NOY'S CORNER THIS PAST WEEK...
(MINI-READS followed by FULL REPORTS below)

PALACE UNDETERRED BY BBL 'BAD PUBLICITY'


APRIL 13...Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma.
INQUIRER FILE PHOTO
 Malacañang is “reasonably confident” Congress will pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in June as it aims to complete the peace process despite the many challenges that have come up, including what the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) calls “bad publicity.”  Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma on Sunday said the Palace was optimistic that with lasting peace in Mindanao in mind, “majority of the members of Congress will pass the BBL and continue the peace process.”  The BBL is part of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangasamoro between the government and the MILF aimed at ending the strife in Mindanao. The BBL will repeal the laws that established the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and transfer the powers, assets and personnel of the ARMM to the new region called Bangsamoro. In a text message, Coloma expressed optimism that with an intensified information campaign, the administration could put the BBL process back on track. “To address the ‘bad publicity,’ correct information about the BBL is continually being provided by the administration with the help of stakeholders in the peace process,” he told the Inquirer. READ MORE...

ALSO: Aquino to push Roxas candidacy


PNoy, Mar 
INTERIOR and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas will be the standard bearer of the ruling Liberal Party (LP) in next year’s polls if he will be able to improve his ratings in the next four months, an insider from the administration camp said. The source said President Benigno Aquino 3rd has reportedly given Roxas until June, or at the latest August this year to improve his ratings in surveys. In fact, the source said, Roxas may leave the department in June so that he can go “full swing” in “wooing” the public. He did not elaborate. According to the source, Roxas remains Aquino’s top choice as the LP’s standard bearer and his probable replacement. Although other personalities are being considered, most of them do not come from the LP such as Senators Grace Poe and Francis Escudero. “The President is firm that SILG (Secretary of Interior and Local Government) is still the most trusted among his possible replacements. Even the party strongly pushes for him. However, he has to show at least a marked improvement in the ratings. Nobody places his bet on a losing horse,” the source told The Manila Times. READ MORE...

ALSO by NOVO TREND: Binay remains man to beat– new survey


POE CAME A CLOSE SECOND TO BINAY: Poe however was the top vice presidential bet. Three out of 10 of the respondents said they would choose the neophyte senator as vice president if elections were held during the survey period.
IF the presidential elections were held today, Vice President Jejomar Binay would win hands down, according to the latest Novo Trends survey. In the survey conducted from March 21 to 26, 2015, 28 percent of the 1,600 respondents in Metro Manila said they would vote for Binay. The rating was statistically the same as the 29.3 percent Binay got in October 2014. Sen. Grace Poe came second with 19.3 percent, a big jump from the 11.8 percent she got in two Novo Trends survey last year. Novo Trends, an independent social research company, is headed by Carmelita Ericta, former head of the National Statistics Office. READ MORE....

ALSO PNoy to town mayors: Help ensure next president will continue my reforms


Benigno Aquino III 
More than a year before the 2016 presidential polls, President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday sought the support of municipal leaders in making sure that his successor will continue his reforms. In a speech before the League of Municipalities of the Philippines at the Manila Hotel, Aquino also warned mayors against politicians who will reverse his anti-corruption gains. "Inaasahan ko po ang tulong ng ating mga kasamahan sa local government units upang masigurong ang mga ipinupunla natin ay madidiligan sa mga susunod na taon, at hindi matatapos lamang ng mga taong nais magbalik sa baluktot na daan," the President said. Aquino also enjoined the local government leaders to ensure that his successor will make permanent his reform programs. "Kung magtutuloy-tuloy tayo sa tuwid na daan, lalo pang gaganda ang ating patutunguhan," the President said. "Ang hamon sa atin ay siguruhin na magiging permanente ang bunga ng ating pagsisikap," he added. READ MORE...

ALSO: Palace commends speedy trial in Napoles case


NAPOLES 
-- Malacanang commended the speedy disposition of the serious illegal detention case that pork scam whistleblower Benhur Luy filed against his former boss, Janet Napoles. Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said: “We commend our prosecutors for a successful and vigorous prosecution of the case. We also commend the RTC judge for the relatively speedy disposition of the case.”  The Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 150 handed down its decision yesterday finding Napoles guilty of detaining Luy between December 2012 and March 2013. The case began middle of 2013. Napoles, who has the right to appeal the case, supposedly detained Luy to stop him from disclosing information on how the pork barrel of lawmakers were diverted to fake non-government organizations. Several graft and plunder raps have since been filed against Napoles and some lawmakers, including Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, and Bong Revilla. “We hope that this shows that our judiciary, especially in the courts of origin, can promulgate decisions within a relatively swifter period, thus complying with the constitutional right of a person to a speedy trial,” Lacierda added.
THIS IS THE FULL REPORT

ALSO: Aquino confirms, but can’t accept yet, Espina resignation


In t
his photo President Aquino said he would announce the administration’s presidential candidate in the 2016 elections in June this year. This was confirmed by Presidential Communication Operations Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. who said the President had made the announcement in an exclusive interview with Agence France-Presse (AFP) last Tuesday. “I heard that because I witnessed the interview and there are plenty of questions related to that. He also said that it was better to wait for what he has to announce,” said Coloma. RICHARD A. REYES/INQUIRER FILE PHOTO President Benigno Aquino III on Friday confirmed that Philippine National Police (PNP) officer in charge Leonardo Espina has submitted his resignation letter. However, he said he cannot accept it until he has appointed a replacement. “He did submit his resignation and the acceptance is pending on selecting his replacement,” Aquino said during an interview in Tarlac City. The President said Espina is no longer in the running for the PNP chief position because appointing him a few months before his retirement will be disruptive. READ MORE...

ALSO BELMONTE DISPUTES AQUINO’S FOREIGN DEPENDENCE:   says, RP alone in sea row


BELMONTE
A top ally of President Aquino contradicted the administration’s policy of seeking international help in the face of China’s increased aggressiveness in asserting its claim on nearly the entire South China Sea, saying the Philippine government is alone in the fight for its sovereignty.The Philippines has elevated to the United Nations its territorial dispute with China and the United States along with most of the economic powers of the world under G7 had voiced their support to the country’s move.Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, however, said statements of support from friendly nations including the United States remain just a statement and could not be relied on in the event of armed conflict in the region. “The whole world is unable, unwilling or afraid to help us. The US is included,” Belmonte lamented. The Philippines has been the most vocal of the rival claimants to express alarm over China’s moves. In his interview with AFP, Aquino warned that the world should fear China’s actions in the South China Sea. US President Barack Obama also expressed concern this month, criticizing China for “using its sheer size and muscle to force countries into subordinate positions.”  “Just because the Philippines or Vietnam are not as large as China, doesn’t mean that they can just be elbowed aside,” Obama said.Both defense and military establishments had aired growing concerns over Chinese reclamation activities on disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea.Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. is scheduled today to present latest surveillance photographs of Chinese activities on seven disputed islets and reefs in the West Philippine Sea. READ MORE...
 


READ FULL MEDIA NEWS REPORT:

Palace undeterred by BBL ‘bad publicity’


Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, APRIL 20, 2015 (INQUIRER) Jerry E. Esplanada @inquirerdotnet – Malacañang is “reasonably confident” Congress will pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in June as it aims to complete the peace process despite the many challenges that have come up, including what the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) calls “bad publicity.”

Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma on Sunday said the Palace was optimistic that with lasting peace in Mindanao in mind, “majority of the members of Congress will pass the BBL and continue the peace process.”

The BBL is part of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangasamoro between the government and the MILF aimed at ending the strife in Mindanao.

The BBL will repeal the laws that established the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and transfer the powers, assets and personnel of the ARMM to the new region called Bangsamoro.

In a text message, Coloma expressed optimism that with an intensified information campaign, the administration could put the BBL process back on track.

“To address the ‘bad publicity,’ correct information about the BBL is continually being provided by the administration with the help of stakeholders in the peace process,” he told the Inquirer.

READ MORE...
During the weekly “Pilipinas, Pilipinas” public affairs program over state-run Radyo ng Bayan, Coloma asserted that President Aquino was determined to push the peace process.

“First, with the passage of the draft BBL in Congress, then its subsequent approval by majority of the people in Bangsamoro areas in a plebiscite and finally complete the peace process,” he said.

Widespread public anger and recriminations following the deaths of 44 Special Action Force commandos in the Jan. 25 clash with MILF, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and Justice for Islamic Movement guerrillas, and armed residents of Mamasapano town in Maguindanao have thrown the peace process in disarray.

Earlier, President Aquino expressed optimism the process would get back on track with the enlightenment of the public and Congress on the BBL, and with the help of a Palace-created peace council.

“This is the crossroads we face. We take pains to forge peace today, or we count body bags tomorrow,” Aquino had said in announcing the formation of the council.

Aquino has tasked the council with “dissecting the proposed law in a calm and reasonable manner that will not incite anger and hopelessness.”

“This way, the BBL can be improved,” he said.


MANILA TIMES

Aquino to push Roxas candidacy April 15, 2015 10:43 pm by JOEL M. SY EGCO


PNoy, Mar

INTERIOR and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas will be the standard bearer of the ruling Liberal Party (LP) in next year’s polls if he will be able to improve his ratings in the next four months, an insider from the administration camp said.

The source said President Benigno Aquino 3rd has reportedly given Roxas until June, or at the latest August this year to improve his ratings in surveys.

In fact, the source said, Roxas may leave the department in June so that he can go “full swing” in “wooing” the public. He did not elaborate.

According to the source, Roxas remains Aquino’s top choice as the LP’s standard bearer and his probable replacement. Although other personalities are being considered, most of them do not come from the LP such as Senators Grace Poe and Francis Escudero.

“The President is firm that SILG (Secretary of Interior and Local Government) is still the most trusted among his possible replacements. Even the party strongly pushes for him. However, he has to show at least a marked improvement in the ratings. Nobody places his bet on a losing horse,” the source told The Manila Times.

READ MORE...
Vice President Jejomar Binay remains the most formidable presidential candidate in next year’s elections based on recent surveys.

LP stalwart Senate President Franklin Drilon said the party is pushing for Roxas despite his poor showing in recent surveys by the Social Weather Stations and Pulse Asia.

In reaction to Drilon’s statement, Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda said Roxas does fit the “virtues” Aquino wants his successor to have.

“The President has described the virtues of someone he believes should succeed him – one that will continue to tread the straight path and continue the reforms he started in 2010,” the Palace official said in a text message to reporters.

“While the President has yet to endorse his candidate, it does not preclude the Senate President to identify the person who Senate President Drilon believes will tread the straight path and push the reforms the President started beyond 2016,” Lacierda added.

On Wednesday, the president again reminded members of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) of the importance of choosing the right candidate who will continue the principle of Tuwid na Daan (straight path).

“Ang hamon sa atin ngayon: Siguruhing maging permanente ang bunga ng ating mga pagsisikap. Kung naniniwala tayong naghahatid ng pakinabang ang landas na ating tinatahak ngayon, makatwiran lang na ipagpatuloy natin ito. Bilang mga pinuno, tinatawag tayo sa bawat sandali ng pamamahala: Tumototoo tayo sa ating salita, piliin natin ang tama, at unahin natin ang kapwa. Ipamana natin sa susunod na mga henerasyon ang isang bukas na di-hamak na mas maganda kaysa sa atin pong dinatnan (The challenge to us is to make permanent the fruits of our labor. If we believe that the path we are treading now will benefit us, it is but right that we continue. As leaders, we are called upon to be truthful, to do what is right and to give priority to others. Let us leave the next generation a more promising future),” Aquino said.

He also rallied local government officials against a return to the “old system” which, the president said, was characterized by ineptness and greed.

“Talaga naman pong kung magtutuloy-tuloy tayo sa tuwid na daan, lalo pang gaganda ang ating patutunguhan. Isipin po ninyo: Kung ngayon pa lang ay napakarami nang bagong kalsada, tulay, paliparan at daungang nagdadala ng oportunidad sa inyong mga munisipyo, paano kaya kung mas umarangkada pa tayo? (If we continue on the straight path, we will have a better future. If we now have all these new roads, bridges, airports and ports that bring opportunities to local governments, how much more if we continue on a full swing?)” he added.


MANILA TIMES

Binay remains man to beat– new survey April 15, 2015 10:44 pm by NEIL A. ALCOBER REPORTER


POE CAME A CLOSE SECOND TO BINAY: Poe however was the top vice presidential bet. Three out of 10 of the respondents said they would choose the neophyte senator as vice president if elections were held during the survey period.

F the presidential elections were held today, Vice President Jejomar Binay would win hands down, according to the latest Novo Trends survey.

In the survey conducted from March 21 to 26, 2015, 28 percent of the 1,600 respondents in Metro Manila said they would vote for Binay. The rating was statistically the same as the 29.3 percent Binay got in October 2014.

Sen. Grace Poe came second with 19.3 percent, a big jump from the 11.8 percent she got in two Novo Trends survey last year.

Novo Trends, an independent social research company, is headed by Carmelita Ericta, former head of the National Statistics Office.

READ MORE...
Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago also gained with 10.3 percent voter preference, up from her previous 7.9 percent in October 2014.

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte also gained five percentage points – climbing to 8.8 percent from his 3.6 percent rating in October 2014.

President Benigno Aquino 3rd, who was ranked second in last year’s survey, lost big.

From 13.1 percent, the president’s voters’ preference rating dropped to a dismal 4.4 percent. Interior Secretary Mar Roxas also lost ground in the survey, getting 2.8 percent, down from 3.4 percent in October 2014.

Top pick for vice president Poe however was the top vice presidential bet. Three out of 10 of the respondents said they would choose the neophyte senator as vice president if elections were held during the survey period.

A far second was Sen. Francis Escudero, who got 12.9 percent.

Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano and Duterte shared third and fourth ranks, with 7.8 and 7.7 percent shares, respectively.

Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. topped the senatorial survey with 52.5 percent, garnering more than half of the voters’ preference.

He was followed by former senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, with 45.6 percent.

Sen. Vicente “Tito” Sotto 3rd obtained 42.6 percent; followed by former senator Richard Gordon with 38 percent; Sen. Franklin Drilon, 37.9 percent; Sen. Ralph Recto, 33.5 percent; former senator Ramon “Jun” Magsaysay, 32.6 percent; Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, 31.7 percent; former senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, 30.9 percent; former Palawan mayor Edward Hagedorn, 28.4 percent; and Sen. Teofisto Guingona 3rd, 28.4 percent.

Also in the top 20 in the senatorial voter preference are Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos, former senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, former senator Consuelo “Jamby” Madrigal, Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista, Buhay Party-List Rep. Lito Atienza, Riza Hontiveros, Rep. Leni Robredo of Camarines Sur, Filipino boxing icon and Sarangani Rep. Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquaio and former Customs commissioner Rozanno “Ruffy” Biazon.


GMA NEWS ONLINE

PNoy to mayors: Help ensure next president will continue my reforms By ANDREO CALONZO,GMA News April 15, 2015 11:18am


Benigno Aquino III

More than a year before the 2016 presidential polls, President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday sought the support of municipal leaders in making sure that his successor will continue his reforms.

In a speech before the League of Municipalities of the Philippines at the Manila Hotel, Aquino also warned mayors against politicians who will reverse his anti-corruption gains.

"Inaasahan ko po ang tulong ng ating mga kasamahan sa local government units upang masigurong ang mga ipinupunla natin ay madidiligan sa mga susunod na taon, at hindi matatapos lamang ng mga taong nais magbalik sa baluktot na daan," the President said.

Aquino also enjoined the local government leaders to ensure that his successor will make permanent his reform programs.

"Kung magtutuloy-tuloy tayo sa tuwid na daan, lalo pang gaganda ang ating patutunguhan," the President said.

"Ang hamon sa atin ay siguruhin na magiging permanente ang bunga ng ating pagsisikap," he added.

READ MORE...
He also reminded the mayors to support politicians with integrity, honesty and public confidence.

Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas, the ruling Liberal Party (LP)'s presumptive standard-bearer in the 2016, was on stage with Aquino during his speech.

PNoy's hints about preferred successor

Although he has yet to anoint his chosen successor, Aquino has been dropping hints on how he will choose whom he will support in the 2016 presidential race.

On Tuesday, Aquino expressed confidence that Filipino voters will choose someone who "treads the straight path" as his successor during the upcoming elections.

Last week, the President warned against "two-faced" politicians pretending to be his ally.

Aquino also earlier said he wants to relinquish his post to a friend.

Vice President Jejomar Binay, the opposition alliance's presumptive candidate, has been leading pre-election popularity polls for presidential preferences, although his lead has been declining due to corruption allegations he is facing.

Although they are close family friends, Aquino and Binay have not seen eye to eye on all issues, with the President even saying that the Vice President was free to leave his Cabinet at the height of the disbursement acceleration program (DAP) controversy. — RSJ, GMA News

10 READER'S COMMENTS GMA NEWS ONLINE




ABS-CBN

Palace commends speedy trial in Napoles case ABS-CBNnews.com Posted at 04/15/2015 7:39 PM | Updated as of 04/15/2015 8:45 PM


NAPOLES

MANILA - Malacanang commended the speedy disposition of the serious illegal detention case that pork scam whistleblower Benhur Luy filed against his former boss, Janet Napoles.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said: “We commend our prosecutors for a successful and vigorous prosecution of the case. We also commend the RTC judge for the relatively speedy disposition of the case.”

The Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 150 handed down its decision yesterday finding Napoles guilty of detaining Luy between December 2012 and March 2013.

The case began middle of 2013.

Napoles, who has the right to appeal the case, supposedly detained Luy to stop him from disclosing information on how the pork barrel of lawmakers were diverted to fake non-government organizations.

Several graft and plunder raps have since been filed against Napoles and some lawmakers, including Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, and Bong Revilla.

“We hope that this shows that our judiciary, especially in the courts of origin, can promulgate decisions within a relatively swifter period, thus complying with the constitutional right of a person to a speedy trial,” Lacierda added.


INQUIRER

Aquino confirms, but can’t accept yet, Espina resignation Kristine Angeli Sabillo, TJ Burgonio | INQUIRER.net 12:17 PM | Friday, April 17th, 2015


In this photo President Aquino said he would announce the administration’s presidential candidate in the 2016 elections in June this year. This was confirmed by Presidential Communication Operations Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. who said the President had made the announcement in an exclusive interview with Agence France-Presse (AFP) last Tuesday. “I heard that because I witnessed the interview and there are plenty of questions related to that. He also said that it was better to wait for what he has to announce,” said Coloma. RICHARD A. REYES/INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

–President Aquino said he would announce the administration’s presidential candidate in the 2016 elections in June this year.

This was confirmed by Presidential Communication Operations Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. who said the President had made the announcement in an exclusive interview with Agence France-Presse (AFP) last Tuesday.

“I heard that because I witnessed the interview and there are plenty of questions related to that. He also said that it was better to wait for what he has to announce,” said Coloma.



Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/686040/aquino-to-announce-his-2016-bet-in-june#ixzz3XZ7ZSOMl
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President Benigno Aquino III on Friday confirmed that Philippine National Police (PNP) officer in charge Leonardo Espina has submitted his resignation letter.

However, he said he cannot accept it until he has appointed a replacement.

“He did submit his resignation and the acceptance is pending on selecting his replacement,” Aquino said during an interview in Tarlac City.

The President said Espina is no longer in the running for the PNP chief position because appointing him a few months before his retirement will be disruptive.

READ MORE.....
“Is he still in the running? That’s the point. He assumes today, he has about three months to serve. Once he serves the three months, there will be a turnover to the next guy, who replaces him, and that’s disruptive to the service,’’ he said.

“The issue is, what can he actually do in that short period of time, and the downside is, the organization will have to reacclimatize itself to two director generals in the same year,’’ he added.

READ: Espina has resigned as PNP-OIC—source

Espina stepped in as PNP OIC in December last year when Director General Alan Purisima was suspended by the Ombudsman for his involvement in an allegedly anomalous transaction with a courier service. Purisima later resigned after he was accused of directing the botched Mamasapano operation despite his suspension.

READ: Roxas to PNP chief: You’re suspended

ALSO:  Aquino confirms accepting Purisima’s resignation

During the last couple of days, the PNP has refused to confirm whether Espina has indeed resigned. Sources, however, told INQUIRER.net that Espina wanted the President to exercise his prerogative in appointing an acting PNP chief.

Aquino said interviews and checks on the candidates are already being conducted. However, he clarified that the new PNP head will most likely be appointed by the end of 2015 or early 2016.


TRIBUNE

Belmonte says RP alone in sea row  Written by Gerry Baldo Monday, 20 April 2015 00:00

SPEAKER DISPUTES AQUINO’S FOREIGN DEPENDENCE


BELMONTE

A top ally of President Aquino contradicted the administration’s policy of seeking international help in the face of China’s increased aggressiveness in asserting its claim on nearly the entire South China Sea, saying the Philippine government is alone in the fight for its sovereignty.

The Philippines has elevated to the United Nations its territorial dispute with China and the United States along with most of the economic powers of the world under G7 had voiced their support to the country’s move.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, however, said statements of support from friendly nations including the United States remain just a statement and could not be relied on in the event of armed conflict in the region.

“The whole world is unable, unwilling or afraid to help us. The US is included,” Belmonte lamented.

The Philippines has been the most vocal of the rival claimants to express alarm over China’s moves.

In his interview with AFP, Aquino warned that the world should fear China’s actions in the South China Sea.

US President Barack Obama also expressed concern this month, criticizing China for “using its sheer size and muscle to force countries into subordinate positions.”

“Just because the Philippines or Vietnam are not as large as China, doesn’t mean that they can just be elbowed aside,” Obama said.

Both defense and military establishments had aired growing concerns over Chinese reclamation activities on disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. is scheduled today to present latest surveillance photographs of Chinese activities on seven disputed islets and reefs in the West Philippine Sea.

READ MORE...
Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, AFP-Public Affairs Office chief, said that the AFP chief is concerned over the “aggressiveness” of China.

“The chief of staff wants to show the latest pictures, the latest images of Chinese reclamation in the West Philippine Sea. He is concerned about this, the aggressiveness of China because it has adverse effects economically and militarily,” said Cabunoc.

Cabunoc said that Chinese activities in the disputed area will not only impact to the Philippines but to all nations using the sea lanes.

“We want to tell the whole world, not only the Filipino people, but the whole world that these issues, particularly the tensions caused by China’s massive reclamation activities have significant impact to all,” said Cabunoc.

Belmonte said the US position in the continued aggression of China against the Philippines has always been limited to statements of condemnation.

Belmonte shared President Aquino’s position that the matter has become a global problem, not just a regional issue.

“China is obviously violating our territory in front of the whole world,” said Belmonte.

“Their (China) activities in the disputed territory will affect the flow of goods among countries, making the issue a serious global problem,” Belmonte said.

He made his position amid statement of Foreign Affairs Sec. Albert del Rosario that he will have a meeting in Washington soon to discuss with the US officials the China-led reclamations works and possible arm support.

Del Rosario said the US has promised to show its presence in the West Philippine Sea amid reports of China’s massive reclamation activities in seven Philippine-claimed marine features.

The Aquino administration has welcomed the statements of support from the international community, including the recent statement from G7 foreign ministers opposing China’s invasion in the South China Sea.

Aquino said he will once again push for the crafting of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Malaysia later this month.

China is also reportedly undertaking reclamation work on Subu Reef in the Spratlys, creating landmasses that, if joined together, could create space for another 3,000-meter (3,281-yard) runway.

The Philippines, China, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam and Taiwan have overlapping claims over parts of the West Philippine Sea.

The Philippine government has sought international arbitration before a Netherlands-based tribunal to nullify China’s massive claims over South China Sea.

But China uses the so-called “nine-dash line” to claim ownership of almost the entire South China Sea, while the Philippines uses the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) as basis for its claim.

China rejected international arbitration proceedings to settle its territorial dispute with the Philippines, insisting instead on bilateral talks to settle the matter.

“We don’t really know what is their (Chinese) next step…once they have taken these islets, reefs…what if they block the shipping lanes? That is the concern of all,” added Cabunoc.


AFP Public Affairs chief Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc (UNTV News)

Cabunoc, however, maintained that the AFP supports the national government’s rules-based approach of addressing the dispute.

Several diplomatic protests had been filed by Manila against Beijing over Chinese activities in the WPS.

The Philippine government has also filed a formal complaint against China before the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS).

“We do not want it to become a military confrontation,” he said.

According to Cabunoc, Catapang would be presenting the development of massive reclamation activities of China in seven areas in the West Philippine Sea, including one on Subi Reef, which is close to the Philippine-owned Pagasa island.

“We don’t really know if in the future these will have military purposes,” Cabunoc said.

With its aggressive reclamation, Cabunoc said that China already committed “irreversible” destruction to natural resources.

“We are also concerned to the massive destruction to our natural resources, that is irreversible…they have responsibility to answer for this massive destruction that affects marine life,” said Cabunoc.

For his part, Dr. Peter Paul Galvez, spokesman of the Department of National Defense (DND), expressed hopes that China will stop with its aggressive stance in the West Philippine Sea before it’s too late.

“We hope they wake up to the truth before irreparable miscalculations and untoward incidents occur that would adversely affect not only our region but the community of peace-loving nations,” said Galvez.

“The mere fact that the community of peace loving nations are already concerned is a message that should not be ignored. What we are actually wary of is what the actions of the Chinese leadership will cause the peaceful Chinese people,” he added.

Galvez said that the adverse effect of Chinese leadership’s decisions will” cause them regretful setbacks if they do not deviate from their present actions.”

“This is what we have learned from history lest they repeat it and relearn them the hard way,” Galvez said.

Balikatan useless

Militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) asserted the uselessness of the Balikatan exercises between the Philippines and with the United States in the face of the intensified reclamation activities of China.

In a statement, Bayan said the war games will not help the Philippines against the expansion activities of China in the region.

It assailed the purpose of the Balikatan exercises, which to date has not improved the country’s military forces since it started in the 80s contrary to its supposed aim.

“The joint exercises are intended to boost US power projection in the region and increase US involvement in the Philippines’ internal affairs. It is not true that the US is out to protect us against China’s incursions and reclamation projects in the West Philippine Sea,” Bayan said.
The US has repeatedly said that it that does not take sides in the maritime dispute.

“It is our reliance on the US which has made our country weak and unable to develop the economic means and military capability to defend our waters,” the group said.

Meanwhile, in Malacanang, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said countering challenges posed by China is only part of the goal in conducting the Balikatan exercises, adding that it is for heightening preparedness of the two states.

He said that the war games with the US have been a regular activity under the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT).

“If by coincidence there are particular issues or challenges at present, this will be conducted still as part of the objective to heighten preparedness of the two states and actualize readiness in confronting whatever challenges that prevail,” he said.

Malacañang said the 31st Balikatan exercises will kick off today. The “expanded” war games seeks to show a deepening defense alliance as alarm bells ring over China.

The Philippines is seeking more US military and diplomatic support to fend off China’s increasing forcefulness in its bid to assert sovereignty in disputed areas of the South China Sea.

Earlier last week, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said the Philippines plans to seek extra help from the US in containing China in defending the country’s position, on the issue-laden South China Sea, or West Philippine Sea in Manila.

On the side of militants, Bayan said the supposed new equipment that are being requested by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) for maritime surveillance will be owned and operated by the United States.

“The DFA is basically allowing the US to put up military facilities on PH territory, in the guise of helping us counter China,” it said. “We cannot effectively defend our territorial waters and exclusive economic zone against China if we continue to remain a neo-colony of the United States.”


====China's Claim ------ ==== UNCLOS eco zone

Beijing is banking on its nine-dash line principle in claiming disputed territories in the South China Sea, using vague demarcation lines that first appeared on Chinese maps in the 1940s.

China has sought to expand its presence in disputed parts of the sea in recent years, including by taking control of a shoal that is a rich fishing ground within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

Malacanang earlier said that the position of the country against China’s claims is strong in the diplomatic playing field. However, it is yet to assert military backing to actually defend the country’s territories.

China has repeatedly insisted it has sovereign rights to the contested areas, so criticism of its reclamation and other activities in the area are baseless.

The US has been looking to re-build its military presence in the Philippines, a former colony where it had naval and air bases until the early 1990s, as part of Obama’s “pivot to Asia”.

On Tuesday, marines will conduct beach landing exercises from a naval base facing the South China Sea just 220 kilometres (140 miles) from the Philippine-claimed shoal that China has controlled since 2012.

Aside from the naval base, live fire and disaster response drills will also be held in various military camps outside Manila. Joshua L. Labonera


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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