USA Russia Australia Japan Indonesia -Supports Philippines for Spratly Disputes

In a historic bilateral meeting held in Moscow on Tuesday, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov agreed to further improve relations between the two countries, particularly in matters of political security, the fight against terrorism and transnational crime, trade, investment and tourism, migration, energy and culture.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Del Rosario and Lavrov have "agreed to craft a joint plan of action that will chart their future relations in the next five years."

The Moscow visit, the DFA said, was a first by a Philippine foreign secretary in seven years and capped the yearlong celebration of 35 years of Philippine-Russian relations.

Del Rosario and Lavrov also discussed the challenges posed by maritime security in the Asia-Pacific region. "They agreed that the threats in this area should be approached using a rules-based regime based on transparency and diplomacy," the DFA said. "They affirmed their commitment to ensure safety of navigation and other security issues in the region."

The Philippines considers Russia an important bilateral partner as it shares similar views in the United Nations, the East Asia Summit, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the Asia-Europe Meeting and other regional groupings.

"These similar aspirations are based on both countries' adherence to sovereignty, territorial integrity and the maintenance of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region," the foreign office added.

The bilateral meeting was preceded by a wreath-laying ceremony at Alexandrovsky Garden, and was followed by a working lunch.

The DFA said the visit is deemed timely as Russia prepares to host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders' Meeting on September 5 to 6 in Vladivostok

Russia will support the Philippines for the Spratly Disputes against China's force

March 13, 2012: Russia Pronounce its support to the Philippines over Spratly disputes with china and other claimants.  Philippines - Russia is supporting the Philippines' stand that rules based on transparency and diplomacy should be used to resolve maritime issues.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov aired his government's support during his bilateral meeting with Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. del Rosario in Moscow on March 13, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Thursday.

The 2 officials tackled regional and international issues, including maritime security in the Asia-Pacific region.

"They agreed that the threats faced in this area should be approached using a rules-based regime based on transparency and diplomacy.  They affirmed their commitment to ensure safety of navigation and other security issues in the Asia-Pacific region," the DFA said.

The Philippines earlier asked China to end the disputes in the West Philippine Sea or South China Sea by validating the 2 countries' territorial claims under the United Nations on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Chinese Ambassador Ma Keqing declined to make a commitment on the issue but said Beijing is not ignoring the UNCLOS as a way to resolve territorial disputes.

Del Rosario and Lavrov also discussed Syrian crisis and the Arab Spring phenomena in their bilateral talks, according to the DFA.

The DFA chief met with Russian businessmen, diplomats and leaders of the Filipino community during his visit to Moscow.

He encouraged Russian businessmen to invest in the Philippines in the energy, tourism, public-private partnership, and business process outsourcing sectors.

USA Supports the Philippines for the Spartly Disputes

June 14, 2011. The Unites States (US) on Tuesday threw its support to the Philippines amid the escalating tensions over the disputed Spratly Islands in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

"I assure you, in all subjects, we, the United States are with the Philippines," US Ambassador Harry Thomas said in his speech during the grand launch of the National Renewable Energy Program in Makati.

"The Philippines and the United States are strategic treaty allies. We are partners. We will continue to consult and work with each other on all issues, including the South China Sea," he added.

Malaca├▒ang earlier expressed confidence that the US will side on the Philippines, citing Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) in case the territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea heightens.

China warned the US should not intervene in the issue, noting that the US is not a party to the dispute.

US press attach├ę Rebecca Thompson over the weekend said the US does not take sides on the issue on Spratlys when it escalates into a shooting war.

This statement dismayed several lawmakers prompting them to call for the abrogation of the MDT since it is not beneficial to the country.

"It only proves that the MDT is a mere piece of paper that doesn't bind the two countries at all," said Anakpawis party-list Representative Rafael Mariano.

The Philippines is among the six countries claiming all or in part the disputed oil rich area at the West Philippine Sea.

Australia expresses support for Philippines on Spratlys dispute

November 14th, 2011. President Benigno Aquino III on Saturday received Australia's support for the Philippines' move to declare the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) as a zone of peace, freedom, friendship and cooperation.

Mr. Aquino met with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit, according to presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda.

"(The) Australian prime minister just mentioned that 20 percent of their exports pass through the West Philippine Sea. Basically, that's it and the President spoke on the solution of the West Philippine Sea being a zone of peace, freedom, friendship and cooperation," Lacierda said in a news briefing.

Asked whether there was an expression of support, Lacierda said, "Yes, yes."

Foreign Undersecretary Laura del Rosario, who attended the bilateral meeting, said Gillard also lauded Mr. Aquino's efforts to promote transparency and accountability.

"The Australian prime minister congratulated or applauded the President on his governance initiatives, in all his steps that he has taken to make sure that, he called it technical corruption, is also being addressed and that resources are being freed to address our need," Del Rosario said.

Del Rosario said Gillard asked Mr. Aquino to visit Australia possibly in mid-2012.

Asked about the invitation, the President told reporters on Saturday, "We're working on it."

Gas deposits

Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras on Saturday also elaborated on the President's statement on Friday about the discovery of substantial gas deposits.

"We're talking about Recto Bank, which really is not in the Spratlys area," said Almendras, a member of the Philippine delegation to the Apec summit.

He told reporters that Forum Energy, the contract service provider in the area, had been conducting seismic testing in the area. "The exploration has been continuing," he said.

On Friday, Mr. Aquino said that the gas fields included disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea and that the deposits there "dwarfs" the Malampaya oil fields. The President said operations there would begin next year.

But Almendras clarified on Saturday that the Philippines' gas fields were outside the Spratlys.

He also said that Manila would honor its agreement with its fellow claimants over disputed territories.

Seismic evaluation

"In the terms of China, depending on what they claim to be their basis of their claims, some of these areas will be questioned but as far as the acknowledged contested area is concerned by all of the parties involved whether China agrees to it or not is really the Spratlys area," Almendras said.

The gas fields in the Recto Bank, Almendras said, showed "very good results on seismic evaluation and even previous wells that were dug as early as 1976 (and) are not in the Spratlys area."

The President, in his State of the Nation Address this year, made an unequivocal claim over Recto Bank, saying being in the area is like being on CM Recto Avenue in Manila.

China, however, is also claiming the bank as one of its territories. Aside from the Philippines and China, claimants over the Spratlys include Vietnam and Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei.

During a session of the Apec CEO Summit on commodity security, Mr. Aquino told a panel that work in a gas-rich area would commence next year.

Almendras clarified the President's earlier statement that the area would be in northern Philippines. He said the area of Recto Bank lay just north of Palawan.

"This is not in the contested area," Almendras said.

He acknowledged that the area was "a new field," as Mr. Aquino said, because it has yet to go into the "development mode."

New gas fields

The President referred to the new gas fields during a session on commodity security of the Apec CEO Summit when asked what his government was doing to address cost of electricity in the country—one of the highest in the region.

"There are substantial gas deposits that we believe are already in the proven scale at this point in time that will dwarf the Malampaya oil fields. Some of them are in areas that are part of the contentious disputes as to sovereignty over the same."

He said his government was working on "steps to determine as to who actually owns them consistent with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea."

"We are hoping that all the signatories to the United Nations convention will adhere to the stipulations of the convention," Mr. Aquino said.

He said this included the 370-kilometer (200-Nautical miles) exclusive economic zone, "which clearly shows that the areas in dispute are in our favor."

The President said the Philippines could go for arbitration to settle the matter "once and for all and to have these resources benefit not only our country but our neighbors in the region."

Philippines gets Japan support on Spratlys dispute

September 28th, 2011.  President Benigno Aquino III on Tuesday night secured Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's support for a peaceful resolution of the six-nation dispute over the potentially oil-rich Spratly islands.

The maritime issue in the South China Sea, which Manila calls the West Philippine Sea, ranked high in the agenda of the two leaders' meeting that sought to elevate their country's bilateral relations to a more meaningful "strategic partnership."

In a joint statement, Mr. Aquino and Noda "confirmed that the South China Sea is vital, as it connects the world and the Asia Pacific region, and that peace and stability therein is of common interest to the international community."

The President reiterated the Philippines' "commitment to the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and to the peaceful resolution of maritime disputes over the South China Sea."

He also emphasized the importance of "a rules-based regime for addressing and resolving disputes and promoting cooperation."

Following the meeting, the President and Noda "confirmed that freedom of navigation, unimpeded commerce, and compliance with established international law including the UNCLOS and the peaceful settlement of disputes serve the interests of the two countries and the whole region." UNCLOS refers to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

"They shared the recognition that these same interests should also be advanced and protected in the South China Sea," according to the statement.

Though not a claimant to the Spratlys islands, Japan came into the picture, saying vessels that deliver oil it imports from the Middle East pass by that vital sea lane.

Japan promised to assist the Philippine Coast Guard so it could better patrol the country's vast coast line. It will dispatch patrol vessels of the Japan Coast Guard to train its Filipino counterparts. Both countries also agreed to "promote exchanges and cooperation between their defense authorities."

The Philippines and China, along with Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam, have conflicting claims to the Spratlys. Tensions spiked this year after the Philippines and Vietnam said China had become increasingly aggressive in staking its claims to the area, believed to hold vast deposits of oil and gas.

Deal for Filipino nurses

Mr. Aquino and Noda tackled the 3-year-old Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA), specifically addressing claims Filipino health workers are not getting a fair treatment from Japanese employers.

The two leaders agreed "to continue consultations in order to further improve the current situation, including the smooth dispatch and acceptance of Filipino candidates for qualified nurses and certified workers.".

The President thanked Japan for agreeing to conduct Japanese language training before nurses are sent to Japan.  He also "emphasized the importance of increasing the passing rates of Filipino nurses in the Japanese National Examination for nurses."

"We agreed to sustain our active economic cooperation founded on the framework of the JPEPA," Mr. Aquino said after the meeting. "Our governments will be working closely for its effective implementation and for the success of its first general review this year, so that we can maximize its prospective benefits."

During his four-day Japan visit, the President travelled to the tsunami-hit Ishinomaki in the north and will meet with Emperor Akihito before returning home on.

Before the start of the bilateral meeting at his official residence, Noda expressed his sympathy for the battering the Philippines was getting from Typhoon "Pedring."

"We hope the threats would be minimized as soon as possible," Noda told the President.

Development aid

The two leaders witnessed an exchange of notes on a package of development assistance from Japan, specifically on disaster preparedness and mitigation projects.

Topping the list was a forest management project worth 9.22 billion yen (or P5.87 billion), which was part of the overall official development assistance by Japan to the Philippines.

Mr. Aquino said the project would "help preserve critical river basins" in four regions of the country.

The President "renewed his appreciation for Japan's continuous assistance for the climate change mitigation and adaptation measures" in the Philippines and promised the "steady implementation" of other projects made possible by Japan loans.

Earlier, the President offered a "win-win" opportunity for Japanese investors in the Philippines and received pledges of  potential fresh investments worth at least $1.1 billion, according to spokesperson Herminio Coloma.

Japan is already the Philippines' top trading partner, with bilateral trade reaching $14.4 billion last year, according to government data.

Culture of transparency

The President sat down with more than 30 Japanese businessmen at the Tokyo Kaikan Hotel, presenting investment opportunities in the Philippines. Mr. Aquino also engaged in a round-table discussion members of the Japan-Philippine Economic Coordinating Committee and the Philippine-Japan Economic Coordinating Committee.

Coloma said Toyota Motor Corp. alone would invest P3.6 billion, which would create some 5,000 jobs. He said the top car-maker was also looking to put up a $170-million "next generation" manufacturing plant in the Philippines.

Murato Manufacturing Co. Ltd., one of the world's top producers of digital components, was also planning to establish a factory for its cutting-edge "monolithic ceramic capacitor" in a 23-hectare property in Laguna by October next year.

Coloma said Marubeni Corp. would engage in at least four power projects: the expansion of the Pagbilao coal power plant by 2015, expansion of the Sual facility, a 600-megawatt coal power plant in Subic, and the Leyte-Mindanao interconnection project.

"This is a good time to invest in the Philippines because this culture of transparency we are cultivasting will lead to a win-win situation for all stakeholders involved," he told the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry during lunch at the Tokyo Kaikan Hotel.

Rule of law

A palpable change, Mr. Aquino said, was the streamlining of business applications, which was part of a larger effort to "eliminate the preponderance of under-the-table transactions with bloated commissions secretly pocketed by corrupt officials."

Mr. Aquino noted that efforts to review previous government contracts led the Department of Public and Works and Highways to save  P4.652 billion worth of supposedly "questionable projects."

Critics blamed his cautious approach to public spending to the country's 3.4-percent economic growth rate in the second quarter this year. A recent Senate budget hearing showed that the DPWH spent only P16 billion out of its P90-billion budget for infrastructure as of last month.

But in his meetings here, the President said it was better to have a problem with "underspending" than to worry about lost money due to corruption. "All our efforts are governed by an overarching principle: an end to corruption means an end to poverty," he said.

Indonesia supports PHL stand on Spratlys

14 DECEMBER 2011.  Indonesian government assured the Philippines that its proposal to segregate parts of the disputed West Philippine Sea will not be rejected by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) amid alleged bullying by China.

The Philippines and Indonesia concluded on Wednesday the 5th Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) in Manila where they discussed extensively the scheduled drafting of the legally binding Code of Conduct that will govern claimant countries to the disputed parts of the West Philippine Sea.

The drafting of the Code of Conduct will be adopted in time for the 10th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea between members of the ASEAN and China.

Claimant countries to the Spratly islands include four ASEAN members—the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei—as well as China and Taiwan. Other ASEAN countries include Indonesia, Thailand, Laos, Burma, Cambodia and Singapore.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said the Philippines's proposal on the establishment of a Zone of Peace, Freedom and Cooperation in the West Philippine Sea is not rejected by the Asean.

"The overall aura during the ASEAN summit [is] how we will link the Philippine proposal in drafting the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea next year. We won't move out of the script from what has already been [agreed upon]," said Natalegawa, adding that the Philippines's proposal is supposed to be integrated in the Code.

He said ASEAN leaders are looking forward to adopting the Code next year in time for the 10th year anniversary of the signing of the landmark Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.

"Leaving things hanging and not addressed is [will continue to cause conflict] to the peace and stability in the region," said Natalegawa.

"ASEAN as a whole has a very strong interest to settle the dispute peacefully in accordance with maritime laws."

In a joint statement on Tuesday, Filipino and Indonesian diplomats agreed to conclude a plan of action covering the period 2013 to 2015 that will cover trade, security, defense and border cooperation as well as cultural issues.

The Philippines also offered to host the 6th Meeting of the Joint Working Group of Senior Officials next year to implement the existing Agreement on Trade, Investments, Handicraft and Shipping, as well as to review and update the Border Trade Agreement.

The two archipelagic countries also agreed to cooperate on marine and fisheries development as well as push for programs that protect the rights of their migrant workers, with the most numbers particularly in Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore.

"There were discussions at the JCBC on developments on the evolving regional architecture in East Asia and the international financial situation," said the joint statement.

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