Japan To Give 12 Boats to The Philippine Coast Guard

Department of Foreign Affairs said that The Philippines and Japan have agreed to further improve their joint cooperation on “shared regional strategic concerns,” including maritime security. This developed following Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario’s meetings with his Japanese counterpart Koichiro Gemba, and Deputy Prime Minister Katsura Okada during the DFA head’s official visit to Tokyo last week.

In Philippine Daily Inquirer, Del Rosario said that aside from the United States, three other countries – Japan, South Korea and Australia – were helping the Philippines establish a minimum reliable defense posture to complement its diplomatic capacity in dealing with its territorial disputes with China in the West Philippine Sea (South China). He revealed that the Tokyo government would likely provide the Philippine Coast Guard with 12 patrol boats. “They’re considering 10 40-meter boats on official development aid and two larger ones as grants,” said Del Rosario.

The foreign office said “the two ministers engaged in comprehensive discussions reviewing key aspects of relations and affirmed their respective governments’ commitments to advancing the multifaceted bilateral relations on the two countries’ shared values and long history of cooperation.”

DFA added that “Talks centered on the enhancement of political dialogue, economic cooperation, official development assistance, and business-to-business and people-to-people ties, as well as on the furtherance of bilateral cooperation on shared regional strategic concerns, including maritime safety and disaster risk reduction”. However, the foreign office did not provide details about the two officials’ dialogue on maritime security-related matters.

The head of the embassy’s chancery, Minister Shinsuke Shimizu told this paper Tokyo would continue to help the Coast Guard deal with its maritime safety and law enforcement concerns. However, Shimizu clarified “it is of different nature from establishing the minimum credible defense capabilities” of the Philippines. “Nor is it aimed at addressing a specific regional situation,” said the diplomat. He was apparently referring to the Scarborough Shoal dispute between Manila and Beijing. He noted that “since 1990, Japan has been helping the Coast Guard in its capacity-building program.”

No Chinese Travel Ban Vs Phl – Palace

Malacañang explained yesterday that there is a travel advisory but clears out that it is not a ban on Chinese citizens planning to visit the Philippines.

Deputy presidential spokesperson, Abigail Valte, stated in her weekly radio interview over state-run dzRB, that she used as a basis the statement of Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario that the travel advisory is not related to the Scarborough Shoal standoff.

“It’s not a travel ban, it’s just an advisory, which is normal when they feel that they have to give their citizens warning about a certain event,” she said.

Presidential spokesman, Edwin Lacierda said that more Filipino tourists are going to China than Chinese tourists coming to the Philippines. “Ironically, this is the year of friendly exchanges,” he said.

“That’s why we say it is unfortunate that this happened. But if the decision of tour operators in China is true then we will just have to work hard on the other markets.”

India, the second largest populated country in the world after China, Russia and among others are the other potential markets, Valte said.

Valte added that the Philippine government has not received any official communication about it, while the travel advisory may have been reported in media.

Shirley Lai, a representative of a travel agency, said at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport that the most affected when it comes to the declination of Chinese tourist arrivals are the chartered flights from Beijing, Shanghai and Xiamen bound for Boracay.

Regular flights are not yet affected, she added.

Lai said that the airlines affected are the chartered flights of Air Philippines, Cebu Pacific, and Zest Air.

She handles about 20-50 Chinese tourists a day, she added.

Lai said that she was expecting Chinese tourists to arrive on May 10, 11, and 12 and proceed to Boracay but they canceled their travel.

She expressed hope that kinks in the issue will be ironed out soon because a lot of revenues were lost with the cancelled tours.