Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Madrid, Spain

     Photographs by CBCabalza. Copyright © 2015 by Chester B. Cabalza. All Rights Reserved.

The successful foreign enhancement travel or study tour of  NDCP to military counterpart institutions and government ministries in Spain include the visit and engagement to the El Centro Superior de Estudios de la Defensa Nacional (CESEDEN) or Higher Center for National Defence Studies; Ministerio del Interior (Ministry of Local Government); Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores y de Cooperacion or Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation; Ministerio de Agricultura, Alimentacion y Medio y Ambiente (MAGRAMA) or  Ministry of Agriculture, Food and the Environment; Philippine Embassy in Madrid; side trips to Rizal's monument and a brief tour to the beautiful city of Toledo; and lastly, a talk and tour to Spain's multinational Airbus Industry! 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

‘Great Wall of Sea’ hit

courtesy of PDI

Read more: http://globalnation.inquirer.net/124837/great-wall-of-sea-hit#ixzz3e7gfMNT6
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Security expert:China now illegally occupying parts of the Philippines

“China has effectively put up its own Great Wall of the Sea.”

China’s statement on Tuesday that it would soon start building infrastructure on its artificial islands in the South China Sea drew condemnation from the Philippines, Japan and the United States on Wednesday.

Manila said it was considering asking the United Nations arbitral tribunal to issue a provisional measure to stop Beijing from pursuing its expansion into disputed parts of the South China Sea.

Recent satellite images showed land reclamation on Kagitingan (Fiery Cross), Calderon (Cuarteron), Burgos (Gaven), Mabini (Johnson South), Panganiban (Mischief), Zamora (Subi) and McKennan (Hughes) reefs in the West Philippine Sea, South China Sea waters within the Philippines’ 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone.

With its massive and rapid building of artificial islands and infrastructure on those reefs, China has “illegally occupied” the Philippines, Chester Cabalza, a Filipino security expert, said on Wednesday.

“It has effectively put up its own Great Wall of the Sea,” Cabalza added.

“They are occupying our territory rapidly because they have a timeline that they need to meet. This is already an illegal occupation by China through their construction of infrastructure and as a result, we lose a lot of our resources,” Cabalza, a professor at the National Defense College of the Philippines, told the Inquirer on the phone.

Cabalza said that by building artificial islands in the South China Sea, China was now carrying out its Anti-Access Area Denial (A2/AD) strategy, a military doctrine used to deny foreign militaries access to a certain area. By using A2/AD, China is denying other militaries access to the South China Sea and impinging on other countries’ freedom of navigation, he said.

“The more China blocks access to the South China Sea, [the more power it gets] in the region, as [it controls] the area,” Cabalza said.

Japan warned Beijing that its extensive land reclamation does not make its ownership of the South China Sea “a done deal.”

Washington said it was aware that China intended to complete some reclamation work in the South China Sea in the coming days, but Beijing’s plans for further construction work would not ease tensions in the heavily disputed sea.

China announced on Tuesday that it would soon complete some of its land reclamation on reefs in the Spratly Islands in the middle of the South China Sea and follow up with building infrastructure to carry out functions ranging from maritime search and rescue to environmental conservation and scientific research.

The announcement indicates China’s intention to seal its claim to almost the entire South China Sea ahead of a ruling from the UN arbitral tribunal on a Philippine challenge to that claim filed in 2013.

Int’l court action

On Monday, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio of the Supreme Court urged the government to ask the international court to stop China’s land reclamation.

“It is not yet too late,” Assistant Secretary Charles Jose, spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), said on Wednesday in response to Carpio’s call. “We can still do that . . . hopefully immediately after July.”

Jose explained that the government considered it premature to file a request for a provisional measure because the arbitral court had yet to determine whether it had jurisdiction over the Philippine case.
The UN court has scheduled oral arguments for July 7 to 13 after which it will decide on jurisdiction and admissibility of the Philippine case, Jose said.

China has spurned the proceedings, insisting it has “undisputed sovereignty” over the South China Sea, but has been ordered by the tribunal to comment on the Philippine case just the same.

Jose added that the government was confident the five-member court headed by Judge Thomas A. Mensah of Ghana would rule in favor of the Philippines.

Jose said China’s land reclamation in the South China Sea had become a concern not just for the Philippines but the international community as well.

Besides the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan have claims that overlap with China’s in the South China Sea, a vital waterway where $5 trillion in global cargo passes every year.

Int’l pressure

Malacañang said the government would continue pursuing a resolution of the territorial dispute with China in accordance with international law, but the Department of National Defense (DND) said the Philippines should intensify its efforts to put international pressure on China.

Peter Paul Galvez, spokesman for the DND, said there was no indication that China would stop building artificial islands and infrastructure in the South China Sea.

“I think we just need some more [pressure]. We just have to continue . . . informing . . . the international community [about] what’s happening,” Galvez said.

“Let’s not discount the value of informing and telling people, making them understand what’s really happening, because we need to counter the lies behind these claims,” he said.

Galvez said the DND was pleased with the strong support of the United States, European Union, Group of Seven, Australia and Japan.

“That should be enough for [China] to realize that what [it is] doing is really contrary to international law. So we call on [China]: Come on, wake up to the truth,” he said.

Galvez said the airstrip that China was building on Kagitingan Reef was 75-percent complete. He said the airstrip was big enough to receive large cargo and military aircraft.

At the DFA, Jose said the government had launched a massive information campaign to inform the public on developments in the South China Sea.

PH documentary

On Friday, the DFA released a 20-minute documentary film, “Karapatan sa Karagatan” (Maritime Rights), dealing with the economic losses that the Philippines incurs due to the territorial dispute with China.

The documentary, hosted by Lourd de Veyra and Jun Sabayton and directed by RA Rivera, was aired by PTV 4. It was the first of a four-part series on the West Philippine Sea.

The DFA, however, is not supporting any campaign for a boycott of Chinese goods, Jose said.
Filipinos in the United States last week called for a boycott of Chinese goods to pressure China into giving up its claim to Philippine territory in the South China Sea.

The United States has called for an “immediate and lasting” halt to China’s island-building in the South China Sea.

On Tuesday, Washington said it “noted” Beijing’s announcement of the completion of some land reclamation work, but expressed concern that its plans for more construction work, including for defense, would not ease tensions in the region.

“China’s stated plans do not contribute to a reduction in tensions, support the emergence of diplomatic and peaceful solutions, or bolster China’s disputed maritime claims,” said a spokesperson for the US state department.–With wire reports

Philippines challenging China is game-changer

Posted at 06/17/2015 10:46 PM | Updated as of 06/23/2015 9:19 AM

Source: http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/06/17/15/philippines-challenging-china-game-changer

A "game-changer" was how a Filipino security expert described the Philippines' decision to challenge Beijing's claim over nearly 90 percent of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

And a decision by the international tribunal would serve as benchmark in settling international maritime disputes, said Prof. Chester Cabalza of the National Defense College of the Philippines.

But what happens if the ruling, expected to come out next year, does not favor the Philippines?

It could likewise be "game-changing," Cabalza said, "in terms of the security environment in the Asia-Pacific."
"If we lose the case, (then) it’s going to be a new era for China. Definitely, they will flex their muscle," he told ABS-CBN News.

Like Cabalza, former Ambassador Jose Apolinario Lozada is confident of a Philippine victory in the arbitral court, saying the government could “really vouch for the truth and veracity of the documents that we are presenting.”

“(But) in the remote possibility that we lose in the arbitration, then we have no choice. We have to look for another solution and maybe drastically sit down with the Chinese,” Lozada said.

“But are we going to wait for that? I think we should not.”

Lozada, a China expert who also served as foreign affairs adviser during the Ramos administration, said the government should explore bilateral talks with China over Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal).

“On the part of the Scarborough, it is a bilateral problem between us and China. I say bilateral because it’s a common problem between the two countries,” he said.

“So it’s logical that we should really sit down with China, (try) to reach out and agree with them on solving that.”
Cabalza said there’s no harm in a bilateral approach despite the existing arbitration case.

Lozada played down a Philippine victory in the tribunal, saying it would “just be a public relations issue that would really give the (country) some push, some good words from the other countries.”

Lozada acknowledged that bilateral talks with China on Panatag at this time would not be easy, especially with the impression that the United States is meddling too much.

He said such talks could still involve the U.S. and other Southeast Asian neighbors as observers.

Lozada is optimistic Manila and Beijing could sit down, despite their raging word war, especially when China began reclamation activities in the Spratlys.

“We can just really erase everything and start anew,” he said.

“For mature countries—and I know the Philippines and China are already mature diplomatically—we can really look at this, sit down and in good faith, we should be able to understand the claim of the Philippines and the claim of China.”
The Philippines occupies eight islands in the Spratlys, namely: Kota (Loaita Island), Lawak (Nansham Island), Likas (West York Island), Panata (Lamkian Cay), Pag-asa (Thitu Island), Parola (North East Cay), Patag (Flat Island), and Rizal (Commodore Reef).

China’s reclamation activities cover Burgos (Gaven), Calderon (Cuarteron), Kagitingan (Fiery Cross), Mabini (Johnson South), McKennan (Hughes), Panganiban (Mischief), and Zamora (Subi) reefs.

Magdalo Rep. Francisco Ashley Acedillo said the Philippines could talk with China at “lower levels” like on matters such as trade and cultural exchanges.

“Yes, we must be hopeful of engaging China in a more constructive and friendly manner,” he said. “But at the same time, let us be ready to exert our sovereignty and our prerogatives over what we consider as our national territory.”
At the very least, Lozada said Beijing and Manila could “agree to disagree” on Panatag.

That may not sound much, but in foreign diplomacy, that could go a long way.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Antonio Gaudi's Architectural Wonders in Barcelona Spain

     Photographs by CBCabalza. Copyright © 2015 by Chester B. Cabalza. All Rights Reserved.

God's greatest gift to the Catalonians was D' great Antonio Gaudi! Barcelona will just remain a typical world city if without all the architectural wonders made by Gaudi. His unfinished and over a century Sagrada Familia obra will have its grand opening in 2026! Upon seeing this masterpiece, it felt so surreal. At La Pedrera or Casa Mila, Spaniards thought his sculptures and architectural designs were alien and unconventional during his time but his art pieces are drawing at least 20 million tourists alone in Barcelona today making this modern art city hip and uber cool! Casa Batllo is considered by critics as the most beautiful edifice in Barcelona and the commissioned beautiful casa made Gaudi the finest and most talented Basque architect of his generation! Lastly, Park Guell was declared by UNESCO as World Heritage Site under the "Works of Antonio Gaudi"!