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Philippines wins arbitration case against China over West Philippine Sea

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The United Nation’s Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague, Netherlands on July 12 ruled 5-0 in favor of the Philippines in an arbitration case against China’s maritime claim, encroaching into the West Philippine Sea.

The Arbitral Tribunal upheld the Philippines’ position that China’s 9-dash line maritime claim, which they insisted to be based on a historical boundary, has also covered the Philippines’ 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

“[The] Tribunal concluded that, as between the Philippines and China, there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources, in excess of the rights provided by the Convention, within the sea areas falling within the ‘nine-dash line’,” PCA’s press release said.

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Key rulings

In summary, the judges in the international tribunal made these key rulings:

  1. China has no legal basis for their “9-dash line.”

“The Tribunal concluded that there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the ‘nine-dash line.’”

  1. Spratly Islands have no EEZ.

“The Tribunal noted that the current presence of official personnel on many of the features is dependent on outside support and not reflective of the capacity of the features… (and) … that none of the Spratly Islands is capable of generating extended maritime zones.”

“The Tribunal found that it could – without delimiting a boundary – declare that certain sea areas within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines, because those areas are not overlapped by any possible entitlement to China.”

  1. China has been unlawful towards the Philippines.

“China had violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights in its exclusive economic zone. The Tribunal further held that Chinese law-enforcement vessels had unlawfully created a serious risk of collision when they physically obstructed Philippine vessels.”

  1. China has harmed the environment.

By reclaiming the land in the South China Sea, including some parts of the West Philippine Sea, China has “caused severe harm to the coral reef environment and violated its obligation to preserve and protect fragile ecosystems.”

It was also reported that Chinese authorities failed to stop Chinese fishermen from taking endangered species from the disputed sea areas, such as corals, sea turtles, and giant clams, on a substantial scale.

  1. China should have stopped reclamation projects during the dispute.

“China’s recent large-scale reclamation and construction of artificial islands was incompatible with the obligations on a state during dispute resolution proceedings, insofar as China has… destroyed evidence of the natural condition of features of the South China Sea that formed part of the Parties’ dispute.”

The full text of the PCA Arbitration ruling on the Philippines’ case vs. China can be found here, as provided by the Philippine Star.

The Hague ruling came after three years since the Philippines filed an arbitration case against China on January 22, 2013. This came after years of dispute and conflict in the South China Sea. In 2011, the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs under former President Benigno Aquino III then started referring to the disputed body of water as the “West Philippine Sea.”

PH welcomes The Hague ruling

Moments after The Hague released its decision, DFA Secretary Perfecto Yasay said the Philippines “welcomes” the tribunal’s award on the sea row against China.

“The Philippines welcomes the issuance today, 12 July 2016, of the award by the Arbitral Tribunal constituted by the Permanent Court of Arbitration under Annex VII of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea or Unclos on the arbitration proceedings initiated by the Philippines with regard to the South China Sea,” Yasay said in a statement during a press briefing.

“Our experts are studying the award with the care and thoroughness that this significant arbitral outcome deserves,” he added.

Considering how neighboring nations are also interested in The Hague ruling because their territories were also affected by China’s 9-dash line, Yasay said, “The Philippines strongly affirms its respect for this milestone decision as an important contribution to ongoing efforts in addressing disputes in the South China Sea.”

“The Philippines reiterates its abiding commitment to efforts of pursuing the peaceful resolution and management of disputes with the view of promoting and enhancing peace and stability in the region,” he added.

How to enforce the ruling vs. China

But there is another issue – there is no international police to enforce The Hague ruling. This is a critical issue, especially with China’s refusal to abide by the tribunal’s decision.

“The award is invalid and has no binding force. China does not accept or recognize it,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The lead counsel representing the Philippines in the arbitration case, Paul Reichler, said that enforcement relies on how affected countries react.

“It will depend on a great extent on how vigorously all of the affected states, all of the states which have been prejudiced by the 9-dash line, assert their rights against China,” said Reichler in a telephone conference with some journalists.

But Reichler clarified that he meant to say for affected countries to vigorously assert their rights “diplomatically, legally, and above all peacefully.”

According to Reichler, “If these other states stand up for their rights in the way that the Philippines has done, you’ll get the situation where all of the neighboring states are insisting that China withdraw its illegal claims and respect their legal rights which have been defined and recognized and acknowledged today, because those states have the same rights as the Philippines.”

The lawyer also attributed the Philippines’ victory against China as the victory of other coastal countries in conflict with Beijing, such as Vietnam, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

Reichler also said, “We think that this is not only the victory for the Philippines. This is also a victory for the rule of law and international relations.”

President Rodrigo Duterte called a Cabinet meeting an hour after The Hague’s decision was released, with Malacañang giving assurances earlier that the president would put national interest in the Philippines’ next move over the favorable ruling.

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Netizens slam Duterte for saying women ‘could not stand threats and intimidation’

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President Rodrigo Duterte drew flak for another controversial comment involving women after he remarked on May 24 that women “could not stand threats and intimidation.”

Duterte said that while he believed in women’s competence, it does not necessarily ring true in all aspects of life.

“I believe in the woman, the competence and capability, pero hindi lahat sa buhay dapat.Hindi ka, hindi, hindi. Dapat lang. It’s not appropriate when you cannot stand threats and intimidation,” he said in his May 24 speech.

He also said that women should be “prim and proper” and talked about his reservation in sending women police and soldiers to the field because unlike men, they did not grow up with a mindset that involves violence.

“Ang mga babae, sundalo pati pulis, ayaw ko ‘yan sa bukid. Unlike men kami, maliit pa lang, suntukan, bakbakan, barilan. And we grew up with a sort of a mindset na sometimes prone to violence. Itong mga babae, prim and proper man ‘yan, isang tingin lang sa nanay niyan, wala na tunaw na ‘yan. Tapos gawin mong pulis, ipaaway mo doon. Naku,” Duterte remarked.

Netizens then took to social media to react to Duterte’s most recent statements, making #BabaeAko trend again on Twitter.

“Mr. President, you just horrifyingly disrespected your own mother who bravely fought against the Marcos dictatorship. She withstood threats and intimidation. Siya ay babae! #BabaeAko,” a Twitter user remarked.

Forensic expert Dr. Raquel Fortun spoke out, too, saying “I am threatened and intimidated a lot. All my life. Don’t me. #BabaeAko.”

So did film and theater actress Chai Fonacier, who said, “Encouraging women — and I mean including those who identify as women — and our friends from the entire spectrum to share your #BabaeAko statements to fight the misogyny that the President and his ilk normalize through their behavior. Make them remember the feminine strength.”

KABATAAN Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago also reacted, saying she refused to be stereotyped.

Former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay urged other Filipinos to protest against Duterte’s misogynistic statements.

Other Twitter users weighed in on the issue.

Duterte’s previous misogynistic remarks

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His remarks in his speech on May 24 seemed to have sought to explain another controversial remark he made on May 16 when he said that he did not want a politician, especially a woman, to become the next Ombudsman.

“Mag-nominate sila, pero I choose, but gusto ko ‘yung bilib ang tao sa integrity niya. Of course it could not be a politician, lalo na hindi babae,” he said during a chance interview.

This gave birth to the launching of the #BabaeAko movement on social media on May 21 by women activists and other people who also want to protest Duterte’s misogynistic and sexist statements.

One of  the women who joined the #BabaeAko campaign was former Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo who said, “Akala ko taumbayan ang boss ni Duterte. Yun pala sina Marcos, Gloria, Trump at China. Para sa bayang makatarungan at malaya, lalaban ako.”

In February, he was also slammed for telling his audience of former NPA rebels that he told his soldiers to shoot female rebels in the vagina.

Sources: ( rappler.comphilstar.com )

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New DOT chief to ask Montano why he rushed official New York engagement to watch Broadway show

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Newly installed Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said she plans on talking with Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) COO Cesar Montano to ask for his side on certain accusations that were hurled against him.

Among these accusations came from an Abante report where Montano was said to have rushed a speaking engagement staged by the DOT in New York to watch the Broadway musical show “Hamilton.”

DOT reportedly launched the Philippine Tourism Presentation and Dinner Reception on May 9 to showcase Philippine tourism and fashion at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York. Montano was introduced as the event’s keynote speaker, but he was said to have only spoken for a bit before hurriedly leaving the venue, disappointing the guests, which also included US officials.

Montano was said to have been invited to the event in behalf of the now-resigned Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo. He was also named as one of the two hosts, the other being Teo, of the said event.

In reaction to this report about Montano, Puyat said she would talk to Montano as well as the Tourism attache and other DOT officials who attended the event to verify the accusation in the report mentioned above.

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Puyat said that she would investigate into the “Buhay Carinderia” program that the TPB is set to implement. This was after Philippine Star Boo Chanco accused Montano of issuing P80-million worth of three checks to the event proponent and organizer.

“I still don’t have the papers. I will be asking [and] will be arranging a meeting with Mr. Cesar Montano to ask about ‘yung mga nabasa ko sa ‘Buhay Carinderia’ – kung totoo ba na walang bidding ‘yung P80 million na advance,” Puyat said on May 15.

“I’m planning to talk to him and ask his side. I want to ask all those who were there if it actually happened,” Puyat added.

In March 2017, TPB employees filed a complaint against Montano for his alleged corruption and mismanagement of the agency. These include hiring friends and relatives, using TPB’s funds for personal trips, and showing incompetence in fulfilling his obligations as the agency’s COO.

Sources: ( tnt.abante.com.phphilstar.comrappler.com )

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Eldest Tulfo vows to help Wanda clear her name, berates ‘black sheep’ Ben over controversial P60-M DOT ad deal

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Inquirer columnist Ramon Tulfo spoke up about the controversy involving his siblings, now resigned Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo and hosts Ben and Erwin Tulfo, over the P60 million tourism ad deal.

The eldest Tulfo wrote in his Inquirer column on May 10 that while President Rodrigo Duterte himself advised the Tulfo family to avoid talking to the media, he took it upon himself as the family’s acting patriarch to tell the story behind the controversy.

First up, Ramon blamed Teo for not hiring smart staff members who could have advised her against inking a deal with PTV 4, where one of the Tulfo brothers, Ben, was a blocktimer.

As a blocktimer, Ben pays for his TV show’s airtime on the state-run channel.

According to Ramon, Wanda was only complying with President Duterte’s injunction for his Cabinet secretaries to support PTV 4, adding that she did not know Ben’s company would get most of the multimillion advertising contract with DOT.

He also hit Ben, whom he called a “black sheep” with a “middle child” syndrome as the fifth child out of 10 siblings, for signing the P60-million advertising contract with PTV 4 despite knowing that there would be a conflict of interest on Wanda’s part.

Ramon also said that Wanda still tried to save Ben, who insisted on his innocence amid the controversy, leading her to resign from her post. He also explained that Wanda seemed to have forgotten the fact that her husband was on the board of director of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (Tieza), a part of DOT, when Duterte appointed her as tourism chief. He added that it should have been up to her husband to step down from his post upon his wife’s appointment.

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In the same column, he also slammed Wanda’s lawyer, Ferdinand Topacio, whom he said did not even consult the Tulfo brothers on returning the P60-million funds from the ad deal. He also described the lawyer as “all talk,” a counsel who’s only focused on gaining publicity for himself.

Unlike what has been previously reported about Wanda resigning out of delicadeza amid the controversy, Ramon let it slip that he commended President Duterte for “sacking Wanda,” prompting some people to ask whether Wanda was fired instead of resigned.

Before he ended his column, he vowed to support “Wanda’s fight to clear her name, but not Ben’s.”
Wanda resigned on May 8 to show delicadeza and to spare everyone, especially Duterte, from the pain caused by the controversy, according to her lawyer.

The issue started with the Commission on Audit’s report showing the DOT paying P60 million worth of commercials to PTV 4, which in turn, tapped Ben’s Bitag Media Unlimited Inc. to air the tourism ads during Ben and Erwin’s show “Kilos Pronto.”

Malacañang said that Teo’s resignation does not mean that she is off the hook since the Ombudsman is still looking into her and other government officials involved in the controversial ad deal.

Sources: ( inquirer.netnews.abs-cbn.com , nnphilippines.com )

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