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Lowly paid Filipinos happiest with their jobs
By Armin P. Adina
Philippine Daily Inquirer
September 4, 2015 at 5:45 am

 

Despite having one of the lowest salary grades in the region, Filipinos are the happiest with their jobs, a survey conducted among working individuals in Southeast Asia showed.

 

Seventy percent of Filipino employees said they were happy with their work, according to the study released by the job search website JobStreet Philippines on Wednesday.

 

JobStreet Philippines marketing director Yoda Buyco said the survey showed that majority (55 percent) of Filipino employees were “quite happy” with their jobs while another 15 percent were “very happy,” pushing the Philippines to the top of the satisfaction survey.

 

Thai employees ranked second with 59 percent saying they were happy at work, followed by Singapore with a 51-percent satisfaction rate.

 

Employees in Hong Kong and Indonesia were the least satisfied with their jobs, with small minorities indicating they were happy with their work.

 

Only 37 percent of employees in the Chinese territory expressed satisfaction while in Indonesia only 28 percent said they were satisfied.

 

A similar survey was conducted in Malaysia but the results have not been released, Buyco said.

 

Drivers of satisfaction

 

She said Filipino employees ranked “salary, company benefits and incentives” as the most important drivers of their satisfaction (64 percent).

 

Employees in Thailand, Singapore and Hong Kong cited “relationship with colleagues and superiors” as the main reason for their satisfaction.

 

“Job role” ranked highest among Indonesian workers, who said “relationship” was their second-most important driver.

 

“Filipinos’ strong family ties may be the reason they cited a different factor for their satisfaction,” Buyco said. “We primarily work for our families and our compensation helps us help our families.”

 

“We [Filipinos] may have a lower salary grade compared to our counterparts in other countries… but we have a relatively lower cost of living. We may have very little but we enjoy the most out of the little we have,” she added.

 

“Job role” was second (62 percent) for Filipino workers, followed by “learning and development programs leading to career growth” (60 percent).

 

“Working environment, culture and reputation” (59 percent) and “relationship with colleagues and superior” (56 percent) rounded out the five top drivers of Filipinos’ satisfaction, Buyco said.

 

The Philippine part of the survey involved over 7,500 participants from across the country and was conducted last June and July.



PH to China: Walk the talk, bridge gap
By Niña P. Calleja
Philippine Daily Inquirer
September 4, 2015 at 5:26 am
SHOW OF FORCE  Twelve thousand troops, 500 pieces of military hardware and 200 aircraft of various types are on display during the military parade at Tiananmen Square in Beijing to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. Among those taking part in the parade are members of the People’s Liberation Army. Major Western leaders stayed away from the ceremony which had strong anti-Japan theme.  AFP COMPOSITE PHOTO

SHOW OF FORCE Twelve thousand troops, 500 pieces of military hardware and 200 aircraft of various types are on display during the military parade at Tiananmen Square in Beijing to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. Among those taking part in the parade are members of the People’s Liberation Army. Major Western leaders stayed away from the ceremony which had strong anti-Japan theme. AFP COMPOSITE PHOTO

 

The Philippines on Thursday told China to “walk the talk” after Chinese President Xi Jinping said his country would never seek hegemony.

 

The Philippines has been repeatedly calling on China to stop reclaiming land on reefs in the West Philippine Sea, part of the South China Sea within the country’s 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone (EEZ) recognized under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and exercise restraint according to a 2002 agreement signed with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to refrain from taking actions in the disputed sea that could cause tensions in the region.

 

“We hope to see the gap between China’s pronouncements and the actual conditions on the ground bridged,” Assistant Foreign Secretary Charles Jose, spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), said in a text message.

 

Speaking at ceremonies marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in Asia, Xi announced that China would cut by 13 percent, or 300,000 troops, one of the world’s biggest militaries, currently 2.3 million strong.

 

He gave no time frame for a reduction that is likely part of long-mooted military rationalization plans, which have included spending more money on high-tech weapons for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy and Air Force.

 

The PLA troop numbers have been cut three times already since the 1980s.

 

“The experience of war makes people value peace even more,” Xi said. “Regardless of the progress of events, China will never seek hegemony, China will seek to expand and will never inflict the tragedies it suffered in the past upon others.”

 

Xi gave no specific reason for the troop reduction, but bracketed his announcement with assertions of the PLA’s mission to protect China and “uphold the sacred task of ensuring world peace.”

 

Despite its huge numbers, the PLA has not fought in a major conflict since a brief 1979 border war with Vietnam, although China has long been a major contributor to United Nations peacekeeping missions and since 2008 has joined in multination antipiracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden.

 

Xi’s announcement could be seen as an attempt to soften the impact of Thursday’s spectacle that saw 12,000 troops march through the center of Beijing, accompanied by tanks, bomber aircraft and intercontinental ballistic missiles.

 

Shunned by major powers

 

The parade was largely shunned by Japan, the United States and other major democracies that have grown concerned about China’s increasingly aggressive moves to assert its territorial claims in the South China Sea and elsewhere.

 

Besides the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan have overlapping claims with China in the South China Sea, where a third of global trade worth $5 trillion passes every year and where islets, atolls and reefs are believed to be sitting atop massive oil and gas reserves.

 

No PH representative but Estrada

 

Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said on Wednesday night that the official representative of the Philippines, Ambassador to China Erlinda Basilio, would not attend the military parade in Beijing.

 

Del Rosario said, however, that Basilio would attend cultural events on the sidelines of the parade.

 

Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, a former President of the Philippines, attended the parade. He said earlier that he was going to the Chinese celebrations because Beijing and Manila were sister cities.

 

Xi kicked off the proceedings with a speech at the iconic Tiananmen Gate in the heart of Beijing, flanked by Chinese leaders and foreign dignitaries, including Russian leader Vladimir Putin, South Korean President Park Geun-hye and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

 

After his speech, Xi drove past the assembled troops in a Chinese-made Red Flag limousine, standing up through a sunroof with four microphones mounted in front of him, calling out “Greetings, Comrades” every few moments, before the troops started to march.

 

PLA show of force

 

The spectacle involved more than 12,000 troops, 500 pieces of military hardware and 200 aircraft of various types, representing what military officials say is the Chinese military’s most cutting-edge technology.

 

The parade was part of commemorations packaged to bolster the ruling Communist Party’s self-declared role as the driving force behind Japan’s defeat 70 years ago and savior of the nation, though historians say the rival Nationalists did most of the fighting.

 

The events also minimized the role of the United States, Britain and others in ending the war.

 

Most leading democracies kept high-level representatives away, reflecting concerns over the parade’s anti-Japanese tone and China’s recent aggressive moves to assert territorial claims.

 

The United States sent only its ambassador to observe. In Washington, US defense department spokesman Bill Urban said that the United States was maintaining such commemorations should be about reconciliation and that a “large military display would not appear to be consistent with this theme.”

 

Under Xi, who took power as party leader in late 2012, Beijing has sent ships to confront Japan’s Coast Guard near disputed islands in the East China Sea, blockaded Philippine island outposts and constructed whole islands from reefs, topping them with airstrips and other military infrastructure.

 

China usually holds lavish military parades only every 10 years to mark the anniversary of the founding of the communist People’s Republic in 1949.

 

By holding an additional one now, Xi ensured that he would preside over at least two of the prestigious events during his decadelong tenure in power ending in 2023.

 

State propaganda

 

The parade pandered to a prickly strain of nationalism in a Chinese public constantly reminded by state propaganda of China’s past humiliations at the hands of foreign powers, especially Japan, which is widely despised for its perceived failure to properly atone for invading China.

 

While a hit at home, such sentiments heighten fears abroad about China’s intended uses of its newfound power, frustrating Beijing’s attempts to market itself as a responsible member of international society committed to the common good.

 

“In domestic terms, it’s certainly a plus for Xi. But in foreign policy terms, it’s controversial. It doesn’t enhance China’s soft power. It doesn’t help China’s image as a force for peace, stability and development,” said Joseph Cheng, a retired academic and political analyst in Hong Kong.

 

Resistance to Japan remains a core component of the party’s foundational myth and is used as a key source of legitimacy in the absence of a popular mandate derived from free elections.

 

TV stations this week were filled with wartime dramas highlighting the role of communist soldiers, and at a news conference in the lead-up to the parade, top party historian Gao Yongzhong said it had long been established that “the Communist Party was the linchpin in the victory.”

 

Credit-grabbing

 

“The Chinese Communist Party is trying to take credit for a war it didn’t win and in fact in which it did very little fighting,” said June Teufel Dreyer, a China historian at the University of Miami.

 

Foreign observers were watching the parade for any indications of new military capabilities.

 

Of special interest was the appearance of the DF-21D antiship ballistic missile, potentially capable of sinking a US Nimitz-class aircraft carrier in a single strike.

 

Although questions remain over its reliability on the battlefield, the weapon has stirred concerns in the Pentagon about the vulnerability of US military assets in the case of an attack on Japan, Taiwan or American bases in Asia.—With wire reports

 

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Laotian RM awardee smooth as silk
By Ma. Ceres P. Doyo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
September 4, 2015 at 5:03 am
KOMMALY CHANTHAVONG of Laos, one of the five Ramon Magsaysay Awardees for 2015, scoops an armful of silk cocoons and spun silk thread dyed naturally in various colors and shows off hand-woven silk fabric with intricate designs. She was awarded for reviving the ancient Laotian art of silk weaving that gives livelihood for thousands of poor, war-displaced Laotians and for preserving her country's priceless cultural treasure. (Photo by Ceres P. Doyo)

KOMMALY CHANTHAVONG of Laos, one of the five Ramon Magsaysay Awardees for 2015, scoops an armful of silk cocoons and spun silk thread dyed naturally in various colors and shows off hand-woven silk fabric with intricate designs. She was awarded for reviving the ancient Laotian art of silk weaving that gives livelihood for thousands of poor, war-displaced Laotians and for preserving her country’s priceless cultural treasure. (Photo by Ceres P. Doyo)

 

Like the various stages in the making of silk—from silkworms winding cocoons around themselves, to human hands unraveling and spinning them as thread, to the hand-weaving of the fabric with intricate designs—so has been the life journey of Kommaly Chanthavong, a Laotian woman who revived an art and cultural treasure that was nearly lost because of war.

 

Early in her life during the Indochina War, Chanthavong lost her father and also her childhood home. In 1961, she and her family fled their farming village in eastern Laos and walked 600 kilometers to Vientiane to escape bombings during the Vietnam War. The US bombing of the Ho Chi Minh trail had displaced communities.

 

Chanthavong was a refugee at 13, but a refugee with heirloom treasures hidden among her few belongings. She brought with her heirloom hand-woven silk handed down from her grandmothers.

 

From these she would later draw inspiration for her life’s important work—the revival of silk weaving in her native land that would help communities.

 

She had learned the art from her mother when she was only 5 years old. She was not going to let it fade away into the past.

 

‘Transformative leadership’

 

On Monday, Chanthavong, 71, received the 2015 Ramon Magsaysay Award for “her fearless, indomitable spirit to revive and develop the ancient Laotian art of silk weaving, creating livelihood for thousands of poor, war-displaced Laotians, and in the process preserving the dignity of women and her nation’s priceless cultural treasure.”

 

The date marked the 108th birth anniversary of President Ramon Magsaysay, who died in a plane crash in 1957.

 

Chanthavong was one of this year’s five Asian awardees, the first Laotian woman and only the third from Laos to have received the award. She had received other awards for her work.

 

The Ramon Magsaysay Award, often called Asia’s Nobel, celebrates “greatness of spirit” and “transformative leadership” in Asia.

 

In the past 57 years, the award has been bestowed on more than 300 outstanding men, women and organizations whose selfless service has offered their societies, Asia, and the world successful solutions to some of the most complex problems of human development.

 

Ancient art

 

On Wednesday, Chanthavong arrived at her lecture venue with samples of exquisite Laotian silk produced by Mulberries Organic Silk Farm/Lao Sericulture Co., which she founded to promote the ancient art. She also showed silk cocoons and bundles of thread brightly colored using natural dyes.

 

The venue was perfect—the Metropolitan Museum of Manila where “Renaissance: The International Festival of Extraordinary Textiles” was going on. Promoters of indigenous Philippine textiles and weaving, among them members of Habi (The Philippine Textile Council), came to learn from Chanthavong’s experience.

 

Laborious process

 

Chanthavong always wore hand-woven silk with brocade-like edges wherever she was invited while she was in Manila. She said that despite the laborious process of silk weaving, women in Laos take pride in wearing the sinh, their traditional dress. The intricate weave designs in Laotian silk are like no other.

 

With her daughter Boby as interpreter, Chanthavong described the interesting process of making silk and weaving the designs into it through traditional methods. She explained how long it took (weeks, months, depending on size and design) to weave a piece.

 

Silk journey

 

But just as interesting was Chanthavong’s silk journey. Though life was difficult in Vientiane, the young Chanthavong continued her studies. She later went to Thailand to study nursing. In 1972 she got married and started a family.

 

The communist takeover of Vientiane brought more hard times while she was doing business between Laos and Thailand.

 

Seeing the suffering of war-displaced, unemployed women moved Chanthavong to do something for them. She used her small savings to buy looms and started with a group of 10 women weavers.

 

Later the group grew to 450 in 35 villages. The Lao government noticed and, in 1980, leased to Chanthavong 42 hectares of bombed-out land northeast of Laos.

 

But first, the area had to be cleared of deadly, unexploded land mines. Here mulberry trees were planted, silkworms raised and put to work. The once highly acidic land was turned into a fertile valley. This was where Mulberries Organic Farm began.

 

Workshop

 

The farm was not all about mulberry trees and silkworms. The farmers also planted vegetables and sources of natural dyes, and raised cattle that produced manure for organic fertilizers.

 

The farm became a big production workshop for various stages of silk production. Since its founding, the farm has trained more than a thousand farmers and created 3,000 jobs.

 

“One of the most beautiful things you can experience on earth,” a Mulberries invitation says, “is standing in the middle of a wide open and fresh green field of mulberry bushes, with the scent of moist soil and ripening mulberry fruit. This is where it all begins, where nothing will go to waste.”

 

Social enterprise

 

There is mulberry the fruit and Mulberries the farm. There is Mulberries, the social enterprise founded in 1995 that initiates income-generating projects.

 

Thanks to Chanthavong’s industry and vision, silk production has expanded into something bigger. More people have been trained not just in weaving, but in other productive endeavors such as making mulberry tea, pies, wine and soap.

 

They undergo training in raising healthy silkworms and dye-making (from fruits, leaves, stems, roots, flowers and seeds).

 

From these natural dyes, Chanthavong said, they can produce more than 100 colors and hues, “from autumn red to cranberry to faded pink, blue spruce to pistachio, harvest gold to chalk yellow, hot chocolate to malt.”

 

For the uninitiated, silkworms are not worms like the earthworm. They are the larvae or caterpillars of the domesticated silk moth (Bombyx mori).

 

This primary producer of silk is therefore a moth or insect in the making whose preferred food is mulberry leaves. The pupa (what becomes the silkworm after it has spun a cocoon around itself) can be a source of protein for humans and fowls.

 

Strengthen women

 

Chanthavong continues to travel around Laos to provide training and set up silk houses. She sees to it that the silk products are world-class. Indeed, Mulberries products are. (Visit www.mulberries.org.).

 

Her husband and three children are all involved in the enterprise. Eldest daughter Boby manages the Lao Silk and Craft in Melbourne, Australia.

 

Chanthavong also founded the Phontong/Camacrafts Handicrafts Cooperative that linked up with fair-trade retailer Ten Thousand Villages so that silk products could be exported to the United States. This meant more income for skilled weavers.

 

Chanthavong looks beyond her own generation. “Our goal,” she said, is to strengthen the position of women by giving them a dependable income and thus improve the chances of their children.”

 

Kommaly Chanthavong, brave, enterprising Laotian woman, revived an almost lost ancient art of Laos and created a new Silk Road for her own people.



2 Filipinos killed, 2 hurt in Salinas domestic violence shootings
INQUIRER.net US Bureau
September 4, 2015 at 2:34 am
salinas

Salinas, California shooting fatalities Felicidad and Oliver Legaspi. FACEBOOK PHOTOS

SAN FRANCISCO — A man was arrested for allegedly shooting to death two relatives of his Filipino wife and wounding her and her cousin in Salinas, California Thursday, August 27.

Suspect Sammuel Ejaz, 50, of Pakistani descent, shot to death Felicidad Legaspi, 51, and Oliver Legaspi, 64, his estranged wife’s aunt and uncle, and wounded their son, Alfaro Legaspi, all of Salinas.

ejaz

Murder suspect Sammuel Ejaz. POLICE PHOTO

Ejaz’s wife was also wounded in the shooting on Thursday outside the Social Security Building in Salinas. His wife and her cousin, Alfaro, are in the hospital and are expected to recover.

Police said Ejaz, of Garden Grove, California, was arrested at the scene of the shootings. He reportedly confessed to the crimes, but pleaded not guilty during his first court appearance on Monday, August 31.

Ejaz and his wife were reportedly having marital problems, and his wife, trying to stay away from him, drove from their Garden Grove home to Salinas to stay with her aunt, uncle and cousin.

Police said Ejaz stalked his wife and, finding her outside the federal building, shot her and her relatives with a handgun. Felicidad and Oliver Legaspi died at the scene.

Prosecutors added an enhancement to their complaint because Ejaz used a firearm causing great bodily injury. It adds five years if he is convicted.

Ejaz could face the death penalty for multiple murders. He was placed on suicide watch at the county jail and his bail is set at more than $7 million.

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New USAID mission chief vows to keep development thrust in PH 
INQUIRER.net U.S. Bureau
September 4, 2015 at 2:33 am

Amb. Cuisia and Dr. Susan Brems

WASHINGTON, DC — The new mission director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for the Philippines, Pacific Islands and Mongolia will maintain the strong development partnership between the Philippine government and USAID.

In a meeting at the Philippine Embassy September 1, and Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. thanked Dr. Susan K. Brems for the technical and financial support that the United States provides to the Philippines through USAID.

He also briefed Brems on the recent economic developments, including the good governance efforts under the Aquino administration, particularly with respect to transparency and public accountability.

Brems, a career member of the Senior U.S. Foreign Service with the rank of Minister-Counselor, brings to Manila 23 years of experience as a development diplomat for USAID.

She previously served as Mission Director in Zambia (2011-2015), Deputy Assistant Administrator in the Bureau for Global Health (2009-2011), and Mission Director for Angola (2007-2009).

“It was a great opportunity to discuss with Dr. Brems our government’s commitment to improving the lives of average Filipinos, as well as the social development objectives under the President’s leadership. We also exchanged views on the conditional cash transfer program of the government,” Cuisia said.

He also encouraged USAID’s continued support in the following areas: judicial reforms, rule of law, innovation and technology, economic development, educational cooperation and public health.

Brems pledged to continue the strong program and cooperation activities of USAID in the Philippines.

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Ticket lottery for Pope’s U.S. Congress speech broadcast
INQUIRER.net U.S. Bureau
September 4, 2015 at 2:32 am

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WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo counties) announced has a limited amount of tickets available to constituents of the 14th Congressional District to watch the broadcast of Pope Francis when he addresses the Joint Meeting of Congress on Thursday, September 24.

“The Pope has become a focal point across the world for prioritizing peace over war, care of the planet over consumption, forgiveness over accusation, and neighbor over self,” Speier said.

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U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier

“I’m excited that 50 of my constituents have the opportunity to be on the West Lawn of the Capitol to watch the broadcast of the Pope’s address to members of Congress. My only regret is that I can’t make these tickets available to everyone,” she added.

To participate in the lottery, constituents of the 14th Congressional District can fill out this form (http://goo.gl/m3r5Tw) before midnight on September 10, 2015, or call my Washington office at (202) 225-3531.

Only one person can apply per entry for two tickets. Congresswoman Speier’s office will inform those who are selected after holding the lottery on the following day.

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Films raise that awareness of issues to screen at TWIFF fest
INQUIRER.net U.S. Bureau
September 4, 2015 at 2:31 am

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SAN JOSE, California – With 23 officially selected films, 15 of which are award winners, The World’s Independent Film Festival (TWIFF) will celebrate its fifth year in San Francisco on September 25 – 27.

TWIFF recognizes filmmakers around the world and celebrates films that raise awareness of global and local issues.

Created in 2010 by Ted Unarce and Gracie Suzara for filmmakers, the festival showcases films that advocate positive social change, life journeys, cinematic discoveries, educational documentaries and new media work.

twiff

The World’s Film Festival staff and volunteers. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Films are officially selected and awarded by a select panel of jurors located in different parts of the world. These jurors have complete access to all submitted films, which they watch and rate based on originality/creativity, direction, writing, cinematography, performance, production value, pacing, structure and music.

The annual festival kicks off with a red carpet event on Friday night, September 25 at Fort McKinley Restaurant in South San Francisco from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m., to celebrate and recognize this year’s filmmakers. TWIFF sponsors, partners and various community groups and leaders will be in attendance.

The screening will be held on September 26-27, Saturday and Sunday, at the New People Cinema, 1746 Post St. in San Francisco, from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. A special Short Fest will kick off the screening with “Take a Stand” directed by Austin Fickman as the opening film.

The Saturday screening will close with “Facet Three” directed by Stephen Fenech. TWIFF’s Sunday screening will open with “Chasing Rainbows” directed by Robert Fritz and close with “Decoding Baqtun” directed by Elisabeth Thieriot. Question and Answer portions for select films will be held on both days.

The three World Premier films are: “Vibrant Highland, Commercial Love” directed by Mark Dworzanczyk, “Uncommitted” directed by Chandu Yarram and “The Faith in Ailao Mountain” directed by Ci “May May” Zhang.

The California Premier film is “The Mayo Conspiracy” directed by Craig Horwitz and Anthony Vollmer. The complete TWIFF 2015 Screening Schedule can be found at www.twiff.org/screening-schedule and tickets are available at www.twiff.org/shop.

The Submission process for 2016 is now open and filmmakers can submit their films at https://filmfreeway.com/festival/TheWorldIndieFilmFestival.

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Philippines, Vietnam close to signing cooperation pact on South China Sea
By Niña P. Calleja
Philippine Daily Inquirer
September 3, 2015 at 8:01 pm

The Philippines and Vietnam, both claimants of the disputed South China Sea, are close to forging a strategic partnership which is expected to be sealed by the two countries’ leaders in November, a solid alliance believed to be causing China to worry.

In a speech during the 70th anniversary of the Vietnam National Day on Wednesday night, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario cited the strategic partnership as a “mechanism to deliver a higher rate of return” in terms of the two countries’ cooperation.

“We are sure of the success of this partnership. As strategic partners, we aim to deliver results and cooperation at the highest possible level,” Del Rosario said at the Sofitel Hotel in Pasay City.

Del Rosario told reporters later in the night that the strategic partnership agreement would likely be signed on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation’s Leaders Meeting in Manila on November 18 and 19.

“We hope to sign it sometime this year. Possibly it will happen on the sidelines of the APEC,” Del Rosario said.

Vietnam Ambassador to the Philippines Truong Trieu Duong in an interview said the negotiations for the partnership were over and they have started finalizing the draft of the agreement.

“The draft is almost finished. It will be more comprehensive. (The partnership) will be more fruitful in every aspect of relations between the two countries… During the Apec meeting, there will be a news,” the Vietnamese ambassador said.

The Vietnamese ambassador said apart from political and economic cooperation, the two countries would scale up their military alliance.

Against the backdrop of the rising tension in the South China Sea with China’s island building activities, Truong said the alliance would help the two countries in resolving the disputes.

“We will deepen our cooperation in order to resolve the issue concerning the South China Sea in a most peaceful way and in accordance with international law,” Truong said.

Vietnam and the Philippines are both challenging China’s nine-dash line claim, which encompasses almost the entire South China Sea.

The Philippines initiated the arbitration proceedings against China before the international tribunal in the Hague, the Netherlands, in 2013 following China’s incursions into its exclusive economic zone.

Vietnam has bolstered the Philippines’ case when it submitted a position paper at the United Nations arbitral tribunal last year.

Maritime law expert Jay Batongbacal in a phone interview said the alliance between the two countries has been worrying China.

“Any indication that Southeast Asian countries are working toward unity worries China, especially if it will be a full-blown alliance,” Batongbacal, director of the University of the Philippines’ Institute for Maritime Affairs & Law of the Sea.

If the alliance will be sealed, Vietnam will be the third strategic partner of the Philippines, next to the United States and Japan.

“Vietnam is far stronger than the Philippines in terms of military strength. They have demonstrated they are much more willing to use it than us,” Batongbacal said.

He was referring to the incident last year when China’s state-owned China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC) moved an exploratory oil rig, Haiyang Shiyou 981 (HD-981) into Vietnam’s waters, which sparked a diplomatic crisis between the two countries.

China eventually removed the oil rig from the waters being claimed by Vietnam.

Batongbacal noted that after the strategic partnership with the Philippines, the logical step for Vietnam to take is forming alliances with Japan and the US, which China would not want. Niña P. Calleja, Philippine Daily Inquirer



American arrested at NAIA 3 for trying to carry gun aboard plane
By Jeannette I. Andrade
Philippine Daily Inquirer
September 3, 2015 at 6:19 pm

Aviation authorities stopped Tuesday afternoon an American tourist from boarding a domestic flight at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) when he allegedly tried to smuggle a disassembled gun onto an aircraft.

The Aviation Security Group (Avsegroup) director, Chief Supt. Pablo Francisco Balagtas, said that American Donald Edward Frantz Jr., was intercepted at around 4 p.m., Tuesday, on initial screening of his luggage at the NAIA Terminal 3.

Balagtas said the foreigner was supposed to be on a Philippine Airlines (PAL) Cagayan de Oro City-bound flight when security screening officers Gember Abilong and baggage inspector Gil Girado, both of the Office for Transportation Security (OTS), detected firearm parts in his luggage as it went through the x-ray scanner.

The OTS personnel immediately asked Frantz to open his luggage for inspection and it was then that the security men found a dismantled caliber .22 pistol among the American national’s belongings.

Transport security officers alerted Avsegroup personnel to their find, which led to the foreigner’s arrest.

Balagtas said that Frantz was taken into custody and charged with the illegal possession of a firearm in the Pasay City prosecutor’s office after he failed to present any document authorizing him to carry or possess a gun.

The Avsegroup director reminded flyers to refrain from packing in their baggage guns or ammunition, which have been banned on flights, to avoid the inconvenience of possibly being offloaded and having to be investigated for possession.



Mexican tried for trafficking P12M cocaine seeks bail
By Maricar B. Brizuela
Philippine Daily Inquirer
September 3, 2015 at 5:50 pm

The Mexican national tagged by authorities as one of the leaders of the dreaded Sinaloa international drug cartel, who was caught last January for allegedly selling two kilos of cocaine worth P12 million, filed an urgent motion for bail during the pre-trial hearing of his case on Thursday.

Horacio Hernandez Herrera’s legal counsel William Delos Santos asked Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 63 Judge Tranquil Salvador Jr. to allow his client charged with violating the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 to post bail.

In his urgent motion for bail, Delos Santos invoked Office of the Court Administrator Circular No. 56-2014 or the Guidelines for Decongesting Holding Jails by Enforcing the Rights of the Accused Persons to Bail and to Speedy Trial especially that Herrera was already transferred to a regular cell at the Makati City Jail last month from his detention area at the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA). He suggested that the motion be heard during the start of the hearing which has been scheduled for Oct. 28.

Salvador accepted the motion then gave Assistant State Prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera time to submit his comment on it.

Among the pieces of evidence presented by the defense for marking was the urine test conducted on Herrera, who was also present during the hearing. Delos Santos said the accused tested negative for metamphetamine, cocaine and MDMA (ecstasy).

They also submited Herrera’s counter-affidavit and passport.

“For our witnesses, we will have the accused and three other reserved witnesses,” Delos Santos added.

The prosecution also submitted for marking evidence such as the inventory of the seized drugs, four pieces of $100 bills used as boodle money and PDEA’s authority to operate.

During his arraignment last June, Herrera entered a plea of not guilty before the court five months after he was arrested outside a hotel on Makati Avenue, Barangay Poblacion, by members of the antinarcotics task force of PDEA.

PDEA had described the Mexican as No. 3 in the hierarchy of the Sinaloa cartel who was trying to establish his own operations in Southeast Asia. Hernandez entered the country reportedly in 2013.