14 June 2015

Malacanang invites Filipinos to watch documentary regarding West Philippine Sea
Malacanang on Sunday invites Filipinos to watch and disseminate the documentary regarding the maritime dispute in the West Philippine and its impact to small fishermen and the maritime ecology.

“Malugod naming inaanyayahan ang lahat na panoorin at i-share ang video na pinamagatang “Kalayaan: Karapatan sa Karagatan” upang lubos na maunawaan ang usapin hinggil sa West Philippine Sea. Maaaring matunghayan ito sa Facebook page ni Pangulong Aquino na nakapaloob sa <president.gov.ph>, said Presidential Communications Operations Office  (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr., in an interview with dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.

The 21-minute long documentary hosted by Lourd de Vera, features an aerial tour of the Bajo de Mansinloc (Panatag Shoal), as well as testimonies of local fishermen who were harassed by the Chinese Coast Guards, and interviews with maritime experts.

In the documentary, Atty. Henry Bensurto, Jr., Philippine Consul General in San Francisco, USA and the     Head of the Legal Team on West Philippine Sea Issues of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), who explained the history of the maritime dispute which first was only between Vietnam and China and how it reached the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

He noted that in the 1990’s China began building structures in the Mischief Reef which is 124 nautical miles from Palawan and about 800 nautical miles from the Chinese island of Hainan.

Bensurto also said that the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS) must be observed. This law said a country has special rights regarding the exploration and use of marine resources including energy production from water and wind, which stretches from the baseline out to 200 nautical miles from its coast.

While Undersecretary Asis Perez, the National Director of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, said China’s reclamation activities has destroyed the aquatic life, much of which are classified as endangered species.

This is the first of a three-part documentary regarding the disputed maritime territory, which was released last Friday (June 12) coinciding with the celebration of the 117th Anniversary ofthe Proclamation of Philippine Independence.

The first episode will continue to be aired on PTV-4 every 5:30 p.m. from June 15 to 19, with a replay every 10:30 p.m. While the second and third episode will be aired in late June and early July, respectively.

 The documentary was made possible by the coordination of the Department of Foreign Affairs and PCOO. PND (ag)

Palace says decommisioning of Moro Rebel Forces, weapons due on Tuesday
The Palace said on Sunday that the decommissioning of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s (MILF) forces and weapons is due on Tuesday (June 16) in Sharrif Aquak, Maguindanao.

“Sa Martes, Hunyo 16, gaganapin ang isang makasaysayang yugto sa prosesong pangkapayapaan sa pagitan ng pamahalaan at ng MILF. Nakatakdang i-turnover ng MILF ang mga armas sa Independent Decommissioning Body, samantalang may mga miyembro ng Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces na sasailalim sa decommissioning,” said Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr., in a radio interview with dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.

Coloma notes that this is part of the normalization process base on the Annex of Normalization that was signed by the government and the MILF last January 29, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

“Ang Pangulong (Benigno) Aquino ang sasaksi sa unang yugto ng decommissioning process na itinuturing na isa sa matibay na pagpapakita ng pagsuporta at commitment ng MILF sa isinusulong na prosesong pangkapayapaan na maghahatid ng katahimikan at kaunlaran sa mga bayang sakop ng Bangsamoro,” said Coloma.

Rebel returnees after being documented and will be receiving cash assistance and PhilHealth cards. They will also receive medium- and long-term assistance the from the Task Force Decommissioned Combantants and Communities.

“May tatlong bahagi ang itinakdang normalization process: security, socioeconomic development, at transitional justice and reconciliation. Ang prosesong ito ay naglalayong bigyan ang mga kasapi ng MILF ng pagkakataong makapag-hanapbuhay at makapamuhay nang tahimik at malayo sa anomang karahasan,” Coloma added.

According to government peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, the MILF will turnover 55 high-powered firearms and 20 screw-served weapons, while 145 of its members will take part of the decommissioning process. PND (ag)