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HEADLINES NEWS THIS PAST WEEK...
(Mini Reads followed by Full Reports below)

'WE DON'T WANT TROUBLE': DUTERTE REJECTS JOINT PATROLS IN CHINA SEA; JUST WANT PH TO PATROL 'OWN' TERRITORIAL WATERS
[RELATED: NO MORE JOINT NAVAL PATROLS - (Yet still) PH-US ties rock-solid with Duterte admin in areas of mutual interest, including counter-terrorism.]


SEPTEMBER 14 -President Rodrigo Duterte, center, smiles as he is presented with a pilot's jacket during his "Talk with the Airmen" on the anniversary of the 250th Presidential Airlift Wing Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016 at the Philippine Air Force headquarters in suburban Pasay city, southeast of Manila, Philippines. On Monday, President Duterte, in his first public statement opposing the presence of American troops, said he wants US forces out of his country's south and blamed the United States for inflaming Muslim insurgencies in the region. AP Photo/Bullit Marquez President Rodrigo Duterte said Tuesday he won't allow government forces to conduct joint patrols of disputed waters near the South China Sea with foreign powers, apparently scrapping a deal his predecessor reached with the US military earlier this year. Duterte also said he was considering acquiring defense equipment from Russia and China. The Philippines has traditionally leaned on the US, its longtime treaty ally, and other Western allies for its security needs. The remarks were the latest from a Philippine president who has had an uneasy relationship with the US but also has tried to mend relations with China strained over South China Sea disputes. Duterte said he wanted only Philippine territorial waters, up to 12 nautical miles offshore, to be patrolled by Filipino forces, but not other offshore areas that are contested. He added he opposes Filipino forces accompanying foreign powers like the US and China in joint patrols which could entangle the Philippines in hostilities. "We do not go into a patrol or join any other army from now because I do not want trouble," Duterte said. "I do not want to ride gung-ho style there with China or with America. I just want to patrol our territorial waters." READ MORE...RELATED,
NO MORE JOINT NAVAL PATROLS - PH-US ties rock-solid with Duterte admin in areas of mutual interest, including counter-terrorism...

ALSO: Philippines to 'explain' Duterte's drug war before UN
[RELATED: Duterte diplomacy 'confusing, meandering,' veteran envoy says]
(GETTING 'BUM ADVICE' ON FOREIGN RELATIONS, ENVOY SAYS)
[RELATED(2): Yasay in Washington speech says PHL not US’ ‘little brown brother anymore’; PHL won't be lackey to anyone]


SEPTEMBER 14 -President Rodrigo Duterte speaks before soldiers at an airbase in Manila. Malacanang photo

MANILA – The Philippines will “explain” President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody war on drugs before the United Nations in Geneva on Wednesday, a spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs said. This will come after the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, criticized Duterte’s “striking lack of understanding” of rights institutions as he called for an investigation into the drug-related deaths. “The statement of our ambassador will be to explain that President Duterte was elected by a large number of Filipino voters on a platform of peace and order,” DFA spokesman Charles Jose told reporters. “We are not condoning, we are condemning extra-judicial killings,” he added. Asked if the Philippines would allow the UN to investigate the killings, Jose said: “That remains to be seen.” Jose said the Philippines would submit its reply when the 33rd UN Human Rights Council sessions resume in Geneva on Wednesday. The meeting will run until the end of the month. Duterte had threatened to leave the UN last month after two of its human rights investigators expressed alarm over the wave of killings linked to his anti-narcotics campaign. He later said he was joking. He has also lashed out at the country’s key ally, the United States, for criticizing his drug war, threatening to curse at US President Barack Obama if he brings up the issue. Obama cancelled a planned meeting with Duterte in Laos last week after the tirade. READ MORE...RELATED,
Duterte diplomacy 'confusing, meandering,' veteran envoy says...RELATED(2) Yasay in Washington speech says PHL not US’ ‘little brown brother anymore’; PHL won't be lackey to anyone...

ALSO Yasay in US security forum: Don't lecture us on human rights
[RELATED: PH tells UN - No shoot to kill order from Duterte]
[RELATED(2): SECRETARY IN WASHINGTON; Yasay tells Americans Duterte won’t condone extrajudicial slays]


SEPTEMBER 16 -In this July 1, 2016 file photo, new Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay answers questions from reporters during a press conference in Pasay, Philippines. AP/Aaron Favila
The Philippines' top diplomat on Thursday night defended President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs at a security forum in Washington, saying Filipinos are not "little brown brothers" of America and should no longer be taught about human rights. Asked how the Philippines and the United States will move forward after the canceled meeting between Duterte and US President Barack Obama and the deaths in the drug war, Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay said the two countries should work within the premise of being "sovereign equals." "We are asking our American friends and American leaders to look at our aspirations, we cannot be forever the little brown brothers of America (as we were) at one point in time. We have mature, we have to develop, we have to grow," Yasay told an influential Washington-based think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies. He said the partnership with the United States should not be conditional and insisted that the Philippines understands the sanctity of life and freedom, which led to the struggle for independence from America in the 1940s. "You do not go to the Philippines and say, 'I'm going to give you something. I'm going to help you develop, I'm going to help you grow. But these are the checklists you must comply with. We will lecture you on human rights.' No. We know that our goal toward the full respect for human rights with accordance to international norms," Yasay said. READ MORE... RELATED,
PH tells UN - No shoot to kill order from Duterte...RELATED(2) SECRETARY IN WASHINGTON: Yasay tells Americans Duterte won’t condone extrajudicial slays...

ALSO: Rody to AFP - Prepare for war at all times!
[RELATED: Teodoro 'Teddyboy' Locsin, Jr. named Phl ambassador to UN; Replaces Phl Permanent Representative Lourdes Yparraguirre]


SEPTEMBER 18 -President Duterte rallied the troops to prepare themselves for a long battle ahead against terrorism and illegal drugs. “If there is one ultimate value left for the country to protect the Filipinos, it will always be the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines),” Duterte told the troops of the Army’s 5th Infantry Division at Camp Melchor de la Cruz here yesterday.Michael Varcas GAMU, Isabela, Philippines – Prepare for war at all times.
President Duterte rallied the troops to prepare themselves for a long battle ahead against terrorism and illegal drugs. “If there is one ultimate value left for the country to protect the Filipinos, it will always be the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines),” Duterte told the troops of the Army’s 5th Infantry Division at Camp Melchor de la Cruz here yesterday. 
”Our country is confronted by the problem on drugs, corruption in the government and terrorism; do every means to protect the people,” Duterte said. “Do not allow the country to disintegrate, do all means, you have my protection as commander in chief,” he said. He assured the military that his administration will work towards providing the AFP with all the equipment, including gear that involve body protection, and weaponry it needs to combat terrorism and other security concerns in the country. Duterte also told the troops to “reinvent” themselves by training in intelligence gathering and covert operations. READ MORE... RELATED, Teodoro 'Teddyboy' Locsin, Jr. named Phl ambassador to UN; Replaces Phl Permanent Representative Lourdes Yparraguirre...

ALSO: US troops to remain in Mindanao – DND
(Defense Secretary Yasay is in Washington meeting with VP Kerry)

[RELATED: Moro history is replete with tales of atrocity]


SEPTEMBER 15 -In this Aug. 5, 2016 photo, President Rodrigo Duterte, flanked by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff Lieutenant General Ricardo Visaya, speaks to members of the AFP Central Command in Camp Lapu-Lapu, Cebu City. PPD/Ace Morandante
American soldiers will remain in Mindanao despite President Duterte’s pronouncement that he wanted them out of the region so they won’t be targeted by members of the Abu Sayyaf, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said yesterday. “We still need them there because they have the surveillance capability that our Armed Forces don’t have,” Lorenzana told the House appropriations committee. He was responding to questions raised by leftist lawmakers who said they were not only supporting Duterte’s statement but would want all American troops in Mindanao and other parts of the country to leave for good. Lorenzana said there are 107 US soldiers based in Zamboanga City conducting surveillance operations in Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi to help the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) fight terrorists. “They are using two types of assets: a small aircraft with night flying capability and three drones,” he said. In many cases, he said the Americans send their surveillance assets to areas identified by the AFP. READ MORE...RELATED, Moro history is replete with tales of atrocity...

ALSO: Ties at a turning point, China tells Philippine delegation
[RELATED: Yasay - Philippines not ready for bilateral talks with China]
("Even as we would like to forge closer relationship with our neighbors... it does not necessarily mean that forging closer relationship with one is alienating the other. And this is precisely what [President Rodrigo Duterte] means in the context of saying that we must pursue an independent foreign policy and that is what our constitution mandates and to pursue amity with all nations," Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. said during a security forum in Washington.)
[RELATED(2): Philippines eyeing talks with China sans preconditions]


SEPTEMBER 15 -Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin told a delegation from a Philippine foreign affairs committee in Beijing that ties had recently “sunk to a low edge for reasons everyone knows,” China’s Foreign Ministry said late on Tuesday. Xinhua, file photo
BEIJING – Relations between China and the Philippines are at a new turning point, and Beijing hopes Manila can meet it halfway and handle disputes appropriately, a top Chinese diplomat has told a visiting Philippine delegation. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin told a delegation from a Philippine foreign affairs committee in Beijing that ties had recently “sunk to a low edge for reasons everyone knows,” China’s Foreign Ministry said late on Tuesday. “At present, China-Philippine relations are at a new turning point,” the statement quoted Liu as saying. China “hopes the Philippines side can meet China halfway, appropriately handle disputes and push relations back onto the track of dialogue, consultation and friendly cooperation,” he said. China and the Philippines have been involved in an increasingly ugly territorial dispute in the South China Sea. READ MORE...RELATED,
Yasay: Philippines not ready for bilateral talks with China... RELATED(2) Philippines eyes talks with China sans preconditions...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Duterte rejects joint patrols, eyes China weapons


SEPTEMBER 14 -President Rodrigo Duterte, center, smiles as he is presented with a pilot's jacket during his "Talk with the Airmen" on the anniversary of the 250th Presidential Airlift Wing Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016 at the Philippine Air Force headquarters in suburban Pasay city, southeast of Manila, Philippines. On Monday, President Duterte, in his first public statement opposing the presence of American troops, said he wants US forces out of his country's south and blamed the United States for inflaming Muslim insurgencies in the region. AP Photo/Bullit Marquez

MANILA, SEPTEMBER 19, 2016 (PHILSTAR) By Jim Gomez (Associated Press)September 14, 2016 - President Rodrigo Duterte said Tuesday he won't allow government forces to conduct joint patrols of disputed waters near the South China Sea with foreign powers, apparently scrapping a deal his predecessor reached with the US military earlier this year.

Duterte also said he was considering acquiring defense equipment from Russia and China. The Philippines has traditionally leaned on the US, its longtime treaty ally, and other Western allies for its security needs.

The remarks were the latest from a Philippine president who has had an uneasy relationship with the US but also has tried to mend relations with China strained over South China Sea disputes.

Duterte said he wanted only Philippine territorial waters, up to 12 nautical miles offshore, to be patrolled by Filipino forces, but not other offshore areas that are contested. He added he opposes Filipino forces accompanying foreign powers like the US and China in joint patrols which could entangle the Philippines in hostilities.

"We do not go into a patrol or join any other army from now because I do not want trouble," Duterte said. "I do not want to ride gung-ho style there with China or with America. I just want to patrol our territorial waters."

READ MORE...

Like other security pronouncements, Duterte did not provide details, but his rejection for joint patrols apparently goes against such an arrangement announced in April by the US and the Philippine defense chiefs.

While visiting Manila, US Defense Secretary Ash Carter disclosed for the first time in a news conference with then Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin that US ships had carried out sea patrols with the Philippines in the South China Sea, a somewhat rare move.

Carter insisted that the US did not intend to be provocative and was "trying to tamp down tensions here." But Gazmin said he expected that US forces, "with their presence here, will deter uncalled-for actions by the Chinese."

On Monday, Duterte said he wanted US military forces out of the southern Philippines and blamed America for inflaming local Muslim insurgencies, in his first public statement opposing the presence of American troops in a part of the country.

Washington later said it had not received a formal request to remove US military personnel. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Duterte had a tendency to make "colorful comments" and drew a comparison with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

In an apparent aim to prevent potential damage in relations, Philippine officials said Duterte wanted the Americans out of the south for fear of their safety.

"He desires that our American counterparts should be eased from harm's way," the Philippine military said, adding about 100 US military personnel were in the south to provide counterterrorism advice support to Filipino forces.

"We assure our people and allies that Philippine-US defense relations remains rock solid," the military said in a statement. It added that joint combat training and other activities by US and Filipino forces this year and beyond "remain on track."

WATCH DUTERTE SPEAK: Philippines’ Duterte rejects joint patrols in any water CCTV News

 
https://youtu.be/0sgGdgKyrqY
Philippines’ Duterte rejects joint patrols in any water CCTV News CCTV News Published on Sep 13, 2016 Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he won't allow government forces to conduct joint patrols of disputed waters near the South China Sea with foreign powers. Duterte made the remarks during the 250th Presidential Airlift Wing anniversary at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay city, metro Manila. He said the Philippines does not go into a patrol or join any other army from now because he does not want trouble. Subscribe to us on Youtube: https://goo.gl/lP12gA Download for IOS:https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/cctvn... Download for Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/de...

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RELATED FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

PH-US ties rock-solid Duterte suspends all joint naval patrols with foreign nations September 14, 2016 Share183 Tweet1 Share0 Email1 Share274 By Genalyn D. Kabiling, Elena L. Aben, Francis T. Wakefield, Ben R. Rosario, and AFP


PH – US flag (MB file/mb.com.ph)

The United States government remains committed to its alliance with the Philippines and will continue to work with the Duterte administration in many areas of mutual interest, including counter- terrorism.

“We have a long, productive history with the Philippines. I understand that it’s not a history without its past troubles, but we’re committed to our alliance with the Philippines, and we look forward to working our way through that,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a news briefing in Washington, DC.

In Manila, US Embassy information officer Molly Koscina said: “We continue to focus on our broad relationship with the Philippines, and will work together in many areas of mutual interest, including counter terrorism, to improve the livelihoods of the Filipino people and uphold our shared democratic values.”

Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay said the Philippines will continue to honor its treaty obligations with the US a day after President Rodrigo Duterte called for the withdrawal of US special forces troops from the southern Philippines.

“The president has said, even as a priority statement in his inaugural address, that we will respect and continue to honor our treaty obligations and commitments particularly even with the US,” Yasay told a radio interview on Tuesday.

“His statements now are not intended and should not be taken as a signal that he will take back his previous statements insofar as respecting these agreements are concerned,” said Yasay.

No more joint naval patrols

Duterte announced on Tuesday that the Philippines will no longer conduct any joint naval patrols with the United States and other foreign nations to avoid getting into trouble.

The President said he prefers the country would patrol its own territorial waters instead of joining other foreign naval forces in maritime operations elsewhere.

“We will not join any expedition of patrolling the seas. I will not allow it because I do not want my country to be involved in any hostile act,” the President said in his remarks at the anniversary of the Presidential Airlift Wing in Villamor Air Base.

“I do not want to ride gungho-style there with China or with America. I just want to patrol our territorial waters,” Duterte added. “We do not go into a patrol or join any other army from now because I do not want trouble.”

Defense relations

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Tuesday said that defense relations between the US and the Philippines remain strong.

In a statement, Marine Col. Edgard A. Arevalo, AFP Public Affairs Office chief, said the pronouncement coming from the Chief Executive and Commander-in-Chief is understandable considering that he is only looking after the welfare of the US troops.

“We take due notice of the pronouncement of the Commander-in-Chief President Rodrigo Duterte expressing his concern of the safety of US Servicemen in Mindanao,” Arevalo said.

“We assure our people and allies that PH-US defense relations remains rock solid. Activities lined up for the year will continue without interruption. Consultative planning activities for 2017 and beyond likewise remain on track,” he added.

Arevalo said pursuant to the same statement by President Duterte, he only desires that American troops should be removed from harm’s way in Western Mindanao, particularly Zamboanga, Basilan and Sulu where intense focused military operations combating terrorism are ongoing.

“The recent pronouncement will affect only a token number of American servicemen who are confined mainly in Zamboanga City. They provide technical assistance and training to their Filipino counterparts in combating terrorism in the Philippines,” Arevalo said.

“The number has dwindled following the deactivation and pullout of the JSOTF-P (Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines) several years ago,” he added.

Troops pullout

The United States said the Philippine government had not officially communicated President Duterte’s demand to pull US military advisers out of the rebellion-torn southern Philippines.

Since 2002, up to 600 US advisers have been deployed in the Mindanao region to train troops battling Muslim extremists but their numbers have been scaled down in recent years.

In Washington, the Pentagon and State Department said they had not been officially contacted by Manila about pulling out the remaining advisers.

“We will continue to consult closely with our Filipino partners to appropriately tailor our assistance to whatever approach the new administration adopts,” Pentagon spokesman Gary Ross said.

The President only wanted to protect Americans from kidnappings and terrorism as they had become “a very good target,” Yasay said.

“There is no shift in so far as our policy is concerned with respect to our close friendship with the Americans.”

Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said that “the statement reflects (President Duterte’s) new direction towards coursing an independent foreign policy.”

The Philippines seeks to be “less dependent” on the United States. “We’re not turning our back on anybody. We are simply charting an independent course,” Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a Palace press conference.

“The foreign policy that we have is an independent one, is not dependent on one superior state or two,” he added.

Muddling foreign policy

President Duterte’s order for American soldiers to leave the country and the defense establishment’s bid to strengthen the security alliance of the United States and the Philippines appear to be muddling the government’s foreign policy with regards to its long-time ally.

Expert political analyst Ramon Casiple said that while Duterte is showing he is close to making a decision to abrogate the existing Visiting Forces Agreement with the US, the events “on the ground” appear to be set afar from this.

On the other hand, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate lauded Duterte’s new move to tell the US government that he resents American interference in the country’s affairs.

“President Duterte is right in asserting what has long been demanded by the people: Ending the more than century-old US military intervention in Mindanao, which among others resulted to massacres of civilians, like the 1906 Bud Dajo massacre before and the 2015 Mamasapano debacle in recent time,” said Zarate.

He added: “We hope that this is just the start and, eventually, President Duterte also pursues the abrogation of the onerous and lopsided treaties like the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT), the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA) and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). With this we can truly say that the country have a truly independent foreign policy.”


ABS-CBN

Philippines to 'explain' Duterte's drug war before UN ABS-CBN News Posted at Sep 14 2016 02:02 PM | Updated as of Sep 14 2016 05:57 PM


President Rodrigo Duterte speaks before soldiers at an airbase in Manila. Malacanang photo

MANILA – The Philippines will “explain” President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody war on drugs before the United Nations in Geneva on Wednesday, a spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs said.

This will come after the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, criticized Duterte’s “striking lack of understanding” of rights institutions as he called for an investigation into the drug-related deaths.

“The statement of our ambassador will be to explain that President Duterte was elected by a large number of Filipino voters on a platform of peace and order,” DFA spokesman Charles Jose told reporters.

“We are not condoning, we are condemning extra-judicial killings,” he added.

Asked if the Philippines would allow the UN to investigate the killings, Jose said: “That remains to be seen.”

Jose said the Philippines would submit its reply when the 33rd UN Human Rights Council sessions resume in Geneva on Wednesday. The meeting will run until the end of the month.

Duterte had threatened to leave the UN last month after two of its human rights investigators expressed alarm over the wave of killings linked to his anti-narcotics campaign. He later said he was joking.

He has also lashed out at the country’s key ally, the United States, for criticizing his drug war, threatening to curse at US President Barack Obama if he brings up the issue. Obama cancelled a planned meeting with Duterte in Laos last week after the tirade.

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RELATED FROM ABS-CBN

Duterte diplomacy 'confusing, meandering,' veteran envoy says Christian V. Esguerra, ABS-CBN News
Posted at Sep 14 2016 05:24 PM | Updated as of Sep 14 2016 05:45 PM


AMBASSADOR LAURO L. BAJA, JR.  was the Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations from May 2003 to February 2007. Prior to that, he was Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Policy.PHOTO FROM BLOGGERS ASSOCIAITON OF THE PHILIPPINES

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte is getting "bum advice" on foreign relations, which has led to a "confusing" and "meandering" diplomacy for the Philippines, a veteran diplomat said Wednesday.

The 71-year-old Duterte, who has riled both the United Nations and the United States less than three months into office, should talk less and not "define" foreign policy through his press conferences, former ambassador to the United Nations Lauro Baja Jr.

"Our diplomacy is meandering, meandering through the waters of diplomacy and there must be someone to steer clear, to clearly navigate the intricate waters of diplomacy," Baja told ABS-CBN News, adding, "It's most confused and confusing."

"We talk too much and the words coming out are usually from the uninformed or the ill-advised or the uninitiated... The trouble is you get bum advice, advice not too well-thought of."

Duterte has attracted international attention for his off-script attacks against UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and more frequently, the United States.

At the same time, Duterte has been more friendly to Washington's rival Beijing despite its maritime row with the Philippines and other claimants in the South China Sea.

Duterte on Monday said US special forces should leave Mindanao, but his spokesman later clarified it was not yet a policy "set in stone."

The President also said Manila was "not going to cut our umbilical cord with the countries that we are allied now."

Baja said Cabinet members should "spare the President from being quoted too much." But he said those who would speak on foreign policy should make sure it is within their "area of competence."

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RELATED(2) FROM GMA NEWS ONLINE

DUTERTE REMARKS EXPLAINED BUT... Yasay says PHL not US’ ‘little brown brother’ anymore in Washington speech Published September 16, 2016 1:48am Updated September 16, 2016 5:15am By DAVID BRUNNSTROM, Reuters


YASAY

WASHINGTON—The Philippines is firmly committed to its alliance with the United States but will not be lectured on human rights and treated like a "little brown brother," the country's Foreign Minister Perfecto Yasay said on Thursday.

Speaking in Washington after recent remarks by the Philippines' outspoken new President Rodrigo Duterte that have strained relations with the United States, Manila's main ally, Yasay said some of Duterte's remarks had been misunderstood.

He said Duterte had explained that his call for the withdrawal of U.S. special forces from the southern Philippines was only a temporary measure to keep them out of harm's way while Philippine forces undertook an offensive against Abu Sayyaf militants.

Yasay also said Duterte's opposition to joint maritime patrols with the United States concerned the Philippines' "exclusive economic zone," not joint patrols within 12 nautical miles of its coast.

The latter patrols, aimed at preserving the territorial integrity of the Philippines, "must continue, because this is our commitment to the United States," Yasay said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank.

The Philippines and the United States share concerns about China's pursuit of broad claims in the South China Sea, which overlap with those of Manila and other neighbors.

Washington and Manila agreed earlier this year on joint patrols in the South China Sea and a Pentagon spokesman said three had been conducted from March until July.

Yasay rejected criticism of Duterte's war on drugs, in which thousands have been killed, saying that Philippines would never condone illegal killings, and said relations with Washington should be based on mutual respect.

"I am asking our American friends, American leaders, to look at our aspirations," he said. "We cannot forever be the little brown brothers of America. ... We have to develop, we have to grow and become the big brother of our own people.

READ MORE...

"You (have to) manage it correctly. You do not go to the Philippines and say 'I am going to give you something, I am going to help you grow, but this is the check list you must comply with - we will lecture you on human rights'."

Yasay stressed that Duterte was "firmly committed to keep and respect alliances, including that with the United States."

He said Manila was "not at this point in time" prepared to sit down and discuss its territorial disputes with China bilaterally, given that the two sides differed on what the framework for any such discussions should be.

Duterte's abrasive and sometimes contradictory comments, including calling President Obama a "son of a bitch," have caused anxiety in Washington, where the Philippines has been seen as an important ally in standing up to China in Asia.

Yasay did not address testimony in the Philippines senate earlier in the day from a self-confessed hit man who said Duterte issued assassination orders while mayor of a city where activists say hundreds of summary executions took place.

Asked to comment on this testimony, a spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department, Anna Richey-Allen, reiterated past comments that it was "deeply concerned" by reports of extrajudicial killings "by or at the behest of government authorities."

"We strongly urge the Philippines to ensure its law enforcement efforts comply with its human rights obligations," she said. —Reuters


PHILSTAR

Yasay in US: Don't lecture us on human rights By Camille Diola (philstar.com) | Updated September 16, 2016 - 10:58am 5 1027 googleplus0 3


In this July 1, 2016 file photo, new Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay answers questions from reporters during a press conference in Pasay, Philippines. AP/Aaron Favila

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines' top diplomat on Thursday night defended President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs at a security forum in Washington, saying Filipinos are not "little brown brothers" of America and should no longer be taught about human rights.

Asked how the Philippines and the United States will move forward after the canceled meeting between Duterte and US President Barack Obama and the deaths in the drug war, Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay said the two countries should work within the premise of being "sovereign equals."

"We are asking our American friends and American leaders to look at our aspirations, we cannot be forever the little brown brothers of America (as we were) at one point in time. We have mature, we have to develop, we have to grow," Yasay told an influential Washington-based think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies.

He said the partnership with the United States should not be conditional and insisted that the Philippines understands the sanctity of life and freedom, which led to the struggle for independence from America in the 1940s.

"You do not go to the Philippines and say, 'I'm going to give you something. I'm going to help you develop, I'm going to help you grow. But these are the checklists you must comply with. We will lecture you on human rights.' No. We know that our goal toward the full respect for human rights with accordance to international norms," Yasay said.

READ MORE...

About 3,500 people have been killed in police operations and by vigilante groups since the start of the Duterte's administration three months ago. Obama had said he would raise this concern on the killings with Duterte on the sidelines of the Southeast Asian summit in Laos last week. Duterte, however, said he would curse at Obama if the issue would be brought up.

The bilateral meeting between the two leaders was canceled by Washington and prompted Duterte to issue an apology, denying that the harsh words were directed to Obama.

In his address to the forum, Yasay tried to assure Washington that Manila is not condoning unlawful killings.

"In the book of President Duterte and in my book, extrajudicial killing has no place in our society," Yasay said.

The government has announced an adoption of an "independent" foreign policy highlighting national sovereignty and interest. Details of the policy, however, remain to be seen while Duterte has expressed his views against the stay of American troops in Mindanao, parts of which are home to extremists organizations.

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RELATED FROM ABS-CBN

PH tells UN: No shoot to kill order from Duterte ABS-CBN News Posted at Sep 14 2016 08:43 PM


Drug paraphernalia are seen beside the body of a suspected drug pusher who was killed after he allegedly fought police in Vitas, Tondo on July 21, 2016. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte did not issue a "shoot to kill" order against drug suspects, the Philippines' permanent representative to the United Nations (UN) in Geneva said Wednesday.

Ambassador Cecilia Rebong, delivering the Philippine statement on the second day of the 33rd Session of the Human Rights Council, said Philippine police have the right to defend themselves when drug suspects violently resist arrest.

Rebong issued the statement in response to the earlier speech of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, who said Duterte's "statements of scorn for international human rights law display a striking lack of understanding of human rights institutions and the principles which keep societies safe."

Rebong said the Duterte administration's ongoing war against illegal drugs firmly follows "rule of law, due process, and human rights principles."

She said Duterte has urged civil rights organizations to report any killings which are not in accordance with his pronouncements on the anti-illegal drug campaign.

READ MORE...

The rising body count under Duterte’s war on drugs has alarmed human rights groups, the UN, and the Philippines’ ally, the United States.

The number of drug-related fatalities from May 10 to September 14 has reached 1,529, according to ABS-CBN’s Investigative and Research Group.

Of the total killings, 907 were carried out by the police conducting anti-narcotics operations, and 503 were done by unidentified assailants.

Interactive: Casualties of the drug war

Tok, tok...bang, bang: The bloody war on drugs

Rebong said the rising number of people being killed in the Duterte administration's war on drugs includes deaths resulting from legitimate police operations, killings carried out by vigilantes, and drug syndicates allegedly undertaking a purge among their ranks.

She said the government is investigating killings committed by vigilante groups and drug syndicates.

Rebong also denied that the Philippine government tolerates extra-judicial killings.

Zeid has urged Duterte to send an invitation to the United Nations rights body regarding extra-judicial, summary, and arbitrary executions in the Philippines.

"My office is ready to assist, including with respect to rule of law institutions and the prevention and treatment of drug use in accordance with international norms," he said.

"The people of the Philippines have a right to judicial institutions that are impartial, and operate under due process guarantees; and they have a right to a police force that serves justice," he added.

Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella earlier said Duterte respects human rights, “but he has also been firm in saying that human rights cannot be used as an excuse to let the spread of drugs in the country run rampant.”

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RELATED(2) FROM GMA NEWS ONLINE

SECRETARY IN WASHINGTON Yasay tells Americans Duterte won’t condone extrajudicial slays Published September 16, 2016 4:26am


YASAY

Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay on Thursday concerns of extrajudicial killings and a statement by President Rodrigo Duterte calling for U.S. special forces to get out of the southern Philippines.

While speaking to the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, DC, Yasay addressed the accusations that President Rodrigo Duterte ordered extrajudicial killings as part of his anti-crime crackdown.

Yasay made the remarks hours after a witness told a Senate inquiry in Manila that Duterte ordered the extrajudicial killing of suspected criminals when he was still mayor of Davao City.

Duterte has repeatedly denied involvement in vigilantism as either mayor of Davao in the 1990s or as president.

Rights groups have documented some 1,400 suspicious killings in Davao since the early 1990s and critics say the bloody war on drugs Duterte has unleashed since taking office on June 30 bears the hallmarks of similar methods.

"Concerns have been raised on the rising number of deaths. As such deaths have been conveniently labeled as extrajudicial killings. Let me assure you however that full respect for human rights and the value and dignity of every person is a state policy in our constitution to which the Duterte administration is firmly committed to uphold. We will not veer from this," said Yasay.

He added, "We do not and will not and will never condone any unlawful killings and Filipino authorities have been instructed to look into these incidents and bring the perpetrators to justice. Extrajudicial killing has no place in our society."

More than 3,500 people, or about 47 per day, have been killed in the past 10 weeks, some 58 percent by unknown assailants and the rest in legitimate police operations, according to police.

Yasay also addressed comments made by President Duterte on Monday calling for the withdrawal of U.S. special forces troops from a group of islands in the southern Philippines, saying their presence could complicate offensives against Islamist militants notorious for beheading Westerners.

"The Philippines is going to engage in an all out offensive against Abu Sayyaf," said Yasay.

"(Duterte) has explained... that this is a temporary measure to keep our friends, the Americans, out of harm's way."

Duterte, who was in the spotlight last week over a televised tirade against the United States and President Barack Obama, said the Americans still in Mindanao were high-value targets for the Islamic State-linked Abu Sayyaf militants as counter-insurgency operations intensify. —Reuters


PHILSTAR

Rody to AFP: Always be ready for war By Raymund Catindig (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 18, 2016 - 12:00am 1 3 googleplus0 0


President Duterte rallied the troops to prepare themselves for a long battle ahead against terrorism and illegal drugs. “If there is one ultimate value left for the country to protect the Filipinos, it will always be the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines),” Duterte told the troops of the Army’s 5th Infantry Division at Camp Melchor de la Cruz here yesterday.Michael Varcas GAMU, Isabela, Philippines – Prepare for war at all times.

President Duterte rallied the troops to prepare themselves for a long battle ahead against terrorism and illegal drugs.

“If there is one ultimate value left for the country to protect the Filipinos, it will always be the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines),” Duterte told the troops of the Army’s 5th Infantry Division at Camp Melchor de la Cruz here yesterday.


”Our country is confronted by the problem on drugs, corruption in the government and terrorism; do every means to protect the people,” Duterte said.

“Do not allow the country to disintegrate, do all means, you have my protection as commander in chief,” he said.

He assured the military that his administration will work towards providing the AFP with all the equipment, including gear that involve body protection, and weaponry it needs to combat terrorism and other security concerns in the country.

Duterte also told the troops to “reinvent” themselves by training in intelligence gathering and covert operations.

READ MORE...

He said the enemy mingles with the public as farmers or ordinary people. 
As intelligence operatives, the President said some of the soldiers could appear as farmers to gather information to win the battle.

Duterte pointed to the fight against the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu and Basilan provinces as among the military’s challenges.

“Prepare for that eventuality, prepare for war; the reason I want you to be equipped with advanced weaponry. I do not know if I would still be alive during the course of my six years term,” he added.

“Do not be afraid. Before we were born, God knows where he is going to place us – that you will become soldiers is already written in your destiny… death is natural,” Duterte added in Filipino.

He reported out the government efforts in securing peace from the Communist Party of the Philippines, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

The President also reminded the soldiers that he has given the AFP about P500 million for the improvement of existing buildings and construction of a new one at the AFP Medical Center in Quezon City, aside from the purchase of modern medical equipment.

He said the presidential plane was converted into an air ambulance to improve the mobility of wounded soldiers.

The Department of National Defense (DND), on the other hand, said programs and activities have been lined out for operational capabilities and readiness of the reservists in the fight against crime.

“I am confident that the AFP leadership shall continue to focus its programs and activities in the enhancement of their operational capabilities and readiness of our reservists,”

DND Undersecretary Ricardo David Jr. said.

David also asked for support in the proposal of President Duterte to make ROTC mandatory in schools.

“The revival of the ROTC will inculcate the sense of patriotism, the sense of discipline as well as the sense of good citizenship,” he said. – Giovanni Nilles, Cecille Suerte Felipe

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RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

Teodoro 'Teddyboy' Locsin, Jr. named Philippine envoy to UN By Alexis Romero (philstar.com) | Updated September 18, 2016 - 1:54pm 20 1799 googleplus0 0


Communications Secretary Martin Andanar confirmed that former Makati Rep. Teddyboy Locsin accepted the post as Philippine envoy to UN. Teddyboy Locsin/Facebook

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED 2:14 p.m.)— Former lawmaker and television host Teodoro “Teddyboy” Locsin Jr. has accepted his appointment as the Philippines’ ambassador to the United Nations (UN), Malacañang said Sunday.

Presidential Communications chief Martin Andanar said Locsin had accepted the appointment in a meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte at the chief executive’s official residence in Bahay Pangarap.

“Former Congressman Teddyboy Locsin and I were in touch again last night (Sept. 17) and he said they indeed met at Bahay Pangarap. Congressman Locsin said he accepted the position as UN ambassador,” Andanar said in a text message.

Locsin will assume the post as the Philippines is having an uneasy relationship with the UN over Duterte’s brutal crackdown on drug offenders.

The UN has repeatedly expressed concerns over the spate of killings in the country, which is a direct result of the government’s intensified campaign against illegal drugs and crime.

The statements drew the ire of Duterte, who called the international body “stupid” for supposedly failing to understand the seriousness of the drug problem in the Philippines. He also labeled UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon a “fool” for denouncing the supposed human rights violations in the country. The president even went as far as threatening to pull the Philippines out of the UN but later on claimed that he was just joking.

RELATED: Duterte warns UN probers: I’ll whack you in the head

Locsin will replace Philippines Permanent Representative to the UN Lourdes Yparraguirre.


UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon congratulates Ambassador Lourdes O. Yparraguirre following her presentation of credentials as Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the United Nations-New York April 24, 2015 - 10:30 Philippine Logo.jpg PHOTO RELEASE Philippine Mission to the United Nations 556 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10036 (212)764 - 1300

The former lawmaker is one of the hosts of the commentary program “#NoFilter” and a segment anchor of late night newscast “The World Tonight” on ABS-CBN News Channel. He is also a columnist for business newspaper BusinessMirror.

Locsin's "#NoFilter" co-host Prospero “Popoy” de Vera III, a well-known political analyst and professor of public administration at the University of the Philippines, was also appointed as commissioner of the Commission on Higher Education and adviser of the government peace panel on the negotiations with the National Democratic Front last week.

RELATED: UP official named CHED commissioner, peace process adviser


TEDDY  LOCSIN, JR YOUNGER PHOTO, COURTESY OF ABS-CBN

Locsin served as representative of Makati’s 1st district from 2001 to 2010. He was also a presidential speech writer, legal counsel and press secretary of former President Corazon Aquino.

In 2012, Locsin was nominated to replace Chief Justice Renato Corona, who was ousted after he was found guilty by an impeachment court of failing to fully disclose his assets. Then President Benigno Aquino III named Ma. Lourdes Sereno to the post.


PHILSTAR

US troops to remain in Mindanao – DND By Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 15, 2016 - 12:00am 0 556 googleplus0 0


In this Aug. 5, 2016 photo, President Rodrigo Duterte, flanked by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff Lieutenant General Ricardo Visaya, speaks to members of the AFP Central Command in Camp Lapu-Lapu, Cebu City. PPD/Ace Morandante

Yasay meeting with Kerry in Washington

MANILA, Philippines – American soldiers will remain in Mindanao despite President Duterte’s pronouncement that he wanted them out of the region so they won’t be targeted by members of the Abu Sayyaf, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said yesterday.

“We still need them there because they have the surveillance capability that our Armed Forces don’t have,” Lorenzana told the House appropriations committee.

He was responding to questions raised by leftist lawmakers who said they were not only supporting Duterte’s statement but would want all American troops in Mindanao and other parts of the country to leave for good.

Lorenzana said there are 107 US soldiers based in Zamboanga City conducting surveillance operations in Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi to help the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) fight terrorists.

“They are using two types of assets: a small aircraft with night flying capability and three drones,” he said.

In many cases, he said the Americans send their surveillance assets to areas identified by the AFP.

READ MORE...

He added that of the 107, 50 are Marines, 17 are Army soldiers and 20 belong to Special Forces units.

Lorenzana pointed out the chances of the Americans being attacked or kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf – as voiced out by the President – are a remote possibility.

“They are located in a compound inside Camp Navarro in Zamboanga City. If they go out of the camp, they are either accompanied by our soldiers or are armed. Remember that these US soldiers are combatants,” he said.


LORENZANA

He said US soldiers in Mindanao used to number 600 a few years ago. “Before, they were embedded with our units in the field up to the brigade level,” he said.

He later told reporters that the country needs its military alliance with the US and the agreements on cooperation the two nations have signed like the Visiting Forces Agreement and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

He said he has explained the importance of the alliance and the agreements to Duterte.

“I think it’s just right for us to remain allied with the US. They are still the dominant military force in this part of the Pacific. Our neighbors – Japan, Australia, South Korea – have military alliance with the US,” he said.

Under EDCA, the defense chief said American troops have been given access to five military camps – Basa Air base in Floridablanca in Pampanga, Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, Mactan Air base in Cebu, Lumbia Air base in Cagayan de Oro City, and a camp in Palawan.

“We are spending for our facilities in these camps and the Americans are spending for their facilities,” he said.

At Camp Aguinaldo, AFP public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo said a withdrawal by the Americans would be a bane to the military’s counterterrorism efforts.

He said US forces have been providing intelligence information and technical assistance to the military. They also provide humanitarian and disaster assistance to communities, he added.

He expressed confidence Duterte’s pronouncements would not affect existing agreements like the EDCA. Duterte, he pointed out, made the pronouncement out of concern for the safety of US forces. “They could be victims of retaliation,” he said of the US soldiers.

AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla earlier echoed Lorenzana’s explanation of Duterte’s asking for a US pullout.

“Pursuant to the same statement, he (Duterte) desires that our American counterparts should be eased from harm’s way. This refers to Western Mindanao where intense focused military operations combatting terrorism are ongoing,

“We take due notice of the pronouncement of the Commander-in-Chief President Duterte expressing his concern of the safety of US Servicemen in Mindanao,” he added.

For his part, AFP chief of staff Gen. Ricardo Visaya said the military is verifying information that the terrorist group ISIS is in contact with the Abu Sayyaf whose members are on the run due to intensified military operation.

“We have the Abu Sayyaf under control in Basilan. We are now pursuing them in Sulu,” he said.

During the hearing, appropriations committee members reiterated their concern for the ballooning appropriations for pension benefits for retired AFP personnel.

They noted that the military would need P44 billion next year for pension, an amount that is P12 billion bigger than its operating budget of P32 billion.

President Duterte himself has called for reforming the pension-retirement system in the military.


KERRY's VISIT IN MANILA: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry whispers to Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. as they meet at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines, on Wednesday. | REUTERS ASIA PACIFIC

Ready to explain Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. , meanwhile, said he is ready to explain the President’s pronouncement to Secretary of State John Kerry – if asked – at a private dinner with heads of state and foreign ministers to be hosted by the US official.

Yasay left Tuesday night for Washington before proceeding to New York to represent Duterte in the United Nations General Assembly.

DFA spokesman Charles Jose said no one-on-one meeting has been requested or arranged between Yasay and Kerry.

“I’m not sugarcoating it at all. You cannot dissociate, for instance, the fact that when he said that he wants the Americans out, you dissociate it from the fact that he said that he does not want these Americans to be harmed or be killed. This was the context,” Yasay said in an interview on News To Go.

“If Secretary of State John Kerry will ask me these questions, I will say the very things to him, and he will understand that. Alam niya naman na walang pagbabago ang (He knows there is no change in) policy,” he said.

Jose also said Yasay is set to meet with Millennium Challenge Corp. (MCC) chief executive officer Dana J. Hyde and speak before the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

He will also meet with the US-Philippine Society and the Filipino community at the Philippine embassy in Washington as well as with senior leaders of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Jose said Malacañang had already clarified the Philippines is not cutting its defense alliance with the US.

On Tuesday, Yasay said Duterte’s call for the withdrawal of US Special Forces from Mindanao was not an indication of policy shift as all agreements and treaties with the US would remain, including one allowing increased US military presence in the country.

He echoed the President’s explanation that the latter merely wanted the American soldiers out of harm’s way when expressed his wish that they leave Mindanao. Duterte had said the US presence in Mindanao was complicating Philippine security forces’ anti-terror operations. - With Pia Lee-Brago, Cecille Suerte Felipe

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COMMENTARY FROM THE INQUIRER

Moro history is replete with tales of atrocity By: Macabangkit Lanto @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer
12:28 AM September 15th, 2016

President Duterte did not tell the whole grim truth about the massacre of the Moros by American soldiers.

According to media reports on the recent East Asia Summit in Vientiane, Laos, the President cited in his speech only the massacre of Moros in the great Battle of Bud Dajo in the early 1900s, during the American pacification campaign.

Actually, there were about 1,000 proud Tausug Moros who perished in that battle, not 600, as the President narrated. And he failed to highlight the fact that, as history records it, “the attack ended on March 7, 1906, and not one Moro was standing, women and children among them.”

The President was being “diplomatic.” In fact, Moro history is replete with tales of more atrocities of gruesome magnitude, like the epic battle at Bud Bagsak, also in Sulu, where 5,000 Tausug Moros valiantly fought America’s mighty army led by then Maj. Gen. Leonard Wood.

About 2,000 Moro lives were sacrificed. This revelation has rubbed salt on the wounds of the Moro psyche, and brought back memories of the gory Moro past.


This was an attack by the Us Army on some Moro villagers in 1906. These villagers basically lived in the crater of a volcano, on the Sulu Archipelago. (factsandinterest.blogspot.com)

When the President’s charge of violation of human rights by American soldiers was reported, I remembered the day a Moro activist, Bae Normala Lucman Pacasum (then vice governor of Lanao del Sur), visited my office at the Department of Tourism.

She was asking for assistance in a restoration project of whatever remained of Kota (Fort) Padang Karbala in Bayang, Lanao del Sur.

I was then the undersecretary of tourism in charge of promotion and marketing. I had my staff do research on the significance of the Kota. I also rummaged through my dusty files, and what I discovered justified the need to immortalize the valor, gallantry and martyrdom of the Maranaw Moros.

Indeed, the Kota needed to be restored, if only to inculcate in the succeeding generations of Filipinos lessons in patriotism and nationalism. I recommended the restoration project, but unfortunately, it was overtaken by events.

The American campaigners had started on the wrong foot in their pacification campaign.

'A GOVERNMENT OF THE FOREIGNERS'

Their reputation—that they would subjugate the natives of their newly-acquired colony and impose their language and other ways of life—had preceded their campaign. The natives put up a violent resistance. Among the Maranaw then, the American administration was referred to as “gobierno o mga saruang a tao” (a government of the foreigners).

And their campaign to teach the natives the English language was resisted because of the belief that going to school at that time was a form of apostasy and an embrace of the religion of the “Nazrani” (Christians, from Nazareth, the birthplace of Jesus).

So as history records it, on that fateful day of May 2, 1902, after negotiations with Maranaw datus failed, American soldiers mercilessly attacked the 700 Maranaw warriors (not counting the women and children who refused to leave husbands and fathers) who stood their ground at the Kota Padang Karbala, armed only with bolos, krises and spears against the rifles, pistols and grenades of the colonizers.

When the smoke of battle cleared, all 700 Moro warriors were found martyred in the tradition of the epic sieges of Fort Alamo in the United States and the fortress of Masada in Israel.

But was President Duterte correct in raising this human-rights issue? A resounding “Yes!” is heard from us Moros.

Macabangkit Lanto (amb_mac_lanto@yahoo.com), UP Law 1967, was a Fulbright fellow to New York University for his postgraduate studies. He is a former assemblyman and speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Autonomous Region 12, and a former congressman, ambassador to Egypt and Sudan, and undersecretary of tourism and of justice.


A 2013 photo of then Newly-appointed Comelec commissioner Macabangkit Lanto with chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. Photo tweeted by Brillantes: NEWS REPORT -Former ambassador to Egypt Macabangkit Lanto, one of the two newly-appointed commissioners of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), had supposedly fallen victim to poll fraud twice. RAPPLER.COM FILE MARCH 2, 2013.


PHILSTAR

Ties at a turning point, China tells Philippine delegation (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 15, 2016 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin told a delegation from a Philippine foreign affairs committee in Beijing that ties had recently “sunk to a low edge for reasons everyone knows,” China’s Foreign Ministry said late on Tuesday. Xinhua, file photo

BEIJING – Relations between China and the Philippines are at a new turning point, and Beijing hopes Manila can meet it halfway and handle disputes appropriately, a top Chinese diplomat has told a visiting Philippine delegation.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin told a delegation from a Philippine foreign affairs committee in Beijing that ties had recently “sunk to a low edge for reasons everyone knows,” China’s Foreign Ministry said late on Tuesday.

“At present, China-Philippine relations are at a new turning point,” the statement quoted Liu as saying.

China “hopes the Philippines side can meet China halfway, appropriately handle disputes and push relations back onto the track of dialogue, consultation and friendly cooperation,” he said.

China and the Philippines have been involved in an increasingly ugly territorial dispute in the South China Sea.

READ MORE...

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

An arbitration court in The Hague invalidated China’s claims to the waterway in July after a case was brought by the Philippines, a ruling that Beijing refuses to recognize.

Both countries have since been on a diplomatic push to ease tensions, with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang telling Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte he hoped the two countries could bring bilateral ties back to a normal track.

A Philippines special envoy, former president Fidel Ramos, said during a visit to Hong Kong last month that Manila wanted formal negotiations with China to explore pathways to peace and cooperation.

‘Chinese aggression a reaction to US presence’ The militant group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said the Chinese aggression in the South China Sea was in reaction to the US military presence in the region.


“Beijing increases its military presence in the disputed sea because they are threatened with the US military presence in the region. Instead of having a peaceful conclusion with China through diplomatic and bilateral talks, the White House continues to interfere, making the situation even worse,” said Fernando Hicap, Pamalakaya chairman.

Hicap said they are supporting Duterte’s move in pursuing an independent foreign policy.

“He (Duterte) should completely cut all the one-sided economic and military ties with the US and pursue a genuine independent Philippine foreign policy that will truly uphold and protect our national sovereignty and national interest,” Hicap said.

Duterte’s PDP-Laban political party also said the President has decided to pursue a foreign policy by stepping out of the shadow of the US.

The militant group Sanlakas called on Duterte to junk the Philippine-US military agreements in pursuing an independent foreign policy. – Jose Rodel Clapano, Mayen Jaymalin, Ding Cervantes

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RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

Yasay: Philippines not ready for bilateral talks with China By Patricia Lourdes Viray (philstar.com) | Updated September 16, 2016 - 3:48pm 1 142 googleplus0 0


"Even as we would like to forge closer relationship with our neighbors... it does not necessarily mean that forging closer relationship with one is alienating the other. And this is precisely what [President Rodrigo Duterte] means in the context of saying that we must pursue an independent foreign policy and that is what our constitution mandates and to pursue amity with all nations," Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. said during a security forum in Washington. AP/Bullit Marquez

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is not yet prepared to hold bilateral discussions with China to resolve the South China Sea dispute, Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. said.

At a security forum in Washington, the country's top diplomat said the two countries can only sit down for bilateral engagements unless they are both prepared to discuss the matter.

"To begin with, we cannot proceed on engaging China in bilateral talks where China says that we can only talk outside of the framework of the arbitral tribunal's decision," Yasay said in a forum organized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

China has refused to respect the decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration that it does not have legal basis for its nine-dash line claim over the disputed waters.

The arbitral tribunal also ruled that China violated its commitment to the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea when it constructed artificial islands in the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.

Yasay, however, noted that the Philippine government would like to continue engaging with China to pursue other interests such as trade, investment and infrastructure development.

The Philippines' top diplomat noted that the relationship between the Philippines and China is not limited to the maritime dispute.

"Of course, the natural effect of engaging China in other areas of concern will precisely open the door for more open discussions of the dispute with the view of resolving the dispute peacefully," Yasay said.

Meanwhile, former President Fidel Ramos should go into a more official basis as a special envoy in connection to the concerns of the two nations.

Ramos met with his old friends in Hong Kong to express the desire of the Philippines to hold formal discussions with China on issues of mutual concern and interest.

The Foreign Affairs chief clarified that forging stronger ties with China would not necessarily mean alienating other nations.

"This is precisely what [President Rodrigo Duterte] means in the context of saying that we must pursue an independent foreign policy and that is what our constitution mandates and to pursue amity with all nations," Yasay said.

The president earlier said that he prefers holding talks with China to settle the South China Sea dispute rather than having a fight.

"Philippines to fight China? It will be slaughter. So we talk, we cannot match," Duterte said.

RELATED: Yasay in US: Don't lecture us on human rights

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RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

Philippines eyes talks with China sans preconditions By Jose Katigbak STAR Washington bureau (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 18, 2016 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


Photo taken Sept. 16, 2016 shows the Chinese navy frigate Huangshan (left) and the Russian navy anti-submarine ship Admiral Tributs taking part in a joint naval drill at sea off China’s Guangdong province. The Chinese and Russian navies launched eight days of war games in the South China Sea, in a sign of growing cooperation between their armed forces against the backdrop of regional territorial disputes. AP

WASHINGTON – The Philippines is quietly making arrangements through diplomatic channels for bilateral talks with China without any preconditions to discuss their competing claims in the South China Sea and West Philippine Sea, Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay said.

“The important thing is that we talk,” he told Filipino community members at a meeting in the Philippine embassy in Washington on Friday.

The inadequately armed Philippine military cannot fight China in any battle and this is why President Duterte ordered the Navy not to conduct joint patrols in the South China Sea with the US, he said.

He said joint patrols could be seen by China as a provocative act, making it more difficult to peacefully resolve territorial problems.

A day earlier Yasay told a forum at the Institute of Strategic and International Studies the country was not yet prepared to hold discussions with China.

Beijing has said it can only talk with Manila outside the framework of the ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague that declared as invalid China’s extensive claim in the South China Sea and West Philippine Sea. The ruling also reaffirmed the Philippines’ rights over several contested reefs, shoals and islands.

“Our position has been we will not engage them in talks outside the framework of the tribunal ruling. We are now engaged in the process of making sure these bilateral talks will happen,” Yasay said.

He said the relationship between the two countries was not limited to the maritime dispute. There were other areas of concern in such fields as investment, trade and tourism and discussing them could open the door for talks on the maritime issue.

Referring to newspaper reports of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines, Yasay lamented that some rights groups abroad have picked this up without doing their own verification.

He said of about 3,000 people reported killed in the drug war since Duterte took office on June 30, official investigations have shown about 900 were killed in legitimate police operations against drug lords and pushers.

The other cases are still under investigation but according to initial findings some are victims of vigilante group or victims of the fight for supremacy between rival drug groups, Yasay said.

He said there was need for human rights group to validate the reports of extrajudicial killings before condemning the government for human right violations.

Newspaper reports should never be used as basis for concluding that extrajudicial killings are happening, he said.

He reminded his audience that President Duterte won the presidency on the platform of intensified campaign against illegal drugs and criminality.

Present at the embassy meeting were a small group of Filipino migrant workers who expressed their support for Duterte and called on Yasay to help about 300 Filipino victims of human traffickers in the US.

The official promised to look into the matter as another small group of workers rallied outside the embassy carrying placards calling for an end to human trafficking.

Yasay visited Washington en route to New York to attend the 71st session of the UN General Assembly. He had no meetings with US government officials.

Washington views Duterte with suspicion because of his intimidating reaction to US officials’ reminding him of his duty to uphold human rights.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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