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August 22, 2016

President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte threatens to leave UN

Filed under: Asia,Disputed,Philippines,United Nations — admin @ 5:00 am

President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte threatens to leave UN

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Monday, August 22, 2016

Yesterday President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte threatened to leave the UN after it criticized the way he fought the war on drugs, describing his conduct as a crime under international law.

President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte

He accused the organisation, which aims to increase world peace; of being useless, having achieved nothing and having just complained saying. “Take us out of your organization. You have done nothing anyway.”

The UN’s comments come after a spike in government sanctioned vigilante killings, there have been 900 unexplained murders and 650 police killings since June when the government’s crackdown began. President Duterte has accused several rival politicians of being involved in the drug trade, while maintaining that the 650 police killings where justified and in self defense. Saying that “My orders are for the police to go out and hunt for criminals, I tell them to arrest these criminals if they surrender peacefully, but kill them if they put up a violent struggle. I assume full responsibility for what happens.”

Four days ago the UN responded to this by urging the Philippine’s president to “adopt with immediate effect the necessary measures to protect all persons from targeted killings and extrajudicial executions”. Saying that “The State has a legally binding obligation to ensure the right to life and security of every person in the country, whether suspected of criminal offences or not”.



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July 14, 2016

UN tribunal dismisses Chinese claims to South China Sea

UN tribunal dismisses Chinese claims to South China Sea

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Thursday, July 14, 2016

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Map of South China Sea.
Image: Nzeemin, NordNordWest.

On Tuesday, a United Nations (UN) tribunal in The Hague dismissed China‘s sovereignty claims to the South China Sea, a body of water connecting to the Pacific Ocean which is also bordered by the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Indonesia. Court battles over the claims between China and the Philippines go back to 2013.

These claims were established by China during the reign of its Nationalist government in the 1940s, marked by a demarcation line nicknamed its Nine-dash line. Its line stretched hundreds of miles from the Chinese mainland, including about nine tenths of the entire sea. The South China Sea is a valuable property, providing passage for about US$5 trillion in trade by planes and boats every year. China is not the only country to claim large parts of the sea; notably, Taiwan and Vietnam have also done so, but other large-scale claimants have been less militarily active about their claims than China.

China has built several artificial islands and military bases in the South China Sea. The tribunal scolded the impeding of fishing and exploration in the sea by China, which it deemed against the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), signed by China in 1982. The tribunal also concluded China knowingly permitted the poaching of endangered turtles and clams as well as destroyed coral reefs to construct artificial islands.

UNCLOS permits countries to claim a 200-nautical mile area from their mainland, referred to as an exclusive economic zone. It also permits freedom of navigation, allowing unimpeded exploration through “high seas”: international waters also available for the use of fishing and trade passages.

There is no process to enforce the decision. UNCLOS allows countries to exclude themselves from “compulsory binding procedures for the settlement of disputes” as defined in Part XV, Section 3 – Article 298. China exercised this right to exclude themselves from compulsory binding procedures on August 25, 2006. They reject the jurisdiction or authority of the tribunal’s findings. Various other countries have also exercised Article 298 partially or fully, such as Australia, Canada, the UK, Russia, and France.

Many nations made statements after the decision. The Chinese government opposed the decision, calling it “ill-founded”. It said “China neither accepts nor recognizes” the decision. The Philippine government referred to the decision as a “milestone decision”. The US, a key ally with many of the countries claiming parts of the sea, said it was an “important contribution to the shared goal of a peaceful resolution to disputes in the South China Sea”.



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October 19, 2015

Typhoon Koppu makes landfall in the Philippines, displacing at least 16,000

Typhoon Koppu makes landfall in the Philippines, displacing at least 16,000

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Monday, October 19, 2015

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Typhoon Koppu, known additionally as Lando, made landfall in the northern Philippines on Sunday, killing at least two and displacing at least 16,000 people.

A satellite image of Typhoon Koppu, as of October 17.
Image: United States Naval Research Laboratory.

The deadly storm caused a concrete wall in a home in Subic, Zambales to topple over, killing a 62-year-old woman and injuring her husband. A 14-year-old teenager was killed after being fatally pinned down in Manila by a tree which got knocked over. The same fallen tree injured four others, including a three-year-old. The tree additionally damaged three nearby houses.

The injured people were sent to the East Avenue Medical Centre for treatment.

A map showing the typhoon’s path.
Image: User:Meow, data from NOAA.

The typhoon made landfall in the town of Casiguran, a town with a population of 25,000 in the province of Aurora. Subsequently it ripped roofs off of houses, uprooted trees, and knocked down power lines. Nine provinces were left without electricity. Flash floods and landslides heavily damaged roads, and as a result 25 roads were made impassable.

The army attempted to clear routes leading to Casiguran, according to the state-owned Philippines News Agency. Nigel Lontoc, an employee of the Office of Civil Defense said that some residents were trapped on rooftops in the province of Nueva Ecija. Troops were sent to that location as a part of a rescue operation.

The typhoon weakened as it moved over land, and weather improved in some regions. Officials urged residents to be cautious since Koppu may still cause landslides and flash floods.

Alexander Pama, Executive Director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, said that they were asking their countrymen “not to become complacent.”

The typhoon is expected to move slowly over the Philippines, causing large amounts of rainfall.

This year, Koppu is the twelfth typhoon to hit the Philippines, where around 20 typhoons make landfall per year.

Bob Henson, weather blogger from Weather Underground, said that the Philippines is considered to be “the most vulnerable large nation on earth for tropical cyclones.”



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January 31, 2015

Rare megamouth shark found dead in Pio Duran, Philippines

Rare megamouth shark found dead in Pio Duran, Philippines

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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Biology
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A megamouth shark was found dead in the Philippines on Wednesday. There have been only fifteen confirmed sightings in the nation and around 60 worldwide.

Preserved head of a megamouth on display in Australia.
Image: “saberwyn”.

The fifteen-foot male was found after reportedly becoming entangled with a fishing net near the Barangay Marigondon neighborhood of Pio Duran, Albay province. Its body was encased with ice pending a necropsy. The cause of death was not immediately clear.

Locals have nicknamed the dead shark ‘toothless’, a How to Train Your Dragon movie reference. In truth megamouths can have up to fifty rows of teeth.

Megamouths reach up to eighteen feet. Their name refers to its large head and mouth, used to filter plankton and other small food from the ocean. Occasionally the prey of other sharks and whales, megamouths are thought to live in the Pacific around Taiwan, the Philippines, and Japan based on previous sightings. Its true range and population size are however unknown. The first such shark identified was accidentally discovered by the US Navy off the coast of Hawaii when it became stuck in a ship’s anchor. Researchers theorise a white strip on the shark’s head illuminates to attract prey.



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September 23, 2014

Tropical storm Fung-wong makes landfall in Eastern China

Tropical storm Fung-wong makes landfall in Eastern China

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Fung-wong on September 20th approaching Taiwan.
Image: NASA.

Tropical Storm Fung-wong made landfall in Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, China, at about 7:35 p.m local time (1135 UTC) yesterday, bringing with it reportedly 100kph (60mph) winds and heavy rains.

China prepared for the storms by recalling nearly 33,000 ships and boats to port, and the preemptive evacuation of over 250,000 people from vulnerable areas. Fung-Wong was moving inland, northwards and eastwards, and as it did so wind speeds and the possibility of wind damage should diminish however it should continue to present a flooding risk. The storm was expected to hit Shanghai today, and around 100,000 people were placed on standby to deal with possible flooding. Fung-wong should also lead to heavy rain in Japan and South Korea bringing with it the threat of flash floods.

Prior to hitting China, Fung-wong had previously landed in Taiwan and the Philippines, leading directly to one death in Taiwan. Philippine officials said flooding and strong winds caused a minimum of ten deaths in the Philippines, with about 200,000 people displaced from their homes.



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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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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 a four-country meeting about the South China Sea disputes

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

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South China Sea maritime claims

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

The meeting is a new step in attempts to solve the disputes between these countries and with 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 come up with a consensus on how to solve the disputes. Cambodia, a well-known ally of China and the current chair of ASEAN, refused to take-up the disputes during the recent summit in November.

Current disputes in the South China Sea are likely to be discussed in the meeting. These include areas such as the Spratly Islands, the Paracel Islands, the Pratas Islands, the Scarborough Shoal, and Macclesfield Bank. China and Taiwan claims the whole sea while the countries attending the meeting claim parts of it.

The area is abundant in fish and marine life and is also an important shipping lane. Large fossil fuel reserves, such as petroleum and natural gas, are believed to be located in the area.



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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

Philippines
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Location of the Philippines

A map showing the location of the Philippines

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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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