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ALSO: P-NOY OVERSEES QUIRINO BURIAL AT 'LIBINGAN NG MGA BAYANI'


MARCH 1 -Aquino leads rite to rebury former President Elpidio Quirino at Libingan
 PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III on Monday led the transfer and reinterment of the remains of the late President Elpidio Quirino, the sixth president of the republic, at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City, one day after the Palace warned against bestowing the same honor on the late President Ferdinand Marcos. Quirino was president from April 17, 1948 to Dec. 30, 1953, when the country was rebuilding itself after World War II. He died of a heart attack at his residence in Novaliches on Feb. 29, 1956. Quirino is the third president to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, after former Presidents Carlos Garcia and Diosdado-Macapagal. During the ceremony, Aquino joined the funeral march to the gravesite together with the Quirino family, former President Fidel Ramos, some members of the diplomatic corps, and military service commanders. Judy Araneta-Roxas, mother of Liberal Party standard bearer Manuel Roxas II, also attended the reinterment. Quirino took his oath as president when former President Manuel Roxas died of a heart attack in 1948. Quirino was Roxas’ vice president. Quirino was given a 21-gun salute before the pallbearers turned over the folded flag to Aquino, who handed it to Eduardo Quirino, the late president’s grandson. Eduardo said the transfer of his grandfather’s remains from the South Cemetery in Makati was “a year in the making,” starting with a request to the National Historical Commission of the Philippines. “Because all the Philippine presidents, when they die, ...belong to the country,” said Eduardo, who was six when his grandfather died. READ MORE...

ALSO: Quirino reburied with military honors


MARCH 1 -QUIRINO AT LIBINGAN The urn containing the ashes of the late President Elpidio Quirino is transferred to Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City. Granddaughter Cory Quirino holds the urn as President Aquino and former President Fidel V. Ramos take part in the ceremony. MARIANE BERMUDEZ
A WISH by former President Fidel V. Ramos to be buried, when his time comes, beside President Elpidio Quirino at the Libingan ng mga Bayani paved the way for the reinterment of the latter’s remains with those of his fellow heroes, complete with full military honors, 60 years after his death.
Yesterday, at high noon, the ashes of Quirino, contained in a marble urn, were laid to rest at the presidents’ section of the cemetery in solemn ceremonies led by President Aquino. With a black band on his left arm, the President led the funeral march from the cemetery’s entrance to the memorial tomb. The Chief Executive was joined by Ramos, members of the Quirino family, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, officers and men of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Senate President Franklin Drilon, National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) head Maria Serena Diokno, Filipino war veterans and members of the diplomatic corps. The transfer, which was highlighted with a 21-gun salute and full military honors, was a testament to Quirino’s efforts in paving the way for the country’s independence, according to the NHCP. READ MORE...

ALSO: 75% of Noy reforms completed, but…
[The foreign chambers of commerce in the country are urging the next administration to initiate bolder measures to steer the Philippine economy to greater progress over the next decade. “For the Philippines to make growth more inclusive, the incoming administration and future leaders should undertake reforms that sustain and increase GDP growth,” it said.]


MARCH 2 -The Joint Foreign Chambers said it was happy to report that nearly three fourths of the reforms pushed by business and investors groups in 2010 have been addressed by the government as of last year. Philstar.com/File
Agribusiness, infrastructure, creative industries, telecommunications and mining should be given greater attention by the government as part of its continuing reform activities, foreign business groups in the Philippines said yesterday. The Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC), the largest coalition of foreign investors in the Philippines, made the assessment based on recommendations from local and foreign groups originally published in 2010 in Arangkada Philippines. The JFC said it was happy to report that nearly three fourths of the reforms pushed by business and investors groups in 2010 have been addressed by the government as of last year. “The public sector is the enabler of job growth, while the private sector is the engine. The two must work in parallel for inclusive growth and job creation,” the JFC said. “The private sector is doing its share and is ready to do more to improve inclusive growth through investing. Various firms generously support a wide range of socially responsible and economically oriented activities, especially in education, health, housing and disaster relief and recovery,” it added. The JFC lauded the national government for major improvements in the Philippine economy over the past five years but said a number of binding constraints still remain which prevent the country from achieving inclusive growth. READ MORE...

ALSO: PH ASKS CHINA TO RESPECT SEA DISPUTE ARBITRATION


MARCH 1 -AQUINO AND DEL ROSARIO -IN THIS DECEMBER 2014 PHOTO --LEGAL GAMBIT. The Philippines takes China to court. Will it get the Asian superpower to comply with a ruling favoring Manila? RAPPLER HEADLINE: Rough seas: Will PH ‘lawfare’ work vs China? Legal and foreign affairs experts say the outcome of the Philippines' arbitration case is uncertain, and Manila must work harder on diplomatic and military tracks File photo by Ritchie B. Tongo/EPA RAPPLER.COM  THE Philippines yesterday urged China to respect a forthcoming ruling by an arbitration court in The Hague on a territorial dispute in the South China Sea after Beijing accused Manila of “political provocation.” China claims almost the entire South China Sea, believed to have huge deposits of oil and gas. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims on the waters, through which about $5 trillion in trade is shipped every year. China refuses to recognize the case lodged by the Philippines with the tribunal and says all disputes should be resolved through bilateral talks. “The Philippines, as well as the international community, is asking China to respect the forthcoming ruling of the arbitral tribunal and together advance an international rules-based regime,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said in a statement in Manila. “If China does not heed our collective call, does it mean that China considers itself above the law?” The tribunal’s ruling is expected before May, said Del Rosario. Manila and Beijing had met several times to discuss maritime disputes but nothing had been resolved, he added. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei repeated on Monday that China would not participate in the case. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, on a visit to the United States last week, accused the Philippines of “political provocation” in seeking arbitration to resolve the dispute. READ MORE...Vietnam asked Philippines to form pact to counter China, Aquino reveals...

ALSO: Part of West PH Sea has long been ours, says Aquino on campaign sortie in Bohol


MARCH 2 -TAGBILARAN CITY, Philippines- President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday reiterated that part of the disputed territory in the West Philippine Sea “has long been ours.” The President, who flew here to woo voters to support his chosen successor, Mar Roxas, made the statement amid reports that Chinese vessels had anchored inside the known Philippine-controlled seawaters off Palawan.
“This has long been ours,” the President told his audience inside the packed Bohol Cultural Center.Mr. Aquino also hit Roxas’ rivals who were quoted in the media as saying that they would pursue a negotiation with China to resolve the border conflict. “While I’m defending our right against other nations in the West Philippine Sea, they said they will talk to our rivals. But I have been talking with them (China),” he said. “My problem is when I talk to them, they will start by saying, ‘All these belong to us.’ What negotiation will we have if their view is ‘All of these are our so you should not enter,’” the President said. TVJ FULL REPORT.


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

PNoy oversees Quirino burial at Libingan


Aquino leads rite to rebury former President Elpidio Quirino at Libingan

MANILA, march 7, 2016 (MANILA STANDARD) posted March 01, 2016 at 12:01 am by Sandy Araneta - PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III on Monday led the transfer and reinterment of the remains of the late President Elpidio Quirino, the sixth president of the republic, at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City, one day after the Palace warned against bestowing the same honor on the late President Ferdinand Marcos.

Quirino was president from April 17, 1948 to Dec. 30, 1953, when the country was rebuilding itself after World War II. He died of a heart attack at his residence in Novaliches on Feb. 29, 1956.


Malacañang Photos In attendance were members of the Quirino family, National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) officials, local government officials, members of the Presidential Cabinet and former public officials including former President Fidel V. Ramos. Quirino served his term of office from 1948 to 1953. His administration was known for post-war reconstruction, general economic gains, and increased economic aid from the United States. POSTED AT NORTHBOUND PHILIPPINES ONLINE NEWS

Quirino is the third president to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, after former Presidents Carlos Garcia and Diosdado-Macapagal.

During the ceremony, Aquino joined the funeral march to the gravesite together with the Quirino family, former President Fidel Ramos, some members of the diplomatic corps, and military service commanders.

Judy Araneta-Roxas, mother of Liberal Party standard bearer Manuel Roxas II, also attended the reinterment.

Quirino took his oath as president when former President Manuel Roxas died of a heart attack in 1948. Quirino was Roxas’ vice president.

Quirino was given a 21-gun salute before the pallbearers turned over the folded flag to Aquino, who handed it to Eduardo Quirino, the late president’s grandson.

Eduardo said the transfer of his grandfather’s remains from the South Cemetery in Makati was “a year in the making,” starting with a request to the National Historical Commission of the Philippines.

“Because all the Philippine presidents, when they die, ...belong to the country,” said Eduardo, who was six when his grandfather died.

READ MORE...

The Quirino family, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, government officials, police, military and representatives of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines joined the send-off ceremony for his remains at the Manila South Cemetery.

Abakada party-list Rep. Jonathan Dela Cruz, campaign manager of vice presidential candidate Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., said Monday former President Ferdinand Marcos should also be allowed to be buried in the same cemetery.

The Palace warned Sunday that if the next elected president will allow former President Marcos to be buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani, he or she will have to answer to the people.

“President Aquino’s decision [to disallow Marcos’ burial] is based on his firm belief and conviction on the primacy of justice. The late President Marcos never apologized for the violence and oppression that characterized martial law and the dictatorship,” said Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., in a text message.

“If the next President does not believe in the guiding principles upon which President Aquino decided not to allow the transfer of former President’s remains to Libingan ng mga Bayani, then he or she will have to justify that decision to the people,” Coloma said.


The body of the late Philippines president Ferdinand Marcos lies preserved in a refrigerated glass crypt at the Marcos family home in the northern town of Batac. JAY DIRECTO STR

In 1993, President Fidel Ramos allowed the body of Marcos to be brought home but did not grant the former President’s wish to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

The Marcos family decided to keep his body preserved in a crypt in his hometown of Batac, waiting for a friendlier administration that would allow the fulfillment of his wish.

Due to strong opposition, the succeeding administrations of Presidents Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo did not allow Marcos to be buried in the Heroes’ Cemetery.

In 2011, the late Sorsogon Rep. Salvador Escudero, the father of vice presidential candidate Senator Francis Escudero, led 193 congressmen in signing a resolution to allow the burial of Marcos at Libingan ng mga Bayani.

This was turned down by President Benigno Aquino III, who directed Vice President Jejomar Binay to study the issue and submit a recommendation.

Binay, who is running for President in May, recommended at the time that Marcos be buried with military honors in Batac. The Marcoses refused, insisting on fulfilling the late President Marcos’s wish.


INQUIRER

Quirino reburied with military honors SHARES: 312 VIEW COMMENTS By: Maricar B. Brizuela, Nikko Dizon @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 05:35 AM March 1st, 2016


QUIRINO AT LIBINGAN The urn containing the ashes of the late President Elpidio Quirino is transferred to Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City. Granddaughter Cory Quirino holds the urn as President Aquino and former President Fidel V. Ramos take part in the ceremony. MARIANE BERMUDEZ

A WISH by former President Fidel V. Ramos to be buried, when his time comes, beside President Elpidio Quirino at the Libingan ng mga Bayani paved the way for the reinterment of the latter’s remains with those of his fellow heroes, complete with full military honors, 60 years after his death.

Yesterday, at high noon, the ashes of Quirino, contained in a marble urn, were laid to rest at the presidents’ section of the cemetery in solemn ceremonies led by President Aquino.

With a black band on his left arm, the President led the funeral march from the cemetery’s entrance to the memorial tomb.

The Chief Executive was joined by Ramos, members of the Quirino family, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, officers and men of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Senate President Franklin Drilon, National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) head Maria Serena Diokno, Filipino war veterans and members of the diplomatic corps.

The transfer, which was highlighted with a 21-gun salute and full military honors, was a testament to Quirino’s efforts in paving the way for the country’s independence, according to the NHCP.

READ MORE...


(Photo by Rey Baniquetl/ Malacañang Photo Bureau) The re-internment ceremony will coincide with the commemorative event to mark the 60th death anniversary of President Quirino in the evening of Feb. 29, 1956 at the Philippine Center, New York City. The LNMB serves as a resting place for Filipino soldiers, Presidents, Dignitaries, national artists/scientists/boy scouts, and thousands of soldiers who perished in the Second World War and Korean War. PRIAM NEPOMUCENO/PNA/northboundasia.com

A petal drop from a military helicopter added poignancy to the event.

Quirino, the country’s sixth president, was buried at the Manila South Cemetery after he died of a heart attack on Feb. 29, 1956, three years after he ended his second term. He was only 65 years old.

According to the President Elpidio Quirino Foundation (PEQF), he was buried in simple ceremonies and was not given the funeral rites and honors he deserved after serving the country from 1948 to 1953.

After a year of planning, the transfer finally happened through the efforts of the NHCP and the PEQF.

Aside from Quirino, buried at Libingan ng mga Bayani are Presidents Diosdado Macapagal and Carlos P. Garcia.

Send-off rites

The transfer started with a send-off ceremony at the Manila South Cemetery around 9 a.m. The former president’s granddaughter and Miss World Philippine franchise head Cory Quirino led members of the Quirino family during the simple rites attended by Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada and Makati City Mayor Romulo Peña.

The celebrity health, fitness and beauty guru narrated to reporters that Ramos had told her that he wanted to be buried beside her grandfather at Libingan ng mga Bayani.

“He (Ramos) told me he had already chosen his gravesite here and he said he wanted to be buried beside President Quirino,” Cory Quirino said. Ramos, the country’s 12th president, remains sprightly at 87 years old.

Cory Quirino said Ramos’ declaration started the process of having the late President’s ashes transferred to Libingan ng mga Bayani. She added that Drilon helped the family with the process as well.

The reinterment of Quirino, which could very well be his reintroduction to young Filipinos, became fitting as it also takes place on his 125th birth anniversary. Quirino was born on Nov. 16, 1890, in Vigan, Ilocos Sur.

Guiding principles

Quirino’s “guiding principles” were “tolerance, love, and goodwill.”

Cory Quirino said such core values led to the healing of the wounds between the Philippines and Japan after the war.

Cory Quirino pointed out that Japan is now a strong ally of the Philippines.

During his speech at the event, Estrada specifically addressed young individuals present at the event who were born after Quirino’s lifetime.

The 78-year-old Estrada, who also served as the 13th president of the Philippines, said he was only 12 years old when Quirino led the country forward from the devastation of the World War II.

“As a president, he was truthful to his duties and served with integrity,” Estrada said.

The Manila mayor claimed that the reinterment and transfer of Quirino to Libingan ng mga Bayani is something he really deserved.

“It is there that he truly belongs, there were other heroes like him have been laid to rest. Let us salute the memory of this great man. Let us remember his legacy with prayers that we may be similarly inspired to do great things for our nation and for our people,” Estrada said.

After the simple ceremony, the urn containing the remains of Quirino was then placed inside a coffin then carried to a funeral car which transported it to Libingan ng mga Bayani


PHILSTAR

75% of Noy reforms completed, but… By Richmond Mercurio (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 2, 2016 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


The Joint Foreign Chambers said it was happy to report that nearly three fourths of the reforms pushed by business and investors groups in 2010 have been addressed by the government as of last year. Philstar.com/File

MANILA, Philippines – Agribusiness, infrastructure, creative industries, telecommunications and mining should be given greater attention by the government as part of its continuing reform activities, foreign business groups in the Philippines said yesterday.

The Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC), the largest coalition of foreign investors in the Philippines, made the assessment based on recommendations from local and foreign groups originally published in 2010 in Arangkada Philippines.

The JFC said it was happy to report that nearly three fourths of the reforms pushed by business and investors groups in 2010 have been addressed by the government as of last year.

“The public sector is the enabler of job growth, while the private sector is the engine. The two must work in parallel for inclusive growth and job creation,” the JFC said.

“The private sector is doing its share and is ready to do more to improve inclusive growth through investing. Various firms generously support a wide range of socially responsible and economically oriented activities, especially in education, health, housing and disaster relief and recovery,” it added.

The JFC lauded the national government for major improvements in the Philippine economy over the past five years but said a number of binding constraints still remain which prevent the country from achieving inclusive growth.

READ MORE...

The Arangkada assessment for 2015 showed 74.50 percent or 333 of the 462 recommendations are active and moving, an overall improvement from the 51.44 percent in the first assessment in 2011.


Arangkada Philippines is the major advocacy—launched in 2010—of the Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC) to increase investment and employment in the Philippines. These goals are elaborated in its main policy document Arangkada Philippines 2010: A Business Perspective. The JFC conducts an annual assessment of the 471 Arangkada recommendations and organizes an annual Forum, where private and public sector delegates gather to launch the assessment and discuss its findings and reforms that improve to Philippine investment climate. The JFC advocates the Arangkada recommendations with the Philippine Government and leading Philippines business groups including ECOP, FINEX, MAP, MBC, PCCI, PhilExport and other trade and industry associations, through meetings with senior government officials and through its Arangkada website, www.arangkadaphilippines.com , has received over 400,000 pageviews since it was launched in August 2011, and the viewership rating has increased by 76% this year. It has been viewed in 166 countries and has had a cummulative 80% increase in first time visits.

It was a slight improvement from the 74.22 percent posted in last year’s assessment.

“There has been great progress, not enough, but great progress. Philippine economy is doing very well but it can do better,” American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines senior advisor John Forbes said.

“A lot is continuing to progress. The economy is moving, these recommendations are being put into part but not 100 percent of what we originally suggested in 2010,” he added.

The Arangkada assessment 2015 identified the sectors of business process outsourcing, infrastructure, manufacturing and tourism as having benefited much from policy and economic reforms.

Arangkada Philippines is a major advocacy launched in 2010 by the JFC. It is funded by a $1-million grant from the US Agency for International Development and is administered by the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines.

Meanwhile, foreign business groups appeared unimpressed by the business platforms presented by representatives of presidential aspirants at yesterday’s Arangkada Philippines forum. The candidates did not show up and only sent their representatives.

Former finance secretary Gary Teves represented Jejomar Binay, vice presidential candidate Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano showed up for Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian came for Sen. Grace Poe and Marikina Rep. Romero Quimbo represented Manuel Roxas II. Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago had no representative.

“I was not satisfied with the answers the candidates gave as to addressing the vast array of the protectionist restrictions and regulations in the government and other regulatory agencies,” Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines president Julian Payne said.

“We’ve heard what we wanted to hear. The issues have never changed, they remain the same. What I want to hear is how do we get there,” said Ryan Evangelista, executive director of the Australia-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines.

The issues brought up by the candidates include pursuing economic growth, addressing corruption in the government, improving infrastructure and tax reforms.

“Reforms have begun. What we want to see is a continuation of the reforms done in recent years, even in the previous administration, and build on that. The country has great potential. We have many ideas. What we need is more rapid implementation,” Forbes said.

The foreign chambers of commerce in the country are urging the next administration to initiate bolder measures to steer the Philippine economy to greater progress over the next decade.

“2016 is a crucial year for the Philippine economy. The results of the May elections will serve as an opportunity for newly elected leaders to build on the success of the Aquino administration but at the same time chart a long-term vision that cuts across the typical six-year planning cycle to adopt bolder reforms that will spur inclusive growth,” the Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines said.

“For the Philippines to make growth more inclusive, the incoming administration and future leaders should undertake reforms that sustain and increase GDP growth,” it said.

“This will require continued good governance, political will to undertake more structural reforms, better infrastructure, a fair regulatory regime and lower business costs, among others.”


MALAYA

PH ASKS CHINA TO RESPECT SEA DISPUTE ARBITRATION March 01, 2016


IN THIS DECEMBER 2014 PHOTO --LEGAL GAMBIT. The Philippines takes China to court. Will it get the Asian superpower to comply with a ruling favoring Manila? RAPPLER HEADLINE: Rough seas: Will PH ‘lawfare’ work vs China? Legal and foreign affairs experts say the outcome of the Philippines' arbitration case is uncertain, and Manila must work harder on diplomatic and military tracks File photo by Ritchie B. Tongo/EPA RAPPLER.COM

THE Philippines yesterday urged China to respect a forthcoming ruling by an arbitration court in The Hague on a territorial dispute in the South China Sea after Beijing accused Manila of “political provocation.”

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, believed to have huge deposits of oil and gas. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims on the waters, through which about $5 trillion in trade is shipped every year.

China refuses to recognize the case lodged by the Philippines with the tribunal and says all disputes should be resolved through bilateral talks.

“The Philippines, as well as the international community, is asking China to respect the forthcoming ruling of the arbitral tribunal and together advance an international rules-based regime,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said in a statement in Manila.

“If China does not heed our collective call, does it mean that China considers itself above the law?”

The tribunal’s ruling is expected before May, said Del Rosario. Manila and Beijing had met several times to discuss maritime disputes but nothing had been resolved, he added.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei repeated on Monday that China would not participate in the case. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, on a visit to the United States last week, accused the Philippines of “political provocation” in seeking arbitration to resolve the dispute.

READ MORE...

Wang held talks last week with his counterpart, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who said China was rapidly militarizing the waterway after building artificial islands and deploying fighters and missiles.

Wang defended China’s actions as self-defense but said it would remain open for two-way talks with countries claiming the South China Sea.

The Philippines and Japan, which has its own territorial dispute with China in the East China Sea, on Monday signed a military agreement allowing the transfer of aircraft and equipment to the Philippines.

Japan is ready to lease at least five TC-90 King Air planes to the Philippines as a training aircraft for surveillance and reconnaissance, a military official said.

The Philippines has expressed interest in getting old P3C-Orion planes from Japan after it started using the sophisticated P1 surveillance aircraft, the equivalent of the US Navy’s P8 Poseidon. -- Reuters

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RELATED FROM SOUTH CHNA SEA DIPLOMACY NEWS (FLASHBACK APRIL 20, 2015)

Vietnam asked Philippines to form pact to counter China, Aquino reveals PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 April, 2015, 8:03am UPDATED : Monday, 27 April, 2015, 5:20pm Raissa Robles in Manila

Benigno Aquino reveals in exclusive interview that the purpose of any such agreement is not to antagonise Beijing but to build relationships

A new “strategic partnership” being negotiated between two states fending off China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea was suggested by Vietnam, Philippine President Benigno Aquino has revealed.

It had been widely assumed that the proposed pact between Vietnam and the Philippines was initiated by Manila, which has taken a high-profile stand against China.

In an exclusive interview with the South China Morning Post, the Philippine president said China’s moves in the South China Sea were even more alarming than a year ago, when he likened global inaction to China’s push to appeasing Hitler – comments that angered China.

In the interview last Thursday, Aquino stood by his remarks. Pulling out a map of the South China Sea, he said: “Perhaps it’s even worse today.”

But he added that it was never his intention to rile China by speaking up about the issue. “I can assure them that that is not a priority with me. I do not start a day [thinking] ‘how do I tweak the noses of these people?’… Put yourself in my position. I do have to protect my country’s interest and my countrymen’s rights. I’d like to view their actions as also doing the same thing.”

He also said it made sense for the Philippines to pursue closer ties with countries with which it had common interests and goals, adding: “Vietnam is asking us for a strategic partnership.”

According to media reports, when officials from the Philippines and Vietnam met earlier this year, they agreed on a joint statement that focused on the South China Sea, expressing concern about China’s “massive reclamation activities” in the area. No date for signing the pact has been set.


Philippine President Benigno Aquino during the interview with Raissa Robles in Manila at the presidential palace. The yellow ribbon on his lapel is a symbol of his famous parents. Benigno Aquino reveals in the exclusive interview that the purpose of any such agreement is not to antagonise Beijing but to build relationships PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 April, 2015, 8:03am Photo: SCMP Pictures

“We’re actually just defining what it is … We’re working out the details,” Aquino told the Post.

Vietnam and the Philippines have overlapping claims in the South China Sea, as do China, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

During the interview that lasted well over two hours at Malacanang Palace, a relaxed Aquino fielded a wide range of questions but the focus returned several times to the South China Sea.

On the proposed pact with Vietnam, Aquino said: “Anyway, when your strategic partner starts with the overlapping claims, there’s more room to have a reasonable dialogue rather than reacting with the national interest, separate national interest.”

The Philippines has two strategic partners - the United States and Japan, and both have criticised China for its expansionist moves in the South China Sea.

Asked if it was wise for Manila to push strategic partnerships with countries that China viewed warily and adding a third that China had exchanged fire with, Aquino said this was not intentional.

“We had them [the US and Japan] as strategic partners before China looked at them suspiciously,” he said.

“We’re not forming these partnerships with the end point of forming a coalition against somebody.” He said such partnerships were formed “if somebody feels we have a lot of common interest with, who can help us achieve our goals, our national goals.”

When asked how useful the country’s alliance with the US was, given the strict limits on an armed US response under the Philippine-US Mutual Defence Treaty, Aquino replied: “I cannot answer that question in the sense of telling them how the Americans, for instance, have been helping us.​”

We’re not forming these partnerships with the end point of forming a coalition against somebody
“For instance, [in] maritime domain awareness,” he said.

Asked to elaborate, Aquino said: “At the end of the day you know what is happening in your waters.”

On whether this meant “real time” awareness, Aquino said “that’s the part I’m not confident in answering you”, and then chuckled.

“When we advertise this, I think we also announce weakness … I think it’s against our national interest to say what we are capable of.”


hilippine President Benigno Aquino points to a copy of China's nine-dash line map. Photo: AFP

US assistance for maritime domain awareness was first included in the Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) which Manila signed with Washington a year ago. The EDCA made no mention of Manila’s conflict with China in the South China Sea.

However, Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said then that the EDCA was in response to the “rapidly evolving regional architecture” that necessitated “strengthening maritime security and maritime domain awareness”, among others.

Del Rosario, who was present during the Post’s interview, also said Manila was expecting to present its case in oral arguments before an ad hoc arbitral tribunal under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea in July. A decision could be delivered within six months or by early next year.

China has refused to take part in the proceedings. Asked what the point was in obtaining a decision that China would possibly not follow, Aquino said: “We were cognizant of that … in deciding whether or not to go into arbitration. We were told that this body really does not have that enforcement capability.”


Members of Bayan Muna (Country First) Party List group display placards during a picket rally in Manila over territorial dispute in the South China Sea. Photo: Reuters

But Aquino warned that if China ignored a tribunal ruling in Manila’s favour, it would have a negative impact on China’s dealings with other nations.

“If suddenly, sometimes you will follow and sometimes you will not, that I think will give pause to the trading partners whose doors have to be open for the growth in their economy,” he said.

Was there any condition under which the Philippines would consider pulling out of the arbitration as China has urged it to do?

“Given the fact that we’re expecting a decision either this year or early next year, and then we go back to a status quo of uncertainty, I think that denigrates the original decision to go into the mode of finally settling this ambiguity,” Aquino said.

Pressed on whether there was any hesitation on his part to pursue the arbitration to its final conclusion, Aquino replied that even if his government and China came to a bilateral agreement on the issue, any deal would be next to useless because there are - besides the Philippines and China - four other claimants. “How can we have an agreement binding on the other four?” he said.

“So perhaps there’s an agreement amongst the six. And it’s signed. Then perhaps there’s no need for arbitration.”

However, he indicated that was far-fetched: “That is not a – let us table everything and discuss this continuously for the next 10 generations. Who’ll agree with something like that?”

Aquino also indicated the high-stakes engagement that the Philippines was in. New light has been shed on China’s rapid reclamation efforts to build an air strip on Mischief Reef.

And Aquino said he was taking seriously reports of a possible surprise occupation by China of Manila-occupied Pagasa Island, though these have been officially denied by Beijing. Contingency plans were in place, he stressed.


A crewman from the Vietnamese coastguard ship 8003 looks out at sea as Chinese coastguard vessels give chase to Vietnamese ships that came close to the Haiyang Shiyou 981, known in Vietnam as HD-981, oil rig in the South China Sea in this July 15, 2014 file photo. Photo: Reuters

Asked to assess China’s possible reclamation of more reefs and shoals in the disputed waters, Aquino said: “I will tend to sound like a rabble rouser. Can I just say, I hope not.”

“I don’t see the logic of their move. Therefore I hope that logic and rationality prevail. Since there is no gain, why embark on something like that?”

He said the world was watching China.

“There’s a certain downside anytime they decide that ‘we want this, we want that’, they just go ahead and do it. And everybody will say, please do so. You’re welcome to it. I don’t think that will be the world reaction.”

He added that it was in China’s interest to promote stability in the region, especially in the South China Sea, a conduit for more than 40 per cent of world trade, because not doing so would not help China improve its own economy.

Asked if Aquino had a message for Xi, he said: “In his downtime, when he’s taking a break, perhaps, I really would ask him: ’Put yourself in our position, perhaps, even that of Vietnam, and how would you respond to the challenges that are happening in the South China Sea?’ ’Put yourself in our shoes, please’. And, then, hopefully, we will be able to achieve a better relationship especially with these contentious issues.”

“Perhaps, we should also focus on the fact that, to a large degree, this is the only contentious issue between our relations. And removing that is really, I think, a worthwhile goal.”

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as Vietnam 'sought pact to counter China


INQUIRER

Part of West PH Sea has long been ours, says Aquino SHARES: 1455 VIEW COMMENTS By: Marlon Ramos @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 07:56 PM March 2nd, 2016

TAGBILARAN CITY, Philippines- President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday reiterated that part of the disputed territory in the West Philippine Sea “has long been ours.”

The President, who flew here to woo voters to support his chosen successor, Mar Roxas, made the statement amid reports that Chinese vessels had anchored inside the known Philippine-controlled seawaters off Palawan.

“This has long been ours,” the President told his audience inside the packed Bohol Cultural Center.

Mr. Aquino also hit Roxas’ rivals who were quoted in the media as saying that they would pursue a negotiation with China to resolve the border conflict.

“While I’m defending our right against other nations in the West Philippine Sea, they said they will talk to our rivals. But I have been talking with them (China),” he said.

“My problem is when I talk to them, they will start by saying, ‘All these belong to us.’ What negotiation will we have if their view is ‘All of these are our so you should not enter,’” the President said. TVJ


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