05 June 2016

Filing of case against China over maritime dispute in accordance with the law, says Palace official
A Palace official has reiterated that the Philippines’ move to present its case against China to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague is in accordance with the law.

The Philippines questioned China’s territorial claim in the South China Sea in its petition to the United Nations court under the UN Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

“Ang inihaing petisyon ng Pilipinas sa Permanent Court of Arbitration ay bilang pagtalima sa rule of law na nakapaloob sa United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea o UNCLOS na kung saan isa ang Pilipinas sa 166 na mga bansang nag-ratipika ng nasabing kasunduan,” said Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) in an interview over Radyo ng Bayan on Sunday.

“Ang hakbang ng Pilipinas ay patuloy na umaani ng suporta mula sa iba’t ibang bansa sa buong mundo,” added Coloma, reacting to reports that China would ignore the decision of the UN court.

Rear Adm. Guan Youfei of China’s national defense ministry, who was in Singapore for Asia’s biggest security summit. said the arbitration is illegal.

“To put it simply, the arbitration case has gone beyond the jurisdiction of the arbitration court because the territorial and sovereignty dispute cannot be subject to arbitration. So, we see this arbitration is illegal and will not participate nor accept it,” the Chinese official was quoted when interviewed on Saturday.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration is expected to rule on the case soon.

The UN Charter and international law encourages peaceful settlement of rows through dialogue. The UNCLOS, on the other hand, respects the decision of the parties concerned to choose how to settle the disagreement. PND (jm)

Government helping residents displaced by military operations in Lanao del Sur
Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. has assured that the government is helping families affected by the ongoing military operations in the town of Butig in Lanao del Sur.

The military has estimated that around 2,000 people have been displaced since the military began its offensive against the Maute Group, one of the armed groups which has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, on May 24.

“Masinsing tinututukan ng pamahalaan ang kalagayan at kapakanan ng ating mga kababayan sa Butig, Lanao del Sur na apektado sa isinasagawang military operation laban sa Maute Group,” said Coloma in an interview over Radyo ng Bayan on Sunday.

“Hindi tumitigil ang DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) at iba pang ahensiya ng gobyerno sa paghahatid ng tulong at humanitarian assistance sa mga residente ng nasabing lugar kabilang na ang mga pamilyang kasalukuyang nanunuluyan sa mga evacuation centers,” added Coloma.

“Maliban sa food packs, nakapamahagi na rin ng hygiene kits at nagbibigay ng kaukulang psychological support sa mga apektadong pamilya,” the Palace official further said.

According to reports, the Maute Group attacked an Army outpost in Butig last February that left six soldiers and 12 militants dead.

The group was also responsible for destroying power transmission towers and the killing of two local sawmill employees last April. PND (jm)