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DU30 POLICY 'SWINGS LIKE A PENDULUM', SAYS FOREIGN POLICY DIPLOMAT[RELATED: U.S. stops planned arms sale to Philippines; A US senator opposed it over HR concerns]
NOVEMBER 1 -Launching. President Rodrigo Duterte attends the launching of the Comprehensive Reform and Development Agenda for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao at the Sharif Kabunsuan Cultural Center Complex in Cotabato City on Saturday. Malacañang Photo THE country swings like a pendulum between the United States and China, giving the impression that the Philippines has no coherent foreign policy, a senior diplomat said Saturday. “What we should avoid in our foreign policy is to swing like a pendulum, swinging in one instance to the US and in another to China,” said former Philippine ambassador to the United Nations Lauro Baja in an interview with radio dzMM. “It seems there’s no clarity or coherence in our foreign policy.” In the last few weeks, President Rodrigo Duterte has let loose with a barrage of anti-American rhetoric while building ties with China—leaving his Cabinet members to smooth the ruffled feathers of the country’s long-standing ally. READ MORE...RELATED, US stops planned arms sale to Philippines; US senator opposed it due to HR reasons...
ALSO: China confirms end to Scarborough shoal blockade
(“Maybe not now, but when we go to another round of talks, we’ll again assert it, [PH sovereignty] ” Esperon said.)[RELATED: Sino ships remain on shoal, says DND]
NOVEMBER 1 -Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters in Beijing her government made “proper arrangements” after President Duterte expressed concern about access to the shoal. AP/Bullit Marquez China has confirmed it is no longer driving away Filipino fishermen from Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal. Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters in Beijing her government made “proper arrangements” after President Duterte expressed concern about access to the shoal. Hua said the issue had been handled “based on the friendship between China and the Philippines.” Last week, Filipino fishermen began returning from the shoal with plenty of catch. READ MORE...RELATED, Sino ships remain on shoal, says DND...
ALSO Rep. Roque: Scarborough access shows Duterte foreign policy works
[RELATED: Duterte shows off ASEAN diplomacy with release of arrested Vietnamese fishermen]
NOVEMBER 2 -In this image, President Rodrigo Duterte meets with former President Benigno Aquino III at Malacañang last June 30. Malacañang Photo Bureau President Rodrigo Duterte succeeded in getting Filipino fishers access to Scarborough Shoal, a feat his predecessor failed to do, Kabayan party-list Rep. Harry Roque said Wednesday. "President Duterte’s new engagement with China led to the resumption of our fishermen's livelihood," Roque said from a conference at Takushoku University in Tokyo on the international arbitral tribunal’s decision on the South China Sea dispute. "Clearly, the opposite tack pursued by President Benigno Aquino III and [Foreign Affairs] Secretary Albert del Rosario did not work. Del Rosario should give credit where it is due particularly since he and President Aquino failed where President Duterte succeeded," he said. Duterte went to China for a state visit last month. He said when he returned that he had discussed the issue surrounding Scarborough Shoal, also known as Panatag Shoal and Bajo de Masinloc, during a meeting with China President Xi Jinping. Roque, a member of the minority at the House of Representatives, said Aquino and Del Rosario "should just admit that the foreign policy being pursued by President Duterte is proving to be a more effective one." READ MORE...RELATED, Duterte shows off ASEAN diplomacy with release of arrested Vietnamese fishermen...
ALSO: IBA NA NGAYON - Chinese coast guards share food with Filipino fishers
[RELATED: EXCLUSIVE - Pinoy fishermen able to enter inside Panatag shoal unhampered -WATCH VIDEO]
NOVEMBER 2 -SHOAL HAUL Filipino fishermen fresh from a trip to Panatag Shoal return with their fish harvest. Unlike before when they were driven away by Chinese coast guards, they now tell stories of the Chinese sharing food, liquor and cigarettes with them. —WILLIE LOMIBAO SUBIC, ZAMBALES—This was unthinkable months back: Chinese coast guards, who used to drive away Filipino fishermen, shared their food and cigarettes with Filipinos fishing at Panatag Shoal last week. “Chinese Coast Guard vessels approached the boats of our fellow fishermen but only to share their food, liquor and cigarettes,” said Wilson Almadin, 41, crew member of a fishing boat that returned to this town from Panatag on Monday. Shared catch with Chinese Almadin also said other Filipino fishermen shared some of their catch with the Chinese coast guards. Eight groups of fishermen from Zambales province sailed to Panatag Shoal, internationally known as Scarborough Shoal, on Oct. 26 and found they could enter the area without interference from the Chinese Coast Guard, which had been blockading the rich fishing ground since 2012. READ MORE...RELATED, EXCLUSIVE - Pinoy fishermen able to enter inside Panatag shoal unhampered...
ALSO Esperon: China, Philippines in 'friendly' understanding on Scarborough
("The coastguard of China is there, but their navy is gone. And now, our fishermen are no longer being accosted, no longer being forced out, so we can say things are now friendly," Security adviser Esperon)
[RELATED: Former Senator Nene Pimentel says, China decision on shoal an act of ownership]
NOVEMBER 1 -SHOAL HARVEST Fishermen return from a three-day trip to Panatag Shoal in Infanta, Pangasinan, with their bounty of fish. —WILLIE LOMIBAO OCTOBER 30, 2016 MARITIME ASIA FILE The Philippines and China have reached a "friendly" understanding allowing Filipinos to fish around a disputed shoal seized by Beijing in 2012, a senior aide to President Rodrigo Duterte said Monday. Duterte negotiated the understanding during his recent meeting in Beijing with Chinese President Xi Jinping, said National Ssecurity Adviser Hermogenes Esperon. As a result, he said, in recent days Filipino fishermen have been able to fish unmolested at Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea while Chinese government vessels have patrolled nearby. "There is no agreement... but our president believes that our fishermen will no longer be harassed because he already brought up this matter" during his visit to China, Esperon told the media.
"The coastguard of China is there, but their navy is gone. And now, our fishermen are no longer being accosted, no longer being forced out, so we can say things are now friendly," he added. READ MORE...RELATED, Former Senator Nene Pimentel says, China decision on shoal an act of ownership...
ALSO: FVR quits as special envoy to China; 'My job ["breaking the ice"] is done'[RELATED: Palace - It’s up to Duterte to accept Ramos resignation]
NOVEMBER 1 -Former president Fidel Ramos said he still considers himself part of the Duterte team “whether they like it or not.” STAR/File Photo Saying his job of breaking the ice with Beijing was done, former president Fidel Ramos announced yesterday his resignation as special envoy to China. Ramos, whom President Duterte had credited for persuading him to seek the nation’s highest post, did not say exactly when he officially tendered his resignation. Ramos’ announcement came amid his scathing criticisms of the President’s pronouncements and priorities, including the bloody war on drugs, the “separation” from the United States as well as Duterte’s refusal to have the Paris Agreement on climate change ratified. “The moment the President came back from China from a successful state visit, I resigned as special envoy to China because the officials have taken over and I’ve done my job to break the ice and to help restore the ties of goodwill and friendship,” Ramos told GMA-7 during an event at the Thailand embassy. READ MORE...RELATED, Palace: It’s up to Duterte to accept Ramos resignation... RELATED(2) FVR to still play role in dealing with China – Palace...
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Du30 policy ‘swings like a pendulum’
Launching. President Rodrigo Duterte attends the launching of the Comprehensive Reform and Development Agenda for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao at the Sharif Kabunsuan Cultural Center Complex in Cotabato City on Saturday. Malacañang Photo
MANILA, NOVEMBER 7, 2016 (MANILA STANDARD) posted October 31, 2016 at 12:01 am by Christine F. Herrera
THE country swings like a pendulum between the United States and China, giving the impression that the Philippines has no coherent foreign policy, a senior diplomat said Saturday.
“What we should avoid in our foreign policy is to swing like a pendulum, swinging in one instance to the US and in another to China,” said former Philippine ambassador to the United Nations Lauro Baja in an interview with radio dzMM. “It seems there’s no clarity or coherence in our foreign policy.”
In the last few weeks, President Rodrigo Duterte has let loose with a barrage of anti-American rhetoric while building ties with China—leaving his Cabinet members to smooth the ruffled feathers of the country’s long-standing ally.
During a state visit to China earlier this month, Duterte announced the Philippines’ separation from the US, saying that Washington had treated Manila unfairly.
He later clarified that he was not severing ties with America, just Manila’s foreign policy alignment with Washington. Economic officials scrambled to assure the public that trade relations would remain the same.
During his state visit, Duterte did not raise the decision of a United Nations tribunal that declared Beijing had no historic rights to the disputed waters of the West Philippine Sea.
But Baja said Duterte should not set aside the country’s victory against China before the UN international court.
“It’s okay to talk to China, but always in the context of our victory, even without mentioning the arbitral decision,” Baja said.
Filipino fishermen have been able to return to Scarborough Shoal, a disputed area that the Philippines claims by virtue of its exclusive economic zone.
SHOAL HAUL Filipino fishermen fresh from a trip to Panatag Shoal return with their fish harvest. Unlike before when they were driven away by Chinese coast guards, they now tell stories of the Chinese sharing food, liquor and cigarettes with them. —WILLIE LOMIBAO INQUIRER FILE
The Chinese Coast Guard has occupied the disputed territory since 2012, but now seem to allow Filipino fishermen to return following Duterte’s visit to China.
House Deputy Minority Leader Harry Roque Jr., meanwhile, said Duterte showed his independence when he refused to put in writing that China has agreed to allow Filipino fishermen to fish again in Scarborough Shoal.
“We do not want the word ‘allow’ and ‘permit’ to be used by China because the ruling of the Arbitral Tribunal is that Filipinos and Chinese and Vietnamese can look forward to the Scarborough Shoal as traditional fishing grounds,” said Roque, who was part of the delegation to China early this month.
Roque also said that while the country wants to attract foreign investments, it must be careful that local procurement laws are respected, and that its partners are reputable.
In the case of China, Roque said, three potential partners had a shady track record dealing with the Philippines--China Road and Bridge Corp., China CAMC Engineering and CCCC Dredging Co.
Roque said the China Road and Bridge Corp. was the company that was responsible for the Catanduanes Circumferential Road, which he questioned on behalf of his client, former Cavite Rep. Joseph Emilio Abaya.
Roque said China CAMC Engineering is, in fact, a subsidiary of Sinomach, which he sued for invalidating the North Rail contract.
“I also witnessed a memorandum of understanding signing with CCCC Dredging Co., and I hope I am wrong but from the brochure, it seemed CCCC Dredging is also the same company responsible for the building of the artificial islands in the West Philippine Sea,” Roque said.
“So we need to be on guard. We need foreign investments, but we need to make sure, too, that our laws, particularly our procurement law, are respected to the letter,” he said.
Roque also said that he heard Duterte discuss the West Philippine Sea with the China’s Premier
As for pursuing talks on the West Philippine Sea, he said he personally heard the President discuss this matter with the Chinese Premier Li Keqiang
“The President brought it up. He said that we have our disagreement over the West Philippine Sea, I come here not to quarrel about it but I’m saying that we need to resolve this soon,” Roque said.
Also over the weekend, the leftist youth group Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (Spark) lambasted former President Benigno Aquino III for claiming that the country had an independent foreign policy during his term.
Aquino made the statement when he broke his silence on Duterte’s decision to separate the country’s foreign policy from the United States.
“Is it possible that Aquino may have suffered from selective amnesia since stepping down from the Palace three months ago?
Need we remind him of instances he preferred to shun the pleadings and protestations of the people during his six year tenure?” the group said.
The group added that Aquino might be “one of the most subservient of all the past presidents, probably second only to Ferdinand Marcos or Ramon Magsaysay.” With Sandy Araneta
RELATED FROM PHILSTAR
US stops planned arms sale to Philippines; US senator opposed it due to HR reasons (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 2, 2016 - 12:00am 0 434 googleplus0 0
PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa admitted this would impact the country’s police capability buildup in the sense that the PNP is losing the opportunity to train with their US counterparts. PNP PIO/Released, file
Deal opposed by US senator over HR concerns
WASHINGTON – The US State Department halted the planned sale of some 26,000 assault rifles to the Philippines’ national police after Sen. Ben Cardin said he would oppose it, Senate aides told Reuters on Monday.
Aides said Cardin, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was reluctant for the United States to provide the weapons given concerns about human rights violations in the Philippines.
The relationship between the United States and the Philippines, a long-time ally, has been complicated lately by President Duterte’s angry reaction to criticism from Washington of his violent battle to rid the country of illegal drugs.
More than 2,300 people have been killed in police operations or by suspected vigilantes in connection with the anti-narcotics campaign since Duterte took office on June 30.
The US State Department informs Congress when international weapons sales are in the works. Aides said Foreign Relations committee staff informed State that Cardin would oppose the deal during the department’s pre-notification process for the sale of 26,000 to 27,000 assault rifles, stopping the deal.
State Department officials did not comment.
Earlier this month, Duterte told US President Barack Obama to “go to hell” and said the United States had refused to sell some weapons to his country, but he did not care because Russia and China were willing suppliers.
According to some US officials, Washington has been doing its best to ignore Duterte’s rhetoric and not provide him with a pretext for more outbursts.
An open break with Manila could create problems for the United States in a region where China’s influence has grown.
US decision to benefit small manufacturers Local medium and small arms manufacturers, as well as those from abroad, stand to benefit from the decision of the US government to cancel the sale of assault rifles to the Philippine National Police (PNP).
The US State Department halted the planned sale of some 26,000 assault rifles to the PNP after Cardin expressed concerns over human rights violations in the Philippines.
“The US State Department decision now presents a chance for the Philippines to start growing or building up its own local defense industry. It’s not really economically profitable so it needs huge support from the government,” a security observer said.
He also said the US action only proved the Philippines can’t always rely on its long-time ally.
He said the country needs to start scouting for other defense suppliers of these light weapons while infusing funds to support the local arms and defense manufacturers so the industry can look forward to eventually supplying the weapons needed not only by the PNP but also by the military.
Malacañang said it would let the PNP handle the issue as it stressed that the country can buy rifles from other sources.
ISSUE BETWEEN US STATE DEPT AND US SENATOR CARDIN
“It is an issue between the US State Department and Sen. Ben Cardin. I will have to talk to the PNP and find out their next move,” Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said.
“In any case, I am sure our government can procure somewhere else,” he added.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the Philippine government has not been notified officially by the US on its plans to halt the sale of weapons.
“We can’t comment as we have not been notified officially by the US government on the matter,” DFA spokesman Charles Jose said.
National security adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said he would just let the PNP issue a comment on the matter.
DE LA ROSA SADDENED BY US DECISION
PNP spokesman Senior Supt. Dionardo Carlos said PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa was saddened by the US decision.
Carlos said the PNP’s procurement of the assault rifles has already undergone purchase proceedings and it has been awarded to a winning bidder.
If the procurement will not push through, the PNP will look for suppliers from other countries where it can acquire the US-made Sig Sauer M4 assault rifles.
Carlos, however, clarified a notice of cancellation from the winning bidder or a communication to this effect from the US has not been forwarded to the PNP.
“There’s no official notice yet from the supplier or from the US. The chief PNP is just reacting to the report,” he said.
Late last month, the San Francisco Police Department announced it would cut off training ties with Filipino policemen amid suspicions of their involvement in the summary killings of suspected drug personalities and violations of human rights.
Dela Rosa admitted this would impact the country’s police capability buildup in the sense that the PNP is losing the opportunity to train with their US counterparts.
At present, the PNP’s elite unit, the Special Action Force (SAF), is equipped with foreign-made weapons, mostly US-made.
A security expert stressed local arms manufacturers should now be given the chance to grow with the full support of the government.
Another security observer pointed out that rejection of arms export is not uncommon worldwide, specifically when human rights issues have become a paramount global concern.
“Seeing how President Duterte’s war on drugs is drawing world attention, this rejection of the US Senate is not actually surprising,” he said.
Opportunity Sen. Panfilo Lacson agreed the Philippines could easily buy its weapons from other sources.
“Since it’s a planned sale of assault rifles by the US to the Philippines, we do not stand to lose anything except one less gun store to choose from. There are tens of other countries that manufacture better and probably cheaper assault rifles than the US,” he said.
To use the issue of human rights violations, specifically the alleged extrajudicial killings in the country, as reason for halting the sale of weapons, Lacson said, was unfair, considering such claims have not been substantiated.
“First, I have yet to see an investigation with the conclusion that massive and state-sanctioned human rights violations were committed under the present regime’s drive against illegal drugs, so I would take US Sen. (Ben) Cardin’s statement as his own opinion and nothing more,” Lacson said.
Lacson said the Department of National Defense should take this report as another reason to revive the country’s self-reliance program so that the country could start producing its own weapons, ammunition and other military hardware.
Sens. Vicente Sotto III and Joseph Victor Ejercito shared the same sentiment, saying there are other sources of weapons for the Philippines other than the US.
“Last year more than 100,000 were killed in the Mexican drug wars. Did they (US) say anything? Here we have just over 1,000 and they are saying so much. They should just continue selling to the extremists if they don’t want to sell to us,” Sotto said.
Ejercito said the US move would be an opportunity for the Philippine government to be more resourceful.
“There will be other opportunities, the US does not have the monopoly of good firearms manufacturers. The PNP can now look at Israeli, Austrian or German-made high powered rifles which are even more superior and cheaper,” Ejercito said.
Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano and Ejercito said the halt in the arms sales was a result of the efforts to destroy Duterte using the international media.
Cayetano said some members of the US Congress and diplomats have been reacting based on so-called news reports “and their facts are all wrong.”
“Let me humbly advice them to get their facts straight first rather than be embarrassed internationally for again acting on false information,” he said.
Cayetano also pointed out the human rights issues are local issues getting prominence in the coming US presidential elections and putting pressure on politicians and State Department officials.
“Precisely developments like this prove President Duterte’s point, that we need to be independent. Some countries really tie their support to their strategic interest and local politics. Thus, we shouldn’t be aligned only to one country and their interest. I will not rule out geopolitics consideration disguised in human rights issues,” he said.
Ejercito warned the US is showing it is not taking to the new independent policy stance of Duterte. He added the US was flexing its muscles to show its power and superiority.
A lawmaker ally of Duterte, on the other hand, proposed to get even with the Americans by dropping their visa-free entry to the Philippines.
Since 779,217 Americans visited Manila in 2015, charging them $160 each (or P7,680) – the same amount the US requires Filipinos to pay – could easily mean $125 million (or P6 billion) more for government coffers every year, Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel said.
“We could use some of the P6-billion annual income to employ a large number of young Filipinos as vice consuls, and deploy them to Philippine consular offices in the US, so they can process the Philippine visa applications of American citizens,” he suggested.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez also supported Duterte’s call for “reciprocity” in visa requirements.
They had it coming
Sen. Leila de Lima, on the other hand, said such reactions from the US should have been expected.
De Lima said the halt in the sale of assault rifles to the PNP was just the start of the US and international backlash on what she called Duterte’s isolationist and anti-human rights policies.
She pointed out US legislators have long been known to intervene in the sale of arms to allied countries that have poor human rights records or apparent state-tolerated use of violence against the civilian population.
“The Duterte administration saw this coming and of course was most probably indifferent to its consequences as its social media support groups and fake news sites will now drum this up as an opportunity to be independent of the US, and its support weapons supplies and technology,” De Lima said.
“This so-called independent positioning is hollow and all bluster. It will only lead to our further isolation from and hostility to not only the US but also its allies in the region … We cannot go on telling the US to leave us alone just because we don’t want it prying into our human rights records and extrajudicial killings. Sooner or later something has to give,” she said.
De Lima warned nobody has won against the US in such confrontations on human rights. – Jaime Laude, Alexis Romero, Marvin Sy, Paolo Romero, Delon Porcalla, Pia Lee-Brago
China confirms end to shoal blockade (Associated Press) | Updated November 1, 2016 - 12:00am 42 14.3K googleplus0 0
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters in Beijing her government made “proper arrangements” after President Duterte expressed concern about access to the shoal. AP/Bullit Marquez
China has confirmed it is no longer driving away Filipino fishermen from Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal.
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters in Beijing her government made “proper arrangements” after President Duterte expressed concern about access to the shoal.
Hua said the issue had been handled “based on the friendship between China and the Philippines.”
Last week, Filipino fishermen began returning from the shoal with plenty of catch.
The Chinese relaxing of their hold on Panatag came days after Duterte’s return from his state visit to Beijing last Oct. 21.
During the visit, Duterte said he discussed with Chinese President Xi Jinping the maritime dispute. Duterte had also announced during his visit his foreign policy pivot to China.
In Manila, the development at the shoal remains a puzzle to Philippine officials.
National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said they welcomed the development but stressed there was no agreement between the Philippines and China that prompted the latter to cease its blockade of the shoal to Filipino fishermen.
“There was no expressed agreement but it seems like the traditional rights of our fishermen are being respected. There is no talk of the territorial rights. There is no talk on assertion of rights but they respect our traditional rights,” Esperon said.
The Chinese seized the shoal – also called Bajo de Masinloc – in 2012 after a standoff with the Philippine Navy, which tried to arrest Chinese poachers in the area. The Chinese have not left the shoal since then.
A UN-backed international tribunal based in The Hague declared in July that Panatag Shoal is a common fishing ground.
The tribunal, in the same ruling, invalidated China’s massive nine-dash line claim in the South China Sea and West Philippine Sea.
Located 124 nautical miles from Zambales, Panatag Shoal is well within the country’s 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
As of yesterday, Esperon said there were no more Chinese naval ships around the shoal and what remained were only coast guard ships.
Esperon also maintained that despite the development, the Philippines is not surrendering its sovereignty over the area to China, which was invoking its “historical rights” to assert its claim.
“Maybe not now but when we go to another round of talks, we’ll again assert it,” he said. – Jaime Laude
RELATED FROM THE TRIBUNE
Sino ships remain on shoal, says DND Written by Ted Tuvera Monday, 31 October 2016 00:00
FILIPINO FISHERS LEFT ALONE, HOWEVER
Contrary to Palace statements the other day that Chinese vessels had left the contested Scarborough Shoal, the Department of National Defense (DND) said yesterday Chinese coastguard ships continued to patrol the disputed area in the South China Sea but were not stopping Filipinos from fishing there.
The DND, however, appears to rely merely on the personal observations of fishermen sailing to the shoal.
Palace spokesman Ernesto Abella had said Saturday there were no longer signs of Chinese ships at the shoal, after Duterte visited China to repair frayed ties.“Filipino fishermen, who have been to Bajo de Masinloc, (the local name for Scarborough Shoal) said they have observed an undetermined number of Chinese white ships in the area but (the Filipinos) were not subjected to any harassment by these vessels and they were able to fish in peace,” he said in a statement.
National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon confirmed there were at least two Chinese vessels recently monitored along the area.
Esperon also said that there were no official agreements forged by both Manila and Beijing regarding the situation at the shoal.
“For the record , from October 17 to 27, there had been only two Chinese ships in (Bajo de Masinloc): a research ship last (Oct.) 19th and a Frigate (navy) on the 20th,” Esperon told Palace reporters in a text message.
“There are no written agreements or rules but Filipino fishermen who went there lately attest that they were not driven away nor were accosted,” he added.
The top national security chief said that the number of observed Chinese vessels decreased “compared to daily average of five People’s Liberation Army Navy and coastguard ships in the past.”
The other day, Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella sais in a Palace briefing that Chinese vessels have left the contested shoal in the South China Sea.
“There is no sign of Chinese coastguard vessels in the area. While we do not have any official explanation for this, it sends a positive signal regarding relations,” Abella said.
China took control of Scarborough Shoal, 230 kilometers west of the main Philippine island of Luzon, in 2012.
It drove Filipino fishermen away from the rich fishing ground, sometimes using water cannons.
In a case brought by then-president Aquino, the Philippines won a resounding victory over China at an international tribunal earlier this year.
In a judgment that infuriated Beijing, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at The Hague ruled in July there was no basis for China’s claims to most of the South China Sea, where several nations have competing partial claims.
However Aquino’s successor Duterte played down this victory in a visit to China earlier this month, putting territorial disputes on the back-burner and focusing instead on Chinese aid.
Chinese President Xi Jinping told Duterte there was no reason for hostility and difficult topics “could be shelved temporarily”.
The Chinese occupation of the shoal has been a sore point in relations, with Filipino fishermen frequently complaining that Chinese ships drive them away from their fishing grounds.
Duterte had hinted at the possibility of a Chinese withdrawal upon his return from Beijing, saying: “We’ll just wait for a few more days. We might be able to return to Scarborough Shoal.”
Happy fishermen back in Panatag
Filipino fishermen can fish along the Scarborough Shoal without the help of the United States.
This is what militant fisherfolks said yesterday, lauding Duterte’s efforts to allow locals to sail along the disputed portions of the West Philippine Sea without being harassed by the Chinese coast guard.
“We have proved that we can resolve an external conflict on our own without having to rely from other country’s military support especially from the United States,” Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) chairman Fernando Hicap said.
Pamalakaya seen this as a welcome development after China had aggressively occupied the West Philippine Sea on 2012, harassing and preventing Filipino fishermen from sailing onto their traditional fishing grounds.
Hicap, a former legislator for left-wing Anakpawis Partylist, added that allowing the US to interfere with the country’s efforts to settle it’s feud with China bilaterally could merely ruin what the President has apparently achieved.
“Why would the U.S. even bother to verify if this is true? They have nothing to do anymore in the issue of the dispute much more now that we have partially settled it without their help,” Hicap said.
“Letting the U.S. meddle in the issue will bring back the tensions with China so it is better to keep them out of bounds,” he stressed.
Since late 2011, China has been increasingly aggressive in its patrols of the South China Sea, including areas within the Philippine maritime territory as a response to the bellicose statements issued by then President Aquino in May 2011.
Aquino became increasingly hostile to China after being goaded by the US in a briefing conducted onboard US warship USS Carl Vinson.
CPP to US: Stop meddling
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) also called on the United States to stop interfering in issues concerning the Philippines and China in the South China Sea as it accused the US as the root of the conflict in the area.
The CPP rejected latest pronouncement from the US State Department saying it was still “assessing” reports that China’s coast guards are no longer patrolling and preventing the entry of Filipino fishermen which Malacanang announced.
“In the first place, the US has no standing whatsoever the make any assessment in an area that is part of Philippine maritime territory,” said the CPP.
“Secondly, it is US war-mongering and naval buildup in accordance with its US pivot to encircle China that is at the root of the outstanding security problems in the South China Sea,” it added.
The CPP said with the Duterte administration coming to terms with China over the peaceful return of Filipino fishermen to Panatag Shoal or Scarborough, the US should now stop meddling.
“In light of the peaceful settlement of the Scarborough shoals, the Filipino people demands the US government to stop interfering in the matters between China and the Philippines,” the CPP said.
There were reports that initial venture into the traditional fishing ground by Filipino fishermen yielded huge catch.
There were also reports that Chinese coast guard and navy vessels have left the area which is well within the Philippines 200 nautical miles exclusive economic zone.
Until recently, Filipino fishermen had no access to the Scarborough Shoals, since June 2012 following a tense standoff between Philippine and Chinese vessels when Filipino authorities accosted Chinese poachers.
“The CPP congratulates the governments of China and the Philippines for peacefully settling the matter of the Scarborough Shoal paving the way for the return of Filipino fishermen to their traditional fishing grounds,” said the CPP.
“The settlement of the Scarborough issue underscores what can be achieved by asserting national independence, building friendly relations with neighboring countries and opposing outside interference, especially war instigations by the US military,” said the CPP.
The CPP said it is anticipating further success in the peaceful settlement of other conflicting maritime claims, including those around the Kalayaan Islands, consistent with the assertions of the Filipino people.
The CPP asserts that the basic premise and most urgent condition for the settlement of all conflicting claims should be the demilitarization of the South China Sea to allow all countries to make use of the sea route for international trade.
The CPP demands the US military to end to all naval patrols including so-called “freedom of navigation operations” which has no other aim than provoking retaliation.
Ted Tuvera, Mario J. Mallari, AFP
Rep. Roque: Scarborough access shows Duterte foreign policy works By Kristian Javier (philstar.com) | Updated November 2, 2016 - 5:55pm 7 540 googleplus0 0
In this image, President Rodrigo Duterte meets with former President Benigno Aquino III at Malacañang last June 30. Malacañang Photo Bureau
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte succeeded in getting Filipino fishers access to Scarborough Shoal, a feat his predecessor failed to do, Kabayan party-list Rep. Harry Roque said Wednesday.
"President Duterte’s new engagement with China led to the resumption of our fishermen's livelihood," Roque said from a conference at Takushoku University in Tokyo on the international arbitral tribunal’s decision on the South China Sea dispute.
"Clearly, the opposite tack pursued by President Benigno Aquino III and [Foreign Affairs] Secretary Albert del Rosario did not work. Del Rosario should give credit where it is due particularly since he and President Aquino failed where President Duterte succeeded," he said.
Duterte went to China for a state visit last month. He said when he returned that he had discussed the issue surrounding Scarborough Shoal, also known as Panatag Shoal and Bajo de Masinloc, during a meeting with China President Xi Jinping.
Roque, a member of the minority at the House of Representatives, said Aquino and Del Rosario "should just admit that the foreign policy being pursued by President Duterte is proving to be a more effective one."
Filipino fishermen have been denied access to the area by Chinese coast guards after a standoff in 2012 when a Navy ship attempted to arrest Chinese poachers in the shoal.
The Philippine Navy pulled out the BRP Ramon Alcaraz from the area to defuse tension two days into the standoff. The Philippines instead sent a Coast Guard vessel and a ship owned by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources to monitor the area.
'Returning a sovereign decision'
Roque also said that the return of Filipino fisherman was a "sovereign decision."
He said that "the Permanent Court of Arbitration has decided that we all have traditional fishing rights in Scarborough", referring to the July ruling, which China has refused to acknowledge and which says China has no basis to bar fishers from other nations from entering the area.
"As I have been saying before, the tribunal ruling is its own enforcement mechanism; it has been etched in stone and nothing that China does can erase what the tribunal had said about the Shoal, pending determination of who actually owns it," he said.
RELATED FROM CNN PHILIPPINES
Duterte shows off ASEAN diplomacy with release of arrested Vietnamese fishermen
By David Santos, CNN Philippines Updated 11:41 AM PHT Thu, November 3, 2016
President Rodrigo Duterte gives Vietnamese fishers a warm sendoff.
Sual, Pangasinan (CNN Philippines) — President Rodrigo Duterte says his administration will continue to strengthen relations with the country's neighbors, urging regional leaders to "place importance" on the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and work together "to protect our interests."
The President delivered this message here on Wednesday afternoon during the ceremonial sendoff for 17 Vietnamese fishermen.
The fishermen, one of whom was a minor, were arrested last September 8 after the Philippine Navy intercepted their three fishing vessels more than 20 nautical miles off Sta. Catalina town in Ilocos Sur.
"I am very happy to be here to sendoff my fellow human being," President Duterte addressing the fishermen who were seated among the audience.
Criminal and administrative complaints were filed against the fishermen--but these were eventually dropped after they explained that they drifted to Philippine seas due to choppy waves and bad weather.
Social Welfare Sec. Judy Taguiwalo described the fishermen as "guests" who were "forced to enter our waters to escape a storm."
"We have laws asserting territorial right but in implementing them, we should always factor in compassion and understanding, especially in dealing with our neighbors," Taguiwalo said.
The President's decision to free the fishermen is seen as a diplomatic move to galvanize reinvigorated bilateral relations with Vietnam, forged during his visit to Hanoi in late September.
Aside from Vietnam and Brunei, the President earlier visited Indonesia after attending this year's ASEAN Summit in Laos.
He is set to travel to Malaysia this month and has expressed interest to also go to Singapore and Thailand before yearend.
The Philippines, with Duterte at the helm, will take over the annual rotating chairmanship of ASEAN beginning January 1 from Laos.
"May APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) na. May WTO (World Trade Organization) atsaka meron pang iba," the President, in his speech, citing the importance for ASEAN to chart its own directions.
He referred the multi-nation organizations as "impositions on our government."
The Duterte administration initially offered to shoulder the expenses to fly back the fishermen to Hanoi but they refused, insisting that they return home on board their vessels.
The President gave out hygiene kits while the vessels were filled up with food and water supply, as well as fuel, enough to sustain the fishermen on their trip that is expected to last less than a week.
VIETNAM ENVOY DEEPLY MOVED
Vietnam's envoy to the Philippines, Troung Trieu Duong, said he was "deeply moved" and "honored" by the President's actions.
"All of you have truly been the good reflection of human compassion, and I believe the fishermen shall forever treasure your kindness and hospitality," said Truong.
There are still about a dozen Vietnamese fishermen detained in the country, facing charges of violating Philippine maritime laws.
It is still unclear what Manila gets in return for the release of the initial batch of fishermen but Vietnam is a major source of imported rice.
Poaching however continues to impact Philippine economy and its maritime resources.
An APEC study in 2008 showed, about 90-percent of foreign vessels that operate in the Philippines in 2003 to 2004 were involved in illegal fishing.
In a piece he wrote for Rappler, Lucio Pitlo III of the University of the Philippines Asian Center said a little over ₱7-B worth of captured marine resources in the Philippines are lost every year due to poaching.
Maritime authorities have arrested poachers from Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan and China in the seas off Palawan, Tawi-Tawi, Saranggani and Batanes.
The President's trip to Pangasinan on Wednesday was his first since the bloody campaign against drugs went on full swing.
He earlier named former Pangasinan governor and now Pangasinan 5th District congressman Amado Espino Junior--and two other local officials--in his drug matrix.
Mister Duterte later on admitted, the information linking the three officials to the illegal drug trade was incorrect. He has since apologized to the officials.
Espino Jr, was a no-show in the event though his son, Governor Amado Espino III sat beside the President during the ceremony.
One of the local officials named in the initial drug list managed to shake hands with the President: Pangasinan 1st District congressman Jesus Celeste said he was cleared by government agencies of any links to the drug trade, after he submitted himself to an investigation.
"Mukhang hindi nya ako nakilala," Celeste told CNN Philippines when asked about his brief encounter with President Duterte.
The President spoke quite lengthily in his speech about his controversial war on drugs, mostly lashing out at the U-S government.
Celeste said there was no need for the President to apologize to them.
"Hindi na kailangan dahil marami po kami doon e. Masaya na po akong ma-clear po ako, maski hindi na po nya nabanggit sa akin," Celeste said.
DIFFERENT NOW: Chinese coast guards share food with Filipino fishers By: Allan Macatuno / @amacatunoINQ Philippine Daily Inquirer / 02:29 AM November 02, 2016
SHOAL HAUL Filipino fishermen fresh from a trip to Panatag Shoal return with their fish harvest. Unlike before when they were driven away by Chinese coast guards, they now tell stories of the Chinese sharing food, liquor and cigarettes with them. —WILLIE LOMIBAO
SUBIC, ZAMBALES—This was unthinkable months back: Chinese coast guards, who used to drive away Filipino fishermen, shared their food and cigarettes with Filipinos fishing at Panatag Shoal last week.
“Chinese Coast Guard vessels approached the boats of our fellow fishermen but only to share their food, liquor and cigarettes,” said Wilson Almadin, 41, crew member of a fishing boat that returned to this town from Panatag on Monday.
Shared catch with Chinese
Almadin also said other Filipino fishermen shared some of their catch with the Chinese coast guards.
Eight groups of fishermen from Zambales province sailed to Panatag Shoal, internationally known as Scarborough Shoal, on Oct. 26 and found they could enter the area without interference from the Chinese Coast Guard, which had been blockading the rich fishing ground since 2012.
Tensions ease up
Almadin belonged to the group of boat captain Ronald Giobalane, 46, which left Subic on Oct. 27 after learning that Filipinos were able to fish near the shoal.
According to Almadin, the Chinese appeared to prove that tensions at the shoal had eased up.
“We’re now free to fish around the shoal. There’s no tension there …. As long as we will be allowed to stay and fish around the shoal, I think we can coexist with the Chinese Coast Guard,” he said.
“There are four Chinese Coast Guard vessels still patrolling around the shoal. But they did not seem to mind our presence,” Giobalane told the Inquirer shortly after docking his fishing boat “MB” at the fish port here on Monday.
Fishermen who used to frequent the shoal said the area teemed with different kinds of fish such as talakitok, yellow fin tuna, skipjack, blue marlin and red grouper, which are usually not found elsewhere.
Panatag Shoal is a triangular chain of reefs and rocks surrounding a lagoon. It has a perimeter of 46 kilometers and an area of 150 square kilometers.
Arbitral court ruling
The shoal is located 240 km from the coastline of Zambales but China seized it after a two-month standoff with the Philippines in 2012.
The Chinese Coast Guard cordoned off the shoal, driving away Filipino fishermen in spite of a July 12 ruling from the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague that China had no legal basis for its claim to almost all of the South China Sea.
China state visit
President Duterte discussed the return of Filipino fishermen to the shoal with the Chinese officials during his state visit to China last month.
“Our President has been true to his promise to help us return to the shoal and we’re thankful for that. We’re hoping that Filipinos will no longer fear being harassed by the Chinese Coast Guard,” said Ronald Polo, another fisherman.
RELATED FROM GMA NEWS NETWORK
EXCLUSIVE Pinoy fishermen able to run Chinese blockade at Scarborough Published November 2, 2016 8:53pm
Filipinos fishing at Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal on Saturday were able to run the blockade of a Chinese Coast Guard vessel anchored at the mouth of the lagoon.
An exclusive report from Bam Alegre on 24 Oras quoted Captain Ronald Gubalane saying he instructed his crew to use smaller boats to enter the lagoon because of the weather.
"Medyo malakas yung alon at yung buga [ng hangin] galing norte. Puwede naman ang barko kaya lang pangmaliit lang. Pero 'pag medyo maalon na, yung norte ang tumitira, ang bukana medyo mahirapan tayo dun," Gubalane said.
GMA News found the Chinese vessel with body number 3307 stationed at what is considered the deepest part of the 150-square kilometer shoal, but the vessel did not change its course upon sight of the fishing boat.
Meanwhile, the crew of Gubalane entered the lagoon of Panatag Shoal, also known as Bajo De Masinloc among local fisherfolk, while other Filipino fishermen helped GMA News approach a nearby rock.
Gubalane said they were able to enter the lagoon of the shoal without being hampered by other ships.
"Nakapasok na tayo. Bahura na 'yun, ilang meters malapit lang yun. Puwede tawirin ng sagwan... Iisa na rin yun 'di na kailangan na pumasok sa bukana," he said.
Calm waves welcomed the fishermen on the lagoon where most fish spawn especially during strong typhoons.
Using a global positioning application, fishermen were able to reach the the vicinity of Panatag Shoal where the crew and GMA News spent two nights.
A sprawling view of the shoal can be seen from one of the rocks as well as other Filipino fishermen and Chinese vessels on standby.
Blocking the entrance
Despite earlier reports of unimpeded access, images from the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) showed that Chinese vessels still blocked the entrance into the lagoon.
It said the image showed that a China Coast Guard vessel is anchored "just inside the mouth of the lagoon, where it has been for most of the period since China seized the shoal in 2012, apparently blocking access."
The photo was taken days after President Rodrigo Duterte made a four-day state visit to China where he and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to strengthen the two countries' cooperation in the field of fisheries.
Malacañang earlier confirmed that Chinese Coast Guard vessels are no longer preventing Filipino fishermen from going near Scarborough Shoal.
China seized control of the shoal—a U-shaped rock formation with a sprawling lagoon teeming with rich maritime resources—in 2012 following a maritime standoff with Philippine authorities.
Philippine officials insisted the shoal, which is facing the South China Sea, is within the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) as mandated by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, an agreement signed by 163 nations, including China.
Shoal severely damaged
Meanwhile, a separate report from Ivan Mayrina on 24 Oras quoted an academic saying Scarborough Shoal has been severely damaged since the Chinese started barricading the rock formation in 2012.
Professor Jay Batongbacal said the shoal is similar with Tubbataha Reef in terms of rich marine resources with an estimated 40 tons of fish sprawling per one square kilometer.
"Coral reef ito na malaki na may lagoon sa gitna. Sa katagalan ng panahon yung coral reef ecosystem dun nabuhay, nag-thrive tapos dahil yung paligid niya malalim yung mga isda ginagawang shelter itong Panatag Shoal," Batongbacal said.
But he said shoal suffered great damage even before the Chinese started to block Filipino fishermen.
In April 2012, the Philippine Navy nabbed a Chinese vessel inside the Scarborough Shoal full of giant clams harvested in its waters.
Satellite images showed "claw-like" scratches on the seabed caused by Chinese poachers in October 2013, followed by new images showing massive scratches in September 2016 which Batongbacal called as "irreversible."
"Yung mga scar yung parang mga semi-circular na hukay, yan yung destruction na sinagawa diyan. Itong picture na to, small part lang ng lagoon ito. Ibig sabihin niyan, massive ang damage sa coral ecosystem dahil talagang kinuha na ang bahura," Batongbacal said.
The harmful fishing activities by the Chinese were among the arguments pushed by the Philippines against China in its arbitration case.
"Based on contemporaneous reports of naval, coastguard and fishing authorities diplomatic exchanges and photographic evidence presented in the record, the tribunal is satisfied that the Chinese fishing vessels have been involved in the harvesting of threatened or endangered species ... At or in the waters of Panatag Shoal," the award of the international tribunal read.
Batongbacal said the resistance of the Chinese shows it is still exercising its jurisdiction in the territory where it claims to have historical rights.
"The fact na nandoon lagi yung vessel na yun parang pinapakita nila na continuous ang presence and administration kahit na hindi nila pinagbabawalan yung pangingisda ng mga Pilipino. Siya yung government presence, bale simbolo yun ng continuing exercise ng kanilang jurisdiction," he said.
A statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry said the country maintains its jurisdiction, noting nothing has changed.
"The Chinese side has always been exercising normal jurisdiction over Huangyan Dao. The situation there is and will remain unchanged," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said. —Joseph Tristan Roxas/JST, GMA News
VIDEO WITH GMA NEWS REPORTER ALEGRE INSIDE PANATAG SHOAL
Esperon: China, Philippines in 'friendly' understanding on Scarborough Agence France-Presse
Posted at Oct 31 2016 05:03 PM | Updated as of Nov 01 2016 02:30 AM
SHOAL HARVEST Fishermen return from a three-day trip to Panatag Shoal in Infanta, Pangasinan, with their bounty of fish. —WILLIE LOMIBAO OCTOBER 30, 2016 MARITIME ASIA FILE
The Philippines and China have reached a "friendly" understanding allowing Filipinos to fish around a disputed shoal seized by Beijing in 2012, a senior aide to President Rodrigo Duterte said Monday.
Duterte negotiated the understanding during his recent meeting in Beijing with Chinese President Xi Jinping, said National Ssecurity Adviser Hermogenes Esperon.
As a result, he said, in recent days Filipino fishermen have been able to fish unmolested at Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea while Chinese government vessels have patrolled nearby.
"There is no agreement... but our president believes that our fishermen will no longer be harassed because he already brought up this matter" during his visit to China, Esperon told the media.
"The coastguard of China is there, but their navy is gone. And now, our fishermen are no longer being accosted, no longer being forced out, so we can say things are now friendly," he added.
COEXISTING IN PEACE
READ: PH, China reach modus vivendi on Scarborough: Roque
China took control of Scarborough Shoal, 230 kilometres (140 miles) west of the main Philippine island of Luzon, in 2012. It had been driving away Filipino fishermen from the rich fishing ground, sometimes using water cannon.
But last weekend Filipino fishermen were once more able to fish at the shoal with the Chinese ships not interfering.
Esperon stressed that neither country dropped its claim to the shoal, with China insisting on its "historical rights".
China claims most of the South China Sea, home to vital shipping lanes and rich fishing grounds, despite partial counter-claims by the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.
ESPERON: 'FRIENDLY UNDERSTANDING'
Esperon said Duterte's position was that the Philippines also had "historical rights," and that it was also bolstered by an international tribunal ruling in July that there was no basis for China's claims to most of the South China Sea.
He said the two leaders decided to sidestep the issue to repair frayed ties.
"There is no talk on territorial rights, there is no talk on assertion of rights, but they respect our traditional rights," Esperon added.
Duterte's predecessor, then-president Benigno Aquino, had brought the case before the international tribunal which resulted in the resounding victory over China.
Aquino's strong opposition to China's territorial claims strained ties with Beijing.
However Duterte, who was elected in May, has said he will not press the territorial issue and instead seek more aid and investment from China.
"There is no resolution, so why allow yourselves to be in that confrontational position when you can talk about economic relations, trade relations?" said Esperon.
"It is win-win for both but this is not to say that we have dropped our claim."
READ: Pinoy fishermen successfully return from Scarborough fishing trip
RELATED FROM PHILSTAR
Nene: China decision on shoal an act of ownership By Perseus Echeminada (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 2, 2016 - 12:00am 1 7 googleplus0 0
FILE - In this Sept. 23, 2015, file photo, Chinese Coast Guard members approach Filipino fishermen as they confront each other off Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, also called the West Philippine Sea. The Philippine defense chief says aerial surveillance shows Chinese coast guard ships are still guarding a disputed shoal but Filipinos were seen fishing there "unmolested" for the first time in years. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016, the return of Filipino fishermen to Scarborough Shoal was "a most welcome development." AP Photo/Renato Etac, File
MANILA, Philippines – The Chinese decision to let Filipino fishermen back in Panatag Shoal is “an act of ownership,” former senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr. said yesterday.
“Giving permission is an act of ownership, it should not stop our claim of ownership over the shoal,” he told The STAR.
The former senator and founder of PDP-Laban, which fielded then Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte as its standard bearer in the May elections, said the Philippines should consider raising the issue before an international tribunal in accordance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and other applicable pacts.
“It is not enough that China now gives the impression that it is giving ‘permission’ to our fisherfolk to fish in the waters around the shoal… giving permission is an act of ownership, it should not stop our claim of ownership over the shoal,” he said.
Pimentel also expressed hope the foreign policy bias of the Duterte administration for China and Russia should not mean a degradation of ties with traditional allies like the United States. “Making friends is better than creating enemies.”
The senator stressed “we should take the word of the President that in his advocacy for an independent foreign policy we are not cutting ties with US and other countries like Japan with which the Philippines has existing treaties.”
He said treaties define the Philippines’ ties with the US and other countries.
“More specifically, the President knows that in terms of national security we cannot defend our sovereignty by our lonesome, we need allies who have proven their worth as friends,” Pimentel pointed out.
A Duterte ally, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, said the President would never compromise Philippine sovereignty even as he continues to build better ties with Beijing.
Cayetano, chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee, also asked critics not to put political color to China’s lifting its blockade of Panatag.
“There was no compromise on both sides, nobody is conceding anything, and the administration will never compromise our sovereignty,” Cayetano said in a telephone interview. The senator was part of Duterte’s entourage in the recent state visit to Beijing.
Days after his return from China last Oct. 21, Filipino fishermen were able to enter Panatag Shoal unmolested by the Chinese and returned with bountiful catch.
“Let’s not get stuck with terminologies on who allowed what. Let’s be careful on what we say because it will affect our fishermen,” Cayetano said.
He said in territorial disputes all over the world, claimants are careful in their choice of words as they could be used against them in the future.
“He (Duterte) is just being practical in his approach in building goodwill,” Cayetano said.
The senator emphasized the country’s relationship with China is multi-faceted – educational, cultural and agricultural, among others – and that “sovereignty issues are the hardest to tackle.”
Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, for his part, said the latest development at Panatag Shoal could be the start of many concessions that Duterte may secure from China. – Paolo Romero
FVR quits as special envoy By Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 1, 2016 - 12:00am 26 2001 googleplus1 0
Former president Fidel Ramos said he still considers himself part of the Duterte team “whether they like it or not.” STAR/File Photo
MANILA, Philippines - Saying his job of breaking the ice with Beijing was done, former president Fidel Ramos announced yesterday his resignation as special envoy to China.
Ramos, whom President Duterte had credited for persuading him to seek the nation’s highest post, did not say exactly when he officially tendered his resignation.
Ramos’ announcement came amid his scathing criticisms of the President’s pronouncements and priorities, including the bloody war on drugs, the “separation” from the United States as well as Duterte’s refusal to have the Paris Agreement on climate change ratified.
“The moment the President came back from China from a successful state visit, I resigned as special envoy to China because the officials have taken over and I’ve done my job to break the ice and to help restore the ties of goodwill and friendship,” Ramos told GMA-7 during an event at the Thailand embassy.
Duterte returned from his China state visit last Oct. 21.
Malacañang was unaware of Ramos’ resignation.
“We have not received PFVR’s resignation,” Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said, using Ramos’ presidential initials.
“Moreover, it is not true that the former president can no longer have any role in our engagement with China,” Andanar said. “His stature and expertise are needed now more than ever, to follow up and build on what President Duterte accomplished during his recent visit to China.”
Since assuming office on June 30, Duterte had repeatedly thanked the 88-year-old Ramos for convincing him to run for president, and subsequently appointed him as special envoy to China.
RAMOS MET WITH CONTACTS IN CHINA TWICE
Ramos informally met with his contacts in the Chinese government in Hong Kong and in Manila on separate occasions a few months ago, but no details were bared to the public.
When asked about his recent stinging criticisms of Duterte, Ramos said he must be considered “an older brother of the big, big, big Filipino family because of my long service in government, my numerous years of life and also call it humble experience in government service.”
“I must be considered by everybody, including the present President, as an older brother of the family who once in a while must give advice, unsolicited,” Ramos said.
“It is a take-it-or-leave-it sort of thing. Because that is the way extended Filipino family is. Whenever there are problems in the family –father, mother, children, grandchildren, grandfather, grandmother are gathered together and consulted,” he said.
He said those who wish the country to attain peace, sustainable development, progress and “a place of respect and even admiration in the family of nations must get together and look for the best solutions to the problems.”
Ramos said he still considers himself part of the Duterte team “whether they like it or not.”
Sources close to Ramos said the former leader might have been slighted by some officials’ reportedly asking him to stay on the sidelines in dealing with China days before Duterte was to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing.
The same sources said Ramos was set to leave for China ahead of Duterte but local diplomats apparently asked him to stand down.
Shortly before Duterte was to observe his first 100 days in office, Ramos described his governance as a “letdown,” with solving poverty taking a backseat to the anti-drug campaign.
Respecting FVR’s wisdom
Malacañang respects the wisdom of Ramos, who called the attention of President Duterte anew, this time on the need for the administration to push for Senate concurrence of the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
“We appreciate former president Fidel Ramos’ advice. We will be guided by the wisdom of the former president,” Andanar said.
In his previous speeches, Duterte said he would not honor the Paris agreement because the Philippines should be allowed to develop on its own terms and not dictated by carbon limits set by other countries.
The Philippines, he added, is not ready to comply with the pact as it builds more power plants to fuel the country’s growth.
"SHOOTING HIMSELF [DU30] AND ENTIRE FILIPINOS IN THE MOUTH"
In his latest column, Ramos said Duterte is “unwittingly shooting himself” and the entire Filipino population “in the mouth” because of his refusal to ratify the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
In his previous columns, Ramos also hit Duterte for his lack of statesmanship in uttering cuss words against his critics, the United States, European Union and United Nations.
“He (Duterte) may claim that to be more ‘insulting than friendly’ to our long-established allies is part of his God-given ‘destiny.’ But, this is obviously wrong, and full of S….T !!!.” Ramos said.
Ramos then wondered if Duterte’s refusal to ratify the climate change agreement means he is allowing his countrymen to continue suffering from the devastating effects of typhoons, which batter the country several times a year.
Ramos also said that while former president Benigno Aquino III vowed to cut the Philippines’ carbon emissions by 70 percent by 2030, Duterte has yet to join the roster of world leaders who have ratified the climate change agreement.
But Andanar said Ramos “agreed in principle” with Duterte’s position.
“It is only in the approach or method the two leaders differ on the issue of climate change. Each has his own style and we have to learn to respect the difference,” he said.
Andanar cited the part of Ramos’ latest column where the former president wrote that “President (Duterte) maybe is correct in saying that developed countries who are responsible for the majority of historical emissions should carry the larger burden of limiting emissions and that developing countries, such as the Philippines, who contributed little to historical emissions, should be allowed to continue to grow their economies, especially if such is done in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication.”
Andanar refused to comment further.
The Philippines signed the agreement last April 21 but a change in government last June set back the approval process by several months.
CLIMATE CHANGE COMMISSION
The Climate Change Commission (CCC) is supposed to secure the certificates of concurrence of at least nine concerned agencies before forwarding them to the Office of the President for ratification.
A few agencies, including the Department of Agriculture, have sent their certificates to the CCC.
Once the Office of the President ratifies the pact, it will submit this to the Senate for concurrence.
Sen. Loren Legarda expects the Duterte administration to ratify soon the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
Legarda issued the statement yesterday, days before the landmark pact enters into force on Nov. 4 with many developing and industrialized nations yet to ratify the agreement that seeks to combat climate change through reduction of emissions of greenhouse gases.
On Nov. 7, there will be the Climate Conference in Marrakech, Morocco where parties to the agreement, or countries that have ratified the agreement, will meet for the first time.
The Philippines and other countries that have not yet ratified the pact will be joining only as observers.
Legarda said Nov. 4 is not a deadline for the ratification but stressed it would be in the country’s best interest to approve it soonest.
“There is no conflict at all between sustainable development and economic growth, and the ratification of the Paris Agreement,” Legarda said in a telephone interview.
Legarda said several Cabinet officials, including Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, have personally assured her the ratification is forthcoming despite Duterte’s statements that he would not honor the Paris agreement.
“I suggest that the CCC gather all the certificates of concurrence as quickly as possible,” she said.
Loren Legarda, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Climate Change
She said the US and China – two of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases – have ratified the agreement so they should serve as an inspiration to other nations to do the same.
Legarda pointed out once the Philippines ratifies the pact, it will be able to tap hundreds of millions of dollars in technical and financial assistance from developed countries for climate change mitigation and adaptation projects.
“We have much to gain and nothing to lose in ratifying the agreement,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is supporting any initiative that would address reduction of the country’s greenhouse emissions.
DENR Undersecretary for Policy and Planning Marlo Mendoza said the agency’s position is that it is one with other countries in taking action against climate change and is willing to participate in any international negotiation concerning the matter.
But Mendoza said as to ways on how to achieve it, there could be differences between countries and that further discussions would have to be made on how to go about it.
“I believe that the environment secretary (Gina Lopez) is willing to meet the President to discuss the climate change issue,” Mendoza said.
He advised reporters to wait for the result of the meeting. – With Christina Mendez, Paolo Romero, Rhodina Villanueva
RELATED FROM THE INQUIRER
Palace: It’s up to Duterte to accept Ramos resignation By: Nestor Corrales / @NCorralesINQ
INQUIRER.net / 01:47 PM November 01, 2016
President Rodrigo Duterte (left) and former President Fidel V. Ramos, during a Cabinet meeting in Malacañang in August. —FILE MALACAÑANGPHOTO
Malacañang on Tuesday said it would be up to President Rodrigo Duterte to accept former President Fidel V. Ramos’ resignation as the administration’s special envoy to China.
“According to FVR, the letter has been submitted to the office of the Executive Secretary, but it will be up to PRRD, whether to accept it or not,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a text message to reporters.
On Monday, Ramos said he had resigned as special envoy, a post he accepted only last July.
READ: Fidel Ramos quits as special envoy to China
Ramos’ appointment came in the wake of the July 12 ruling of the United Nations-backed arbitral tribunal in The Hague favoring the Philippines’ claim over the West Philippine Sea in the South China Sea.
The former President, whom Duterte had acknowledged as the one convincing him to run, has criticized Duterte and his Cabinet in a series of strongly worded opinion pieces in the Manila Bulletin.
Ramos has voiced his opposition to Duterte’s “separation” and profanity-laden tirades against the United States, a long-time ally of the Philippines.
The former Chief Executive also hit Duterte for his refusal to accept the Paris climate change pact reached in December 2015.
Ramos even likened the Philippines to a “sinking ship” under Duterte’s leadership.
In a statement, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said Ramos’ “presence is invaluable.”
“PFVR was appointed by PRRD as Special Envoy precisely because of his stature, credibility as our elderly statesman, and his ability to break the ice with the Chinese Government,” Andanar said.
He said Ramos played a vital role in the “softening of ties” between the Philippines and the People’s Republic of China (PROC).
“PFVR was instrumental in the softening of ties between our government and the PROC, which led to the very successful recent State Visit of PRRD in Beijing,” he said.
In a separate statement on Monday, Andanar said Ramos’ “stature and expertise are needed now, more than ever, to follow up and [build] on what President Duterte accomplished during his recent visit to China.”
“Moreover, it is not true that the former President can no longer have any role in our engagement with China,” he said.
READ: Palace: We haven’t received FVR resignation letter
Duterte has yet to issue a statement on Ramos’ resignation. JE/rga
FVR to still play role in dealing with China – Palace By Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 2, 2016 - 12:00am 0 1 googleplus0 0
Former president Fidel Ramos tendered his resignation as special envoy to China amid his scathing criticisms of the President’s pronouncements and priorities, including the bloody war on drugs, the “separation from the United States” as well as Duterte’s refusal to have the Paris Agreement on climate change ratified. AP Photo/Aaron Favila
MANILA, Philippines – He may have resigned as special envoy to China, but former president Fidel Ramos will continue to play a role in the Duterte administration’s engagement with Beijing, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said yesterday.
He said the administration continues to recognize the former president’s role in the thawing of relations between Beijing and Manila.
“PFVR’s presence is invaluable. PFVR was appointed by PRRD as special envoy precisely because of his stature, credibility as our elderly statesman and his ability to break the ice with the Chinese government,” Andanar said in a statement, referring to Ramos and Duterte by their presidential initials.
“Moreover, it is not true that the former president can no longer have any role in our engagement with China. His stature and expertise are needed now, more than ever, to follow up and build on what President Duterte accomplished during his recent visit to China,” Andanar said.
Ramos tendered his resignation as special envoy to China amid his scathing criticisms of the President’s pronouncements and priorities, including the bloody war on drugs, the “separation from the United States” as well as Duterte’s refusal to have the Paris Agreement on climate change ratified.
“PFVR was instrumental in the softening of ties between our government and the PROC, which led to the very successful recent state visit of PRRD in Beijing,” Andanar added.
Ramos said he forwarded his resignation letter to the Office of Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said it would be up to the President whether or not to accept Ramos’ resignation.
Days after Duterte’s return from a state visit to China last Oct. 21, Filipino fishermen were able to enter Panatag (Scarborough) shoal without being harassed by Chinese coast guards. Furthermore, Chinese naval vessels have reportedly left the shoal.
Duterte also brought home about $24 billion in pledged investments and concessionary loans.
In a related development, Ramos’ staff said the former president will not be in his home province in Pangasinan today to welcome or meet a visiting Duterte.
“No scheduled out of town trips as of now,” an aide said, adding Ramos is likely to remain in Metro Manila for the rest of the week.
Meanwhile, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano said the administration continues to value Ramos’ expertise and stature in dealing with Beijing despite his resignation.
Cayetano, chairman of the Senate committee on foreign relations and a Duterte ally, also sought to dispel perceptions that Ramos’ resignation indicated a falling out with the President over policy differences.
“The former president continues to be the guiding light of this administration and any advice that he will give in official or unofficial capacity, privately or publicly, will continue to be sought,” the senator said in a telephone interview.
He credited Ramos for helping reboot relations between the Philippines and China, which deteriorated during the previous administration following Chinese seizure of Panatag Shoal after a standoff with the Philippine Navy which had tried to arrest Chinese poachers.
“He (Ramos) achieved a lot and personally, I think the hard work (of improving Philippine-China relations) is just starting,” Cayetano said.
The 88-year-old Ramos on Monday disclosed that he resigned as special envoy to China about two weeks earlier or shortly after Duterte arrived from a state visit to Beijing where he met President Xi Jinping.
Ramos said his criticisms must be considered as coming from “an older brother of the big, big, big Filipino family.”
He said he still considers himself part of the Duterte team “whether they like it or not.”
Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito, however, said Ramos’ resignation was no loss to the government.
“I say good riddance! FVR does not have a good track record as president anyway,” Ejercito said. “Full of scandals and questionable transactions.”
“We should always remember the abuse of emergency powers, which happened during his time,” the senator said, referring to the contracts entered into by the Ramos administration with private firms during the power crisis in the 1990s. - With Paolo Romero, Eva Visperas
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