Philippines stops protest trip to disputed shoal

Philippine President Benigno Aquino convinced protesters to abort plans to sail Friday to a disputed South China Sea shoal as he sought ways to resolve a tense stand-off with China.

A group of about 20 people, led by outspoken former Philippine Marine officer Nicanor Faeldon and including television crews, was all set to depart to Scarborough Shoal from the northern coastal town of Masinloc.

But Aquino placed a last-minute phone call to Faeldon, convincing him not to go, the president's spokeswoman Abigail Valte told reporters in Manila.

"The president did indeed speak to Mr. Faeldon and had asked him to reconsider his plan of going to Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal because it might be construed in a negative way," Valte said.

China claims the shoal along with most of the South China Sea, even up to the coasts of its Asian neighbours, while the Philippines says the shoal is well within its 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone.

Cranking up tensions, both countries have had ships posted around the shoal since April 10, after Chinese vessels prevented a Philippine Navy ship from arresting Chinese fishermen.

China and the Philippines have since imposed separate fishing bans around the disputed area that came into effect on Wednesday, moves that were seen by some observers as a face-saving way for both to back away from the row.

Faeldon told reporters he spoke to the president on his mobile phone as the protesters were about to set sail for the trip, which would have taken nine hours each way.

"I consulted the group and we agreed to concur with the wisdom of the government to postpone it," he added.

Faeldon has served time in prison and was discharged from the Philippine Marines for a 2003 coup attempt, but was granted amnesty last year. He had planned to stay on the disputed shoal for three days.

There was also talk of hoisting a Philippine flag there -- a move likely to infuriate Beijing and ratchet up tensions -- but Faeldon later said the group would not commit any "provocative" actions.

Faeldon said the president told him Philippine government representatives were currently in China to negotiate over the maritime row.

"He said that he believed the postponement of this activity may do better for the resolution of this dispute."

Both Valte, the presidential spokeswoman, and foreign department spokesman Raul Hernandez however said they were unaware of any ongoing talks in China.

Aquino has named two special envoys to China to help improve ties, but the Aquino government would not say if they were already in Beijing.

Faeldon said earlier the trip aimed to galvanise global support for the Philippine government's efforts to bring a peaceful solution to the maritime stand-off with its giant neighbour.

The foreign department on Thursday said it did not want the trip to go ahead but Faeldon initially ignored the call, dismissing fears China would see it as provocative.

Scarborough Shoal sits about 230 kilometres (140 miles) from the Philippines' main island of Luzon. The nearest major Chinese landmass is 1,200 kilometres northwest of the shoal, according to Philippine navy maps.

Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said Thursday he expected "modest" economic fallout from the territorial dispute.

China had imposed stricter quarantine restrictions on key Filipino fruit exports, the Philippine government said, and warned its citizens about travel safety in the Philippines.

Philippine resorts have been hit with Chinese tourist cancellations, while a Chinese airline cut flight frequencies to Manila.

Valte said the Philippines is to send agriculture department officials to China next week to negotiate over the quarantine impasse.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Indonesia executes foreign drug convicts, defying global anger
    Indonesia executes foreign drug convicts, defying global anger

    Indonesia on Wednesday executed seven foreign drug convicts including two Australians by firing squad despite a storm of international anger, reports said, but a Filipina was spared at the 11th hour. Authorities put the seven plus a local man to death after midnight (1700 GMT Tuesday) on a high-security prison island in central Indonesia. Eight convicts -- two Australians, one from Brazil and four from Africa, as well as the Indonesian -- were put to death on Nusakambangan Island, MetroTV and …

  • Philippine woman drug convict execution delayed
    Philippine woman drug convict execution delayed

    CILICAP, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia's attorney general says the execution has been delayed of a woman Philippine convict, one of nine people who had been due to face a firing squad. …

  • Mother of Filipina spared Indonesia execution hails 'miracle': radio
    Mother of Filipina spared Indonesia execution hails 'miracle': radio

    The mother of a Filipina drug convict reprieved at the 11th hour after facing execution in Indonesia told Philippine radio Wednesday: "Miracles do come true". Mary Jane Veloso was spared after someone suspected of recruiting her and tricking her into carrying drugs to Indonesia turned herself in to authorities in the Philippines, MetroTV and the Jakarta Post reported in Indonesia. "We are relieved that the execution of Mary Jane Veloso was not carried out tonight," said spokesman Charles …

  • Indonesia's attorney general says female Philippines drug convict spared from execution

    CILACAP, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia's attorney general says female Philippines drug convict spared from execution. …

  • Indonesia delays execution of Filipina drug convict
    Indonesia delays execution of Filipina drug convict

    The execution of a Filipina drug convict by an Indonesian firing squad was delayed at the last minute after one of her recruiters surrendered to police in the Philippines, the attorney general's spokesman said on Wednesday. "The execution of Mary Jane (Veloso) has been postponed because there was a request from the Philippine president related to a perpetrator suspected of human trafficking who surrendered herself in the Philippines," said Tony Spontana, spokesman for the attorney general. …

  • Pacquiao sees fist of God delivering win over Mayweather
    Pacquiao sees fist of God delivering win over Mayweather

    Filipino boxing hero Manny Pacquiao is confident he can beat American arch-rival Floyd Mayweather in Las Vegas on Saturday with the power of God, after abandoning a life he said was packed with sin condemning him to hell. Pacquiao is in top form both in mind and spirit after he traded his boozing, gambling and womanising ways for a devout life of prayer, his spiritual adviser, Jeric Soriano, told AFP in a recent Manila interview. Except the world got to him," Soriano said of Pacquiao's …

  • Mary Jane, family say last goodbyes
    Mary Jane, family say last goodbyes

    Filipino death convict Mary Jane Veloso and her family went to mass yesterday morning, had lunch and bade each other tearful goodbyes. Veloso admonished her family not to do anything that would damage relations between the Philippines and Indonesia, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). They were her family in the past five years,” the Philippine embassy in Indonesia said. Her family, while they hoped for a miracle, seemed to be resigned to her fate. …

  • Heat index to reach 40ºC this week
    Heat index to reach 40ºC this week

    Take precautions against heat cramps and exhaustion as the heat index is expected to reach above 40 degrees Celsius later this week, the state weather bureau advised people in Metro Manila and in Laoag and Tuguegarao cities in Northern Luzon yesterday. The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said the heat index is expected to hit 40.2 degrees Celsius in Metro Manila and 40.7 degrees and 40.2 degrees in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte and Tuguegarao …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options