Over alleged Chinese militarization of WPS: Manila in talks with Beijing

The Philippine government announced on Thursday, May 17, 2018 that it assures the public that the government has active mechanisms to discuss with China the issue regarding the latter’s alleged militarization of islands in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. in a Palace press briefing belied critics’ claims that the Duterte administration is keeping mum on China’s reported military installations in the disputed territory.

As a matter of fact, Roque said Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano had just informed him that the Philippine government raised the issue during its recent bilateral consultation mechanism with China.

“Ang huling pagkakaalam ko po, sinabi sa akin mismo ni Secretary Cayetano, hindi lang sila nag-protesta, pero ‘yung bilateral mechanism nila kung saan pinag-uusapan ‘yung problema sa [WPS] ay pinag-usapan daw ‘yung paggagawa nga ng mga armas at ng airport at ng mga eroplano doon mismo sa mga isla na ‘yan,” the Spokesperson stressed.

“Lahat daw po ‘yan ay napag-usapan doon… ‘Yan po ‘yung ating mekanismo,” he further noted.

Roque said the Duterte government is approaching the issue not only by means of a diplomatic protest, but through an “open, frank, candid, and frontal discussion” with China.

“Mas matindi pa nga po. Hindi lang po protesta ‘yun. Talagang pinarating po nila ‘yung ating saloobin na tayo po ay nababahala – frontal – sa mekanismo na binuo natin para sa usaping [WPS],” he said.

First batch of e-jeeps to roll out in June

Meanwhile, Malacañang also announced the rolling out of the first batch of modern electronic jeepneys (e-jeep) under the Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP).

Secretary Roque said the first batch of e-jeepneys would come out in June.

Per the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), the e-jeep units would pass through the following routes within Metro Manila: from Quezon City Hall along Elliptical Road, Diliman to Manila City Hall; Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP)/Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City to the Southwest Intermodal Transport Exchange in Parañaque City; Fort Bonifacio Gate 3 in Taguig City to Guadalupe market in Makati City; and Bagumbayan in Taguig to Pasig City.

BIR, BOC record double-digit growths in April

Also during the press briefing, Secretary Roque welcomed news that the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) both recorded double-digit collection growths of 13 percent and 43 percent in April, respectively.

Citing data from the Department of Finance (DOF), Roque said the BIR collected a total of P209.8 billion last month, which is higher than their P184.9-billion collection during the same period of last year.

Roque added that the BOC also posted an amount of P46.9 billion in April, exceeding the P32.8 billion collected in April of last year.

Government spending, meanwhile, reached P225.8 billion, up from April of last year’s total of P160.5 billion, Roque cited.

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