President Duterte to convene National Security Council to discuss road map for peace, development

By Joann Santiago

President Rodrigo R. Duterte will convene the National Security Council (NSC)on Wednesday to discuss the Road Map for Peace and Development.

The Presidential Communications Office, on a Facebook post Tuesday, said the President will convene the collegial body at about 3:30 p.m. in Malacanang.

“The President will lead the NSC in a multipartisan dialogue in order to agree on vital policies and strategies on important matters, including the recent ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration on the West Philippine Sea,” it said.

The Netherlands-based Permanent Court of Arbitration on June 12 decided in favor of the Philippines on the jurisdiction claims on several West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) islands.

In a press release, it said that it “found that Mischief Reef, Second Thomas Shoal and Reed Bank are submerged at high tide, form part of the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of the Philippines, and are not overlapped by any possible entitlement of China.”

It said China interfered with Philippine petroleum exploration in Reed Bank, purported to prohibit fishing by Philippine vessels within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, protected and failed to prevent Chinese fishermen from fishing within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone at Mischief Reef and Second Thomas Shoal and constructed installations and artificial islands at Mischief Reef without the authorization of the Philippines.

”The Tribunal therefore concluded that China had violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights with respect to its exclusive economic zone and continental shelf,” it said.

Mischief Reef is also called Panganiban Reef in the Philippines, Second Thomas Shoal is known as Ayungin Shoal and Reed Bank as Recto Bank.

The President, in his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) Monday, said the Philippine government “strongly affirm and respect the outcome of the case before the Permanent Court of Arbitration as an important contribution to the ongoing efforts to pursue the peaceful resolution and management of our disputes.”

Other topics to be discussed are the road map for peace and development and the anti-illegal drug drive, the PCO said.

“In the first meeting under the term of the Duterte Administration, the Council shall also be presented with an overview of the Road Map for Peace and Development by the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, as well as with an update on the campaign against illegal drugs by the PDEA Director General,” it said.

President Duterte, in his SONA, announced a unilateral ceasefire with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army –National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) “effective immediately.”

He vowed to “vigorously address the grievances” of the Bangsamoro and all indigenous people and groups “for security, development, fair access to decision-making and acceptance of identities.”

“Enduring peace can only be attained only if we meet these fundamental needs of every man, woman and child,” he said.

“All of us want peace, not the peace of the dead, but the peace of the living,” he stressed.

NSC is chaired by the President and is composed of about 35 leader-members from the executive and legislative branches of government, including past Presidents of the Republic, the current Vice President, Senate President, House Speaker, the majority and minority leaders of both Houses of Congress, the Chairs of Senate and House Committees involved in national security concerns, and various members of the Cabinet. (PNA)

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