Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Repost From Norman Bordadora of Philippine Daily Inquirer

‘We will defend what is ours’

Palace talks tough on Spratlys row

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The deployment of the BRP Rajah Humabon—the Philippines’ only warship—to patrol the seas near Scarborough Shoal is meant to show the country’s resolve to defend its sovereignty over what it considers its undisputed territory, Malacañang said Saturday.

On Friday, President Benigno Aquino III said the Philippines “will not be pushed around [just] because we are a tiny state compared to [China].”

He reiterated the Philippines’ right to explore its seas despite China’s claims over the same.

The only World War II-era destroyer still in active service, the Humabon was sent to patrol the waters off Zambales after China sent Haixun 31, a helicopter-equipped 3,000-ton maritime patrol ship, on a voyage that will see it passing through the West Philippine Sea.

The Humabon’s displacement is only 1,390 tons. Acquired in December 1978 and commissioned by the Philippine Navy in February 1980, it is the Philippines’ only warship.

In Baguio City, Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Eduardo Oban Jr. said on Saturday that “miracles on the table will resolve” the Spratlys row.

“Diplomacy will work,” he said at the Philippine Military Academy where he was the guest during the incorporation of 195 new cadets.

“It’s a way of saying that this is ours,” Secretary Ramon Carandang, head of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office, said of Scarborough Shoal, which is also being claimed by China.

Scarborough Shoal lies about 220 kilometers from Zambales, 350 km from Manila, and more than 800 km from Hong Kong.

“We may be a small country, but we will do whatever we can to defend our sovereignty … Whatever capabilities we have, no matter how big or small, we’re going to assert our sovereignty,” Carandang said.

He also said that while the Philippines wanted a diplomatic and peaceful resolution to the dispute over the Spratly island chain—which is being claimed wholly or partly by the Philippines, China, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan—it was asserting its sovereignty over its territories.

Also on Saturday in a news briefing over government radio, presidential deputy spokesperson, Abigail Valte, said Malacañang expected China to continue its support for a peaceful and diplomatic solution to the ongoing dispute with respect to territories in the West Philippine Sea.

“Our statements have always been very clear … Our approach is a rules-based settlement of the dispute, and we are seeking a multilateral approach to the dispute resolution,” Valte said.

“But I think our counterparts in China are saying the same thing. [T]here will be no use of force and they also want a diplomatic means to come up with a peaceful resolution of the problem,” she said.

Through its spokesperson, Commodore Miguel Rodriguez, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said it found “no cause for worry” over the three-day military drills conducted by the Chinese Navy near the potentially resource-rich Spratlys.

In fact, he said in a text message, the military hoped to someday participate in joint military drills with China, with whom the Philippines had traded diplomatic barbs over alleged intrusions in disputed waters.

On the other hand, Parañaque Representative Roilo Golez cautioned the government against relaxing its claim over parts of the Spratlys despite repeated assurances from other claimant-countries, particularly China, that they would not start a war there.

“We should always keep our guard up, in spite of the conciliatory tone of the latest China statement on the Spratlys,” he said.

Golez said that when China occupied Mischief Reef near Palawan in 1995, Chinese authorities lulled their counterparts in the Philippines that they had only built temporary structures for their fishermen. Four years later, he said, the AFP discovered full-blown concrete military structures and facilities on Mischief.

Only recently, Golez said, China issued warnings, combined with physical harassment, that it owned the seas all the way to Recto (Reed) Bank, followed by a conciliatory message that it would not allow force.

“If we allow them to lull us again, we might wake up one morning witnessing a flotilla of PLA (China’s People’s Liberation Army) frigates patrolling Recto Bank which is a stone’s throw from Palawan’s west shoreline,” he said.

Henry Bensurto, secretary general of the Philippine permanent mission to the UN in New York, has pointed out that recent events in Recto bank tended to widen disputed areas in the Spratlys to include even those falling within Philippine jurisdiction.

“The Philippines firmly rejects any efforts in this regard. Such actions are inconsistent with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea,” Bensurto said at the 21st Meeting of States Parties to the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea held on June 13-17 at the United Nations.

At the same meeting, other nations such as Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos and Singapore also echoed the need to maintain peace and security in the region.

They also called “for the peaceful resolution of disputes as enshrined in the [Unclos]” in their national statements, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

In a statement on the DFA website, Bensurto called for the adherence to the rule of law in the West Philippine Sea and rejected efforts to broaden disputes.

He said the Philippines was committed to international law, particularly the Unclos. He added: “We expect nothing less from our international partners.

Reposted From Norman Bordadora of Philippine Daily Inquirer

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Repost From Greg Heakes of Agence France-Presse

Mavericks clinch first NBA championship

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Dallas Maverick’s Dirk Nowitzki (41) holds up the Larry O’Brien trophy and celebrates with teammates and team owner Mark Cuban after winning 105-95 against the Miami Heat in Game 6 of the 2011 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena on June 12, 2011 in Miami, Florida. Photo by Ronald Martinez, AFP

Dallas Maverick’s Dirk Nowitzki (41) holds up the Larry O’Brien trophy and celebrates with teammates and team owner Mark Cuban after winning 105-95 against the Miami Heat in Game 6 of the 2011 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena on June 12, 2011 in Miami, Florida. Photo by Ronald Martinez, AFP

MIAMI – (UPDATE) Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks captured their first NBA championship Sunday with a 105-95 win over the Miami Heat — the team that ended Dallas’ shot at a title five years ago.

Jason Terry scored 27 points and Nowitzki finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds as the Mavericks won the best-of-seven championship series four-games-to-two.

Germany’s Nowitzki was named Most Valuable Player of the finals, finally securing the NBA’s biggest prize to secure his place among the NBA legends.

“This is unbelievable,” said Nowitzki, who turns 33 next Sunday. “We are a resilient bunch. This team has come back from huge deficits all season long.”

Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, celebrates wit Brendan Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson during the final seconds of the second half of Game 6 of the 2011 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena on June 12, 2011 in Miami, Florida. The Mavericks won 105-95 against the Miami Heat. Photo by David Phillip, AP

Terry ran the clock down in the final minute then passed to a wide open Shawn Marion who chose not to shoot as the seconds clicked down.

When the buzzer sounded Marion handed the ball to 17-year veteran guard Jason Kidd who tried twice before in the finals but failed to get a ring.

J.J. Barea had 15 points and five assists for the Mavericks, who clinched their first NBA championship in their 31 year franchise history.

LeBron James scored 21 points and Dwyane Wade finished with 17 points, eight rebounds and six assists for the Heat, who failed to send the series to a decisive seventh game despite having home court advantage.

“Hats go off to Dallas,” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. “There is an emptiness to it. It was a tough series. Sometimes you just come up short. Crunch time needed to be done, they made bigger plays than us.”

This year’s final was a rematch of the 2006 NBA championship series, which Miami took in six games for its first title in franchise history.

With Terry having a superb start to game six, the Mavericks led 53-51 at the end of the first half in what began as a game of runs by either side. Terry came off the bench to score 19 points in the first two quarters on eight-of-ten shooting.

Dirk Nowitzki (41) of the Dallas Mavericks celebrates with Jason Terry (31) in the second half of Game 6 of the 2011 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena on June 12, 2011 in Miami, Florida. The Mavericks won 105-95 to win the series. Photo by David Phillip, AP

James had his best start of the series by scoring nine points and dishing three assists in the first quarter.

Tempers flared halfway through the second quarter when the Mavericks’ DeShawn Stevenson and Miami’s Udonis Haslem got into a shoving match.

Haslem was celebrating an Eddie House three pointer when he brushed past Stevenson who shoved him. The Heat players came charging off the bench and Mario Chalmers made a bee line for Stevenson.

Chalmers, Haslem and Stevenson all received technicals but no one was thrown out because a timeout had already been called before the players left the bench.

Nowitzki struggled early, scoring just a single point in the second quarter, and finished with three points on one-of-12 shooting in the opening half. He finished strong, however, by scoring 10 of his 21 in the fourth.

Dallas’s Ian Mahinmi of France nailed a buzzer-beating field goal at the end of the third to give the Mavericks a nine point lead at 81-72. Dallas got their own rebound and Terry ran down the clock and then pump faked James before slipping a short pass over to Mahinmi who got nothing but net.

The Heat had almost twice as many free throw chances as the Mavericks but hit just 60 percent of them. They also had 16 turnovers.

Although the Mavericks had several players in foul trouble in the fourth, they built their biggest lead of 13 points in the final period.

Reposted From Greg Heakes of Agence France-Presse


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