'China's claims in Spratlys groundless' by Jojo Malig, ABS-CBNnews.com Posted at 07/02/2012 11:31 PM | Updated as of 07/02/2012 11:31 PM MANILA, Philippines - China's claims in the South China Sea are groundless, an Australian defense expert said at a recent Washington DC forum organized by a US think-tank. Professor Carlyle Thayer from the Australian Defense Force Academy said at the June 27-28 gathering sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) that China's so-called U-shaped line in the South China Sea is not legal. http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/global-filipino/world/07/02/12/chinas-claims-spratlys-groundless China row reason for Charter change, says Enrile Bigger military spending To prepare, the government should spend more for the modernization of the military, which means it may have to review the priority given to education in the Constitution. Enrile hinted at the need for Congress to make that review. â€œIf you insist on a bigger budget for education and [we are threatened by war], what will you do, limit yourself to what the Constitution says?â€ he said. â€œThatâ€™s stupidity.â€ â€œLet us make a Constitution that is flexible,â€ Enrile said. â€œLeave it to the representatives of the people to decide what are the priorities at any given time.â€ The government has asked China to take their dispute over Scarborough Shoal to the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (Itlos), but China has refused, insisting on its policy of dealing one on one with its territorial rivals in the West Philippine Sea. The two countries have yet to resume talks to resolve their dispute over Scarborough Shoal. Tasked with resuming contact with Beijing is the Philippinesâ€™ new ambassador to China, Sonia Brady. Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario on Sunday said that Brady, 70, had been given orders to â€œcontinue the consultations in pursuit of a peaceful resolutionâ€ of the dispute over Scarborough Shoal. With a report from Jerry E. Esplanada Originally posted: 10:07 pm | Sunday, July 1st, 2012 China row reason for Charter change, says Enrile | Inquirer Global Nation Philippines moves to claim, secure Benham Rise By Kristine L. Alave Philippine Daily Inquirer 4:13 am | Wednesday, July 4th, 2012 After getting the nod of the United Nations on its claim to Benham Rise, the Philippines has moved in on the submerged landmass believed to be rich in natural gas and minerals off eastern Luzon. Benham Rise is found in one of the countryâ€™s â€œunexploitedâ€ fishing grounds, according to Assistant Director Gil Adora of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR). His agency is currently assessing the areaâ€™s marine resources. Adora said commercial fishermen from China and Taiwan had been entering the eastern seaboard of Luzon over the past years. Their ships are more advanced and well-equipped to handle the strong waves there, he said. â€œTaiwan is exploiting it right now,â€ he added. In April, the agency implementing the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) informed the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) that Benham Rise is part of the Philippinesâ€™ continental shelf and territory. The Unclos, concluded in 1982, defines the rights and responsibilities of nations in their use of the worldâ€™s oceans. Rich in blue fin tuna Also known as Benham Plateau, the massive formation of basalt, a common volcanic rock, has been described in studies as a thickened portion of the Philippine sea plateâ€™s oceanic crust. According to the DENR, the plateau is rich in natural gas and manganese nodules. The waters of the 13-million-hectare continental shelf off the coast of Aurora province is rich in blue fin tuna, Adora said. The BFAR official explained that the Pacific blue fin usually found in the colder waters of the northern Pacific has thrived in the seas east of Luzon, which are colder than the other tuna fishing grounds of Filipino fishermen. Philippines moves to claim, secure Benham Rise | Inquirer Global Nation US offered surveillance planes to Philippines by Jojo Malig, ABS-CBNnews.com Posted at 07/04/2012 6:44 PM | Updated as of 07/04/2012 8:08 PM MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) - The United States -- and not the Philippines -- made the initial offer to deploy surveillance aircraft in the disputed waters of the West Philippine Sea. Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin told reporters in January that Manila was considering the US proposal to deploy surveillance aircraft to the Philippines. He explained that the move would strengthen the Philippines' ability to guard its vast territory, including the West Philippine Sea. "There would be stability in the region, that we would have enough deterrent," Gazmin said. "Without a deterrent force, we can be easily pushed around, our territories will be violated. Now that we have a good neighbor on the block, we can no longer be bullied." He said security talks have been ongoing between Manila and Washington over the plan, which includes the deployment of more US ships and aircraft in the region. The talks, however, do not include new US military bases in the Philippines. Adm. Samuel Locklear, the head of the US Pacific Command, specifically proposed the deployment of P-3C Orion surveillance aircraft in August 2011, according to Reuters. This jibes with President Benigno Aquino's statement Monday that his administration is considering the deployment of the said airplanes amid the Philippines' ongoing territorial dispute with China. "We might be requesting overflights on that," Aquino told Reuters, referring to U.S. P=3C Orion spy planes. "We don't have aircraft with those capabilities."