(philstar.com) |
 
Ex-Navy SEAL Joel Lambert poses with his trackers, tough scout rangers of the Philippine Army.
MANILA, Philippines - Gather your buddies and grab a six-pack and watch an ex-Navy SEAL take on the world's elite military and law enforcement trackers on a dangerous game of hide-and-seek.
 
 
Joel Lambert, a former member of the US Navy and an expert in escape and evasion, takes on six elite military units from six different countries in Discovery Channel's new non-fiction program, Manhunt, which will air every Monday at 8 p.m. starting April 7.
 
Lambert said that he was lured out of retirement from the military to do the series because "it was so excessively challenging."
 
"...because of the extreme disadvantage I have in this scenario, it was something that was not going to be easy," he said.
 
The new series' last episode was shot in the Philippines, where Lambert was hunted down by members of the Philippine Army's elite trackers, the Scout Rangers, headed by Lt. Jerson Jurilla.
 
The episode started with Lambert attempting to create a diversion by popping a smoke grenade and zip-lining from a tower on Mt. Sta. Rita in Subic, Zambales.
 
The hunt officially starts when the team of Lt. Jurilla finds an 11-inch boot track left by Lambert as he starts his exhaustive journey into the thick forest of Mt. Sta. Rita.
 
The game plan was for Lambert to cut through the dense forest, evade the Scout Rangers and reach the extraction point in 48 hours.
 
During the manhunt, Lambert is also given an extra baggage of carrying a team of Discover Channel producers who are tasked to document the hunt.
 
'Scout Rangers the best'
 
After several hours of pushing himself to the limit, and Lambert just a few kilometers away from the extraction point, the Philippine Scout Rangers caught the ex-Navy SEAL.
 
Speaking to the media after the episode's screening, Lambert declared that among the other tracking units he faced during the first season, "the Scout Rangers were the best."
 
He said that the episode in the Philippines proved to be the most difficult.
 
"As far as doing the series, the most difficult episode by far was here in the Philippines. The Scout Rangers were one of the most competent and difficult opponents I faced, and the jungle around Subic was the worst I have ever been. It completely was not I anticipated. My plan didn't work... It was really, really miserable," Lambert said.
 
He said that in other episodes -- shot in South Africa, Poland, Panama, Arizona and South Korea -- he was able to escape the tracking units. He, however, would not divulge which units he was able to evade.
 
As a proof of Lambert's frustration during the Philippine manhunt, he would throw out, for several times, cuss words. There was a time when Lambert was only planning to sleep for only two hours, but he overslept for four hours because of extreme exhaustion.
 
He admitted during the talk with media that he cussed more in the Philippines compared to the episodes in other countries.
 
Lt. Jurilla, also speaking to the media, said that they were able to catch Lambert despite his expertise in escape and evasion and their limited resources, because his team knew the Subic jungle like "our own backyard."
 
Lambert, meanwhile, said that he would be willing to take on Lt. Jurilla's team again if given chance and he was confident that he would be able to escape the next time.
 
By Jennifer Rendon and Rudy Santos (The Philippine Star) |
 
MANILA, Philippines - Nearly 200 angry Chinese tourists reportedly held hostage two pilots on a Cebu Pacific plane early Saturday morning at the Kalibo International Airport (KIA).
 

 
This came after the pilots decided to abort their flight to Shanghai due to bad weather in the Chinese city.
 
The plane left Kalibo, Aklan Friday night and arrived back at the airport before midnight.
 
According to reports of RGMA-Kalibo, 179 passengers of Flight 5J074 allegedly ganged up on Capt. Johnny Tinto and co-pilot Richard Avila and prevented them from going out of the plane.
 
 
Tinto and Avila allegedly suffered hematoma and bruises because of the incident.
 
But the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) and Cebu Pacific denied any hostage-taking or violent incident.
 
RGMA-Kalibo reported that Avila managed to sneak away from the angry tourists while Tinto was released only at 3 a.m.
 
The Chinese passengers allegedly prevented security guards, CAAP personnel and airport police from getting near them.
 
Cebu Pacific Air personnel also reportedly failed to pacify them.
 
RGMA-Kalibo said airport police and CAAP personnel later called the Kalibo police station for assistance but the matter had been settled by the time the police arrived.
 
A Chinese interpreter was reportedly called and the angry passengers agreed to release Tinto after they were promised hotel accommodation until their scheduled flight yesterday.
 
No violence, hostage-taking
 
The officer-in-charge of the CAAP in Kalibo, Cynthia Aspera, said the Shanghai-bound flight departed the KIA as scheduled at 4:45 p.m. Friday but was diverted to Manila at 7:48 p.m. due to poor visibility in China.
 
As part of the standard operating procedure where cancelled flights should return to the point of origin, Aspera said the Cebu Pacific aircraft departed Manila at 11:12 p.m. and arrived at the KIA at 11:59 p.m.
 
Aspera said passengers of the aircraft stayed at the international airport until 3 a.m.
 
However, she reported that passengers of the aircraft surrounded and blocked the path of the two pilots, who were reportedly from another flight, and prevented them from entering the terminal building, demanding free hotel accommodation.
 
In her report, Aspera said a Chinese identified as Xue Weilang with passport No. E32262606 was brought to the PNP/AvseGroup office for questioning for being arrogant and disrespectful to the pilot.
 
However, she added that the parties reached an agreement and the pilots of Cebu Pacific did not file any formal complaint.
 
Lawyer Jorenz Tañada, vice president for corporate affairs of Cebu Pacific, said the airline is also looking into the matter.
 
“All I can say is that the pilots are safe and accounted for,” Tañada said.
 
The airline said yesterday afternoon that passengers of the flight would be re-accommodated on chartered CEB Flight 5J074 Kalibo-Shanghai last night.
 
In its Twitter account @CebuPacificAir, the budget airline denied that the pilots of the Shanghai-bound aircraft were mauled.
 
“This is to clarify that the pilots of Cebu Pacific charter Flight 5J074 Kalibo-Shanghai were not mauled by Chinese passengers,” the airline said.
 
Belatedly informed
 
Meanwhile, Aklan Gov. Florencio Miraflores expressed disappointment over the incident.
 
“Whether it has been resolved or not, those concerned should have informed us about any incident that could affect the tourism of the province,” Miraflores told The STAR.
 
As of yesterday afternoon, he said he has yet to receive a copy of the incident report from the manager of Cebu Pacific in Kalibo.
 
“I don’t know yet the specifics about what happened because I only have a sketchy report from the CAAP,” he said.– With Lawrence Agcaoili0
 
By Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) |
 
 
MANILA, Philippines - As its sailors began water cannon drills around Ayungin Shoal, China declared yesterday its rejection of Manila’s turning to international arbitration on the West Philippine Sea dispute.
 

 
“China has stated time and again that it does not accept the Philippines’ submission of disputes with China in the South China Sea for international arbitration. This position stays unchanged,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said.
 
This developed as Chinese surveillance ships were reportedly conducting water cannon drills around Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal in the West Philippine Sea, apparently in preparation for another encounter with Filipino fishermen or troops delivering supplies and provisions to a small garrison stationed on the grounded Navy ship BRP Sierra Madre.
 
 
“We have been observing them doing the (water cannon) exercises since last week,” a Marine stationed on the Sierra Madre said.
 
The Philippines submitted on Sunday a memorial or written argument to the UN arbitral tribunal in The Hague to buttress its case against China’s claim over almost the entire South China Sea.
 
Hong said China’s position on issues concerning the South China Sea is clear-cut and consistent, and that it is ready to settle any dispute with its neighbors only through bilateral talks.
 
“China has all along adhered to settling disputes through direct negotiations with countries concerned,” Hong said.
 
He said Beijing’s position is clearly stated in the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) jointly signed by China and Southeast Asian countries, including the Philippines. He said such an arrangement has been agreed upon between Beijing and Manila based on some bilateral documents.
 
“No matter how the Philippine memorial is packaged, the direct cause of the dispute between China and the Philippines is the latter’s illegal occupation of some of China’s islands and reefs in the South China Sea,” Hong said.
 
“At the heart of the matter are the disputes between the two sides on the sovereignty over islands and reefs, and delimitation of maritime boundaries. Yet disputes such as these have already been excluded from arbitration procedures through a declaration made by China in 2006 pursuant to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea  (UNCLOS),” he pointed out.
 
China’s rejection of the Philippines’ resorting to international arbitration, Hong said, is solidly based on international law.
 
“China urges the Philippines to comprehensively and effectively implement the consensus repeatedly reaffirmed between the two sides and the DOC, and return to the right track of settling the disputes through bilateral negotiations,” he said.
 
The Philippines submitted electronically its 4,000-page memorial to the registrar of The Hague-based United Nations arbitral tribunal on Sunday.
 
Copies were also sent to each arbitrator – the Chinese ambassador in the Netherlands and the Chinese chargé d’affaires in Manila.
 
Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said the memorial, consisting of 10 volumes, presents in detail the Philippines’ position on its dispute with China over some potentially oil and mineral rich shoals, reefs, and islets in the West Philippine Sea.
 
Earlier, Chinese vessels drove away Filipino fishermen with water cannon from Ayungin Shoal. Chinese maritime vessels also prevented two Filipino ships from delivering supplies to the Marine garrison on Ayungin.
 
The United States said it was troubled by China’s action, prompting Beijing to remind Washington of its reported commitment not to take sides on the issue.
 
Chinese Foreign ministry spokesperson Qin Gang said the “comments made by the US in disregard of facts are inconsistent with its non-party capacity.”
 
US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki and Charge d’Affaires Brian Goldbeck of the US embassy in Manila called China’s action on Ayungin Shoal “a provocative move that raises tensions.” 
 
 
 
No provocation
 
 
 
At Malacañang, President Aquino maintained that going to the arbitral tribunal is not an act of provocation but a peaceful way to defend the country’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.
 
He also said the Chinese coast guard’s attempt to stop a Filipino civilian ship from delivering supplies to the Filipino garrison on Ayungin was deplorable.
 
“We are not here to challenge China, to provoke them into any action, but I do believe that they should recognize we have the right to defend our own interests,” Aquino said.
 
Asked how the Ayungin Shoal incidents would affect the country’s relations with China or Manila’s case with the arbitral tribunal, Aquino cited Article 2, Section 7 of the Constitution which states that the government “shall pursue an independent foreign policy and in its relations with other states, the paramount consideration shall be national sovereignty, territorial integrity, national interest, and the right to self-determination.”
 
“So what are our options with regard to the whole issue of the West Philippine Sea and the South China Sea? I subscribed to this oath when I assumed office. I have to defend national territory and our sovereignty,” Aquino said after the graduation rites at the Philippine National Police Academy.
 
“There is also a requirement (to adhere to) peaceful and rules-based (approach). We went through arbitration primarily because that is a means to resolve the dispute consistent with the policy of (employing) peaceful means, and in conformity with the international law,” the President said.
 
 
 
Water cannon drills
 
 
 
Western Command (Wescom) chief Lt. Gen. Roy Deveraturda, meanwhile, confirmed the water cannon drills by Chinese coast guard vessels.
 
He said they have been monitoring the activity following the water cannon attack on Filipino fishermen on Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal in Zambales on Jan. 27.
 
The last water cannon drill was held on March 27 – the same day the military dispatched a civilian ship, the BFAR AM-700, to replenish the food supplies of soldiers guarding Ayungin Shoal.
 
The ship also carried Marines to replace troops stationed on the shoal for more than five months.
 
Military officials said two of four Chinese surveillance ships in the “hosing” operations on Panatag Shoal were involved in last Saturday’s incident in which a Filipino ship delivering supplies to Sierra Madre was able to outmaneuver the Chinese vessels.
 
In the incident, one of the Chinese vessels even threatened to ram the Philippine ship and cross its bow while blowing its horn.
 
The Chinese displayed an LED sign, ordering the Philippine vessel to leave. But the Filipino soldiers stood their ground and managed to reach BRP Sierra Madre.
 
“Whatever happens we will not abandon our post. We will not leave our station. The place is ours and we will guard and protect it as ordered by our superiors,” Lt. Mike Pelotera, outgoing Ayungin detachment commander, said.
 
The nine-man Marine contingent guarding Ayungin Shoal arrived in Barangay Macarascas in Puerto Princesa yesterday after more than 29 hours of sea travel. They were picked up from Sabina Shoal by BRP Apolinario Mabini.
 
Long-haired and sunburned, the soldiers, led by Pelotera, received Bronze Cross medals from Deveraturda and Naval Forces Western Command chief Commodore Manuel Natalio Abinuman. The Bronze Cross is awarded to soldiers who risk their lives in the line of duty.
 
Meanwhile, Vice President Jejomar Binay said yesterday that replenishing supplies for the soldiers guarding the Philippine territory is the government’s “responsibility and right.”
 
Binay made the statement as he reiterated his appeal to China to stop doing actions that will raise tension between the Philippine and Chinese governments.
 
“Despite our dispute with China, I am still confident that we can transcend this problem and remain friends within a global community based on the rule of law and mutual respect,” he said.
 
Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, for his part, said that the country can only pray that its efforts to settle its territorial dispute with China through arbitration would work, since the Asian giant has refused to recognize the process time and again.  – With Aurea Calica, Jaime Laude, Jose  Rodel Clapano, Michelle Zoleta, Marvin Sy
 
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