President Duterte at the 37th ASEAN Summit
by Marcelle P. Villegas - January 12, 2021
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers his remarks during the virtual plenary session of the 37th ASEAN Summit and Related Summits hosted by the Socialist Republic of Vietnam at the Malacañang Golf (Malago) Clubhouse, Malacañang Park. (Photo credit: King Rodriquez / Presidential photo, Presidential Communications Operations Office website)
President Rodrigo R. Duterte attended a virtual summit of world leaders to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic, South China Sea dispute, trade and other issues. The virtual event is the plenary session of the 37th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and Related Summits hosted by the Socialist Republic of Vietnam that will last until November 25.
On his speech, he asserted the Philippines’s arbitral win and emphasised the legal victory is now part of “international law”. 
He said, “The Philippine position is clear and firm. We must solve the disputes peacefully and in accordance with international law, including UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea).”
“The 2016 arbitral award on the South China Sea is an authoritative interpretation of the application of UNCLOS. It is now part of international law. And its significance cannot be diminished nor ignored by any country, however big and powerful.”
President Duterte also emphasised the need to fast-track a “Code of Conduct” in the South China Sea in order to promote peace and stability in the busy waterway.
“The Philippines is one with ASEAN in transforming the South China Sea into a sea of peace and prosperity for all. We are committed to the immediate conclusion of a substantive and effective Code of Conduct in the South China Sea. And if I may add, it has been a long time and it is a long wait,” he said.
Since President Duterte assumed office in 2016, he addressed the maritime issue with China through a non-adversarial approach. China has an important role in the President’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program as they had been providing financial assistance to several major infrastructure projects in the Philippines such as bridges and railways.
South China Sea Dispute -- In China’s Nine-dashed Line Map the Philippines loses about 80% of its Exclusive Economic Zone facing the West Philippine Sea. This includes the entire Reed Bank and part of the Malampaya gas field. This loss covers 381,000 square kilometers of maritime space and 100% of the Philippines’ Extended Continental Shelf which covers an estimate of over 150,000 square kilometers of maritime space. South China Sea is also rich in methane hydrate which is a potential source of energy.
How did the South China Sea dispute start? Why is the Philippines involved in this conflict with China?
On 7 May 2009 when China submitted the Nine-dashed Lines Map to the United Nations. Their map claims large areas of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and Extended Continental Shelf (ECS) of the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia. On the map, China is claiming 85.7% of the entire South China Sea. Their claim covers 3 million square kilometers out of the 3.5 million square kilometers surface area of the South China Sea. Since China did not provide any legal basis for the dashes, and the dashes also had no fixed coordinates, Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia protested against China’s claim.
The Philippines is greatly affected by the Nine-dashed Lines Map because the Philippines loses about 80% of its EEZ facing the West Philippine Sea. This includes the entire Reed Bank and part of the Malampaya gas field. That is around 381,000 square kilometers of loss in maritime space, and 100% of the Philippines’ ECS which covers an estimate of 150,000 square kilometers of maritime space.
Therefore, in January 2013, the Philippines formally initiated arbitration proceedings against China’s claim on the territories within the Nine-dashed Lines that includes the Scarborough Shoal. Then, Justice Antonio T. Carpio, former Senior Associate Justice of Republic of the Philippines Supreme Court, defended the Philippines’ right of ownership of the little islands within our territory to the international Arbitral Tribunal. He pointed out our legal rights through legitimate historical records.
It was on 12 July 2016 when the Philippines won the arbitration case it filed against China after the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands. The verdict invalidated Beijing’s Nine-dashed Lines Map claim on South China Sea. In response, China refused to accept and acknowledge the arbitral ruling.
South China Sea is significant not only to Asian countries but also to the world. Each year, US$5.3 trillion ship-borne goods travel through South China Sea. This number is almost one-half of the world’s shipborne trade in tonnage. Additionally, a great percentage of the petroleum imports of South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and China pass through the South China Sea. There are also 2 billion people who live in the 10 countries bordering the South China Sea where hundreds of millions of people depend on fish there for their protein. Lastly, the maritime area that is close to the coast of the countries bordering the South China Sea is rich in oil and gas resources. South China Sea is rich in methane hydrate – a potential source of energy.
 Parrocha, Azer (12 November 2020). Philippine News Agency. “Arbitral ruling can’t be ignored by any country, Duterte to Asean”. Retrieved from https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1121630
President Duterte - https://pcoo.gov.ph/news_releases/asean-must-demand-climate-justice-says-president-duterte/
Nine-Dashed Line - Justice Antonio T. Carpio. “The South China Sea West Philippine Sea Dispute” - https://www.slideshare.net/SamGalope/lecture-the-south-china-sea-west-philippine-dispute-justice-antonio-t-carpio-philippine-social-science-center
Philippine Resources - September 24, 2021
DOTr, Pasay City sign deal for monorail, flyover extension
Residents and those working in Pasay City will soon enjoy easier public transportation after the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the city government signed a deal for the construction of a monorail and extension of the Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue (Edsa)-Tramo flyover. In a live broadcast on Facebook on Wednesday, DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade and Pasay City Mayor Emi Calixto-Rubiano signed the memorandum of agreement (MOA) for the proposed Integrated Pasay Monorail and Edsa-Tramo flyover extension project. Tugade said the project will be interoperable with the Light Rail Transit Line 1 (LRT-1), Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3), the Edsa Busway, and the Edsa Greenways. “[Ito ay] makapagbibigay ng mas mabilis at episyenteng biyahe sa mga pasahero. Magiging mas madali na rin ang access patungong central business district (CBD) ng Pasay (This will provide fast and efficient travel to passengers. Access to Pasay CBD will also be easier),” Tugade said. Aside from its benefits to commuters, he said the project will also create jobs. “Ang paulit-ulit kong sinasabi na karugtong ng mga proyekto para sa kaunlaran ay trabaho para sa Pilipino (What I have always been saying is that development projects go hand-in-hand with jobs for Filipinos),” Tugade said. He said the project is a partnership between the DOTr, Pasay City government, and SM Prime Holdings. “Makakaasa 'ho kayong magpapatuloy ang DOTr sa pagsusulong ng mga proyekto para sa ikauunlad ng pampublikong transportasyon sa bansa (You can be rest assured that the DOTr will continue to promote projects for the development of public transportation in the country),” Tugade said. The MOA signing was witnessed by Pasay City Vice Mayor Noel del Rosario, DOTr Undersecretary for Finance Giovanni Lopez, Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Reinier Paul Yebra, Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John Batan, SM Prime Holdings President Jeffrey Lim, and other representatives from the Pasay City government and the private sector. On Sept. 7, the Pasay City government and the SM Prime Holdings made a joint presentation on the project to the DOTr. By Raymond Carl Dela Cruz Article courtesy of the Philippine News Agency
Philippine Resources - September 24, 2021
DOTr eyes GenSan airport as alternate int'l gateway
Photo credit: Department of Transportation The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is pushing for the inclusion of the newly rehabilitated and expanded airport here as among the alternate gateways for returning Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and international travelers. DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade proposed the move on Thursday as he personally led the formal unveiling and inauguration of the city airport’s new passenger terminal building and other completed facilities. He said the city’s international standard airport can accommodate airline passengers coming in from as far as the Middle East. Tugade said it can be realized once the proposed increase in the daily cap for returning OFWs, currently at 2,000 for the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), is approved. Once the cap is expanded, he said NAIA might “choke” with the influx of airline passengers from various countries. “If we will increase the cap, we need to expand our gateways and not limit them to Clark, Cebu, and NAIA. We can include GenSan among the gateways for travelers from Doha who are going to Manila,” he said in a press conference. He said they will propose such strategy with the airlines serving the international routes, including the Philippine Airlines, and seek the approval of the city government. The other possible alternate gateways could be the Laoag International Airport in Ilocos Norte and the Bohol-Panglao International Airport, Tugade said. The rehabilitated and expanded General Santos Airport passenger terminal building, which was completed early this month, is part of the PHP959-million upgrade implemented by the national government. The other completed components are the procurement and installation of navigational aids and the construction of the new Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) administration building at the airport. Under the project, Tugade said the passenger terminal area has tripled in size from 4,000 to 12,000 square meters. “This will allow the airport to accommodate more passengers and provide them comfortable and convenient travel,” he said in his speech. A DOTr report said the larger passenger terminal building can now accommodate around 2 million passengers annually, a significant jump from the previous 800,000 per year. Tugade said the improvement at the city airport will continue next year with the upgrading of its air control tower, which he considered as “too low.” He said they will build a “higher and modernized” tower in 2022 to make it “more world-class” and can easily adjust to the needs of the airport. The official said the upgrading of the airport, which started in 2018, is among the agency and the national government’s top priorities in Mindanao. He said the initiative is part of the government’s efforts to bring more progress and economic opportunities in Mindanao, which “suffered from long years of neglect in terms of development.” Tugade said they endeavored to implement these projects despite the challenges posed by the continuing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic to pursue their goal of giving a “comfortable and convenient life” to Filipinos. “After the pandemic, we want all these developments in place and ready to benefit the people,” he said. In a video message, President Rodrigo Duterte commended the DOTr, the local government, and concerned stakeholders for completing the projects at the city airport amid the Covid-19 pandemic. He said the city has “gone a long way” in terms of the development of its air connectivity and airport facilities. “The rehabilitation and expansion of the airport passenger terminal building, among others, will truly boost General Santos City’s role as an agro-industrial and eco-tourism hub,” the President said. City Mayor Ronnel Rivera lauded the national government for helping the city realize its dream of having an international-standard airport. Aside from the expanded passenger terminal building, the airport is now capable of accommodating bigger aircraft like Boeing 737 and 747, as well as Airbus A330, A340, and A350. “(What) we are seeing now is a result of multisectoral commitment and dedication in various stages of the airport development, which includes coordination of several initiatives, preparation of the airport master plan, operations, and marketing,” he said. The mayor said the local government will continue to engage with prospective investors and airlines for the opening of more flights to and from the airport and the development of adjacent areas. He cited the proposed establishment of an aerotropolis or growth area centered on the city airport and its surrounding areas. “We are opening a wide array of opportunities, not only on the improvement of our infrastructure facilities but also in terms of investments that will generate more economic opportunities for the city and the entire region (Soccsksargen),” he said. Aside from the inauguration of the airport projects, Tugade also led the unveiling of completed initiatives at the Makar port here. The DOTr said it includes the construction of the Port Operations Building and other vital facilities, which includes a parking area, covered court, port manager’s quarter or Day Care Center, and drainage system. “The improved port of Makar will now offer safer, comfortable, and a more convenient port experience to passengers, while ensuring a faster turnaround for vessels, cargo trucks, and other ancillary service providers,” it said. Article courtesy of the Philippine News Agency
Philippine Resources - September 22, 2021
Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway 83% Complete
Photo credit: Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway As of August 31, 2021, the construction progress of the Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway (CCLEX) project was at 83.84 percent. The P30-billion toll bridge, which will be substantially completed by the end of 2021, will use a full electronic toll system when it opens to motorists in the first quarter of 2022 to enable faster traffic flow and seamless travel. The project recently marked a milestone with the completion of the installation of all 56 stay cables that hold the main bridge deck. On September 11, the Cebu Cordova Link Expressway Corporation (CCLEC), through its contractor, installed the last and longest stay cable, which is 219 meters long. The gap on the main bridge, on the other hand, is now down to only two meters before span closure and preparations are underway for the lowering of the form travelers. These form travelers, which weigh 500 tons in each tower, were used to construct the main bridge’s pier table and deck. Also, all 434 NU (Nebraska University) girders for the entire project have already been installed. With this, the mobile launching gantry used to install the girders have been demobilized. At the Cebu South Coastal Road (CSCR) on ramp and off ramp sections of CCLEX, construction of its substructures is complete. Ongoing works are now on the installation of precast planks and the concreting of deck slab. Also finished is the 200-meter pedestrian footbridge beside the CSCR with all six prefabricated steel walkways already installed. The footbridge will start near the U-turn slot of the South Road Properties’ welcome tower and will connect to the on-ramp sidewalk of CCLEX. At the Cebu viaduct, the construction of deck slab is ongoing. The Cordova viaduct, on the other hand, is now structurally complete with its substructure already done. Installation of handrails are underway. At the causeway, embankment works continue to progress with the placing of 20 vent pipes, which equalize the flow of seawater along the Cordova Channel, is finished. Also structurally complete are the four low-level bridges along the causeway, which will provide fishermen continued access to their fishing grounds. Aside from these, works are ongoing for the toll plaza and the CCLEX Operations and Maintenance Center. CCLEX, highlighted by its iconic crosses on top of the twin pylons of the cable-stayed main bridge over the Mactan Channel, is Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation’s (MPTC) first toll road project outside Luzon. CCLEX, which will be the third link to Mactan Island from Cordova Municipality to mainland Cebu through Cebu City’s South Road Properties, has a design speed of 80 kilometers per hour (kph) and a navigational clearance or height of 51 meters to allow large vessels to pass underneath the bridge. Not only is CCLEX seen to reduce traffic and make traveling more convenient but also spur trade activities and open greater economic opportunities for Cebu and the rest of the Visayas region. CCLEX is a project of Cebu Cordova Link Expressway Corporation (CCLEC), in partnership with the local government units of Cebu City and Municipality of Cordova. CCLEC is a wholly owned subsidiary of MPTC, the toll road arm of Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC), a publicly listed infrastructure holding company and a member of the MVP Group of Companies. MPTC is the largest toll road concessionaire and operator in the Philippines, which expansion goals include establishing toll operations in the Visayas, other parts of the Philippines, and in neighboring countries notably Vietnam, and Indonesia. Article courtesy of Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway