International Relations –
Typhoon-hit PH gets USD300K humanitarian assistance from South Korea

The South Korean embassy in Manila announced it will provide a USD300,000 or about PHP16.2 million-worth of humanitarian assistance for the typhoon-hit regions in the Philippines.

“To help relieve the suffering of communities from the typhoon damages, the government of the Republic of Korea had decided to provide the Philippines with humanitarian aid of USD300,000 through an appropriate channel,” the embassy said in a statement.

The embassy expressed optimism that the victims of Typhoon Ompong (Mangkhut) will recover from the destruction to properties and loss of lives.

“The Korean people and the Government of the Republic of Korea are deeply saddened by the news of hardship Filipinos are going through, including massive number of casualties and injuries,” it said.

“We are confident that the people of the Philippines, under the leadership of President Rodrigo Duterte, will recover from the damages soon.”

South Korea is among the foreign governments and international organizations, which have provided aid to the Philippines on its recovery and relief efforts in the aftermath of “Ompong”.

Earlier, the French embassy in Manila also expressed readiness to extend possible assistance to the country.

“We extend our sympathy to all affected by this catastrophe, and express our solidarity with the Philippine authorities, with which we stand ready to examine the assistance and aid they may need to face the consequences of this tragedy,” it said in a statement.

As of 6 a.m. Tuesday, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said a total of 893,844 persons were affected by the typhoon.

DFA: Talks with Kuwait ‘bearing fruit’

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is optimistic with the ongoing talks with Kuwait government regarding the welfare of Filipinos working there.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said discussion with Kuwait officials are now “bearing fruit.”

“Our communications are bearing fruit, the hard work of our people sa embassy are bearing fruit, yung mga tinanim ni Ambassador Renato Villa are bearing fruit so i-aasikaso na ngayon ang pag-uwi ng 800 na nandoon po shelter,” he said.

“We do believe we can come up with a win-win solution that we don’t think our rights were violated at the same time the Kuwaitis will not think that we do not respect their domestic law,” he said referring to the arrest warrants against Filipino diplomats who “illegally” rescued some overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

US gov’t promises additional P182-M aid for Maranaos

The US government is set to donate an additional P182 million financial aid for the Filipinos affected by the five-month war in Marawi City last year.

US Ambassador Sung Kim has disclosed the state’s plan to provide more assistance in rebuilding Marawi.

The additional aid would bring the total contribution of the US government to P1.4 billion.

“Together with our partners on the ground, we will build transitional shelters, repair water and sanitation facilities, provide social support, establish safe spaces to protect women and children from exploitation and violence, and, hopefully, in the process, also help jumpstart the local economy,” Kim said on May 3.

Early this year, the embassy extended help by earmarking P330 million to supporting the Maranaos’ job skills and attain livelihoods.

Through US Agency for International Development (USAID), the US government has been showing its assistance for the fast rehabilitation of Marawi.

USAID’s early assistance involved restoring access to water and distributing desks for schools where displaced students are enrolled. It also provided health clinics in Marawi City and surrounding areas with supplies and services to combat tuberculosis and support maternal, newborn, and child health needs.

PH, SoKor to further strengthen ties

The Philippines and South Korea seek to push for a stronger relationship, helping each other to heighten respective security and defense systems.

To discuss opportunities to bolster ties, Seoul’s Defense Minister Song Young-Moo has met with Filipino Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana in Korea.

This was on the sidelines of Lorenzana’s visit in the country to attend steel cutting ceremony for two frigates that the Philippines has ordered.

During their discussion, the Korean Minister has asked for the Philippines’ support for Seoul’s efforts to achieve denuclearization of the peninsula and to finally achieve lasting peace between South Korea and North Korea.

Lorenza, on the other hand, assured that the South Korea will always have the Philippines’ support.

Both nations also vowed to continue efforts in arms development.

Two more vessels from Japan to arrive in 2021

The Japanese government is set to provide two more vessels for the Philippine Coast Guard.

This was disclosed by Rear Admiral Elson Hermogino, PCG commandant, during the visit of Japanese Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Keichi Ishii late in April.

The two 94-meter vessels are expected to be in the organization’s management by 2021.

“We expect that with the coming of the 94-meter vessels from Japan, they will greatly enhance our performance. We will also ensure that all Japanese vessels passing Philippine waters will be guarded and protected,” he said.

Department of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said the vessels the Japanese government has initially given are in good hands.

“I’m sure that if we will take care of these ships, Japanese government will be inspired to give us more,” Tugade said.

Hermogino said the vessels are used to respond to sea mishaps, extend relief efforts, and secure Philippine waters.

Ishii, meanwhile, was pleased to witness that the vessels are being helpful to guard the country’s territory and heighten the PCG’s operations.

“It is with great pleasure to see that Japan’s ships provided us with a number of accomplishments. Japan is promoting peace in the Pacific. To promote free Pacific, we must strengthen maritime capabilities,” Ishii said.

Vietnam: Duterte handles South China Sea dispute very well

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc praised President Rodrigo Duterte’s way of handling the issue over disputed waters in the South China Sea.

This was disclosed to reporters by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque after the both parties’ bilateral meeting recently in Singapore.

Roque said Nguyễn raised the case as he seeks to get the support of the President in its joint filling for an extended continental shelf wiith Malaysia in the disputed waters.

“Ang Vietnam naman ay humingi ng tulong dahil meron silang joint submission for an extended continental shelf with Malaysia,” he said.

The spokesperson added this may lead to a cooperation between the two nation in portions of the South China Sea.

“Ang sabi po ng Vietnam, hinahangaan po nila ang naging posisyon ng Pilipinas pagdating sa China sa usapin ng West Philippine Sea. At dahil diyan magkakaroon ng mas madaming kooperasyon sa pagitan ng Pilipinas at ng Vietnam tungkol nga dito sa West Philippine Sea,” he said.

Quoting the Vietnamese leader, Roque said: “We [Vietnam] will learn from his [President Duterte’s] handling of China. The President handled China very well.”

Duterte, meanwhile, said he will study how the Philippines could help Vietnam.

“He will study the option on how the Philippines can be involved in the ongoing joint claim for an extended continental shelf between Vietnam and Malaysia,” Roque said.

Kuwait, PH ties strengthened, to pursue bilateral relations

Relations between the Philippines and Kuwait have been reaffirmed, signaling both parties’ support to protecting overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

President Rodrigo Duterte showed the first move in resolving the recent conflict involving a Philippine embassy staff rescuing OFWs in Kuwait.

He had a “frank” and “cordial” meeting with Kuwaiti Ambassador to the Philippines Saleh Ahmad Althwaikh in Davao City on April 23 to fix the issue and urge the latter to “move forward” with the bilateral relations.

“They discussed recent events that transpired in Kuwait. They parted on a positive note emphasizing that while the Philippines will always exercise its obligation to protect its nationals abroad, they will do so in a manner respecting the sovereignty of Kuwait,” said Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque.

“I understand that after the meeting both parties reiterated their mutual support for each other and parted even closer as friends,” he added.

Roque stressed the President handled the situation well with him being “very personal” and “very friendly.”

“Nagkaintindihan na muli ang Kuwait at ang Pilipinas…Yung mga hindi pagkakaintindihan siguro, alam niyo kung ano iyon, iyung pinoprotesta ng Kuwait, pero I think naayos naman ni Presidente ang sigalot na ‘yan, minor lang naman. Kuwait and the Philippines now understand each other. Any misunderstanding that was protested by Kuwait has been solved by the President. It was just a minor one,” he said.

The spokesperson stressed the President did not apologize over the matter as “that was not necessary at all.”

“I think he made it very clear that he had no other option but to protect Filipino workers in Kuwait. So I think that was made very clear to the Kuwait side; but at the same time – because we also have this policy of independent foreign policy – he also recognize the right of sovereignty as far as Kuwait is concerned,” he added.

Moreover, Kuwait assured it would uphold the rights of Filipinos working in their country.

“What they agreed upon is that they will honor, you know, minimum standards of treating our OFWs. They will respect our rights to protect our workers in Kuwait,” Roque said.

Kuwait approves Duterte’s terms on OFW deal

President Rodrigo Duterte has succeeded in his quest to intensify protection for Filipinos working in the Middle East region.

During his visit in HongKong on April 12, Duterte announced the good news that the Kuwait government agreed to the conditions he wanted to include in the draft agreement.

“I’m going to Kuwait maybe for the signing. And I have made so many demands before we sign the contract. And in fairness to the Kuwait government, pumayag sila,” he told of the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) there.

“I think that to give honor also to the Kuwaiti government, I will go there for the signing just to witness it,” he added.

The conditions he was referring to were: OFWs to be given a day off every week; their passports and cellphones should not be confiscated.

Duterte also urged OFWs to call him if they have complaints.

“My number is probably Manila, 638888. That’s the hotline. 8888 lang,” he said.

The Kuwait government, he noted, also agreed to allow Filipinos to cook their own food, except for food that are forbidden in Islam.

“Sinabi ko sa Cabinet ng meeting, mahirap lang tayo. There’s not enough for everybody. But if everything goes wrong here, we have to accept our countrymen and spend all available money para makatulong sa kanila,” he said.

“’Bahala na,’sabi ko. Magtiis tayo and maybe there’s always God who thinks about equality in this planet. Tutulungan rin tayo ng Diyos,” he added.

Qatar gov’t to help put up new PH school in its state

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) revealed the Qatar government showed willingness to help establish another Philippine school in its land.

This was in response to the educational needs of Filipino children in the Middle Eastern country, the DFA said in a statement.

The agency quoted Dr. Mohammed Bin Abdul Wahed Al-Hammadi, Qatar’s Minister of Education and Higher Education, who said the Qatar government was ready to donate a land for a new Philippine school in their country.

Involving a private firm to invest in the school was the condition set.

Al-Hammadi also welcomed the University of the Philippines’ plan to bring a satellite campus in Qatar, stressing this could urge more Filipino students to stay and finish their schooling.

Philippine Ambassador to Qatar Alan Timbayan met with Al-Hammadi on April 3 to discuss matters related to education cooperation.

QC’s Belmonte lauds Duterte’s move to protect OFWs

Quezon City Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte lauded President Rodrigo Duterte’s continuous battle for the rights of Filipinas working overseas, particularly those located in Kuwait and other Middle Eastern nations.

Belmonte expressed this following the President’s move to compel the Kuwaiti government to sign an agreement which seeks to ensure the well-being of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), especially women.

“Natutuwa ako sa Pangulo, he really fights for the rights of our OFWs, most of whom are women.Karamihan sa mga OFWs natin ay mga babae,” Belmonte said.

The agreement, she stressed, could surely protect Filipinas from abuses.

Women migrant workers comprise 53.6 percent of 2.2 million OFWs, Belmonte noted, citing data from the Philippine Statistics Auhtority.

Belmonte also stressed that despite issues of the President being a chauvinist, she felt his sincerity in protecting Filipina OFWs in Kuwait.

The President is asking the Kuwaiti government to make sure that OFWs get seven hours of sleep, enjoy holidays, and will not have their passports confiscated by their employers.

He also demanded that OFWs be allowed to cook their own food rather than eating leftovers, a common practice of abusive employers in Kuwait.

“So ito ‘yung mga rights na pinaglalaban ng ating Pangulo. He said ‘I will not allow women OFWs to go back to Kuwait if you do not grant them rights’. Kaya palakpakan natin ang ating Pangulo,” Belmonte said.