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HRW: Murders of priests, journalists matter of grave concern

MANILA, Philippines – Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Thursday, June 14, condemned the recent killings of Catholic priests and journalists in the Philippines, calling the incidents "a matter of grave concern." "These killings, alongside the thousands of deaths in the drug war, are grim reminders of ........»»

Category: newsSource: rappler rapplerJun 14th, 2018

Duterte concerned over killings of journalists, priests and fiscals

PRESIDENT RODRIGO DUTERTE has expressed concern on the rise in the number of killings following the series of killings that […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  mindanaoexaminerRelated NewsJun 16th, 2018

Foreign correspondents hit Duterte ban on Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – The Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) voiced its "grave concern" over President Rodrigo Duterte's decision to ban Rappler journalists from entering Malacañang. "FOCAP considers this as a blatant attack on freedom of the press, a right guaranteed by the Philippine Constitution and ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsFeb 22nd, 2018

Stop the blacklisting of non-Filipino human rights defenders – Karapatan

President Duterte is obviously easily ticked-off by non-Filipino human rights defenders and activists expressing solidarity and grave concern on the human rights situation in the Philippines, says KARAPATAN......»»

Category: newsSource:  samarnewsRelated NewsSep 30th, 2018

P200-M mine project ‘rape’ of environment

DETAINED Sen. Leila de Lima on Tuesday expressed grave concern over a Chinese-funded nickel mining project in Candelaria, Zambales. News reports showed that Fujian Hengrun Investment Co. Ltd of China and Filipino firms Westchinamin Corp. and Easternreach Mining Group Inc. have agreed to put up the P200-million ferro-nickel plant. De Lima, chairman of the Senate Committee on… link: P200-M mine project ‘rape’ of environment.....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilainformerRelated NewsSep 19th, 2018

Q& A: Hall of Fame Bob Lanier

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com Bob Lanier turned 70 Monday, a big number for a big man. In fact, that number can be linked to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer in several ways. It was in 1970 that Lanier was the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft, selected out of St. Bonaventure by the Detroit Pistons. And it was the 70s as the decade in which Lanier excelled, earning seven of his eight All-Star appearances while averaging 22.7 points and 11.8 rebounds for the Pistons. Dinosaurs ruled the NBA landscape back then, with Lanier achieving his success against the likes of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Walton, Dave Cowens, Willis Reed, Nate Thurmond, Elvin Hayes, Artis Gilmore and other legendary big men. Yet it was Lanier who was the MVP of the 1974 All-Star Game, who won the one-off, 32-contestant 1-on-1 championship tournament run by ABC in 1973 as part of its national broadcast schedule and who (with Walton) got name-dropped by Abdul-Jabbar in the 1980 Hollywood comedy “Airplane!” [“I'm out there busting my buns every night!” he tells a kid as “co-pilot Roger Murdock.” “Tell your old man to drag Walton and Lanier up and down the court for 48 minutes!”] Lanier’s Detroit teams never got beyond the conference semifinals, though, so in 1979-80 he asked to be traded. In February 1980, the Pistons dealt him to Milwaukee for Kent Benson and a future draft pick. With the Bucks, who averaged 59 victories in Lanier’s four full seasons there, Lanier flirted with his greatest team success, yet never reached The Finals. He was 36 when bad knees and other injuries forced him to retire. Those knees still are trouble, preventing Lanier from attending this year’s Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony -- he was elected in 1992 -- and limiting his ability to travel from his home in Arizona to catch his daughter Khalia’s volleyball games at USC. But the man nicknamed “The Dobber” was as chatty and opinionated as ever in a phone conversation last week with NBA.com: NBA.com: The league still keeps you busy, doesn’t it? Bob Lanier: Well, it did. But about 15 months ago, I had knee replacement surgery on my right leg and that is not going very well. It still aches and it gets me unbalanced. That’s what I was trying to get away from. The surgeon said mine was the most difficult one he’d ever done. I was supposed to get the left one done but I couldn’t, because the right one was bothering me so much. I can’t even stand to hit a golf ball. NBA.com: You were part of the original Stay In School initiative, if I recall correctly. BL: I was involved with a little bit of everything from the time David [Stern, longtime NBA commissioner] first called me in 1988. It started off with wanting me to do something for kids who stayed in school. We did “P-R-I-D-E,” with P for positive mental attitude, R for respect, I for intelligent choice-making, D for dreaming and setting goals, and E for effort and education. It was really amazing. The first year, we were talking about giving out 25,000 Starter jackets for kids who came to the rally. Shoot, we needed double that amount, the numbers we got. Everything is kind of under the same umbrella now with NBA Cares. Kathy Behrens [president, social responsibility and player programs] has done a wonderful job of taking this to a whole ‘nother level, her and Adam [Silver, NBA commissioner]. NBA.com: Have you ever had one of those kids whose lives you touched reach out to you years later? BL: [Laughs]. You know what, I’m laughing because you don’t expect to hear from anybody. The only time that somebody really validated something we were doing was when I wrote those books. (The “Hey, Li’l D!” series of kids books, loosely based on Lanier’s childhood adventures. Co-authored with Heather Goodyear in 2003, the Scholastic Paperbacks books still are available.) I was on a plane and one of the passengers asked me to sign the book for her, for her child. I was so taken aback by that, I was shaking while I was signing the autograph. That was really good -- I thought, maybe I did something right. NBA.com: But none of the Stay In School kids? BL: Look, in our business, in community relations and social responsibility areas, you don’t really … when you’re building houses for people, the folks who work with you side by side give you a thumbs up and say thank you before it’s over. When we do the playgrounds, we use kids in the neighborhood who are going to enjoy playing in it and having dreams -- they’re thankful. But there’s so much need out here. When you’re traveling around to different cities and different countries, you see there are so many people in dire straits that the NBA can only do so much. We make a vast, vast difference, but there’s always so much more to do. NBA.com: I know you’re not in it for the thank yous. BL: No. The only thing that stands out to me is from when I was still playing in Milwaukee and I was getting gas at a station on, I think it was Center St. A guy came up to me and said, “My dad is sick. And you’re his favorite player. Could you come up to the house and say hello to him? The house is right next door.” So I went over, I went upstairs. The guy was laying there in his bed. His son said, “This is Bob,” and he was like, “I know.” And he just had a little smile, a twinkle in his eye. And he grabbed my hand and squeezed it. And we said a little prayer. About two weeks later, his dad had died. And he left a card at the Bucks office, just saying “Thank you for making one of my dad’s final days into a good day.” NBA.com: It probably wasn’t, and isn’t, uncommon for you to be spotted out in public like that. At your size (6-foot-11, 250 pounds as a player). BL: As time passes on, people know you at first because you’re a player. Then you stop playing. And 10 years after, when a player like Shaquille O’Neal comes along, they know him and figure you must be Shaq’s dad. “You’re wearing them big shoes.” I just go along with it. “Yeah, I’m Shaq’s dad!” NBA.com: That has to sting, seeing as how Shaq took your title for the NBA’s biggest sneakers. You were famous for your size-22s. BL: Yeah, he sent me a pair one time and I think they were 23s. For some reason, I recall he would wear 23s and three pairs of socks or something instead of the 22s. NBA.com: Isn’t it sobering how quickly sports fans forget even distinctive-looking players such as yourself? BL: Absolutely correct. But that’s why we in the NBA and at the players association have to do a better job of passing down the history of our game. In a way that they’ll absorb it. Not necessarily that they’ll have to read it – it could be in a video game form, because that seems to hold interest a lot. NBA.com: You have been as busy in your post-playing career for the NBA as you ever were while playing, right? BL: I’ve really been blessed. You know this story: I started serving people with my mother [Nattie Mae] at church. Getting food to people who were sick or needy, taking it to the hospital, taking it to people’s houses or feeding them right after church. My mother was a Seventh Day Adventist and she was in the church all the time. She had me and my sister and a bunch of kids, we would all be there every Saturday. You start off doing it not only because your mother tells you to, but the food was good. Then David asked me to come help with the Stay In School, which was the start of it all. If I hadn’t graduated from college, I probably would never have gotten an opportunity to do that with the NBA. Plus, the amazing number of young people I’ve met around the country, around the world, that I think I’ve touched … some lives. I can’t say I touched everybody, but some. I always had a knack of selecting -- when I’d call up kids to help me with the presentation -- a girl or a boy who needed it. It’s amazing how many times a teacher has said to me, “You picked Joe” or “You picked Dorothy, and that’s a really difficult kid. You made them feel good.” You never let a kid fail. NBA.com: You never were a shy and retiring type. What do you think of the NBA these days? BL: I’ll tell you what, I wish that I were playing now. It’s not as physical a sport. You can do stuff anywhere in the world. You can make tons of money off the court -- I can’t imagine how much I’d make with a speaker deal and those big-ass sneakers of mine. The only thing I would not like about this era is that you’ve got to be so conscious of social media. And people taking photos of you when you don’t know they’re taking them. And having those things that zoom over your home and take pictures of your house. That part I wouldn’t like at all. NBA.com: It’s hard enough to avoid the public eye at your size. By the way, are you as tall as you used to be? BL: No, no. I remember standing next to Magic [Johnson] last year at some function we had, and I was looking at him eye-to-eye. I said, “Damn, I thought I was 6-11 and you were 6-9. You look like you’re taller than me now.” NBA.com: You might have fared well today, with the range you had on your jump shot. A big man like you or Bob McAdoo would fit right in. BL: But Mac was a true forward and I was a true center. With the game the way it is now, I think guys like he or I -- Dave Cowens, too -- could shoot from outside, inside, open up the lanes, make good passes. I say that gingerly with Mac, because every time it touched his hands it was going up. He’s my boy but that’s the truth. NBA.com: Wayne Embry, the NBA lifer as a player and executive, recently said to me about the current style of play, “C’mon, the big man likes to play too.” The game has gotten so much smaller. BL: I kind of like this game a little bit. If you’re a big who has skills, it helps to stretch the floor. You can always post up, if you’ve got a big can post up. But now you’ve got these bigs who are elongated forwards. Boogie Cousins is probably our last post-up big that I’m aware of. I think I just saw him on TV somewhere making about 10 3-pointers in a row. NBA.com: Any team or individuals to whom you pay particular attention? BL: I like watching ‘Bron [LeBron James], obviously. I like this Golden State team, too, because they play so well together. I like the kid [Anthony] Davis. With Boogie, my concern is whether he’ll be healthy this season. NBA.com: What’s your take on the “super team” approach of the past few years? BL: I think both of ‘em have their sides. Back in the day, we would never do that. There wasn’t a lot of huggin’ and kissin’, all that stuff, when you were competing. You were out there to kick each other’s butt. But with AAU ball, it’s become guys playing together on these premier teams at all these tournaments around the country. So they get to know each before they ever go to college. NBA.com: Do you think today’s players appreciate the work you and other alumni did to build the league? BL: I think everything evolves. The best thing I could say as a player is, you want to leave the game in better shape than when you came into it. You want to leave a legacy, a better brand. You want players to be making more money. You want the league to be stronger. And since we’re partner in this, it’s important that those kinds of things happen. NBA.com: The 1970s seems to be pretty neglected, as far as NBA memories and highlights. At times it’s as if the league went from Bill Russell’s Boston Celtics dynasty to Magic Johnson and Larry Bird carrying the NBA into the 80s. The league had some popularity and PR issues back then, but eight different franchises won championships that decade. BL: Back in the 70s, a lot of people were feeling that the NBA was drug-infested. Too black. That’s one of the reasons the league came up with its substance abuse program, one of the first in sports to do that. The point was not to punish guys but to help guys who needed it to get clean. As that passed, then Larry and Magic came in. The media money started going up, and then Michael [Jordan] came in in ’84 and everything took off from there. So I can see how you could kind of forget about the 70s. NBA.com: And yet now folks complain that each season starts with only three or four teams seen as capable of winning the title. Why was it different then? BL: I think everybody competed a lot. And guys didn’t change teams as much, so when you were facing the Bulls or the Bucks or New York, you had all these rivalries. Lanier against Jabbar! Jabbar against Willis Reed! And then [Wilt] Chamberlain, and Artis Gilmore, and Bill Walton! You had all these great big men and the game was played from inside out. It was a rougher game, a much more physical game that we played in the 70s. You could steer people with elbows. They started cutting down on the number of fights by fining people more. Oh, it was a rough ‘n’ tumble game. NBA.com: There were, of course, fewer teams. Seventeen when you arrived, for instance. BL: There was so much talent on every team. Every night you were playing against somebody really damn good, and if you didn’t come to play, they’d whip your behind. NBA.com: You know, I’m surprised I never heard about you being the target of a bidding war with the old ABA? Did they ever come after you? BL: Got approached at the end of my junior year at St. Bonaventure. They offered me a nice contract. But I wanted to stay in school because I thought we had a real chance at winning the NCAA title. NBA.com: Gee, that almost sounds quaint by today’s get-the-money standards. BL: Yeah. Well, I trusted them as a league -- it was the New York Nets, a guy named Roy Boe -- but I knew we had a really good team. And we did. We got to the Final Four. Then I got hurt. NBA.com: You went down against Villanova, your tournament ended by a torn ligament. I’m surprised, looking back, you were considered healthy enough to get drafted No. 1 and have a pretty strong rookie season. BL: I wasn’t healthy when I got to the league. I shouldn’t have played my first year. But there was so much pressure from them to play, I would have been much better off -- and our team would have been much better served -- if I had just sat out that year and worked on my knee. NBA.com: From the Final Four to the start of the NBA season isn’t much time to rehab a knee injury. Then you played 82 games, averaging 15.6 points and 8.1 rebounds in 24.6 minutes. BL: That was stupid. My knee was so sore every single day that it was ludicrous to be doing what I was doing. I wanted to play, but I was smart and the team was smart, everybody would have benefited. NBA.com: Did you ever fully recover? I know your later years were hampered by knee pain. BL: Oh, I fully recovered. Going into my third year, I think I had my legs underneath me a lot. NBA.com: Your coach as a rookie was Butch van Breda Kolff, who had butted heads with Wilt Chamberlain in Los Angeles. Did you have any issues with him? BL: He was a pretty tough coach, but he was a good-hearted person. As a matter of fact, he had a place down on the Jersey shore where he invited me to come and run on the beach to help strengthen my leg. I went there for about 2 1/2 weeks. I liked Butch a lot. NBA.com: Your Detroit teams had you as an All-Star nearly every season and of course Hall of Fame guard Dave Bing. Did you think you’d achieve more? BL: I think ’73-74 was our best team [52-30]. We had Dave, Stu Lantz, John Mengelt, Chris Ford, Don Adams, Curtis Rowe, George Trapp. But then for some reason, they traded six guys off that team before the following year. I just didn’t feel we ever had the leadership. I think we had [seven] head coaches in my 10 years there. That was a rough time, because at the end of every year, you’d be so despondent. NBA.com: So by the time you were traded to Milwaukee, you were ready to go? BL: I wanted the trade. But until you start getting on that plane and leaving your family and start crying, you don’t realize it’s a part of your life you’re leaving. I got to Milwaukee and it was freezing outside. But the people gave me a standing ovation and really made me feel welcome. It was the start of a positive change. I just wish I had played with that kind of talent around me when I was young. The only time I thought I had it was that ’73-74 team they messed up. But if I had had Marques [Johnson] and Sidney [Moncrief] and all of them around me? Damn. NBA.com: I got my start around those Bucks teams, and feel I often have to remind people how good they were deep into the ‘80s. You just couldn’t get past the Celtics and the Sixers in the same year, in a loaded Eastern Conference. BL: They were always a man better than us. We had to play our best to beat them and they didn’t have to play their best to beat us. It haunts me to this day. NBA.com: How did you like playing for Bucks coach Don Nelson? BL: Loved him. It was just like playing for your big brother. He was a player’s coach, for sure. He’d been through it, won championships. Knew what it was like to be a role player, knew what it took to be a prime-time player. Didn’t get upset over pressure. He was just a stand-up guy. NBA.com: As we talk, I’m looking at my office wall and I have that famous All-Star poster from 1977, painted by Leroy Neiman. That game was notable, too, because it was the first one after the NBA/ABA merger. So you had Julius Erving, George Gervin, Dan Issel and those other ABA stars flooding their talent into the league. BL: You know what? I think you could put 10 players from the 70s into the league today and be as competitive as anybody. Think of the guys who could really play and were athletic. And with the rule changes, that would make us even more effective. “Ice’ [Gervin]. Julius. David Thompson, a huge athlete. I don’t know who could mess with Kareem at all. NBA.com: What about Nate Archibald? BL: You took the words right out of my mouth. Tiny! He could scoot up and down and do what he needed to do. These guys knew the game, they played the basics of it so well. NBA.com: No one disputes the advances in training, nutrition, travel and rest. But in raw ability, you think it was close to today? BL: One thing I will say about this group of young men, they seem to be more athletic than we were. They seem to be able to cover so much more ground. Whatever that new step is, the Eurostep? And another thing they do differently know is, they brush-pick. They brush and then they pop. You rarely see a guy do a solid pick and then roll with the guy on his back to cause a mismatch. Everybody’s looking to open the floor to shoot 3’s. This has become the weapon of choice now. NBA.com: No rings for that Milwaukee team from which you retired has meant, so far, no Hall of Fame for Marques Johnson or Sidney Moncrief, the two stars.   BL: That’s what rings hollow in your ears. You hear people saying, “Where’s the ring? The ring!” And we don’t have any rings. That’s what we play for. NBA.com: Didn’t stop your enshrinement though. BL: They must have been blind, crippled and crazy, huh? It’s a short crop of brotherhood that gets in there. I just wish there was more time on those weekends where we could spend time just talking with one another. You rarely see each other, and it would be nice to have a quiet room where you could just re-hash old times and plays, and maybe have your family so your grandkids could listen to Earl the Pearl tell about this or [Bill] Walton tell about that. Just rehashing stuff that brought people a lot of joy. Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 11th, 2018

Rappler multimedia reporter joins panel at 2018 Jaime V. Ongpin Seminar

This is a press release from CFMR MANILA, Philippines – Six journalists from television, print and online news organizations will discuss in the 2018 Jaime V. Ongpin Seminar their coverage of a number of issues of national concern in the past year. This departure from past practice of discussing one major theme ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsAug 27th, 2018

Media group concerned over Ampatuan furlough

MEDIA WATCHDOG National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) expressed concern over the furlough granted by the court that […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  mindanaoexaminerRelated NewsAug 23rd, 2018

NKorea pursues nuke activities – UN-IAEA

VIENNA: The UN’s nuclear watchdog said it had not seen any indication that nuclear activities in North Korea have stopped despite its pledges to denuclearize. “The continuation and further development of the DPRK’s nuclear program and related statements by the DPRK are a cause for grave concern,” said a report by the International Atomic Energy [...] The post NKorea pursues nuke activities – UN-IAEA appeared first on The Manila Times Online......»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimesRelated NewsAug 22nd, 2018

Arrest of lawyers in Makati bar very grave cause for concern – IBP

MANILA, Philippines – The arrest of 3 lawyers who were monitoring the Time in Manila bar raid in Makati  is a "very grave cause for concern," the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) said on Friday, August 17. "If you include even counsel in your, in the charge sheet, that's a very grave cause for concern not only for the IBP but ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsAug 17th, 2018

Arrest of lawyers in Makati bar & apos;very grave cause for concern& apos; – IBP - Rappler

Arrest of lawyers in Makati bar 'very grave cause for concern' – IBP - Rappler.....»»

Category: newsSource:  googlenewsRelated NewsAug 17th, 2018

Dingdong Dantes writes to ‘Ang Probinsyano’ over alleged use of wedding and family photos

Dingdong Dantes and Marian Rivera's fans called out television series "FPJ's Ang Probinsyano" for its alleged use and editing of the couple's wedding photo and their family photo during the baptism of their daughter, Zia, last Thursday, Aug. 9. Dantes, in response, sent the production team of the TV show a letter to express his "dismay and deep concern" over the matter. "Last week, the DongYanatics (Dingdong-Marian fans) has brought to my attention that photos of our family were used and altered for a primetime television show," wrote the actor in a Facebook post yesterday, Aug. 13. The actor also uploaded the video showcasing the scenes where the supposed photos were used. "In...Keep on reading: Dingdong Dantes writes to ‘Ang Probinsyano’ over alleged use of wedding and family photos.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsAug 14th, 2018

Woman says Trudeau apologized after ‘inappropriate’ incident

CALGARY, Alberta, Canada --- A former newspaper reporter said that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized to her after what she says was an inappropriate encounter nearly two decades ago. Rose Knight also confirmed Friday she is the reporter who was referred to in an editorial 18 years ago in the Creston Valley Advance that said she was groped by Trudeau while covering a music festival in British Columbia. She said in a statement that she doesn't plan to take the matter further. "I enjoyed my career as a reporter, but it ended a long time ago. I avoided issuing a statement earlier out of concern for my and my family's privacy," she wrote. "The incident referred to...Keep on reading: Woman says Trudeau apologized after ‘inappropriate’ incident.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJul 8th, 2018

Robredo files manifestation vs Marcos staff bringing prohibited item in recount area

In a six-page manifestation of grave concern, Vice President Leni Robredo, through her legal counsels Romulo Macalintal and Bernadette Sardillo, said that Nestor Borromeo brought a magnifying plastic lens inside the revision area......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsJun 22nd, 2018

Duterte says no fight with priests: I respect the Church

MANILA, Philippines – After criticism over his tirades against the Catholic Church amid the recent killings of priests, President Rodrigo Duterte claimed he has no beef with the institution. "Wala kaming policy na galit kami sa pari. As a matter of fact, rinerespeto ko 'yung Simbahan," he said ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJun 20th, 2018

Priests can bear arms like all qualified Pinoys

ALBAYALDE: PRIESTS who feel their lives are under grave threat can be given license and permit to carry firearms outside of residence provided that they are qualified to handle a weapon and would not holster them like soldiers and policemen, Philippine National Police chief Director General Oscar D. Albayalde maintained….....»»

Category: newsSource:  journalRelated NewsJun 18th, 2018

Rights group alarmed by recent killings of priest, journalist

Human Rights Watch on Thursday expressed grave concern over the recent killings of a priest and a journalist as well as the reported attacks against peasants and members of tribal communities......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsJun 14th, 2018

EDITORIAL - Priests in the crosshairs

A Catholic priest being killed in this predominantly Roman Catholic country is unusual. So the murders of three priests within just six months have triggered speculation that there is a deliberate campaign targeting shepherds of the faith......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsJun 13th, 2018

Youth partylist expects the worst in Duterte’s “radical change” pronouncement

Kabataan party-list has expressed alarm and grave concern over President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement that he would “make radical changes in the days to come.”.....»»

Category: newsSource:  davaotodayRelated NewsJun 8th, 2018

Palace: Phl not taking soft stance on China

The Palace denied it is going soft on China amid reports of a resumption of build-up over disputed portions of the South China Sea (SCS) that foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) have criticized. Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the Philippines shares Asean leaders’ concern regarding China’s aggressive actions on what is said to be the world’s busiest waterways.The recently concluded Asean foreign and defense ministers in Singapore issued a statement that did not name China but said that “land reclamations and activities in the area . . . have eroded trust and confidence, increased tensions and may undermine peace, security and stability in the region.” The Asean ministers resolved to expedite the code of conduct (CoC) on how to negotiate with China regarding overlapping maritime claims.“Asean’s concern on the Chinese build-up is right because Asean, as a regional bloc, wants to adhere to discussions pertaining to the code of conduct,” Roque said.“We cannot be not joining the call because the Philippines is one of those concerned in this campaign,” he added.Roque also disputed views that Manila is not among those insistent in pressing Beijing to speed up the CoC drafting. “We are not being too soft (on China) but we have an established policy on that. Number one, of course, is we are one with Asean in recognizing that this is a concern for all Asean countries. Particularly that of the freedom of navigation in the West Philippine Sea,” Roque said.“Our common concern is peace security and stability in one of the world’s busiest sea lanes,” he added.During Manila’s hosting of the Asean last year, President Duterte did not cite the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) ruling that nullified Beijing’s sweeping claim over nearly the entire South China Sea.It was the Philippine government that contested China’s nine-dash-line claim before the Hague court. China, however, refuses to recognize it.Apart from the Philippines, other Asean countries also have overlapping claims at the South China Sea including Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei.Reclamation to continueChina in its known mouthpiece Global Times said Beijing is concentrating on civil and not military construction on islands in the South China Sea but insisted that the Chinese “will expand land reclamation.”“Most of the construction on islands in the South China Sea were completed in 2015 and the pace then slowed. Civilian facility construction is the major focus of the South China Sea islands building and the portion of defense deployment is relatively small,” Global Times quoted Chen Xiangmiao, a research fellow at the National Institute for the South China Sea.The size of some South China Sea islands will be further expanded in future through more dredging in the South China Sea region, Chen said.The relationship between China and other Southeast Asian countries, such as the Philippines, has becalmed in recent years, providing a golden opportunity for China to upgrade these areas, he said.China and the Philippines are enjoying good terms as President Rodrigo Duterte maintains a friendly policy toward China, Chen said. “But there is still some domestic pressure that urges Duterte to take a tough stance on China and the South China Sea issue,” Chen said.Foreign media like to hype China’s construction in the South China Sea as they try to make excuses to prevent China’s activities in this region, Zhuang Guotu, head of Xiamen University’s Southeast Asian Studies Center, told the Global Times.“China has the right to build whatever it needs within its territory,” Zhuang said.China’s military deployment in the South China Sea region was “not for military expansion,” but to defend its security and interests, he said.Zhuang and Chen warned the US is the biggest threat to stability in the South China Sea.“The US, Australia, Japan and other allies will constantly provoke China over this issue and that will incite other neighboring South China Sea countries to do the same,” Zhuang said.China’s construction projects in the region covered about 290,000 square meters in 2017, including new facilities for underground storage, administrative buildings and large radar, according to a report released in December on the nanhai.haiwainet.cn website run by the National Marine Data and Information Service and People’s Daily Overseas edition. No foreign vessels at BenhamThe Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has not monitored any foreign vessels at the Philippine Rise, formerly known as Benham Rise, during its latest patrol in the area. Lt. Col. Isagani Nato, AFP-Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) spokesman, said that based on the latest patrol conducted by Nolcom troops, there was no presence of foreign ships at Philippine Rise.“As of now, we don’t have a report that there is presence (of foreign vessels) in Benham Rise,” said Nato.Earlier, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol announced that President Duterte has banned foreign ships at the Philippine Rise and ordered the military to patrol the area.The announcement came following an uproar from government critics after the Duterte administration allowed the Chinese to conduct scientific research at the Philippine Rise.Nato, however, said that Nolcom is yet to receive official order regarding the matter.But Nato maintained that with or without the latest directive, Nolcom has regularly conducted air and maritime patrols along Philippine Rise.Apart from Nolcom, the Air Force and the Philippine Navy, Nato said that the Philippine Coast Guard, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and the Philippine National Police-Maritime Group (PNP-MG) also conduct their own patrol in the area.He said the Nolcom uses air and naval assets of the Navy and the Air Force units under its jurisdiction.“We conduct our patrols regularly. It is a mandate of Nolcom forces so that is continuous with or without the directive from higher ups,” said Nato.According to Nato, Nolcom conducts three to four maritime and air patrol at Philippine Rise per month as part of the government efforts to secure the country’s maritime domain.ML ruling lauded, hitThe Supreme Court’s (SC) decision to uphold Mr. Duterte’s year-long martial law extension in Mindanao also drew mixed reactions.The High Court on Tuesday voted 10-5 junking militant groups’ petition and finding “sufficient factual basis” to extend martial law and suspend the privilege of wirt of habeas corpus in Mindanao until December 31, 2018.Roque welcomed the ruling saying that it affirms the need to continue protecting citizens from the threat of terrorist groups, primarily Islamic State (IS)-inspired fanatics.But for Left-leaning groups who petitioned the SC to lift martial law, the court decision opens up more crackdowns and human rights violations.The Palace official has insisted that human rights will be respected amid security operations.“The SC ruling underscores the unity of the whole government in its bid to defeat terrorism and prevent the spread in other parts of the country of DIWW and other like-minded local and foreign terrorist groups,” Roque said.“The majority of votes is a manifestation of confidence on law enforcement agencies that they shall, like they had been doing before, continue to protect our people, secure Mindanao, and pursue the bigger task of rehabilitation while upholding the rule of law, Human Rights, and International Humanitarian Law,” he added.Human rights watchdog Karapatan sees the contrary in the government’s motives, saying that the year-long military rule will boost attacks on the people.The continuous implementation of martial law in Mindanao will allow the unhampered massive rehabilitation in war-torn Marawi City and boost the security forces campaign to finish off the rebellion, the Department of National Defense (DND) said. In a statement, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that the Supreme Court’s decision affirming the constitutionality of the one-year extension of martial law in Mindanao will definitely boost government efforts to rebuild Marawi City and address continuing rebellion.The defense chief welcomed the SC decision as a vote of confidence to the government security forces.“The DND – AFP is grateful for the trust and confidence of our public institutions and the support of the Filipino people,” said Lorenzana. Mario J. Mallari.....»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsJun 7th, 2018

Rody OKs rice imports to augment NFA buffer

By Ted Tuvera and Angie M. Rosales President Duterte has allowed the National Food Authority (NFA) to import 250,000 metric tons of rice amid reports of a shortage in government stock of the staple grain.Inter-agency NFA Council chairman Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco said Mr. Duterte has allowed the importation aside from an expected shipment of 325,000 MT of rice in February.“We have no option but to follow the President to activate the 250,000 MT on standby that will be on top of the 325,000 MT that will arrive anytime this month,” Evasco said.It turns out, however, that Presidential spokesman Harry Roque missed the President’s instruction to Evasco.Talking to reporters at Palace briefing, Roque said there is no need to import rice yet. “The point is, there’s already rice on its way, no need to authorize the standby order of 250,000 MT because there’s more than enough rice on its way to beef up the NFA stock,” Roque said. Claiming that there is no rice shortage, NFA administrator Jason Aquino said he plans to import rice to replenish the buffer stock.Notably, Evasco and Aquino had been at odds with each other on what mode of rice importation should be done.Evasco cited elements inside the NFA that manipulate importation processes to make money from it.Roque said that Evasco has nonetheless the trust of Mr. Duterte.“If he [Evasco] sees that there are rumblings because somebody wants to make money, so be it, but I’m happy that Secretary Evasco is on top of the situation,” Roque said. “He enjoys full trust and confidence of the President, that’s why until now the President has not commented on this issue because he trusts that Secretary Evasco will do what is best,” he added.Binay: ‘Get your acts together’Sen. Nancy Binay, however, urged agriculture officials to get their acts together on the reported shortage in rice supply of the NFA.Binay took note of the conflicting claims of NFA and Department of Agriculture (DA) officials on the status of NFA rice supply in the market.“My call is for them to hopefully talk. They should stop talking behind the back or blaming each other. It’s high time that they talk and settle the forecasting on the country’s rice stock,” she said.“I hope that DA (Department of Agriculture) Secretary (Manny) Piñol, the NFA Council, and the NFA leadership would sit down and discuss this matter. They should give priority to the need of the nation more than the internal issues among the different agencies,” Binay said.NFA spokesman Rebecca Olarte, last week, said that NFA-accredited rice retailers will not be able to sell NFA rice for the time being and confirmed that it has decided to temporarily discontinue issuing NFA rice to accredited retailers due to low supply.Piñol and Evasco belied the rice shortage, insisting that there is no shortfall on the rice supply in the country and they even said that there are enough stocks for consumption for the next 96 days.“My only concern is that we do not need to reach the stage when the poor can’t buy NFA rice. I guess it is a wakeup call for everybody,” said Binay.The senator herself attested the apparent lack in supply of NFA rice as she tried to purchase some for distribution as relief goods and was told that the price increased from P1,400 to P1,600 per sack.Binay supported the move taken by Sen. Cynthia Villar in conducting an investigation on whether there’s “artificial” rice supply shortage to effect an increase in the price of NFA rice in the market.Meanwhile, the government is expecting palay or paddy rice harvest of 3 million metric tons in the first quarter, which will augment the 2.8 million metric ton surplus from 2017, Agriculture Secretary Emanuel Piñol told DZMM.Piñol said there was no shortage in subsidized rice sold by the NFA, adding raising prices due to an alleged lack in supply amounted to “daylight robbery. Jason Faustino.....»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsJun 7th, 2018