War not necessary to defend PH’s rights over West Philippine Sea

Allowing China to ‘categorically’ declare ownership of the West Philippine Sea (WPS) contradicts the arbitral award of the disputed territory to the Philippines in 2016.

In his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Rodrigo Duterte said that going up against China in pursuit of ownership in the WPS is like going to war and we, the whole nation, have no choice but to let it be.

“We have to go to war. And I cannot afford it. Maybe some other president can but I cannot. Inutil ako diyan. Talagang inutil ako diyan. Walang magawa. I cannot,” Duterte declared.

“China is claiming it, we are claiming it. China has the arms. We do not have it. So, it’s as simple as that. They are in possession of the property… so what can we do?” he added.

But let it be a reminder that, even if WPS is part of the South China Sea, it comprises the territorial sea, exclusive economic zone (EEZ), and extended continental shelf (ECS) of the Philippines, waters, and resources over which the Philippines has sovereignty or sovereign rights.
The country has the right to claim and to fight for it. It’s not necessarily going to war, just like what Duterte’s ‘lucid’ mind can think of.

PH inflation rose faster in July due to transport cost spike — PSA

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said that the prices of essential goods rose even faster in July due to a sustained spike in transport costs.

The inflation rate stood at 2.7% for the month, up from June’s 2.5% and from 2.4% in July 2019. It is the fastest rise in prices since January and sustains a third straight month of price increases. Consumer prices rose by an average of 2.5% from January to July, and from 3.3% during the same period in 2019.

Transportation costs saw the most significant increase year-on-year, led by a nearly 34% surge in tricycle fares sustaining June’s trend. Tricycles are among the first public utility vehicles (PUVs) to operate in most areas but are limited to carry just one passenger per trip.

Domestic airfares also posted a 12.6% raise, while ferry boat rides cost 27.7% higher compared to July 2019.

Other items that saw higher price tags include cooking gas, home rentals, and running water, as well as expenses incurred for restaurant meals, barbershops, and personal care.

By location, prices rose faster in the provinces at 2.9 percent, against a 2.2% average in Metro Manila. It was highest in Bicol at 4.2 percent.

The country’s most impoverished families were hit harder by price adjustments, with inflation among the 30% lowest income-earning households settling at 2.9 percent. These families mostly spend what they have on the basics like food, utilities, and shelter.

Inflation will remain largely benign for the rest of 2020, and is expected to stay within the 2-4% desired range, according to Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno.

Planned US visit to Taiwan angers China

China is furious over the United States’ (US) planned visit to Taiwan, describing the move as a threat to “peace and stability.”

The planned high-profile visit to the island nation since the US switched diplomatic recognition to China in 1979 comes as relations between the world’s two biggest powers plunge to historic lows.

“This marks… the first Cabinet member to visit in six years, and the highest level visit by a US Cabinet official since 1979,” said Washington’s de facto embassy, the American Institute in Taiwan, with no date yet given for the visit.

US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar would meet Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.

Beijing views Taiwan as its own territory, vowing to one day seize it, and bristles at any moves by other countries to recognize or communicate with Taipei.

“China firmly opposes official exchanges between the US and Taiwan,” China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Wang Wenbin said, called for the visit’s cancellation.

“We urge the US to abide by the one-China principle… to avoid seriously endangering Sino-US relations, as well as peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” Wang added.

Navy chief supports diplomatic means of settling West Philippine Sea dispute

On Tuesday, Philippine Navy (PN) Chief Vice Admiral Giovanni Carlo Bacordo has stressed that in order to avoid disadvantageous maritime war with China, the Philippines has to settle border disputes in a diplomatic means as possible.

Duterte, in his fifth State of the Nation Address SONA, has firmly stated that he is an “inutile”; slamming down the calls of his critics to assert the country’s sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea (WPS), claiming that if they [critics] were to contend for the country’s sovereignty, they must be prepared for a war with China.

“What the President is saying is that with regards to WPS/SCS, we have to explore peaceful options when dealing with China,” Bacordo explained to the Manila Bulletin.

The Navy Chief also added that any means of armed encounters with China in the waters must be firmly avoided.

Duterte has also stressed that China has the advantage in the maritime dispute between the Philippines and China as they have the arms and therefore, “they are in possession of the property.”

Palace officials unanimous not to ban TikTok in PH

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles find no enough reasons and solid cases to ban TikTok in the Philippines, similar to what India did.

Roque clarified that President Rodrigo Duterte did not and has not made any order to shutdown on any single website in the country, much to the controversial TikTok app.

“Wala pong ganun. Sa mga nagsasabi na si Presidente nanunupil ng malayang pananalita, wala pong kahit isang website na pina-ban ang Presidente,” he said.

Roque, who is a TikToker like Nograles, added that he sees no reason to ban the popular video-sharing platform.

“Wala naman tayong natatanggap na solid evidence or basis for the banning of TikTok. So, unless we are presented with solid evidence or basis for the banning of that app, then it will remain status quo,” Nograles said in an online forum.

India banned Tiktok in June over national security and privacy concerns while US President Donald Trump recently said he would follow suit. Australia also said it’s been monitoring the app.

China happy about Duterte’s ban on military in West Philippine Sea drills

President Rodrigo Duterte’s inclination toward China became stronger as it orders the Philippine Navy to cease from joining maritime drills in the West Philippine Sea, a move that favors Beijing’s claims in the region.

“We appreciate President Duterte’s remarks and stand ready to properly resolve maritime disputes with the Philippines through friendly consultations to jointly safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea and the entire region,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin in a report by China Global Television Network.

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that president has a standing order for the Philippine military to stay out of naval exercises with other navies in the West Philippine Sea except if these were within 12 miles from Philippine shores.


Chinese nationals involved in illegal online gambling nabbed in Cagayan

The Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA), in partnership with the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Region II, arrested 73 Chinese and 3 Filipinos involved in an illegal online gambling operation in Sta. Ana, Cagayan. Authorities seized 48 units of laptops, 8 desktops, 2 inverters, and a mother server from the suspects. The Chinese nationals failed to present any working permit during their arrest.

MECQ in Mega Manila to affect send-off for LSIs

Presidential Management Staff (PMS) Assistant Secretary and “Hatid Tulong” program lead convenor Joseph Encabo said that instead of grand send-offs for locally stranded individuals (LSIs) who are returning to their home provinces, a clustered send-off would be organized by the government.

Encabo assured the public that they would be more organized and careful in the upcoming send-offs to ensure that local government units (LGUs) and LSIs are properly coordinated to contain the spread of COVID-19. The declaration of the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) in Metro Manila, however, would pose a challenge for them.

“Dahil po sa deklarasyon ng MECQ, ang ‘Hatid Tulong’ Initiative Technical Working Group ay susulat sa IATF upang magkaroon po ng exemption sa status na yan kasi nga po kapag hindi natin aasikasuhin sa loob ng dalawang linggo ay talagang magkakaroon ng matagal na pag-aantay at mas magiging vulnerable at magiging psychologically disturbed ang ating mga LSIs,” said Encabo.

“Assuming na mai-grant kami, we are expected na mayroon kaming nakasalang na 500 plus LSIs na pauuwiin namin. Pero pag hindi kami maaprubahan, talagang mag-aantay po yung LSIs doon sa mga staging areas o temporary shelter areas natin,” he added.

Australia PM bares war with China possible over growing tensions on territorial claims

Amid China’s continued aggression in claiming the West Philippine Sea, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison admitted that the possibility of war between two countries is becoming clearer. Morrison called for an alliance among Indo-Pacific nations against the growing threat of China. Just like the United States (US), Australia tagged Beijing’s West Philippine Sea claims as illegal.

Australia has also criticized China for its imposition of the controversial security law in Hong Kong, called for an investigation about the origin of COVID-19, and removed Huawei from Australia’s 5G network. In response, China has implemented heavy sanctions on Australian goods and hit back Australia’s remark over the West Philippine Sea.

Meanwhile, despite China’s growing aggression in the disputed region, the Philippine government under President Rodrigo Duterte prefers to continue its diplomatic relationship with the Asian giant. Duterte even ordered the military to stop participating in joint exercises in the West Philippine Sea after he admitted incapability to challenge China.

China in possession of West Philippine Sea has become Duterte’s mantra

In his recent State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Rodrigo Duterte showed his defeatist stance explaining how the Philippines cannot afford to go to war with China to contest its West Philippine Sea (WPS) claims. This isn’t the first time that pro-China Duterte has enunciated such a statement. He previously mentioned China’s possession of the WPS during the ASEAN-India Summit in Singapore on November 15, 2018, and in his fourth SONA on July 22, 2019.

In an opinion piece published by former Chief Justice Antonio Carpio on Inquirer.net, it’s clear that the words ‘China is in possession of WPS’ has become Duterte’s mantra, despite the Philippines’ victory on July 12, 2016 when an arbitral award invalidated China’s WPS claims based on the nine-dash rule.

“Mr. Duterte directly contradicts the Award which ruled that China never controlled the SCS. To possess a sea like the WPS means to control that sea. Mr. Duterte is subverting the very basis of the Award that gave the Philippines a maritime area in the WPS larger than the total land area of the country. For Mr. Duterte to say that China is “in possession” of Philippine exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and extended continental shelf (ECS) in the WPS is to concede to China more rights than what international law or the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) grants to any state,” said Carpio.

Carpio added that with Duterte saying that China is “in possession” of the WPS, under the international law doctrine of unilateral declarations, China can later claim that the Philippines has “ceded sovereign rights over its EEZ and ECS to China. “Under this doctrine, unilateral declarations of heads of state bind the state even if such declarations are contrary to the Constitution and laws of a state,” he added.

Following the statements of Duterte which China can fully take advantage of to claim the WPS, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) should issue a clarification that China is not in possession, and can never be legally in possession of the WPS. Carpio also urged the Filipino people to “vigorously show their rejection of Mr. Duterte’s false claim that China is “in possession” of the WPS.”

“All professional, civic, social, political, student, and alumni organizations, and all Filipino citizens, should storm Malacañang with statements and text messages: China is not, and will never be, in possession of the WPS. This is the moment for all Filipinos to unite in defense of Philippine sovereign rights in the WPS,” Carpio stressed.