Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte halted construction work near a disputed island in the South China Sea, his defense minister announced on Wednesday, in a bid to weather a potential diplomatic storm with Beijing. A territorial spat emerged in the Spratly Archipelago in August when Philippine soldiers brought bamboo and roofing materials to a newly formed sandbar — a partially submerged stretch of sand created by waves breaking off a beach — near the Philippine-occupied Thitu Island. Beijing responded by sending ships to the area. Read more: Is the Philippines' Duterte playing China against Japan? "We tried to put some structures (on) one of the sandbars near our island and the Chinese reacted," Lorenzana said. "And so the president came to know about this and he said: 'Let's pull out.'" Though the rift remains unresolved, Lorenzana said both sides have pledged not to occupy further territory. Beijing and Manila will now negotiate a military protocol to … [Read more...] about Philippines’ Duterte scales back building work in South China Sea spat
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Vietnamese coast guards seized the Chinese ship along with three crew members on Thursday, March 31, near the Bach Long Vi island in the Gulf of Tonkin. The vessel was carrying 100,000 liters of diesel fuel. The authorities claimed the ship was being used to refuel Chinese shipping boats operating illegally in the area. DW: Why did the Vietnamese government take five days to announce the capture of the Chinese Vessel? Bill Hayton: Everything related to China is very sensitive. The Vietnamese government probably wanted to make sure they had complete legal and political protection before going public and embarrassing themselves. Vietnam claims it captured the Chinese vessel near the Bach Long Vi island in the Gulf of Tonkin. Is the area clearly inside Vietnamese waters? This island is situated between the Vietnamese and Chinese coasts - I think 110 kilometers from Vietnam and 130 kilometers from China. So it is just on the Vietnamese side of the line. It is a tiny island, about a … [Read more...] about Analyst: ‘Vietnam not submitting to China on territorial issues’
Moon's initiative is one of several that have been instituted in the very early months of his administration to encourage the nation to re-examine its past. These range from the issues of "comfort women" and forced laborers in the years of Japan's colonial control of the peninsula, to investigations - and prosecutions - in cases of corporate and political corruption, shortcomings in society and more specific issues, such as the interference carried out by intelligence agencies in previous general elections. Defense Minister Song Young-moo has been charged with a re-examination of the military's brutal repression of what is known as the Gwangju uprising, which broke out in the city of Gwangju on May 18, 1980. By the time the tear gas and smoke had cleared nine days later, several hundred locals, students and demonstrators had been killed, along with at least 23 soldiers and four police officers. The protesters had been rallying against the government of Chun Doo-hwan, a former … [Read more...] about Can South Korea heal Gwangju uprising wounds?
Father Teresito Soganub, a Catholic priest held hostage for nearly four months by Islamist militants in the southern city of Marawi, was rescued on Saturday after a fierce gun battle between the "Islamic State"-linked militants and government troops. Delfin Lazaro, secretary of the department of national defense (DND), told reporters at a press conference on Monday in Manila that Soganub and another hostage were rescued when government forces ousted the fighters from Bato Mosque, one of the militant group's strongholds. "As the intensity of confrontation continued to escalate, the troops had the opportunity to snatch the priest and the other hostage," he said. Soganub, popularly known as "Father Chito," made a brief appearance at the press conference before being taken in for medical evaluation and debriefing. Dressed in a green t-shirt and blue jacket, his face covered by a long, wiry white beard, the 51-year-old priest was in high spirits. "I am physically strong, handsome," … [Read more...] about Philippine troops rescue priest ‘Father Chito’ from IS jihadis
For women's health advocates like doctor Junice Melgar, this is the moment they've long been waiting for. On March 31, the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act will come into effect. From then on, Filipino pharmacies and hospitals will be required to provide contraceptives free, paid for by the Philippines' government. "Making contraceptives accessible to women is life changing," says Melgar, who directs the advocacy group Likhann. "This country has never had any serious sexuality or reproductive health education." Until now, private clinics, such as ones run by Likhaan, have been the only places where Filipino women and men can go to receive free condoms and other forms of birth control. But with the enacting of the new reforms into law, that situation is about to change. Currently, the United Nations Population Fund, which supplies Melgar's clinics with contraceptives, reports that seven out of ten births in the Philippines are by women 19 years of age or younger. … [Read more...] about Mixed reception for Philippines birth control law
On Sunday, security forces regained ground and pressed their assault into communities on the outskirts of Zamboanga city, where about 100 Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) guerrillas hold hostages, military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Zagala said. Troops have calibrated their firepower to avoid harming civilians, he added. "We're gaining ground," Zagala said. "We're pushing forward." The siege began Monday, when rebels stormed coastal villages and took more than 100 hostages. Security forces have killed at least 51 rebels and captured 42 others, most as they tried to escape along the coast after swapping their camouflage uniforms for ordinary clothes, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said, adding that the gunmen would face criminal charges. 'Fighting is continuing' Backed by helicopters and gunboats, army troops and police had initially surrounded the rebels and their hostages while government officials tried to convince the insurgents to free their captives and surrender. … [Read more...] about Security forces press offensive against MNLF separatists in Philippines
Asia's economic rise has been momentous. Since the early 1960s, Asia has grown richer faster than any other region in the world. In 1990, 56 percent of people in East Asia and 54 percent in South Asia lived on less than 1.25 USD a day. By 2010, these rates had fallen to 12 percent and 31 percent, respectively. Last year, East Asia grew by 7.1 percent and South Asia by 5.2 percent, faster than any other region in the world. Even though these countries have become much richer, the number of so-called subnational conflicts has grown in the region, an occurrence that defies the common political belief that prosperity reduces the likelihood of violent conflicts. Between 1999 and 2008, more people died in such conflicts in Asia than all other types of conflict (interstate war, terrorism) combined. Patrick Barron, The Asia Foundation's regional director for conflict and development, says in a DW interview that the growth-stimulating strategies chosen by Asian countries have led to such … [Read more...] about How do conflicts and economic growth go together in Asia?
When journalists report from war and crisis areas, it is from this information that people worldwide get their sense of the situation on the ground. In order to be able to report truthfully, journalists not only need access but also should be entitled for protection of the state, said Guenter Nooke, Germany's human rights commissioner at a recent conference organized by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in Berlin. "If overcoming conflicts and creating peace is a high political objective, then states have to have a strong interest in free and truthful media about war and crises," Nooke said. Fourth estate as the fifth front The Philippines has one of the highest rates of journalist killings Ulrich Tilgner, one of Germany's most prominent foreign correspondents, believes that war reporters are increasingly in danger. The situation for them is getting more and more complicated because, among other things, conflict groups operate apart from civil society. "In the eyes of the warring … [Read more...] about Press Freedoms Under Attack Around the World
Press freedom deteriorated in two thirds of the world's countries, according to the Press Freedom Report published on Wednesday by Reporters Without Borders (RSF.) "The rate at which democracies are approaching the tipping point is alarming for all those who understand that, if media freedom is not secure, then none of the other freedoms can be guaranteed," RSF Secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. RSF, the non-governmental organization (NGO) based in Paris, has consultant status at the United Nations. It investigated freedom of media and journalists in 180 countries and found democracies, as well as dictatorships, had increasingly clamped down on press freedom. Researchers found that high-level politicians had used their power to quash media reports - a trend which was particularly frightening, according to Michael Rediske, Chief Executive of the group. One prominent example was Finland's Prime Minister Juha Sipilä, who allegedly sent 20 e-mails to the editorial … [Read more...] about World Press Freedom Index 2017 finds democracies are clamping down
The total number of new HIV infections in the Philippines increased by 140 percent from 2010 to 2016, making it the fastest growing HIV epidemic in Asia and the Pacific region, according to the Philippine Department of Health (DOH) and UNAIDS, the United Nations agency on HIV and AIDS. Some 10,500 HIV cases were reported in 2016 - up from 4,300 in 2010. Based on the current trend, the DOH estimates there could be 142,400 people infected by HIV by 2022. The DOH has identified more than 100 cities where about 80 percent of new HIV infections are clustered. "This is an urgent public health situation that needs to be prioritized by the government," DOH secretary Dr. Paulyn Jean Ubial said in a press conference on Tuesday. - Philippines' war on drugs affecting fight against HIV - Dying of shame and AIDS in the Philippines The first HIV case in the Philippines was reported in 1984. Around 2007, the DOH noted a rise in epidemic as new infections started showing a steady … [Read more...] about Why HIV infections are rising in the Philippines