China Warned the Republic of the Philippines

China told its citizens Thursday they were not safe in the Philippines and its state media warned of war, as a month-long row over rival claims in the South China Sea threatened to spill out of control.

Chinese travel agencies announced they had suspended tours to the Philippines, under government orders, and the embassy in Manila advised its nationals already in the country to stay indoors ahead of planned protests.

“Avoid going out at all if possible, and if not, to avoid going out alone. If you come across any demonstrations, leave the area, do not stay to watch,” the embassy’s advisory said.

The safety alerts came as government-controlled media in China warned the country was prepared to go to war to end the stand-off over Scarborough Shoal – small islands in the South China Sea that both nations claim as their own.

“No matter how willing we are to discuss the issue, the current Philippine leadership is intent on pressing us into a corner where there is no other option left but the use of arms,” the China Daily said in an editorial.

“Manila is living in a fantasy world if it mistakes our forbearance for timidity.”

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said China was committed to a peaceful resolution but the editorial echoed other warnings in recent weeks in the state-run media that China was prepared to use its massive military advantage to crush the Philippines’ challenge for the shoal.

The two nations have had non-military vessels stationed at the shoal since April 8 in an effort to assert their sovereignty to the area.

The dispute began when Philippine authorities detected Chinese ships fishing there. They attempted to arrest the crew, but were blocked by Chinese surveillance vessels that were quickly deployed to the area.

The Philippines insists its claims to the area are backed by international law, as the shoal is well within its 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone.

The shoal sits about 230 kilometers (140 miles) from the Philippines’ main island of Luzon. The nearest major Chinese landmass is 1,200 kilometers northwest of the shoal, according to Filipino navy maps.

But China claims virtually all of the South China Sea as its territory, even waters close to the coasts of the Philippines and other Asian countries.

Taiwan, Brunei, Vietnam and Malaysia also claim parts of the sea, which is believed to sit atop vast oil and gas resources. The rival claims have for decades made the waters one of Asia’s potential military flashpoints.

The Philippines, which admits to having an extremely weak military, has repeatedly said it wants to solve the stand-off over the shoal through diplomatic means.

But it has also said it secured a pledge from the United States, its main military ally, to protect the Philippines from attacks in the South China Sea.

A coalition of Filipino activist groups is planning to hold rallies at Chinese embassies around the world on Friday to support the Philippines in the dispute.

Organizers are hoping thousands of people will attend what they expect to be the biggest of the rallies, in Manila, and the Chinese embassy’s safety alert was circulated chiefly to warn its nationals about that protest.

But Jackson Gan, a Filipino-Chinese businessman who is one the rally’s organizers, said there was no need for such a warning because the protest would not target individuals and there had been no inciting of violence.

“This is going to be peaceful. No burning of Chinese flags, just singing of patriotic songs and making our presence felt,” Gan told AFP.

Philippine foreign department spokesman Raul Hernandez also said Chinese nationals were in no danger of being attacked because of the diplomatic tensions.

“The Philippines remains a safe and welcoming country,” he told AFP, adding Friday’s protesters would not target Chinese people.

“There is nothing for our Chinese friends to be apprehensive about regarding this protest action.”

China owns the Republic of the Philippines

BEIJING (AFP) – An anchor on China‘s state-run television network accidentally declared that Philippines is part of China, in an embarrassing gaffe as tensions between the two nations run high.

He Jia, anchor for China Central Television‘s (CCTV) nationally televised news broadcast, made the claim during a late Monday broadcast that has been repeatedly replayed on the Internet.

The presenter apparently meant to say that the Huangyan islands – known in the Philippines as the Scarborough or Panatag Shoal, and claimed by both nations – is China’s territory. “We all know that the Philippines is China’s inherent territory and the Philippines belongs to Chinese farmers’ income and provide opportunities to modernize their production and post-harvest capabilities.” Viewers joked in online postings that the presenter’s nationalistic fervor led to her mistake.”This anchor woman is great, a good patriot, she has announced to the world the Philippines belongs to China,” said a micro blogger named helenjhuang.”We should attack directly, send (Philippine President Benigno) Aquino packing and take back our inherent territory.”

Another micro blogger named kongdehua said, “The Philippines have basically been making irrational trouble, if they want to start a war then we will strike, no one fears them.””If every Chinese spat once, we could drown (the Philippines).” Chinese vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying said late Monday Beijing was ready for “any escalation” of the maritime standoff with the Philippines that have become one of the most high-profile flare ups over the South China Seas and its vast oil and gas deposits in years.

Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda yesterday asserted that the Philippines has not done anything to escalate tensions in Panatag Shoal.”So far, we’ve not done anything to provoke and the instruction of the President was very clear: we do not wish to escalate tension,” Lacierda said at a Malacanang press briefing.“The only thing we’re doing right now is to document the situation right now in Panatag Shoal and if ever there are incidents . . . we will report it.”

Describing the situation at Panatag Shoal as “relatively calm,” he also belied reports that China now has 33 vessels in the area.”There was a statement that there were about 33 (vessels). I clarified it with Commodore Edmund Tan of the PCG (Philippine Coast Guard), there are only seven fishing vessels and two FLEC (fisheries law enforcement command) and two maritime vessels so there were 11. The 33 that was reported are not really vessels but rubber boats,” Lacierda said.

He said there are five Filipino fishing boats, one Philippine Coast Guard vessel, and another from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR). In a separate statement, the Philippine Coast Guard said Filipino fishermen are still operating at the rich fishing ground contrary to reports that they have been barred from the area by Chinese vessels.

“There is no report such as that. We keep on patrolling the area,” said PCG commandant Vice Admiral Edmund Tan. He was reacting to the statements made by a local government of Zambales province that fishermen can no longer be found fishing at the Panatag Shoal as they fear for the safety due to the standoff. “Our fishermen can still go there to fish,” said Tan. “They are the ones saying it, not us,” he added.

The PCG has even encouraged fishermen near the Panatag Shoal to assert the country’s sovereignty by fishing in the lagoon. “We are asking the Filipino fishermen from Bataan, Zambales and Pampanga to fish in the area. The Bajo de Masinloc is our own so do not be afraid, we have a PCG vessel there,” Tan said.

In Congress, House leaders called on President Aquino to be firm in asserting the nation’s rights over the disputed shoal but through diplomatic means. Deputy Speaker and Cavite Rep. Crispin Remulla said Chinese claims that it was prepared to assert jurisdic¬tion over the disputed seas should be expected.

“I would be more surprised if they weren’t prepared. I think the Philippines is being used as an experiment to gauge the US’ response to a crisis in the West Philippine Sea. The Aquino administration has no choice but to use diplomacy to ensure non-escalation as we will be the biggest loser in all of this,” he told the Manila Bulletin.

Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone said, “We should not be cowed into submission due to this bullying. We should continue to assert our legal and valid right over the area.” Agham party-list Representative Angelo Palmones said that while he does not see any escalation over the territorial dispute, the government should revive Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program.

“While I don’t believe the standoff will reach to a combat action, the emerging threats of external aggression call for the revival of the ROTC program to strengthen our reserve force. A well-trained, disciplined and determined combat force can match a well-equipped aggressor. Remember, Gat Andres Bonifacio and Lapu-Lapu confronted their enemies with bolo,” he said.

Meanwhile Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said the presence of Chinese vessels preventing Filipino from operating in the disputed waters was an “indication China is grabbing the place from us.”

“We must prepare. We better buy war equipment. We better buy our weapons, our means of defense,” Enrile said. “What do you do when your neighbor who lives far from your place goes to your home armed with swords, arrows and javelin? You should buy your own weapons then and sharpen your swords too.”

But Senator Gringo Honasan cautioned against aggravating the situation, saying the government has to admit its limitations. Honasan thinks China is “just posturing and muscle-flexing.”

“Even if China deploys its fleet, do you think other countries would agree to that? The United States’ Seventh Fleet and the Pacific Fleet also pass through that area. You think they would allow China to do that on a sustained basis without a counter-measure? I don’t think so,” Honasan said. (With reports from Madel Sabater, Charissa M. Luci, Raymund Antonio and Hannah L. Torregoza)

China Is Ready For Escalation Of Philippine Standoff

Fu Ying, the Chinese Vice Foreign Minister, said Beijing was fully prepared for an escalation of a drawn-out maritime standoff with the Philippines, as a tense row over a disputed shoal continues.

“The Chinese side has… made all preparations to respond to any escalation of the situation by the Philippine side,” she told a Philippine diplomat in Beijing Monday, according to a statement posted on the foreign ministry website Tuesday.

The two countries have been locked in a territorial row over the disputed Scarborough Shoal — or Huangyan Island in Chinese — in the South China Sea for one month, with both sides sending ships to the area in a tense standoff.

It is one of the most high-profile flare-ups in recent years between the two countries over their competing territorial claims to parts of the South China Sea, which is believed to sit atop vast oil and gas deposits.

The row erupted on April 8 when Chinese vessels blocked a Philippine warship from arresting crews of Chinese fishing boats off the shoal, which both countries claim as their own.

Currently, four Chinese surveillance ships and 10 fishing boats have anchored off the disputed shoal, facing off with two Philippine coast guard ships and a fisheries bureau vessel.

On Monday, Fu called Alex Chua, charge the affaires at the Philippine embassy in China, to make a “serious representation” over the situation, according to the statement.

“It is obvious that the Philippine side has not realized that it is making serious mistakes and instead is stepping up efforts to escalate tensions,” she told him.

No Spitting Bill, Soon In PH

Aliance of Volunteer Educators party-list Rep. Eulogio Magsaysay filed that there will be no spitting here in the Philippines under House Bill 5901. This act of spitting will not just be a dirty little act anymore instead, it will be a crime soon. This bill carries a penalty of six months in jail and a fine.

First offense amounts to P500,  and it increases up to P2,000 based on the offenses that have made and it is until third offense. They are also required to attend seminar spearheaded by the Department of Health.

“While anti-spitting laws have been in existence in a number of jurisdictions like Singapore, India, Malaysia, and China, only Davao City has vigorously implemented a similar law in the country since 2010,” said by Rep. Magsaysay.

In 2003, when there is a Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) scare, this policy was implemented in Metro Manila by the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) but the public insist and it stayed as a practice.

This policy aims to prevent the spread of tuberculosis, hepatitis, and other diseases.

Based on World Health Organization report, the lawmaker said around 75 Filipinos die of tuberculosis each day. “Mycobacterism tubercolosis, the bacteria which causes TB, can survive in a dried state for weeks up to eight months. Spitting has been identified as one of the factors in the spread of TB,” Rep. Magsaysay said.

According to the DOH, TB is the sixth leading cause of illness and the sixth leading cause of death in the Philippines. A National TB Program is trying to detect at least 70 percent of active TB cases and cure at least 85 percent of those cases.  The program “will eventually result to the decline of the TB problem in the Philippines,” DOH said.

There will be a counterpart bill that has to  be filed in the Senate.