Prince Philip, 99, passed away peacefully—Buckingham Palace

Prince Philip, 99, passed away peacefully—Buckingham Palace | Juan Manila

 

LONDON — Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth II’s husband has died aged 99, Buckingham Palace announced.

A statement from Buckingham Palace says: “It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen has announced the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

“His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he “inspired the lives of countless young people.

“He helped to steer the Royal Family and the monarchy so that it remains an institution indisputably vital to the balance and happiness of our national life.”

 

The prime minister paid tribute to the duke’s role as the longest- serving consort in history and as one of the last-surviving people to have fought in World War II.

“From that conflict he took an ethic of service that he applied throughout the unprecedented changes of the post-War era,” he said.

“Like the expert carriage driver that he was, he helped to steer the Royal Family and the monarchy so that it remains an institution indisputably vital to the balance and happiness of our national life.” (JSM/JuanManila)

PH to take maximum advantage of ties with US

PH to take maximum advantage of ties with US | Juan Manila

 

MANILA — The evolving situation in the West Philippine Sea deepens ties between the Philippines and the United States, particularly in their commitment under the Mutual Defense Treaty, says the Philippine Department of National Defense.

DND spokesperson and public affairs chief Arsenio Andolong says in a statement, the two countries are continuously in talks about the mutual defense.

“Both parties are committed to undertake their obligations under the Mutual Defense Treaty so that neither stands alone in these issues involving the two states’ inherent right of self-defense, individually and collectively,” says Andolong.

“As the situation in the West Philippine Sea evolves, we keep all our options open in managing the situation, including leveraging our partnerships with other nations such as the United States,” he adds.

 

Shared obligations and commitment under the MDT

Meanwhile, the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) signed by the Philippines and US in 1951—a treaty mandating the Philippines and the US to help each other in case of armed attacks—is a shared obligation between nations and a mutual commitment to promote rules-based international order.

The DND made the statement after the United States warned China against its increasingly aggressive moves in the Philippines, as well as Taiwan.

“An armed attack against the Philippines’ armed forces, public vessels or aircraft in the Pacific, including in the South China Sea, will trigger our obligations under the US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty,” says State Department spokesman Ned Price.

“We share the concerns of our Philippine allies regarding the continued reported massing of PRC (People’s Republic of China) maritime militia near the Whitsun Reef,” Price says.

Around 220 vessels were spotted in the Julian Felipe Reef in the West Philippine Sea, located 320 kilometers (200 miles) west of Palawan Island on 07 March.

The immediate removal of said vessels near the Julian Felipe Reef has been the subject of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s strong demands.

The Chinese Embassy in Manila said the vessels are “seeking shelter” near the reef, which they later on claimed is part of China’s Nansha Islands or Spratlys in the South China Sea.

The US admonition to China against the use of force on Philippine public vessels and aircraft is an additional affirmation of the long-standing partnership between our two countries, says Andolong.

“This also demonstrates the strength of our alliance and mutual commitment to promote the rules-based international order,” he points out. (JSM/JuanManila)


Featured image: Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana in constant talks with US counterpart regarding the situation in the West Philippine Sea, the Indo-Pacific region.


 

Are we under attack by China?

Are we under attack from China? | Juan Manila

The build up in Palawan is a clear and present danger | Part 2


By C. de los Angeles

 

China’s expansionist strategy

THEIR STRATEGY is to occupy with civilian forces and then build to control. They have successfully done it before and they continue to do it. In the Himalayas with their border dispute with India they have likewise built villages in contested areas knowing that any violence against civilians will be tantamount to war. So they sent civilians or militias in to occupy the area while you are helpless to defend unless you counter it with your own.

The recent events off Palawan show China repeating their successful strategy, right? They have deployed hundreds of fishing boats or militia ships tightly bound together all across the area. They will surround the area and harass anyone entering these areas.

But the Chinese expansionist strategy is far more complicated than their use of civilian militia. In the Philippines, we learned under the guise of a Trojan Horse of POGOs (Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations), the Chinese have sent over three million citizens the past four years with average age of 25 years, the military age.

Second, entry points such as selected ports are controlled by China as part of their Belt and Road Initiative.

Third, the entry of a third telecommunication player, DITO, which is partly owned by the Chinese and who was allowed by our military to set up cell towers in all of our military bases in exchange for internet and communications. How could we allow the current threat to our country control our military communications?

Fourth, with the China-sourced Covid-19 problem our country has been demoralized. It is interesting or suspicious that among our Asian neighbors we are hardest hit by the novel coronavirus disease. With the three million Chinese in the country, it is possible that they are intentionally spreading the virus. It was well documented that the Chinese had set up their own hospitals to cater to their citizens and they seemed to be immune or not as affected by the virus unlike all of us. Is it possible this is some biological warfare to weaken us so they can annex us?

Fifth, as mentioned earlier, as we suffer from the pandemic, China heartlessly annexed our territory amassing ships in various areas around Palawan.

NATO forces have deployed various submarines in the area with a French and US naval submarines patrolling the seas to ensure safe passage.

For some reason, both the Chinese and US have sent research vessels to the area probably in the guise to monitor each other’s activities.

 

Chinese vs Philippine Military

Based on the CIA World Factbook, China has an annual military budget of $228 billion while the Philippines only has $3 billion.

The Chinese has an active military force of 2.3 million soldiers compared to 125,000 for the Philippines while the reserve personnel of the Chinese is 8 million, ours is only 180,000.

For our land forces, the Philippines has zero tanks compared to 7,760 for China. Even with artillery we only have 323 compared to their 9,726.

Our air force is a joke, we only have 219 aircrafts comprised mostly of helicopters and cargo planes. The Philippines only has 12 fighter aircraft compared to China’s 4,182 aircraft of which 1,150 are fighter aircraft. While our Navy has 129 ships compared to China’s 780, of which 76 are submarines.

Any way we look at it the odds are against us but does that mean we should just allow them to take over our country?

Vietnam in the past fought back although China retaliated and many Vietnamese were killed. China is more wary of encroaching on Vietnamese areas compared to the Philippines.

In hindsight, before filing with UNCLOS we should have occupied as many of the reefs as possible similar to what we did when we ran aground a ship on one of our reefs as a makeshift base. We should have built communities in the area to make it harder for us to be removed.

Although it may be late we should still prepare for any eventuality. We need to start thinking and preparing and stop talking.

How can we build defense for our country? With our obvious limited budget we need to explore new technologies and use our ingenious and creative ways on how to defend the country and improve our defenses.

Who will be with us to protect us? Identify who and communicate with our allies, especially those with aligned interests like our ASEAN neighbors. There is strength in numbers.

What are our current capabilities in defense? In World War II, Winston Churchill utilized even private boats to help evacuate their soldiers. We need to identify all assets whether military or civilian so we know what are those that are at our disposal. We need to activate the reservists and recruit more patriots to be ready in case of any situation.

This is not only militarily but economically. We need to identify essential items the country needs: are we self sufficient or do we need to import? If yes, from where? If it’s from China we need to identify alternative sources and start stock-piling.

Worst case scenario, evacuation. And should our efforts be too late we need to have an evacuation plan. Identify areas we can fall back to, to easily defend and regroup while we plan our next steps.

Either way the time to act is NOW. We should not lose HOPE. We must stand TALL, and like our forefathers before us, be willing to TAKE UP ARMS to DEFEND OUR COUNTRY to our very LAST DROP OF OUR BLOOD. (End)

A harder lockdown in Germany called

A harder lockdown in Germany called | Juan Manila

 

BERLIN – Skepticism from political opponents met North Rhine Westphalia (NRW) State Premier Armin Laschet’s original call for harder lockdown. Laschet, who is also the chairman of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), renews his call, citing Germany’s struggles in containing a third wave of the coronavirus.

Laschet is asking for fewer private contacts, which could require curfews at night, and for more people to work from home.

Germany must create a lockdown that bridges the time until immunizations can make a difference, he says.

Laschet wants the scheduled meeting of premiers of Germany’s 16 states and the federal government should take place ahead of time in order to address the issue.

However, Thuringia State Premier Bodo Ramelow (The Left party) expressed doubt over his counterpart’s strategy.

“We can meet at any time, but there must be something on the table first that we can actually decide on together and, above all, implement it,” says Ramelow to Der Spiegel. “The current speeches are again patchwork and hectic.”

“I think a lot of what Mr. Laschet says is unclear,” says Berlin State Premier Michael Müller (SPD). “A bridge lockdown is temporary with what measures? I don’t think Mr. Laschet has thought things through.”

“It is irresponsible that the numbers have risen so high, that so many people have fallen ill, and the intensive care units are full,” says Janine Wissler, co-chairwoman of The Left party, says to Der Spiegel. “In any case, this crisis management makes one become fearful and anxious,” she adds”

Months of restriction did not spare Germany from seeing a rise in coronavirus infections. It lags behind Britain, Israel and the United States in its vaccination pace. (JSM/JuanManila)


Featured image: In a massive rally on 20 March, protesters want an “end to the lockdown.”


 

US boosts presence with USS Makin Island ARG

US boosts presence with USS Makin Island ARG | Juan Manila

 

MANILA — The United States steps up its military presence in the Indo-Pacific region amid tensions.

The USS Makin Island amphibious-ready group (ARG) and 15th Marine Expeditionary Group left the Middle East and headed to the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. The Makin Island ARG, commanded by Amphibious Squadron Three, is comprised of amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) and amphibious transport dock ships USS San Diego (LPD 22) and USS Somerset (LPD 25).

 


  • USS Makin Island‘s task is to embark, deploy, and land elements of a Marine landing force in an amphibious assault by helicopters, landing craft, and amphibious vehicles.

 

  • USS San Diego (LPD 22) and USS Somerset (LPD 25) are both amphibious transport docks. Each is also called a landing platform/dock (LPD), an amphibious warfare ship, a warship that embarks, transports, and lands elements of a landing force for expeditionary warfare missions.

 

 

 

According to reports this latest passage by a US amphibious assault ship comes at a time when both China and the US have sailed aircraft carriers into the South China Sea. The USS Theodore Roosevelt conducts exercises with Malaysia, and China’s Liaoning is en route from the Miyako Strait off southwestern Japan to conduct “scheduled exercises” near Taiwan.

The US naval presence in the region is a signal from US President Joe Biden’s administration to its allies in the region and to Beijing that it is committed to maintaining a military presence in the region for “free and open seas”.

Beijing’s claims over so-called nine dash line, which it has updated to be ten dash line—extending to the resource-rich areas of the West Philippine Sea—was ruled out by an international tribunal in 2016 to have no legal basis, and is rejected by the United States. The U.S. has also declared its standing by all nation-claimants in the region.

The massive presence of the more than 200 ships believed to be maritime militia—which the Chinese embassy in Manila calls as fishing vessels taking shelter from bad weather—within the Philippine exclusive economic zone poses a threat to the country’s natural resources and territorial waters.

According to observers, it is not the first time China has used the strategy to occupy with civilian forces and then build to control. It was the same modus operandi employed in the border dispute in the Himalayas. (JSM/JuanManila)


Featured image: USS Makin Island (LHD-8) maneuver past the Somerset in the Gulf of Oman on 23 March 2021. /US Marine Corps Photo