Friday, July 29, 2011

The Philippines seeks ASEAN unity for Spratlys row of sea

July 29, 2011 - The Philippines said it would seek regional backing for a plan on pursuing joint development of disputed areas in the South China Sea amid China's increasingly robust assertions of its claims.

Legal experts from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will meet in Manila in September to discuss the proposal, foreign department spokesman Raul Hernandez told reporters.

He said the aim was to eventually get the 10 ASEAN nations, and later on China, to endorse the proposal to delineate the disputed sections of the strategically located and reputedly resources-rich area.

"If we can define those disputed features then we can have the joint development of those areas," Hernandez said.

Areas not in dispute should be the exclusive preserve of the country that owns them, Hernandez said.

Competing claims to the potentially oil-rich Paracel and Spratly island groups in the South China Sea have caused rising tensions in recent months, with regional neighbours accusing China of behaving aggressively.

These areas, which straddle vital commercial shipping lanes, are subject to a tangle of maritime claims by China, Taiwan, and ASEAN members Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

However China maintains it owns all of the South China Sea, even waters approaching the coasts of Southeast Asian countries.

ASEAN, which also includes Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, agreed with China at a ministerial meeting last week to a set of guidelines setting a framework for an eventual code of conduct for the sea.

But China has consistently rejected efforts for the disputes to be resolved in a multilateral setting.

It prefers bilateral negotiations, which other countries fear is a divide-and-conquer approach that would weaken their bargaining capabilities with the Asian superpower.

Hernandez said that if the Philippine proposal got traction it would be tabled for discussion by ASEAN senior officials and eventually its foreign ministers.

After that, getting China on board would be the next challenge, he added.

"We are hopeful that China would listen to the voice of the ASEAN, and even the voice of the international community.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Philippines Azkals 2014 Fifa World Cup Asian Qualifiers win versus Kuwait for 2-1

If you think the Philippine Azkals is over in the first half, then the team make a magic after they strive to win the game over the Mighty Kuwait for 2-1 score in favor of the Philippines Azkals.

In a  90-minute encounter, it was the experience and poise of Kuwait that prevailed as Al Azraq, despite playing with 10 men in the second half, still found their way to wipe out Phl’s one-goal edge and steal a 2-1 win last night in the 2014 Fifa World Cup Asian Qualifiers Second Round at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

Together with the 3-0 verdict they posted in Kuwait last Saturday, Al Azraq won the two-game series on goal aggregate, 5-1, to earn a berth in the third round and dash the Azkals’ World Cup hopes at least for now.

“This game and the previous game show how bitter and hard football can be,” said Azkals coach Michael Weiss, who’s still a picture of optimism despite failing to scale the Everest-like challenge of Kuwait, the 10-time Gulf champions.

“A team like us that’s been fighting so bravely in the last six months, and even back to the Suzuki Cup last year, can be punished so severely. That’s a hard lesson to learn and take,” he added.

Fuelled by the enthusiastic crowd at the historic venue, the Azkals drew first blood and went into the break ahead, 1-0, enjoying the prospect of pulling a W over the mighty Al Azraq.

Fil-German Stephan Schrock, suspended in the first leg, was all over the place in his return to action. Schrock sent the leather home from 20 yards in the third minute of added time in the first half, setting off pandemonium all around the venue as tunes of Pinoy Ako and Impossible blared.

The Azkals got an added advantage in the 58th when Fahad Al Ebrahim was sent off for a hard tackle on Chieffy Caligdong.

But the personnel disadvantage inside did not dampen Kuwait a little.

Yousef Naser knocked down the equalizer on a long-range shot at the 61st, silencing the Filipino crowd which was then in the mood for celebration.

Al Azraq put the dagger on the stunned Filipinos in the 85th when Waleed Jumah knocked it down on a through ball that had goalkeeper Neil Etheridge rushing out.

“I think the team can take this defeat. We had to take it fairly and also acknowledge that we went up against a tough opponent,” Weiss said. “(Kuwait) Coach Goran (Tufegdzic) sees his team going all the way through the World Cup this year.”

Al Azraq advanced to the third round where Japan, Australia, South Korea, Bahrain and North Korea have been seeded, along with 14 other winners of Round 2.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Why China refused to bring the Spratlys issue to the United Nations?

Is it because China knew that they can’t win over the spratlys so they refused to raise the Spratlys disputes to the United Nations?

Based on applicable international maritime and related laws, China knows that if she petitions the United Nations International Court of Justice or the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea to affirm her dubious claim that she owns everything in the South China Sea aka West Philippine Sea — her chances of winning are about as likely as having a snowfall in the Sahara desert.

Both Courts have proper jurisdictions to settle sovereignty issues between nations regarding marine territories — such as those concerning the Spratly and Paracel islands.

Staging …..

Let’s imagine  what most likely would happen if  China does take her case to the International Court of Justice  and the representative of China — let’s call him Mr. Li — is before the Court headed by the Presiding Judge. Consider this scenario:

Judge:  “Please inform this Court of the basis for your claim that the entire South China Sea aka West Philippines Sea belongs completely to the People’s Republic of China?”

Mr. Li: “Thank you, your honor. Our claim is based on the historical fact that this entire area has belonged to us since the Han Dynasty.”

Judge: “How do you intend to prove your case?”

Mr. Li: “I will present to this Court an almost two thousand year old Han Dynasty map that indicates the limits of the Han Dynasty kingdom.”

Judge: “Let’s  assume for purposes of discussion  that  the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and other surrounding countries were provinces or part of the Han Dynasty during its time even if the map you hold may just actually be a navigational map which does not really define the limits of the Han Dynasty. Now my study of China’s history indicate that the Han Dynasty lasted from 206 B.C. To 220 A.D.  Is this correct?”

Mr. Li: “Yes your honor.”

Judge: “I assume Mr. Lee that you are familiar with Alexander the Great, the young Macedonian king who conquered much of the ancient world.”

Mr. Li: “I am, your honor.”

Judge: “At the time of his death in 323 B.C., Alexander’s kingdom included Greece, Syria, Persia now known as Iran, Egypt and a part of India. Are you aware Mr. Lee that Macedonia, Alexander’s country — is now known as the Republic of Macedonia?”

Mr. Li: “If you say so your honor.”

Judge: “Good! You appear to know your history. I assume you are also familiar with the Roman Empire which existed for over a thousand years.”

Mr. Li: “Thank you your honor, I do read history.”

Judge: “You are then aware Mr. Lee that at its height, the Roman Empire included most of Europe and parts of Africa and Asia.”

Mr. Li: “I am aware, your honor.”

Judge: “Now Mr. Lee, since the time of Alexander, the Roman Empire and the Han Dynasty — through the course of time and historical events, various  independent countries have emerged in Europe, Africa and Asia — which now have their own respective territories. This is a reality which  we all have to accept, wouldn’t you say?”

Mr. Li: “We cannot deny reality, your honor.”

Judge: “Now Mr. Lee, another undeniable reality is that Alexander’s empire, the Roman Empire and the Han Dynasty kingdom are no longer existent — am I correct in my observation?

Mr. Li: “You are correct, your honor.”

Judge: “Now Mr.Lee, in all candor, do you seriously believe that if the Republic of Macedonia and the Italian government were to come before this Court and petition us to affirm that they own the territories of these now independent countries because they were once a part of Alexander’s empire or the Roman empire — that we would be persuaded to grant these petitions?”

Mr. Li: “I understand what you are getting at, Judge — but most of what we are claiming as ours is marine area and not land.”

Judge: “The Spratlys and the Paracel islands are not land? Anyway, isn’t it a fact that China is a signatory to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) which she ratified on July 6, 1996 thereby agreeing to be bound by its provisions — and part of which is that anything within 200 miles from the baseline of a country belongs to that country?

Mr. Li: “China did agree to those provisions at a time when it was not yet aware of the far reaching consequences of UNCLOS to her national interests.”

Judge: “I will not mince my words Mr. Lee. What you mean is that at that time, the world, including China, was not yet aware, that vast deposits of oil and natural gas were to be found within the territorial limits of neighboring countries. Now because of this awareness, even if China knows she is trespassing and violating international law, she is using the coercive might of her size, military or otherwise — to grab these enormous reserves of petrowealth from the territories of her smaller, weaker, poorer neighbors — who badly need these assets to improve the plight of their own people.

Postscript:  In view of all the facts and existing applicable law, the likelihood is that the UN court will find China’s petition to be without merit.

Notwithstanding requests from the Philippines, neighboring countries and the United States to bring West Philippine Sea sovereignty issues to the United Nations, China has steadfastly refused to do so. Instead, it is constantly involved in mind games, using scare tactics, insisting that everything in the whole West Philippines Sea is theirs and that this issue is non-negotiable.

By so doing, the gigantic oil hungry dragon seeks to condition the national minds of her neighbors to forcibly accept inequitable bilateral settlement agreements — without United Nations or United States involvement. The Philippines, Vietnam and other neighbor countries must not fall into this trap. They should unite and create an alliance and insist — with the aid of the global community, with military means if necessary — that China should respect their rights and leave their national patrimony alone.

The most loudly applauded part of President Benigno Simeon Aquino’s State of the Nation speech was his strong affirmation that what belongs to the Philippines stays in the Philippines. Everyone understood his meaning:  The Philippines will stand firm against China’s bully tactics and mind games in trying to grab our energy and marine resources.

What a big difference to have a trustworthy President who provides moral leadership and looks after the interests of the nation instead of one ready to sell out the country’s patrimony for personal gain.

Source:

http://globalnation.inquirer.net/7319/why-china-will-not-bring-the-spratlys-issue-to-the-united-nations

10 nation ASEAN Navies reunited to protect the West Philippines SEA - Over China's invasion

Philippines’ Navy patrol boat in Manila Bay, Philippines

10 countries of the Association of Southeast Asia Nation (ASEAN) Navy official meet to reunite and to protect the seas from invaders.

Southeast Asian naval chiefs pledged closer cooperation on Wednesday (July 27, 2011) as they held their first formal talks amid regional concern over China's activities in the West Philippines Sea or also known as South China Sea.

Competing claims to the potentially oil-rich Paracel and Spratly island groups have caused rising tensions in recent months, with regional neighbours accusing China of behaving aggressively.

Vice Admiral Alexander Pama, commander of the Philippine navy, said the gathering in Hanoi was the first "formal meeting" of naval chiefs from the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) bloc.

He said the forum was held for the "purpose of enhancing collaboration, cooperation, among the ASEAN navies".

The disputed areas, which straddle vital commercial shipping lanes, are subject to a tangle of maritime claims by China, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Malaysia's top sailor Admiral Abdul Aziz Jaafar urged China to "respect the sovereignty" of states in the region, in comments to reporters during the talks.

ASEAN foreign ministers last week voiced "serious concern" over recent incidents in the South China Sea.

On Sunday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the international community should weigh into dialogue between China and Southeast Asia to ensure disputes "don't get out of control".

After attending Asia's main security forum in Indonesia, Clinton said a deal on guidelines for future negotiations was a first step to a binding code of conduct, but condemned acts of "intimidation" in the area.

"The eyes of the world have turned to the maritime area in our region," said Pama during the one-day naval talks.

"A solid ASEAN is an integral part of the solution to the South China Sea."

Hanoi's Vice Admiral Pham Ngoc Minh said the meeting "aimed to raise responsibility and define the importance of cooperation between naval forces of each ASEAN member, in maintaining peace, stability and development in the region," according to the official Vietnam News Agency, before the talks.

Tensions between Hanoi and Beijing flared in May when Vietnam said Chinese marine surveillance vessels cut the exploration cables of an oil survey ship inside the country's exclusive economic zone.

Admirals had initial discussions about a "hotline", which Pama told reporters could be used to improve coordination between naval headquarters.

He said it was too early to discuss whether such a hotline could help deal with tensions in the South China Sea.

Manila has complained that Chinese naval vessels harassed an oil exploration vessel in disputed waters in March, shot at Filipino fishermen and placed markers on some of the islets.

Philippines President Benigno Aquino said in Hanoi on Monday that his country was prepared to use military force to protect its territory, although its navy is made up mainly of World War II-vintage US ships.

Massive flooding in Korea kills at least 38 dead as of Thursday- heavy rains batter nation

July 28, 2011

The Changing Climate

This winter 2011 recorded the lowest temperature in Korea for -15 to – 19 degree Celsius. The Spring didn’t make the cheery blossoms bloom when the spring begun then suddenly the snow came back to stop the cheery blossoms then the summerlike warm climate rush to start, fast replacing the cold snowy spring then the summer begins.

If summer in the tropical countries like the Philippines is hot, dry and no rain; it is opposite in Korea. The summer in Korea this year is a rainy season and flooding resulting to many landslides and killing dozens of people.

According to many locals, this is rare. We did not encounter this kind of climate before.

The farms and greenhouses are submerged with water, and billions worth un harvested crops of destroyed.  The medical tourism capital in Gangnam area is like a lake and many people drowned and missing.

400 millimeters of precipitation since Tuesday

At least 38 people were killed Wednesday (July 27, 2011) as two days of torrential rains triggered landslides, flooding and power outages in Seoul and central regions, emergency officials said.

Several others had been reported missing, the nation’s disaster control agency said.

“The death toll could rise, as more reports are coming in,” an official at the National Emergency Management Agency said.

In Chuncheon, some 85 kilometers east of Seoul, 13 people died after a landslide destroyed a mountain pension and three residential buildings just after midnight Wednesday. Twenty others were injured, with four of them in critical conditions.

The victims were mostly students from Inha University in Incheon, who were in the area for volunteer work during their summer vacation, emergency officials said.

“I was sleeping on the second floor of the pension when I heard the thunderous sound of a landslide. The stairs collapsed and I was buried in mud,” one student rescued by firefighters told the Yonhap news agency.

Landslides, mud flood - death rise

In Seoul, which recorded more than 400 millimeters of precipitation from Tuesday till early Wednesday, tons of mud from Mount Woomyeon swept through nearby villages in the city’s southern ward of Seocho, killing 16.

Of them, six were killed in a village of Jeonwon.

The landslide also hit another village, Hyeongchon, killing the wife of Shinsegae chairman Koo Hak-su. Yang Myeong-ja was killed while trying to check the flooded basement of her home, according to local reports.

A plant collapsed in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, in the evening leaving three workers dead and two others injured.

Police, firefighters and emergency officials were carrying out rescue efforts, as half of the village, or about 60 houses, were still isolated.

Another six people were killed and hundreds evacuated as Gonjiam Stream in Gwangju, Gyeonggi Province, flooded.

On top of the casualties from landslides, at least three people were reported missing in flooded streams and rivers, emergency officials said.

Police declared a state of special emergency as roads, streets; subway stations and residential districts were flooded throughout the capital.

More than a thousand officers were mobilized to help ease traffic gridlock and block roadways deemed too dangerous.

Some 36 major roads were closed to traffic nationwide, including 23 in Seoul, and more than 700 homes were flooded in the capital, the disaster control agency said. Mobile phone networks were cut off in some areas.

The Korea Meteorological Administration said downpours tallying more than 110 millimeters of rain per hour, were recorded in Seoul and elsewhere. More rain, as much as 250 millimeters, is expected until early Thursday morning.

Korean Subway Train System Submerged

Districts in Gangnam, south of Han River in Seoul, were one of the hardest-hit areas.

“All roads near my home are flooded and it seems no bus operates here. I had to call my boss that I can’t come to work today,” a citizen living in Yangjae-dong wrote via Twitter.

Electricity outage hit nearly 10,000 homes in the Gangnam area, while hundreds of traffic lights malfunctioned, worsening the traffic chaos.

The Sadang intersection, the southern gate to the capital, was flooded, causing severe traffic jam in the area. Its nearly subway station, Sadang, was shut down in order to prevent it from being submerged. 

Subway services were disrupted.

The services on subway line No. 1 was halted for about an hour in early Wednesday morning after Oryudong Station was submerged.

Another line linking Seoul and Bundang, a residential town in the city of Seongnam, was also disrupted due to submerged railroads.

TV and radio station EBS stopped broadcasting its regular programs after its facilities were damaged by the flood.

M/S Tûranor Planet Solar Powerded by Philippines Solar Cell

M/S Tûranor Planet Solar: exclusively powered by 38,000 high-efficiency solar cells all produced in the Philippines at the manufacturing facilities of SunPower Corporation, a German-built vessel measures 31 by 15 meters and tips the scales at 85 tons. Over 537 square meters of photovoltaic solar panels provide up to 127 horsepower – enough to keep the craft moving at a constant speed of 14 kilometers per hour.

The world’s largest and most advanced solar-powered boat, the M/S Tûranor Planet Solar, is proof that energy harnessed from the heat of the sun can power practically everything—from pocket-sized calculators to cruise ships.

M/S Tûranor Planet Solar has finally arrived in Manila Philippines, not only showcasing the potential of environmentally responsible mobility concepts, but also largely demonstrating the immense potential of solar energy, among other renewable energy sources, as a sustainable resource that can power the future.

“The sun has always been our planet’s most important source of power—wind, rainfall and waves—are all indirectly generated by the sun. Harnessing even a tiny portion of its immense power can provide us with limitless amounts of clean energy,” said World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-Philippines) chair Vincent Pérez  in a statement.

“The message of M/S Tûranor Planet Solar is clear: clean and dependable renewable energy technology is here,” added Pérez, who served as Philippine energy secretary from 2001 to 2005 and has since been active in promoting renewable energy.

The German-built vessel measures 31 by 15 meters and tips the scales at 85 tons. Over 537 square meters of photovoltaic solar panels provide up to 127 horsepower – enough to keep the craft moving at a constant speed of 14 kilometers per hour.

The ship is exclusively powered by 38,000 high-efficiency solar cells all produced in the Philippines at the manufacturing facilities of SunPower Corporation. Already, it has won two accolades – the fastest crossing of the Atlantic by a solar-powered vessel and the longest distance covered by a solar-powered electric vehicle, according to WWF.

The catamaran now targets to be the first solar-powered boat to circumnavigate the world. Traveling over 55,000 kilometers westward across the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans, the M/S Tûranor set sail from Monaco in southern France on September 27, 2010 and has just arrived in Manila from Australia.

WWF claimed that the Philippines’ stop of the Solar cruise ship was recognition of the country’s strong support for renewable energy.

Over the next 20 years, the Philippine government, through the Department of Energy, targets to increase the use of renewable energy by threefold as clean energy is now being seen as a another way to secure the country’s energy supply.

Specifically, the Philippines will target to increase renewable energy-based power capacity to over 15,200 megawatts in installed capacity. This target will allow the country to have a power mix in which RE resources will account for over 50 percent. As of end 2010, total RE generation stood at 26.3 percent.

These goals set under the National Renewable Energy Program can be achieved given that the country has abundant renewable energy sources, with various estimates ranging from 200,000 MW to as high as 276,000 MW in potential capacity. These resources included biomass, geothermal, solar, hydro, ocean and wind.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

China: "We owned everything" in Spratlys - asked talk with the Philippines

China is ready to sit down with the Philippines in one-on-one talks regarding their ownership dispute over portions of the Spratly Islands, Beijing's envoy to Manila said Monday (July 25, 2011).

Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Liu Jianchao said the issue is a bilateral one and China is ready to discuss with the Philippines how to settle the dispute.

Liu issued the statement after President Benigno Aquino III said in his State of the Nation Address on Monday that the Philippines may bring the dispute over the West Philippine Sea, or the South China Sea, before the United Nations International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.

China: “We owned everything” in the West Philippines Sea

It is hard for the Philippines to decide for between two countries talk as China has already invaded the Philippines waters more than 7 times during the first 2 quarter of this year.

The loser appears to be always as the Philippines because the disputes in the Spratlys pushed by China until inside Philippines Water most particularly the Reed Bank which is just 84 Nautical Miles from the shore of Palawan Province.

In spite of the UNCLOS laws of sea guaranteeing 200 Nautical Miles, invaders push the dispute to the Philippines shore even within less than 100 nautical miles from the Philippines shore.

The Philippines want to separate the dispute from the disputed islands and waters but it seems that the disputes infected the undisputed areas in less than 100 nautical miles from the shore of the Southern Philippines.

When Philippines questioned China for their belligerent action in the west Philippines Sea they will just replied “No intrusion happen because it is under our sovereignty”

Philippines Foreign Secretary already quoted “how could we have a bilateral talks with china when we sit down, they will just say; “We owned everything” in the West Philippines Sea.

President Aquino Stands over Spratlys 

"We do not wish to increase tensions with anyone, but we must let the world know we are ready to protect what is ours," Aquino said.

Aquino said the Philippines would no longer allow other countries to enforce their will over territorial disputes.

"There was a time when we couldn't appropriately respond to threats in our own backyard," he said.

"Now our message to the world is clear. What is ours is ours; setting foot on Recto Bank is no different from setting foot on Recto Avenue. In Manila"

Recto Bank is the Philippine name for Reed Bank, a group of tiny islands in the South China Sea that is claimed by the Philippines and China, while Recto Avenue is a major road in the heart of the capital, Manila.

Recto bank is just 84 Nautical Miles from the shore of Palawan Province and more than 700 Nautical miles from the closest Hainan Island of China.

Between 2 countries talk (Philippines – China)

Liu, meanwhile, insisted that the issue is "between our two countries."

"Talks are going on in Bali, in Indonesia. I hope that progress would continue to be made. So let's be diplomatic, let's give diplomacy a chance so that we all conform to the interests of all countries that this area, this region, remains peaceful and stable," he said.

"I take it as a claim that is repeated. Now, China and the countries in this region are working very hard in making sure that this place, this area in peaceful and stable one," the Chinese envoy added.

Manila has accused Chinese navy boats of harassing a Philippine oil exploration vessel near Reed Bank in March, one of the incidents that triggered a dramatic rise in bilateral tensions.

China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have overlapping claims to all or parts of the South China Sea, which is believed to be extremely rich in oil and gas deposits.

Tensions in the decades-long dispute escalated this year amid accusations from the Philippines and Vietnam that China was becoming increasingly aggressive in staking its claims to the sea.

Aside from harassing the oil exploration vessel at Reed Bank, the Philippines accused Chinese forces of shooting at Filipino fishermen and placing markers on some of the islets.

The Philippines has one of the weakest military forces in the region, with its airforce lacking any fighter aircraft and its navy made up mainly of World War II-vintage US ships.

However the Philippines secured a promise from the United States in June 2011 for help in modernizing its armed forces, after appealing to its longtime ally for protection amid its rift with China.

A decommissioned US Coast Guard patrol vessel that will become the Philippines' biggest navy ship is due to reach Philippine shores next month early August 2011 , which Aquino highlighted in his speech in the State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Philippines to buy more arms to defend Spratlys, SONA: Aquino

Amid rising tensions with China over the hotly-contested Spratly Islands in the Kalayaan Island Group or Freedom land Philippines, President Benigno Aquino III announced during his State of the Nation Address (SONA) that the Philippines was ready to defend its territory by acquiring more armaments.

"We do not wish to increase tensions with anyone, but we must let the world know that we are ready to protect what is ours," Mr. Aquino said in his State of the Nation Address (SONA), drawing loud applause at the packed House of Representatives.

Mr. Aquino did not mention China, which claims the entire South China Sea including the shore of the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei & Malaysia, where the Spratlys are located, as its own, and has been accused by both the Philippines and Vietnam of becoming increasingly aggressive in staking its claims to the area. But the President clearly referred to Asia's rising military power when he mentioned Recto Bank - internationally known as the Reed Bank - as clearly belonging to the Philippines as a popular downtown Manila Street bears the same name which is 84 Nautical Miles from the shore of Palawan, province of the Philippines which failed to escape from the china’s incursion.

"There was a time when we couldn't appropriately respond to threats in our own backyard. Now, our message to the world is clear: What is ours is ours; setting foot on Recto Bank is no different from setting foot on Recto Avenue, Manila" said Mr. Aquino, whose office announced last month that it was renaming the South China Sea as the "West Philippines Sea".

The President said the Philippines' very first Hamilton-class cutter, which was acquired from the United States, was already on its way to the country.

"We may acquire more vessels in the future, these in addition to helicopters and patrol craft and the weapons that (we) will buy in bulk to get a significant discount," said Mr Aquino, whose country has one of the weakest military forces in the region.

The Philippines has alleged that Chinese forces have repeatedly intruded into Manila-claimed areas in and near the Spratlys since February, including at the Reed Bank. Chinese officials have said there were no intrusions because those waters belonged to China with distance of more than 700 Nautical Miles compare to the Philippines with only 85 Nautical Miles from the Philippines’ shore.

The chain of barren, largely uninhabited islands, reefs and banks in the West Philippines Sea which is also known as South China Sea are claimed in its entirety or partly by China, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Brunei. They are believed to be the 4th largest Oil and Gas deposit in the World.

The Philippines has said it intends to bring the Spratlys disputes before the UN's International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea. China opposed the plan and wants to negotiate bilaterally instead which troubled the Philippines because when they will set down with china; China will just say we owned everything..

Mr. Aquino said in his State of the nation Address (SONA) July 25, 2011 that bringing the case before an international arbiter would ensure that "all involved nations approach the dispute with calm and forbearance".

The President's reference to the Spratlys in an address to mark the one-year anniversary of his inauguration followed a visit by Filipino lawmakers on July 20 to a Philippine-occupied island in the disputed area.

The one-day visit to Pag-asa Island led (Freedom Land Visit)

a Chinese Embassy spokesman to say that Beijing would relay its "great concern" to the Philippines government over the trip.

The Philippines' push to secure energy resources in the Spratlys despite China's opposition may ensnare the United States, Manila's treaty ally. Washington has said the peaceful resolution of the territorial disputes and ensuring the freedom of navigation there were in the US' interest, a position that has irked China.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned on Sunday (July 23, 2011) that disputes in the South China Sea threaten to disrupt one of the world's busiest shipping lanes.

There has been an increase in "intimidations, the ramming, the cuttings of cables - the kinds of things that will raise the cost of business for everyone", Mrs Clinton said on Sunday in Bali, Indonesia, where she had attended a meeting of Asian security officials.

" ... It's important for us to support freedom of navigation, unimpeded commerce," she added.

At the Bali meeting, China and the 10-member Association of South-east Asian Nations (ASEAN) agreed to draft guidelines for behaviour in the South China Sea. However, Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario was quoted as saying that with no teeth; even such guidelines would be meaningless.

State of the Nation Address (SONA) 2 Sets Clear Government Direction - Gains Praises

The Philippines President Benigno Aquino III delivers his State of the Nation Address (SONA) during the 15th Congress at the House of Representatives in suburban Quezon City, north of Manila, Philippines on Monday, July. 25, 2011.

President Aquino’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) drew praises from congressional leaders and other sectors not only for his statesmanship but also for the inspiration it gave to the Filipino people.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said the SONA was inspiring to Filipinos, who now see clear and new directions on good governance in the Aquino administration.

“The speech of the President was good and inspiring because he said we have the power of change. We all can do it,” Belmonte told reporters, noting that the SONA was not “vengeful.”

Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles and Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said the SONA was very clear “on what the President wants, that is to stop corruption and abuse in government so that government funds can be used for the poor.”

“But Filipinos must pay the correct taxes, too. It’s every Filipino’s responsibility to help our country. Congratulations also on the initiative to make Filipinos accountable to the planting of trees and the support government will give to this initiative,” Nograles said.

“Thank you to the President for instructing DOJ (Department of Justice) to go after extrajudicial killings. The President wants a change in the character of Filipinos – that is very noble,” he said.

Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone said the SONA “was very consistent in his good governance and pro-people agenda. The litany of concrete achievements that he mentioned can be summed up into one: there is hope for every Filipino. His agenda of good governance was highlighted by his announcement of the new ombudsman,” Evardone said.

Palawan Representative Antonio Alvarez, vice chairman of the National Unity Party, said the SONA “was an instruction to Congress and a bugle call to the people on what must be done.”

“In so far as the need to provide a sense of direction, the speech achieved it. It dealt with the future instead of dwelling on the past,” Alvarez said.

Ang Kasangga sa Kaunlaran party-list Rep. Teodorico Haresco said the SONA “reflected his parents’ legacy of deep moral upbringing,” while Valenzuela City Rep. Rex Gatchalian, who is also spokesman of the Nationalist People’s Coalition in the House, said “the President showed us his firm grasp of the country’s economic, and national security programs.”

“In the national security front he showed us significant investments in equipment that bolsters our capacity building efforts, while at same time pursuing international legal efforts to secure of territorial integrity,” Gatchalian said.

“P-Noy justified very well running after grafters in the past administration as this would result in better services for the poor,” Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo said.

Misamis Occidental Gov. Loreto Leo Ocampos said Aquino showed his determination to rid the government of graft in his speech.

Isabela Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao rated the SONA at 85 percent. “I thought it was very substantive and the dollop of humor made the speech alive and interesting.”

Former Philippines’ Presidents were satisfied- SONA is Clear

Former President Fidel Ramos said Aquino’s SONA “was better” than last year’s.

“But we need to move faster because, although he (Aquino) show it, we are already at the bottom in the whole of Southeast Asia and in the whole Asia-Pacific region,” Ramos told reporters.

“We need to work now,” he said.

Former President Joseph Estrada also commended Aquino for his “clear” SONA.

“We need to give P-Noy time in restoring faith in government because of the immeasurable and insurmountable acts of corruption of the past administration,” Estrada said.

“So while we are eliminating corruption, we should also be empowering our citizens through nation building. I hope that in his second year, we see more results in the fields of peace and order, food security and social services, especially education,” he said.

The Black and White Movement renewed its support for Aquino’s year-old government but said it needs to know the President’s vision.

“We want to know what his vision is. He needs to spell it out,” group leader Leah Navarro told reporters. “Where does this government want to take us?”

Navarro said while the government had been coming up with tag lines like “Daang Matuwid” or “Kung Walang Corrupt Walang Mahirap,” it has yet to lay down plans on how it plans to achieve it.

In a statement, the group also noted that “corruption goes unabated” and that “the President’s message of matuwid na daan has not cascaded down to government’s subordinate offices.”

Navarro, who was part of the volunteer movement that campaigned for Aquino for the 2010 polls, reiterated that her group continues to support the President but they would appreciate it if the government could fast-track programs that will eradicate poverty and produce educated youth, among others.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) all praises for the President Aquino

Meanwhile, the military yesterday called President Aquino “a good planner” and is optimistic that he would remain supportive of the armed forces’ capability upgrade program.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Commodore Miguel Rodriguez said they are inspired by Aquino’s vision for the country as well as his drive to implement reforms.

“The plan of the President on where he would lead us is very clear. The President is a very good planner and he wants us to tread the straight path,” he said in an interview.

Rodriguez said Aquino has given them direction through the internal security plan Bayanihan, which seeks to curb armed conflict through development.

“We also have a clear marching order to step up reforms. He brought back the honor and commitment of soldiers. The soldiers become more enthusiastic under his term,” he said. Rodriguez said they are confident that through Aquino’s guidance, the internal conflict with armed groups would eventually come to an end.

“We are optimistic that we will finally put an end to internal strife. We are considering the primacy of peace process. We’re making inroads in the peace negotiations with CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines) and the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF),” he said.

Rodriguez also praised Aquino’s commitment to upgrade the capabilities of the military.

“He is providing us the necessary support. Under his leadership, we expect the upgrading of armed forces so we can be respectable force,” the AFP spokesman said.

Rodriguez said the AFP would remain supportive of Aquino’s development programs.

“We’re looking at being able to contribute to the development of the countryside especially in conflict areas.

State of the Nation Address (SONA) Philippines 2011 - President Benigno Aquino III

The Philippines President Benigno Aquino III delivers his State of the Nation Address (SONA) during the 15th Congress at the House of Representatives in suburban Quezon City, north of Manila, Philippines on Monday, July. 25, 2011.

The Philippines President Benigno Aquino III stressed on the economic gains and anti-corruption efforts of his one-year-old administration in his State of the Nation Address (SONA), but industry participants believe much remains to be done to sustain the country's growth.

"This is Aquino III's first year in office so he's still in the preparatory stage. But we expect that in the next few years, he will be able to improve the country's investment climate," Miguel Varela, president of the Employers' Confederation of the Philippines, said.

Varela said that with more investments, more jobs will be created, unemployment and poverty reduced.

Sergio Ortiz-Luis, president of the Philippine Exporters Confederation, also has modest expectation of Aquino's first year in office. But in the next 6 months, Ortiz-Luis said that businessmen "expect some improvements" under Aquino's leadership.

Jobless, poverty and lack of investments are some of the problems that beleaguer this developing Southeast Asian country. Aquino tackled these concerns in this year's SONA.

In his speech delivered Monday (July 25, 2011) at the opening of the 15th Congress' second regular session, Aquino said that under his term, the government was able to reduce hunger incidence, attract more investors and boost the local stock market.

Aquino said the credit upgrade extended by international credit rating firms such as Moody's, Standard and Poor's, Fitch and Japan Credit Ratings Agency is proof of the government's "prudent use of funds and creative financial management."

"These improved credit ratings mean lower interest on our debts. Our innovative fiscal approach has saved taxpayers 23 billion ($542.45 million) in the first four months of this year. This is enough to cover the 2.3 million conditional cash transfer beneficiaries for the entire year." Aquino said.

Aquino added that as of April this year, the unemployment rate stood at 7.2 percent, slightly lower than last year's 8 percent. He said in the past, most Filipinos foremost ambition was to work in another country. Now, Filipinos can take his pick. As long as he pursues his dream with determination and diligence, he can realize them.

However, the President pointed out problems such as job mismatch in local market. Aquino quoted figures of the Philjobnet website as saying, every month there are 50,000 jobs that are not filled because the knowledge and skills of job seekers do not match the needs of the companies, adding, "we will not allow this opportunity to go to waste."

But more than that Aquino, who ran and won on an anti-corruption platform, noted his administration remained committed in pursuing the "straight path" - of fighting corruption.

He listed down several efforts done by the government to stem corruption including probing questionable deals made by the previous administration, implementing a transparent bidding process for government infrastructure projects and improving tax management by slapping charges against tax evaders.

"We are not leaving anything to chance; good governance yields positive results. Think about it: We have realized our promise of providing the public with the services that it needs and implementing programs to help the poor without having to raise our taxes," Aquino said.

Evita Jimenez, executive director of the Center for People Empowerment in Governance, said, "it is not yet late for the President to take another route to address the strong clamor for change for which he was elected, he has five years to go in the presidency."

The President Warned China over Spratlys

President Benigno Aquino III warned China in a major national speech the State of the Nation Address (SONA) Monday (July 25, 2011) that the Philippines was ready to defend its Spratly Islands claims by acquiring more weapons and would elevate the territorial feuds to a U.N. tribunal.

In his State of the Nation Address to Congress, Aquino also announced a Ombudsman new chief anti-graft prosecutor and said his year-old government plans to file its first major corruption case this year against corrupt officials and their accomplices. He did not name the officials but vowed punishment for the guilty.

"We do not wish to increase tensions with anyone, but we must let the world know that we are ready to protect what is ours," Aquino said, drawing loud applause at the packed House of Representatives. The address also was televised live to the nation.

Aquino noted the efforts to bolster the military's capability, citing the recent purchase of a U.S. Coast Guard cutter and plans to acquire more patrol vessels, helicopters and weapons in deals he guaranteed would be aboveboard.

Aquino did not name China in his speech but clearly referred to it in laying a clear claim to the South China Sea feature called Recto Bank, also known as the Reed Bank, where the Philippines alleges China has intruded.

"There was a time when we couldn't appropriately respond to threats in our own backyard," Aquino said. "Now, our message to the world is clear: What is ours is ours; setting foot on Recto Bank is no different from setting foot on Recto Avenue."

Recto Avenue is a popular street in downtown Manila. The Philippines has said Chinese forces have repeatedly intruded into Manila-claimed areas in the sea since February, including at the Reed Bank. Filipino officials said two Chinese patrol boats threatened a Filipino oil exploration ship into leaving the Reed Bank, which 84.77 Nautical Miles territorial waters and not part of the nearby Spratlys.

Two military planes were deployed during the March 2 incident, but the Chinese boats have left by the time the aircraft reached the Reed Bank, 97.55 miles (87.77 Nautical Miles or 150 kilometers) from the Philippine coast.

Chinese officials have said there were no intrusions because those in the Philippines shore are belonged to China.

The chain of barren, largely uninhabited islands, reefs and banks in the South China Sea or West Philippines Sea are claimed entirety or partly by China, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Brunei.  The Spratlys is said to be the 4th largest oil and Gas deposit in the World and straddle a busy international sea lane.

The Spratlys have long been regarded as Asia's next potential flashpoint for armed conflict.

Washington has said the peaceful resolution of the territorial disputes and ensuring the freedom of navigation there were in the U.S. national interest, a position that irked China.

The Philippines has said it intends to bring the Spratlys disputes before the U.N.'s International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea. China opposed the plan and wants to negotiate bilaterally instead but the Philippines commented how could we sit together with China when we will face them, they will just say We owned everything the that sea.

Aquino said bringing the case before an international arbiter would ensure that "all involved nations approach the dispute with calm and forbearance."

State of the Nation Address (SONA) Philippines 2011 - President Benigno Aquino III

The Philippines President Benigno Aquino III delivers his State of the Nation Address (SONA) during the 15th Congress at the House of Representatives in suburban Quezon City, north of Manila, Philippines on Monday, July. 25, 2011.

The Philippines President Benigno Aquino III stressed on the economic gains and anti-corruption efforts of his one-year-old administration in his State of the Nation Address (SONA), but industry participants believe much remains to be done to sustain the country's growth.

"This is Aquino III's first year in office so he's still in the preparatory stage. But we expect that in the next few years, he will be able to improve the country's investment climate," Miguel Varela, president of the Employers' Confederation of the Philippines, said.

Varela said that with more investments, more jobs will be created, unemployment and poverty reduced.

Sergio Ortiz-Luis, president of the Philippine Exporters Confederation, also has modest expectation of Aquino's first year in office. But in the next 6 months, Ortiz-Luis said that businessmen "expect some improvements" under Aquino's leadership.

Jobless, poverty and lack of investments are some of the problems that beleaguer this developing Southeast Asian country. Aquino tackled these concerns in this year's SONA.

In his speech delivered Monday (July 25, 2011) at the opening of the 15th Congress' second regular session, Aquino said that under his term, the government was able to reduce hunger incidence, attract more investors and boost the local stock market.

Aquino said the credit upgrade extended by international credit rating firms such as Moody's, Standard and Poor's, Fitch and Japan Credit Ratings Agency is proof of the government's "prudent use of funds and creative financial management."

"These improved credit ratings mean lower interest on our debts. Our innovative fiscal approach has saved taxpayers 23 billion ($542.45 million) in the first four months of this year. This is enough to cover the 2.3 million conditional cash transfer beneficiaries for the entire year." Aquino said.

Aquino added that as of April this year, the unemployment rate stood at 7.2 percent, slightly lower than last year's 8 percent. He said in the past, most Filipinos foremost ambition was to work in another country. Now, Filipinos can take his pick. As long as he pursues his dream with determination and diligence, he can realize them.

However, the President pointed out problems such as job mismatch in local market. Aquino quoted figures of the Philjobnet website as saying, every month there are 50,000 jobs that are not filled because the knowledge and skills of job seekers do not match the needs of the companies, adding, "we will not allow this opportunity to go to waste."

But more than that Aquino, who ran and won on an anti-corruption platform, noted his administration remained committed in pursuing the "straight path" - of fighting corruption.

He listed down several efforts done by the government to stem corruption including probing questionable deals made by the previous administration, implementing a transparent bidding process for government infrastructure projects and improving tax management by slapping charges against tax evaders.

"We are not leaving anything to chance; good governance yields positive results. Think about it: We have realized our promise of providing the public with the services that it needs and implementing programs to help the poor without having to raise our taxes," Aquino said.

Evita Jimenez, executive director of the Center for People Empowerment in Governance, said, "it is not yet late for the President to take another route to address the strong clamor for change for which he was elected, he has five years to go in the presidency."

The President Warned China over Spratlys

President Benigno Aquino III warned China in a major national speech the State of the Nation Address (SONA) Monday (July 25, 2011) that the Philippines was ready to defend its Spratly Islands claims by acquiring more weapons and would elevate the territorial feuds to a U.N. tribunal.

In his State of the Nation Address to Congress, Aquino also announced a Ombudsman new chief anti-graft prosecutor and said his year-old government plans to file its first major corruption case this year against corrupt officials and their accomplices. He did not name the officials but vowed punishment for the guilty.

"We do not wish to increase tensions with anyone, but we must let the world know that we are ready to protect what is ours," Aquino said, drawing loud applause at the packed House of Representatives. The address also was televised live to the nation.

Aquino noted the efforts to bolster the military's capability, citing the recent purchase of a U.S. Coast Guard cutter and plans to acquire more patrol vessels, helicopters and weapons in deals he guaranteed would be aboveboard.

Aquino did not name China in his speech but clearly referred to it in laying a clear claim to the South China Sea feature called Recto Bank, also known as the Reed Bank, where the Philippines alleges China has intruded.

"There was a time when we couldn't appropriately respond to threats in our own backyard," Aquino said. "Now, our message to the world is clear: What is ours is ours; setting foot on Recto Bank is no different from setting foot on Recto Avenue."

Recto Avenue is a popular street in downtown Manila. The Philippines has said Chinese forces have repeatedly intruded into Manila-claimed areas in the sea since February, including at the Reed Bank. Filipino officials said two Chinese patrol boats threatened a Filipino oil exploration ship into leaving the Reed Bank, which 84.77 Nautical Miles territorial waters and not part of the nearby Spratlys.

Two military planes were deployed during the March 2 incident, but the Chinese boats have left by the time the aircraft reached the Reed Bank, 97.55 miles (87.77 Nautical Miles or 150 kilometers) from the Philippine coast.

Chinese officials have said there were no intrusions because those in the Philippines shore are belonged to China.

The chain of barren, largely uninhabited islands, reefs and banks in the South China Sea or West Philippines Sea are claimed entirety or partly by China, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Brunei.  The Spratlys is said to be the 4th largest oil and Gas deposit in the World and straddle a busy international sea lane.

The Spratlys have long been regarded as Asia's next potential flashpoint for armed conflict.

Washington has said the peaceful resolution of the territorial disputes and ensuring the freedom of navigation there were in the U.S. national interest, a position that irked China.

The Philippines has said it intends to bring the Spratlys disputes before the U.N.'s International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea. China opposed the plan and wants to negotiate bilaterally instead but the Philippines commented how could we sit together with China when we will face them, they will just say We owned everything the that sea.

Aquino said bringing the case before an international arbiter would ensure that "all involved nations approach the dispute with calm and forbearance."

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