Miriam to China, “Ano sila sinusuwerte?”

Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago expressed her beliefs that China just bluffs their warning to block illegal ship pass through their territorial claims in the South China Sea since January 1, 2013.

“Ano sila sinusuwerte? Ito namang China na ito talagang nagpo-provoke lang iyan ng public attention. Alam naman niyang hindi niya magagawa iyan at pipigilan talaga iyan ng Amerika”, said Santiago.

According to the former chairman of the Senate committee on foreign relations, China also knows that the blocking of their Ships pass through the South China Sea cannot be happen but still tried to levitate to know the reaction of America as well as other countries Europe and Asia.

“China is testing the waters,” Santiago said in a radio interview.

 

Phl Seeks Win-Win Situation In Shoal Row With China

President Benigno Aquino III said that the country will pursue a win-win situation with China within the claims with both countries regarding Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal.

Aquino told the business forum of the Joint Alumni Clubs of US Universities last Wednesday that, “We have not stopped having communication with them in trying to look for a win-win situation.”

However, while the country intends to look for a win-win scenario for both parties, Aquino mentioned that he would still keep track of upholding and enforcing the laws.

“If it’s clear that we have a 200-mile exclusive economic zone designated by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and both of us are parties to it, is it too much to ask that our rights are respected by our neighbors, in the same token that we respect their rights?” he asked.

With determination, Aquino also claimed that he is not going to give up any areas that belong to the country.

“I am not empowered to give up any of our territory,” he said.

Aquino added that the authority intends to handle the matter diplomatically.

“We do not want to present a threat to them in any shape, manner, or form in terms of military action,” he added.

On the other hand, Albert del Rosario the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, revealed that the Philippines has more investments in China than China has in the Philippines.

He stated that the Philippine investments in China amounts to nearly $3 billion as against to China’s investments in the Philippines which is approximately less than a billion and a half ($1.5).

Last Wednesday, Del Rosario told the Makati Business Club and the Management Association of the Philippines that, “We benefit from our relations with China just as China benefits from its relationships with us.”

Del Rosario also mentioned that China, in which is considered the Philippines’ 3rd largest trading partner, signed a memorandum of agreement during President Aquino’s state visit last year that both countries would work towards accomplishing $60 billion in 2-way trade within a 5-year period and 2 million inward visitors within 5 years.

“It was also agreed upon that the bilateral agenda would be moved forward in the most positive way, while the areas of contention such as the West Philippine Sea would be abstracted and dealt with separately,” he added.

Having the fact that Chinese investments in the country is only half of Philippine investments in China, Del Rosario then said that Filipino businessmen will not be discouraged from investing in their country despite the recent activities and happenings taken by the Chinese travel agencies suspending tour packages to the Philippines as tensions over the borderline of the islands in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) increased.

Also, China possessed Philippine fruit exports suspected of carrying pests amid a tense argument between the two countries over Panatag Shoal.

“I don’t think that we should be discouraging our businessmen from investing in China. It’s a good thing if they see how we do it here but what we’re trying to do is at least equalize the amount of investments that go out and we’re hoping that more Chinese investors will take an interest in the Philippines,” Del Rosario said.

“We’d like to believe it’s not,” Del Rosario replied when he was asked if the suspension of tour packages to the Philippines, the reduction in flights, and the possession of Philippine bananas are forms of pressure by China among the maritime argument between Philippines.

“We’d like to believe it’s a technical issue,” he added.

Economic pressure

If China continues to exert economic pressure to the Philippines such as blocking bananas and canceling tour packages, then, the lawmakers said and warned that the economy of the Philippines would be in danger.

Ang Kasangga party-list Rep. Teodorico Haresco and Iloilo Rep. Jerry Treñas said the suspension of tour packages and the controls on fruit importations is “China’s subtle warning versus Philippine on its vast economic arsenal.”

Also, they urged that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) should step up efforts in paving the way for the creation of a joint Philippine-China study commission, which would focus on finding mutually acceptable solutions to end the dispute in the Spratlys.

“The decision of Chinese travel agencies to suspend travel to the Philippines could be China’s subtle warning that it does not even need its military to bring widespread economic destruction in the country,” Haresco said.

He warned the suspension of tour packages to the country by Chinese travel agencies “could be the beginning of a larger and more sustained campaign to remind the Philippines and even the US that its economic arsenal is as devastating as its three-million strong People’s Liberation Army.”

Also, he added that the effect of the travel suspension would already deny the economy millions of dollars in potential tourism revenues and warned that Beijing might even go further by obliging a ban on Filipino overseas workers, including those working in Hong Kong and Macau.

Haresco said that the only way to fix the problem in the Spratlys is through direct mutual dialogue with China without discounting the possibility of entering into a joint exploration arrangement in the areas claimed by the Philippines.

While the United States will always remain a valuable supporter to the Philippines, bragging Washington into the Spratlys argument “will do more harm than good” as this is being viewed as an indirect needling by Beijing.

Tactical support

On the other hand, Malacañang, restated that the presence of a US submarine in Subic had nothing to do with the Philippines’ disagreement with China over the disputed Panatag shoal.

Edwin Lacierda, Presidential spokesman, illiterates that the US government made a request last April 3, 2012, days before the April 10 standoff saying that they be allowed to dock their submarine in the area.

“And so it (US request) was addressed to the Department of National Defense and the DND gave its approval on April 24. So, I don’t need to answer or respond to the statements made by the Left,” Lacierda explicated.

Earlier, security officials revealed the visit of submarine USS North Carolina (SSN-777) in Subic was a routine port call scheduled last April 3, before the standoff between Philippine and Chinese vessels in Panatag shoal started. The US attack submarine rose last Sunday in Subic Bay.

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said the visit of a US submarine in Subic violated the country’s sovereignty.

In a statement, the CPP said the US is using the entire Philippines as a vast military base where it could dock its ships, land its fighter jets, fly its drones, conduct repairs and replenish supplies.

Filipino protesters led by former military rebel Nicanor Faeldon said they are planning to sail to Panatag as a show of support.

“They want to protest against the aggression being committed by China against our country, Faeldon’s spokesman kit guerrero said.

He said at least two fishing vessels carrying faeldon’s group were expected to arrive at the shoal later on Friday.

“They are intending to stay there at least three days and fish, if they are not prevented from doing so, Guerrero said, adding that planting a Philippine flag on the rock was also an option.

Fishermen from Batanes, Faeldon’s home province, along with fishermen from Masinloc, Zambales would be joining Faeldon to fish in Panatag that China has included in its declared fishing holiday.

The Philippines has reminded China that the West Philippine Sea is not the sum total of their bilateral relations.

The Philippines remains a safe and a welcoming country even as tensions over the disputed islands escalated.

Stay on the line

China has demanded manila not take measures in the political and legal aspects, saying it will worsen and complicate the situation.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said last Monday in a press conference in Beijing that the Philippines should adhere to “diplomatic negotiations” to resolve the standoff.

“In particular, diplomatic negotiations should be adhered to in resolving the current situation, rather than continuing to incite public opinion and send contradictory messages,” Hong said.

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.

Philippines Ignores China Demand To Quit Shoal

Declaring “that’s our territory” and giving a warning to Chinese vessels to back off, the Philippine officials last Wednesday disregarded China’s demand to remove Filipino vessels from Panatag Shoal.

BRP Edsa, a Philippine Coast Guard search and rescue vessel, along with an archaeological survey mission aboard the MY Sarangani and a fishing boat was remained in the area, facing off two Chinese maritime surveillance vessels and a fishing boat.

Last Monday an order was demanded by China that all Filipino vessels should be out or clear the area, which then calls Huangyan Island and which is known internationally as Scarborough Shoal, and also sent an aircraft to buzz a Philippine fishing boat in the second, such incident happened since Saturday.

According to Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang, “We’re also telling their ships to do the same,” he told the reporters.  “That’s our territory and we’re also saying the same thing to their ships.”

Carandang said talks between the Philippines and China were continuing. “Tensions have not degenerated,” he said, and the fact “that not a shot has been fired is already a sign that the situation is not deteriorating.”

Arbitration call ignored

Philippines and China have decided to settle the argument diplomatically but have both asserted on their ownership of the shoal, extending an eight-day deadlock on the high seas.

Last Tuesday, Foreign Secretary Albert Del Rosario, asked China to bring the debate to the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea for negotiation. The Chinese embassy, though, disregarded the proposal and asked the Philippines to extract its vessels from the shoal “and restore peace and stability there.”

The latest standoff between Manila and Beijing over disputed islands in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) began on April 8 when a Philippine Navy plane spotted eight Chinese fishing boats in Panatag, a cluster of reefs and islands around a lagoon.

BRP Gregorio Del Pilar, the Philippine Navy flagship was transmitted to the area on April 10 and its officials boarded the fishing boats, but Chinese maritime surveillance vessel interposed. The fishing boats glided last Friday night.

The argument is just one of a countless claims over islands, reefs and shoals in the South China Sea that quarry china against the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan.

Conflict has increased in the past 2 years over worries that China is becoming more aggressive in its claims to the sea that overlaps shipping lanes between East Asia and Europe also the Middle East.

Even though supplicant countries have vowed to fix the territorial gaps peacefully, the arguments have vented in violence in the past which includes the 1988 when China and Vietnam collided in the Spratly Islands in a defiance that killed 64 Vietnamese soldiers. Many fear the disagreements that became Asia’s next flash point for armed conflict.

Vietnam held a maritime ceremony last Monday near the area where the event happened to remember the dead soldiers, state-controlled media reported.

Numerous rounds of talks have failed to end the impasse at Panatag, which is 872 kilometer from Hainan province, China’s next-door territory to the shoal.

Ancient Chinese shipwreck

Zhang Hua, Chinese embassy spokesperson, acknowledged that the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, or Unclos, permits countries to claim an exclusive economic zone but was then reported that Philippines could not exercise sovereignty on areas within those waters that are owned by other countries.

One ancient Chinese shipwreck could be found at Panatag, but the Philippine research ship has no right to rescue it, Zhang said. “We urge the archaeological vessel to leave the area immediately,” Zhang said in a statement.

‘We will not leave’

In an interview with the reporters last Wednesday, Defense Secretary Voltaire De Gazmin called on Filipinos to come together and let the world know that ”we are being bullied” by China.

Also on Wednesday, Bayan Muna Representatives Teodoro Casiño and Neri Colmenares filed a resolution condemning China and calling for an inquiry into the government’s failure to assert sovereignty over the shoal.

“We also do not want to go to war, but we must assert our sovereignty, through whatever means we can,” Casiño said.

On Tuesday, Gazmin said, “We will fight for what is ours. We are in the area and we will not leave while we continue the talks” between the DFA and Chinese authorities.

China to execute Filipino on December 8


Manila, Philippines- An OFW faces once again a death sentence in China on December 8, after being arrested at Guilin International Airport while trying to smuggle 1.495 kilos of heroin into Guangxi province from Malaysia back in September 13, 2008.

The High People’s Court (HPC) of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region informed the Philippine Consulate-General in Guangzhou Wednesday that the Supreme People’s Court (SPC) in Beijing affirmed the lower court’s decision on the carrying out of the death penalty on the Filipino.

President Aquino has asked Chinese President Hu Jintao, that the 35 year old Filipino National be given a less severe sentence.

We have exhausted all legal efforts. We have exhausted all efforts and the sentence would be carried out on Dec. 8,” Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.

We recognize the decision of the judicial authorities in China. It was made based on the evidence that the Filipino national was carrying heroin and, therefore, based on their law, it was subject to the death penalty. Again, it was done in compliance with their legal processes, we respect that. And I believe that in the same manner that the three Filipinos who were previously executed, this should not cause a hiccup in Filipino-Chinese relations,” he added.

President Benigno S. Aquino III instructed Vice President Jejomar C. Binay to go to Beijing and appeal the scheduled execution of the Filipino.

Vice President Jejomar Binay is set to leave for China to personally hand over the letter appeal of President Aquino to Chinese President Hu Jintao.

Binay’s spokesman Joey Salgado said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is now making the necessary arrangements for Binay’s trip to China “at the earliest time possible.”

Friendship over disputes

Philippines and China

Philippines and China

How could friendship exist if there is a dispute between the two countries? That is the question that Philippines and China need to sort out. The issue about the two countries sending troops to Spratly Islands is alarming for the citizens. This can lead to misunderstanding of the two countries then into something worse.

So, the government of China and Philippines continue to assure its people that the dispute will not affect the friendship of the two countries. A high Chinese official also wanted to maintain the friendly environment in handling the issues.

UPDATES:

“According to the Global Times, 14 Chinese Navy vessels staged drills in waters near China’s southern tropical island of Hainan, including antisubmarine maneuvers and the beach landing of troops.

The exercises were aimed at “defending atolls and protecting sea lanes,” reports said.

The China Maritime Surveillance Forces, meanwhile, will be bolstered from the current staff of 9,000 to 15,000 personnel by 2020, the official China Daily reported.

The force falls under the State Oceanic Administration, an agency that supervises China’s coastline and territorial waters.

The patrol fleet will have 350 vessels by 2015 and 520 by 2020, the report said, citing an unnamed senior China Maritime Surveillance official. It will also have 16 planes by 2015.”- June 2011

Source: China holds 3-day military exercises near Spratlys

“MANILA, Philippines – Sen. Francis Pangilinan on Friday said the Philippines must not allow itself to be bullied by China’s “arrogance” in the dispute over the Spratly islands.

“Bakit tayo hihingi ng permiso sa kanila? Kaya nga disputed ang area na ito eh,” he told reporters. “We should not allow ourselves to be intimidated.”

Pangilinan added that the Philippines must press on with its diplomatic protest against China as a way of showing it cannot be bullied.

He said China’s actions are unbecoming of a world power.

“Dapat ‘yon malaking bansa, ‘yon ‘yong dapat maging mapagkumbaba,” Pangilinan said.

The Philippines on Thursday maintained its ownership of Reed Bank, amid a reported call of China to all claimants of the Spratly Islands to stop all forms of explorations in the South China Sea.” June 2011

Source: Kiko: PH should resist China’s ‘arrogance’

US, China, Japan congratulate P-Noy

MANILA, Philippines — Led by President Barack Obama
who called on his mobile phone, the leaders of the world’s three biggest economies—the United States, China and Japan—welcomed President-elect Benigno Aquino III’s rise to power, pledging to help a leader facing daunting challenges, from rebellions and massive poverty to a crippling budget deficit.

Aquino Thursday told reporters that Obama invited him to visit the United States “at the appropriate time,” solidifying a previous invitation extended by US Ambassador Harry K. Thomas Jr., who said the incoming Philippine leader should take two trips to the United States.

Regarded by many as a political lightweight after an unimpressive stint in Congress, Aquino—who has said he prefers to be called “P-Noy” rather than by his initials BSA—is inheriting a nation grappling with poverty and debilitated by decades-long communist and Moro insurgencies, military unrest, corruption, violent crime and political strife.

“It was a very pleasant conversation,” Aquino said of his phone conversation with Obama on Wednesday night, which lasted for about 20 minutes.

“I won’t say we’re very close since it’s my first time to talk to him [but] I believe he was very sincere in his words that he really wants to foster stronger relations with our country.”

Parents are champions

In a statement, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the Philippines’ successful automated elections “exemplified the vitality of the country’s democratic institutions and should be a point of pride for Filipinos everywhere.”

“The Filipino people now look to President-elect Aquino to carry forward the democratic traditions that his parents did so much to champion,” Clinton said, referring to Aquino’s assassinated father, Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. and his late mother, ex-President Corazon “Cory” Aquino.

Clinton said the United States had long stood with the Philippines as a trusted ally and friend and pledged to support the efforts of the Filipinos to build a secure and prosperous country.

Aquino said the Visiting Forces Agreement—a thorny issue in RP-US relations—was not discussed in his talk with Obama.

‘Very strong relationship’

“(Obama) said we had a very strong relationship. He said he has a personal close friendship with the Filipino community in America, one of the biggest immigration groups there.”

Aquino said he told Obama of his recent meeting with Ambassador Thomas and that when he said the Philippines expected to work well with the envoy he had chosen to send to Manila, “he (Obama) was very pleased with that.”

“The ambassador really exuded that drive to make our relationship much, much stronger. Hopefully, they will really be our partners in addressing the problems in the country,” Aquino said.

“Job generation is our first priority. He (Thomas) said they could set up meeting with business leaders in different areas of America. So much so that we might not be able to handle it with one trip. He was suggesting two trips in a part time frame,” Aquino said.

‘Model of transparency’

Aquino said the Americans were “very eager” to invest in the country but “they want to be sure that they have a reasonable chance” of making profit, “otherwise it would be a useless venture.”

“What was emphasized was their eagerness to invest in the country subject to conditions,” Aquino said.

In a statement on the phone conversation between Obama and Aquino, the White House said the US leader “described the May 10 elections as a model of transparency and positive testament to the strength and vitality of democracy in the Philippines.”

Obama “noted the deep historic and people-to-people ties between the United States and the Philippines and our strong cooperation on security and economic issues in the Asia Pacific region and globally,” the statement said.

The White House said the two leaders agreed to take the cooperation between the two countries to a new level and to meeting at a “mutually convenient” time.

China, Japan, Australia

Chinese President Hu Jintao and Vice President Xi Jinping joined other world leaders in congratulating Aquino and Vice President Jejomar Binay.

Hu said the two countries had maintained frequent exchanges and enhanced mutual trust since the establishment of diplomatic relations 35 years ago.

“Under new historical circumstances, I would like to work with you to carry forward our traditional friendship, expand our mutually beneficial cooperation, advance China-Philippines strategic and cooperative relations to a new level, and make positive contributions to regional peace, stability and development,” Hu said.

Xi said China would be pleased to work with the Aquino administration to carry on the significant progress in China-Philippines relations.

“I would like to work with Your Excellency, proceeding from the fundamental interests of the two peoples, to push forward China-Philippines strategic and cooperative relations in a sound and stable manner, and make joint efforts to promote regional peace, stability and development,” Xi said.

New Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan pledged his country would “do its utmost to cooperate … in efforts toward further stability and progress.”

Alarm at budget deficit

Aquino will take his oath of office on June 30. He has expressed alarm at the ballooning national budget deficit, which he said could surpass $8.7 billion (P400 billion) this year.

Australian Ambassador Rod Smith visited Aquino at Times Street on Thursday and congratulated him on his victory.

Aquino said he looked forward to increasing trade between Australia and the Philippines and also getting inputs from Australia on developing the mining industry without harming the environment.

China shuts down hacker training operation

BEIJING—Police in central China have shut down a hacker training company that taught thousands of people how to launch cyberattacks and provided them with spy software, media reports said Monday.

The reports come amid growing accusations of organized computer hacking originating from China that has chilled ties with the United States, and follow Google’s threat last month to quit the Chinese market over cyberattacks.

Police in Hubei province shut down Black Hawk Safety Net and arrested three people, the state-run Xinhua news agency said, calling the operation China’s “biggest hacker training website.”

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