The Inbox
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    By Ellen T. Tordesillas, VERA Files

    The Philippine case against China’s nine-dash line before the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal gained support from Vietnam in a statement it submitted to the court in The Hague on Thursday.

    The Vietnam Foreign Ministry said the tribunal has jurisdiction to settle disputes concerning the interpretation of the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea.

    In a press briefing Thursday, Vietnam Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Le Hai Binh said: “To protect its legal rights and interests in the East Sea which may be affected in the South China Sea Arbitration case, Vietnam has expressed its position to the Tribunal regarding this case, and requested the Tribunal to pay due attention to the legal rights and interests of Vietnam.”

    These include Vietnam’s rights and interests over geographical features of the Paracel Islands and Spratly islands, he said. China calls the Paracel Islands Xisha and Vietnam, Hoàng Sa. Spratlys is known as Nansha in China, Truong Sa in

    Read More »from Vietnam supports PH position: UN tribunal has jurisdiction on South China Sea dispute
  •  Commentary

    By  Ellen  T. Tordesillas

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    The Position Paper of China on the case filed by the Philippines with the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal showed the wide gap between the two countries as regards their conflicting claims on th South China Sea islands, reefs and rocks.

    The meeting between President Aquino and Chinese President Xi Jinping may have lowered the tension but the two countries are really far apart in attitude and perspective.

    Example:

    Before the meeting of Leaders of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation in Beijing last month, Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said their bringing unilaterally the territorial conflict with China before the U.N. court is not an unfriendly act.

    China has refused to participate in the U.N. suit, the first ever filed against the economic superpower, insisting instead on bilateral negotations which the Philippines shunned.

    "We precisely selected arbitration because, as was defined by the United Nations, it is not an unfriendly act. It

    Read More »from China’s position paper shows wide gap with PH stand
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    By Norman Sison

    Paintings are like stories sometimes. They are not simply works of the creative mind. They also have things to tell. But the details are hidden by the broad strokes.

    So it is at the newly inaugurated Museo Sanso in San Juan City. If the artwork there could talk, they would tell of the life — not just the artistry — of a Spaniard who calls the Philippines his home.

    Caucasian and blue-eyed, it is easy to mistake Juvenal Sanso for a foreign tourist. But the moment he speaks, it is easy to see that he is Filipino in heart and mind. In fact, most Filipinos today weren’t even born when Sanso set foot in the Philippines.

    His father moved the family from Reus, in the Spanish Catalonia region, to the Philippines in 1934 when Sanso was five years old. The Philippines was then a US colony and Sanso arrived just in time to see the country become an American commonwealth on the road to independence.

    The Sansos put up El Arte Español, a wrought iron business. But being

    Read More »from A Spaniard comes home to las Filipinas
  • Rebutting China’s Claims

    Commentary

     

    By Harry L. Roque, VERA Files

    Two years after the Philippines initiated arbitration proceedings against China under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, China belatedly published in the web site of its Ministry of Foreign Affairs its official Position Paper on the arbitration.

    The Chinese position was divided into three.

    First, that the UNCLOS ad hoc arbitral tribunal has no subject matter jurisdiction since what are involved are maritime territories generated by land territories;

    Second, that the arbitration is in violation of the substantive obligation of the Philippines to negotiate with China the matter of the disputed islands and waters; and

    Third, assuming arguendo that the Tribunal has subject-matter jurisdiction, it is still barred as a matter of delimitation which China has reserved from the jurisdiction of the UNCLOS dispute settlement procedure.

    China reiterated that the waters within the contested nine-dash lines are waters generated by land

    Read More »from Rebutting China’s Claims
  • By Ellen Tordesillas, VERA Files

    China insisted Sunday that the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal has no jurisdiction on the complaint filed by the Philippines seeking to declare null and void the nine-dash line on China’s maps.

    China’s 27-page position paper, posted on the website of its Ministry of Foreign Affairs, came eight days before the Dec. 15 deadline given by the U.N. court for Beijing to answer the Philippine complaint filed on Jan. 22, 2013.

    With or without China’s reply, the U.N. court will start the hearings.

    The U.N. Arbitral Tribunal is a mechanism provided in the U.N. Convention on the Law of the SEA (UNCLOS), which defines the rights and responsibilities of nations with respect to their use of the world’s oceans.

    The Convention, signed by 165 countries, including the Philippines and China, establishes guidelines for businesses, the environment and the management of marine natural resources.

    China, which has refused to participate in the U.N. proceedings, stressed that

    Read More »from China: UN tribunal has no jurisdiction on case filed by PH
  • By Jake Soriano, VERA Files

    Cotabato City - Lack of information dissemination, accessibility of polling centers, and security are some of the major issues raised by groups promoting the rights of voters with disabilities in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

    In a dialogue here between government agencies and nongovernment organizations a year and a half away from the 2016 presidential elections, PWD advocates across the region raised concerns over difficulties faced by voters with disabilities.

    These voters will also have to take part in a plebiscite next year should the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) be signed into law soon, and the election of Bangsamoro officials in 2016.

    Fr. David Procalla, PPCRV’s regional coordinator for Mindanao and the ARMM, raises the need for information dissemination campaigns for PWD voters not just in schools but also in churches and mosques. (Photo by JAKE SORIANO)Fr. David Procalla, PPCRV’s regional coordinator for Mindanao and the ARMM, raises the need for information dissemination campaigns for PWD voters not just in schools but also in churches and mosques. (Photo by JAKE SORIANO)

    In some areas in Maguindanao, for instance, stigma against PWDs is still

    Read More »from PWD-inclusive ARMM polls sought
  • By Jake Soriano, VERA Files

    Human trafficking is a “big concern” in Mindanao, and will be firmly addressed by the proposed Bangsamoro in the south, one of the drafters of the law creating the autonomous political entity said.

    The Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), a crucial piece of legislation in the peace deal between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), contains a provision that explicitly prohibits “trafficking in persons and engagement of minors in any hazardous or deleterious forms of employment.”

    Currently being deliberated in Congress, the bill also guarantees “humane conditions of work” and tasks the future Bangsamoro Parliament to enact laws to protect labor rights.

    “[Human trafficking] is a big concern,” explained lawyer Raissa Jajurie of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) during the forum, ” Dissecting the Bangsamoro Basic Law: Is the Law the Right Path to Peace?” by the Alternative Law Groups on Tuesday. “At dapat naka-senyales na ‘yan 

    Read More »from Bangsamoro law to address human trafficking, PWD issues
  • Commentary

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    By Ellen T. Tordesillas

    Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin had no choice but to say what EDCA, the agreement he signed with the United States Ambassador Philip Goldberg last April 28, really is under strict questioning by Sen. Miriam Santiago, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

    EDCA stands for Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement  which allows the U.S. to set up camps within Philippine military camps despite the Constitutional prohibition that “military bases, foreign military bases, troops, or facilities shall not be allowed in the Philippines except under a treaty duly concurred in by the Senate and, when the Congress so requires, ratified by a majority of the votes cast by the people in a national referendum held for that purpose, and recognized as a treaty by the other contracting State. “

    To sell EDCA to the Filipino public, the Aquino government led by Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario and Gazmin demonized China and said with the agreement,

    Read More »from EDCA minus Gazmin’s illusions
  • countries

    By YVONNE T. CHUA, VERA Files

    (Infographics sourced from OECD report)

    Contrary to popular belief, corruption isn’t the scourge solely of developing countries like the Philippines.

    In fact, two-thirds of bribes paid by businesses to foreign public officials took place in countries with medium to very high human development index, including the most developed economies, says a report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on foreign bribery released Tuesday.

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    “Bribes are being paid across sectors to officials from countries at all stages of economic development,” according to the OECD Foreign Bribery Report, the first of its kind.

    The report analyzed 427 foreign bribery cases law enforcers in 17 countries have successfully concluded since the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions came into force on Feb. 15, 1999.

    Forty-one states have signed the convention, which makes bribery in international

    Read More »from PH among Asian countries listed in OECD foreign bribery report

  • By Cherry  Joy G. Veniles, VERAFiles

    Photos: UP  Outdoor Recreation Group, Ega Alcaraz, Richarcd Ongsico

    PAGSANGAHAN, General Nakar – “In 2004, during the big typhoon, the waters of the river rose beyond the top of the coconut trees. To get relief goods, we had to trek for four hours to the poblacion. It was hard because the trail was slippery, but it was harder not to have anything to eat. One by one the families left this place,” Bernie Coral, 43, recalls, speaking in Filipino.

    Bernie is recounting to members and volunteers of the University of the Philippines’ Outdoor Recreation Group (UP-ORG) the big flood that ravaged their community in 2004.

    Pagsangahan fits the criteria that the UP-ORG has set for its community program.

    The UP-ORG is a university recognized organization which engages in various outdoor activities including mountaineering. But beyond recreation it actively participates in environmental clean ups and organizes socio-economic efforts in far flung communities.

    Read More »from Mountaineers touch lives in places where few bother to go

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