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January 23, 2013

Philippines seeks United Nations arbitration on South China Sea claims

Philippines seeks United Nations arbitration on South China Sea claims

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

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The Philippines said yesterday it will take China to an arbitration tribunal under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) on a series of territorial disputes involving the South China Sea.

According to Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Manila chose this move after exhausting “almost all political and diplomatic avenues.” He also says he has already informed the Chinese ambassador in Manila.

Disputes such as those involving the Scarborough Shoal and China’s Nine-dotted line map are likely to be tackled. The Philippines has stated the map issued by China is unlawful under UNCLOS, which includes both countries as signatories.

The Philippines and China are involved in a variety of disputes in the South China Sea along with Taiwan and ASEAN members Brunei, Malaysia, and Vietnam. The current chair of ASEAN, Brunei, has stated it seeks a legally-binding “code of conduct” for the disputes.



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  • Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg Territorial disputes in the South China Sea

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January 19, 2013

US Navy ship damages Tubbataha Reef National Park

US Navy ship damages Tubbataha Reef National Park

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Saturday, January 19, 2013

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USS Guardian.
Image: U.S. Navy.

The USS Guardian, a United States Navy vessel used for destroying mines, ran aground in the Philippines’ Tubbataha Reef National Park in the Sulu Sea on Thursday, according to the US Navy.

The US Navy said the incident occurred at 2:25 a.m. local time about 130 km east-southeast of the province of Palawan in the Philippines and about 98 nautical miles from Puerto Princesa, the capital of the province. There were no reports of injuries nor signs of fuel leakage. The ship has a crew of 80 and had previously completed a port call at Subic Bay earlier in the week.

The US Navy also said they were investigating the incident. They also said in a statement, “The crew is currently working to determine the best method of safely extracting the ship”. An Avenger class mine countermeasures ship, the ship was on its way to Puerto Princesa in Palawan. It is assigned to the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet and based in Sasebo, Nagasaki in Japan.

The US Embassy in Manila stated, “The Government of the Philippines was promptly informed of the incident and offered to assist the U.S. Navy, and we greatly appreciate their offers of assistance […] The safety of the Guardian’s crew and preventing harm to the environment are the U.S. Navy’s top priorities”. An official of the Armed Forces of the Philippines based in Palawan told reporters they have deployed a force offering to assist the Guardian.

Under sections 19 and 26 of the Tubbataha Reefs National Park Act of 2009, Republic Act 10067, the US Navy can be charged with unauthorized entry and could pay 12,000PHP for each square meter of reef destroyed.

A similar incident occurred in 2005 when the Rainbow Warrior ran aground in the same vicinity. Greenpeace, an environmental advocacy group and owners of the Rainbow Warrior, were fined 384,000PHP (US$6,857) for damaging a reef area of 32 by 3 meters (105 by 10 feet).

Tubbataha Reef has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1993 and covers 97,030 hectares. A diverse variety of coral reef and marine life currently take refuge within the park including sharks and turtles. The reef is also known as a popular recreational diving site.



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January 4, 2013

Philippines spree shooting kills ten including gunman

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Friday, January 4, 2013

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A gunman armed with a 45-caliber pistol killed at least nine people in Cavite, Philippines, and injured eight more, as he ran amok in a slum area outside Manila, according to Cavite governor Juanito Victor C. Remulla.

At least some of the victims were children, among them a four-year-old godchild of gunman Ronald Bae. Bae once unsuccessfully contested for a position as a local village chief.

The motive for the killings remains uncertain, although Bae was known to have been under the influence of alcohol and drugs before and during the said incident.

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November 21, 2012

Philippines to host four-country meeting about South China Sea disputes

Philippines to host four-country meeting about South China Sea disputes

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

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South China Sea maritime claims, June 2011.
Image: Voice of America.

The Philippines announced today it will host a meeting on December 12 in Manila regarding territorial disputes in the South China Sea. The meeting of deputy foreign ministers is to be attended by Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, and the host country.

The meeting is a new step in attempts to solve disputes between these countries and China. China has previously stated it wishes to solve the disputes bilaterally instead of multilaterally. It comes after the failure of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to produce a consensus on how to solve the disputes during a summit this month. Cambodia, an ally of China, is the current chair of ASEAN.

Current disputes in the South China Sea include areas such as the Spratly Islands and the Scarborough Shoal. China and Taiwan each claim nearly the whole sea while the countries attending the meeting claim parts of it.

The area contains abundant fishing grounds and important shipping lanes. Large fossil fuel deposits are believed located in the area.



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August 8, 2012

State of Calamity in Several Cities, Provinces and Towns in Luzon

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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

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The death toll in the Philippines capital Manila rises to 16 with rain continuing to fall.

Philippine news agencies reported that several cities, provinces and towns in Luzon are now under state of calamity following the non-stop rains and floods the past few days. The declaration of state of calamity would facilitate the use of funds to aid affected families and expedite rehabilitation efforts.

Manila experienced torrential rainfall (30 to 50 millimeters per hour) late Wednesday afternoon after state weather bureau PAGASA raised a red warning signal over Metro Manila at 4:30 p.m.

Heavy to intense rainfall (15-30mm/hr) was recorded over the areas of Pasig, CAMANAVA (consists of Caloocan City, Malabon City, Navotas City, and Valenzuela City), Taguig and Pasay while the rest of Metro Manila experienced moderate to heavy rainfall (7.5-15mm/hr).

Weather forecasters said more than 70 centimeters (27 inches) of rain — well over the average for all of August — had fallen in 48 hours, and warned of more to come overnight Wednesday.

Additional Reports:

  • Pampanga
Nearly 200 barangays in 18 towns of the province are still flooded and rescue operations continue for affected residents. Three people were reported to have died in Lubao, Candaba and Florida-blanca at the height of the rains on Tuesday.
  • Angeles City
Residents living near Abacan River were evacuated.
  • Cainta, Rizal
The local government sounded the alarm to warn residents of the rising level of flood water while search and rescue operations continue for its affected residents.
Nearly 2,500 residents from five barangays have been evacuated. While some refuse to leave saying the flooding is not as bad as Ondoy, there are many who have sought refuge in schools that turned into evacuation centers.
  • Malabon
Rescuers called for more help to assist them in rescuing residents still trapped inside their houses.
Local disaster officials said they are continuously receiving distress calls from residents asking to be rescued as a large portion of the city’s 17 barangays remain underwater.
At least 2,093 families or 12,870 residents remain inside 29 evacuation centers as of 8 a.m. Wednesday.
  • Bataan
A total of 9,935 families or about 52,312 individuals were affected by the flooding in province. All major roads in Bataan are now passable, but three barangays are still isolated and are being monitored.
Residents are still waiting for relief operations.
  • Bulacan
The town of Marilao is now underwater, according to Mayor Epifanio Guillermo.
  • Pangasinan
The body of a woman between 70 to 80 years old was found floating in waters off San Jacinto, according to Gov. Amado Espino.
The floods affected around 30,000 families and left the towns of Calasiao, Pilar, Bugallon and Sta. Barbara submerged in water. Espino said that a storm surge also occurred in Aguilar and Bugallon that caused several fish ponds to overflow. The governor added that all major roads in the province are now passable.
Meanwhile, five areas in the Cordillera are being closely monitored for possible landslide. These are Ambassador, Tublay and Little Kibunga in La Trinidad; Ampucao in Itogon, Benguet; Barangay Kias in Baguio City; and Bulalacao Mancayan, Benguet.
Some of the residents in the said areas voluntarily left their homes and have sought temporary refuge in the homes of their relatives. The Department of Public Works and Highways in Cordillera Region closed the Abra-Kalinga road in the Malibcong Section, but all roads leading to Baguio City are open to motorists.



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November 18, 2011

Philippine court issues arrest warrant for former President Arroyo

Philippine court issues arrest warrant for former President Arroyo

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Friday, November 18, 2011

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Arroyo in 2009
Image: World Economic Forum.

A Philippine regional court has issued an arrest warrant for former Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, on charges of election fraud. This came hours after the Philippine Supreme Court found — for the second time this week — that the government could not prohibit her from leaving the country, because no charges had been filed against her.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court temporarily suspended a government ban on Arroyo’s leaving the country. Arroyo claims to suffer from a rare bone disease, and arrived by ambulance at the Manila airport, with neck brace and wheelchair, to go abroad for treatment. She was denied exit by officials at the airport.

The Supreme Court’s ruling on Friday gave Justice Secretary Leila de Lima ten days to explain why she is not in contempt of court for ordering airport officials to deny Arroyo’s exit on Tuesday. If found in contempt of court, she could be subject to a jail term of six to ten months. De Lima maintains the government’s actions were legal.

Current President Benigno Aquino was elected last year promising to prosecute his predecessor, Arroyo. When Arroyo became president in 2001, she prosecuted her predecessor for corruption; after six years of luxurious house arrest, Joseph Estrada was convicted and given a life prison sentence, from which Arroyo promptly pardoned him. Aquino has said he would not pardon Arroyo.

Arroyo’s father was once President, as was Aquino’s mother. Arroyo is now a member of Congress, along with her two sons and a brother-in-law. The Supreme Court is dominated by members appointed by Arroyo.

Last year, Aquino set up a commission to investigate Arroyo, but the commission was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

The current charges against Arroyo are for fraud in the Senate elections of 2007.



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July 3, 2011

Philippine Foreign Secretary Del Rosario to visit China amid South China Sea territorial dispute

Philippine Foreign Secretary Del Rosario to visit China amid South China Sea territorial dispute

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Sunday, July 3, 2011

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Location of the Spratly Islands
Image: Spiridon MANOLIU.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario on June 23, 2011.
Image: United States Department of State.

Del Rosario with US Defense Secretary Robert Gates
Image: U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jacob N. Bailey.

Philippines Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario is scheduled to visit China from July 7 to 9, raising hopes that a territorial dispute between the two countries may be resolved.

A six-nation dispute has escalated in the sea concerning territorial claims to several islands including the Spratly Islands. The area is thought to be rich in natural gas and oil. Both the Philippines and China wish to have a peaceful resolution to this conflict. “I’ve been invited to Beijing and we’re looking for peaceful means to settle the challenges facing us,” said Del Rosario.

The news comes after the United States and the Philippines began a series of naval exercises last week in the South China Sea, scheduled to last for 11 days. A Philippine military commander stated that the drills are part of an annual series of activities taking place under a defense agreement between the two countries and have nothing to do with the territorial dispute.

The Philippines maintains a close relation with the U.S. as a former territory of the nation.

The drills come at a time when several competing disputes in the South China Sea have begun to intensify. “Since February 25th, we actually have noted as many as nine intrusions of different varieties, but clearly becoming more aggressive and more frequent,” said Del Rosario. Several countries in Asia, including China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, and Taiwan, have territorial claims in the area spanning the Spratly and Paracel Islands. The region may be rich in oil and gas reserves. The US and Philippines have urged the (ASEAN) to address the conflict.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has argued that the United States would remain neutral regarding the disputes. She has also said that the United States has a “national interest” in freedom of navigation, respect for international law, and unimpeded, lawful commerce in the South China Sea.” Both countries are bound by a 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty.

On June 27, the US Senate unanimously passed a motion condemning “the use of force by naval and maritime security vessels from China in the South China Sea.” China, on the other hand, has stated that it will not use force to resolve disputes in the South China Sea.



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June 26, 2011

Scientists discover 300 new species on island of Luzon in the Philippines

Scientists discover 300 new species on island of Luzon in the Philippines

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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Location of Luzon
Image: Magalhães.

Scientists have identified more than 300 previously unknown species of land and sea creatures, according to a news release from the California Academy of Sciences. They were discovered on a six-week-long expedition that ended in early June, and focused on the Philippine island of Luzon.

The California Academy of Sciences, together with over two dozen Philippine colleagues, conducted the expedition that recorded the new terrestrial and marine life forms. Academy scientists who work in exotic places frequently discover new species, commonly only a few at one time. Finding 300 species that may be unknown on a single expedition is considered to be extraordinary, according to SF Gate.

The findings will be confirmed using microscopes and DNA sequencing. The identification, scientific description and classification of each specimen as new or old, could take many months or even years.

Cquote1.svg [W]e found new species during nearly every dive and hike as we surveyed the country’s reefs, rainforests, and the ocean floor. Cquote2.svg

—Terry Gosliner, Dean of Science, California Academy of Sciences

The expedition leader, Terry Gosliner, an invertebrate zoologist who is also Dean of Science at the California academy, said, “The Philippines is one of the hottest of the hot spots for diverse and threatened life on Earth. Despite this designation, however, the biodiversity here is still relatively unknown, and we found new species during nearly every dive and hike as we surveyed the country’s reefs, rainforests, and the ocean floor. The species lists and distribution maps that we created during this expedition will help to inform future conservation decisions and ensure that this remarkable biodiversity is afforded the best possible chance of survival.” He emphasized the need for scientists to gather in-depth information about the rare life forms there so they can be given a chance to survive.

On the 42-day expedition, academy officials said in the news release that the creatures found include “dozens of new insects and spiders, deep-sea armored corals, ornate sea pens, bizarre new sea urchins and sea stars, a shrimp-eating swell shark, and over 50 colorful new sea slugs.”



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April 10, 2011

Investigation launched after small aircraft crashes on Philippines mountain, killing two

Investigation launched after small aircraft crashes on Philippines mountain, killing two

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

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A Piper Aztec, similar to the aircraft involved in the accident.
Image: Fly-by-Owen.

An investigation is tonight underway after a light aircraft crashed into a popular mountain resort in the Philippines city of Baguio, killing two aboard, and injuring four others. The aircraft, which may have been trying to make an emergency landing, narrowly missed crashing into a tourist resort where a crowd had gathered.

Witnesses said the six-seater Piper Aztec aircraft was flying very low before it clipped pine trees and impacted with the ground, bursting into flames. The crash happened just minutes after it lifted off from Loakan Airport. One person aboard the aircraft was killed instantly, and the four others were taken to hospital where another died. No-one on the ground was hurt in the accident.

Police confirmed the aircraft crashed into a mountain trail and exploded. Wikinews understands air traffic controllers lost contact with the pilot shortly after takeoff, and officials say the aircraft may have suffered technical problems. Police told journalists the pilot might have been attempting to make an emergency landing in an open area but struck trees.



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January 29, 2011

Four killed, fourteen others injured at bus blast in Philippines

Four killed, fourteen others injured at bus blast in Philippines

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Saturday, January 29, 2011

An explosion occurred in a bus in the Epifanio de los Santos Avenue, in Makati City, Philippines on Tuesday. The blast occurred in shortly before 2 p.m. Four are dead with fourteen more wounded.

After the explosion, the National Capital Region Police Office’s Director, Nicanor Bartolome, said that he formed a special investigation team and the city has formed a crisis management committee.

President Benigno Aquino III condoled the grieving families of the dead. The Metro Manila police are now on full alert following the blast. The bus was an air-conditioned model, plate number TXJ-710.

After news reached the Malacañang Palace spokesman Eduardo Lacierda said that the cause of the blast was “some sort of explosive device placed in the vicinity of the middle of the bus.” Many passengers had already got off before the explosion; almost half disembarked at Ayala.

A survivor said that they did not notice the explosion because they were all busy watching television. The bus driver noticed an abnormal smell, namely gunpowder. He stated that mechanical failure could not possibly be the cause. The police are yet to establish what type of explosive was used.


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