in a campaign marred by fraud allegations.

Joining defence secretary Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramos pledged loyalty to Corazon Aquino, who had run against Marcos. Aquino eventually became president after the People Power Revolution in which Filipinos peacefully took to the streets and forced the Marcos family to flee the country. Under Aquino, Ramos served as chief of staff of the Philippine Armed Forces and then as defence minister.

In 1991, as Aquino wound down her presidency, he declared his candidacy to succeed her, and won, taking office in 1992.

As president, Ramos rolled out a five-point programme called Philippines 2000, signalling his administration’s priorities, the foremost of which was peace and stability. Most Asean countries ‘want to stay out of Beijing’s South China Sea dispute with the Philippines’.


WITH PRESIDENT CORY AQUINO IN 1987

In his first state-of-the-nation address on July 27, 1992, he appeared to anticipate regional tensions flaring up.

“The end of the cold war may have eased the danger of a nuclear confrontation,” he said. “But, ironically, the loosening of big-power tensions makes more likely the breaking-out of quarrels within the region.” Nearly 20 years on, in May 2012, Ramos offered more specific insights on the South China Sea dispute in a piece for the Manila Bulletin.

He wrote: “Apparently, China’s objective is to compel the Philippines and other claimants to accept a resolution of the South China Sea/West Philippine Sea disputes through bilateral negotiations. This strategy is meant to ‘save face’ by not succumbing to the Declaration of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (signed by Asean and China in 2002) which calls for multilateral agreement.”

With Ramos now serving as an intermediary between Manila and Beijing, all eyes will be on the elder statesman to see what progress he might set in motion.

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RELATED FROM PHILSTAR (COMMENTARY BY LYSANDER CASTILLO)

Commentary: How a marine-protected area in the South China Sea is crucial for peace By Lysander Castillo (philstar.com) | Updated August 30, 2016 - 12:00am 4 45 googleplus0 0

Marine Protected Areas are declared to protect the existing biodiversity and the integrity of the marine ecosystem in the area. How can the setup help the Philippines deal with the South China Sea issue? An environmental expert explains.

The maritime and territorial tug-of-war between states bordering the South China Sea, beyond what the Philippines has named the West Philippine Sea, has gone on for several decades. For Brunei, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam, the area is a vital maritime route and, just as importantly, its ground sare rich in natural resources.

Unfortunately for the claimant-states in Southeast Asia, China upped the ante in its claim through its infamous nine-dash line, which covers more than 80 percent of the sea and has been interpreted to delineate that area as Chinese territory.

The provocative Chinese actuations to enforce this interpretation, notably at Scarborough Shoal, forced the Philippine government, then led by President Benigno Aquino III, to invoke the provisions of the UNCLOS and initiate a case against China before a neutral court of arbitration.

The effects of enforcement have not only been political or military in nature.

One cause of action in filing the said case dealt with the environmental damage caused by Chinese government agents and by Chinese fishermen with government support. Rightly so, the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in favor of the Philippines.

The havoc wreaked by Chinese reclamation and fishing activities have been documented and brought to the public's awareness. There is no equivocating the extent of the damage.

As former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario commented at a recent environmental forum, the area that saw coral reef destruction over the last few years is five times the size of Bonifacio Global City.

Thus, the burning question that confronts us is: “What do we do now?”

Indeed, considering the irrefutable ruin China caused in the contested waters and the favorable arbitral ruling to the Philippines, what is the way forward for us as a country, as part of a region that seeks peaceful solutions, and as a member of the international community?

ENVIRONMENTAL FORUM

Earlier this month, the Stratbase-ADR Institute with its environmental arm the Philippine Business for Environmental Stewardship (PBEST), partnered with the De La Salle University to hold the last part of its West Philippine Sea forum series.

The forum focused on the harm on the environment that resulted from massive Chinese reclamation and destructive fishing practices by its nationals, all carried out under the protective watch of their coast guard.

The forum featured scientific, diplomatic, legal, and civil society perspectives on the issues. Promisingly, three speakers, Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio, biologist and De La Salle Professor Carmen Lagman, and Secretary Del Rosario, all expressed their interest in establishing a marine park in the disputed areas of the South China Sea.

What does it mean to create a marine park or a marine protected area?

Marine protected areas (MPAs) have been defined by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as areas of the oceans or other bodies of water that are protected for conservation purposes. Under Philippine municipal laws, MPAs are managed under the framework of the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act.

As defined by NOAA, the main objective of establishing an MPA is to protect the existing biodiversity and the integrity of the marine ecosystem in the area. In the case of the wide-scale reclamation activities in the West Philippine Sea, creating a marine park or sanctuary should allow what is left of the coral reefs and the marine species to slowly recuperate and, for the endangered species there, have a fighting chance against extinction.

Employing this environmental management tool, of course, advocates toward not only ecological preservation but, more importantly, how humans can sustainably benefit from the fisheries and other aquatic resources in the area. The South China Sea is notable for being the ‘nursery’ of the region’s fisheries, where fish that feed the world reproduce. This demonstrates the importance of the area to the global marine ecosystem.

The West Philippine Sea is also part of the Coral Triangle Region, touted as the global center for marine biodiversity. If the habitat, spawning, and feeding grounds, of these megadiverse species are severely disrupted, humanity risks losing part of its heritage, a wealth of scientific discoveries, and, most urgently: an important source of food.

By establishing a marine-protected area over this nursery, the overall stocks of fish beyond the MPA’s limits will also increase. Thus, the suggestion for the establishment of an MPA would recognize the resource-rich nature of the disputed areas, and consequently better safeguard the survival and livelihood needs of people from coastal communitiesfor these resources.

This kind of systems thinking is crucial in appreciating the stakes involved, now that a significant area of the region’s coral reef system has practically vanished. Along this line, and as observed by the forum’s speakers, ecological protection should be at the center of the region’s efforts to come to peaceful solutions. Just as importantly, unified efforts to protect the environment can also be a natural foundation for building the trust that the region sorely needs. Trust will also be needed to hold the marine park together. If the claimant states recognize the system, then trust can be founded on realizing that it is in the best interest of each country to join the conservation effort.

How could we implement a marine protected area?

There are many paths to establishing and implementing a marine park in the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea. As Justice Carpio has pointed out, such an initiative could be done bilaterally by the Philippines with any number of claimant states, although it would more easily begin with an agreement with some of our more friendly neighbors. Of course, we can start with implementing it ourselves, in the part of the sea that is now undoubtedly within our exclusive economic zone. If the Philippines were to explore this option, it could set an example for the rest of the region.

Moreover, Dr. Lagman observed that it may be difficult to collaborate on a state level in the short term, but cooperation among scientists can become the foundation of states coming together and taking action.

Perhaps, these approaches can move us forward in setting up the marine park. It is especially helpful for the Philippines that there is an existing legal framework that could allow us to move on this issue more quickly. Most importantly, the establishment of a marine protected area must be founded on what science, not politics, tells us about the health and future of the disputed areas.

Lawyer Lysander Castillo is an environment fellow at the Stratbase-ADR Institute and the secretary-general of Philippine Business for Environmental Stewardship, or PBEST.

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Follow: Victor Robert Lee writes on the Asia-Pacific region. Jun 19, 2015 SATELLITE IMAGES


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