BENEATH & BEYOND | Philippines, rise!

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BY SONIA D. DAQUILA
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Monday, March 20, 2017
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WHERE ARE we going to?

Soon China will build a permanent structure, said to be an environmental monitoring station, at the Scarborough or Panatag Shoal in areas which ownership have been contested and declared by the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal as ours. This shoal is situated atop huge amount of oil deposits and gas, apart from being an important world waterway essential in international economic and trade activities.

Now, we have the Benham Rise in focus, declared ours by the United Nations in 2012. Benham Rise has cleaner oil deposits, large amounts of methane in solid form and valuable minerals that shall enable the Philippines to produce steel. How powerful we can be!

Benham Rise, as I mentioned in my article last Saturday, is another enormous wealth endowed to us by nature. Note that the existence of Benham Rise was discovered by a geologist, surveyor Andrew Benham in 1933; however, 75 years had to pass before the Philippines manifested its claim to the UN Commission in 2008 by (former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court) Hilario Davide, appointed Philippine Ambassador to the United Nations at that time.

In 2009, a formal claim was filed before the United Nations Commission on the Limits of Continental Shelf (UNCLOS), and in 2012, five years ago, it approved the Philippine claim to Benham Rise, increasing the Philippine areas from 40 million to 53 million hectares. It can be larger than Luzon, Leyte and Samar combined. Can you imagine how extensive the additional 13 million hectares of Benham Rise, ours, by virtue of its proximity to the Philippine Islands, by being part of our continental shelf and by being legally falling within our Exclusive Economic Zone? No other country claimed ownership of Benham Rise as it is being attached to our territory.

Ignoring the UN Arbitral Tribunal in its declaration that Scarborough (Panatag Shoal) belongs to us, what do you expect of “permitted” Chinese survey or “research” on these 13 million hectares of Philippine continental shelf? Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said “the President can enter into executive agreements; WHATEVER he agrees to binds the Philippines” (underscoring mine).”

Our leaders are so busy, very busy: for the impeachment of the President, for the impeachment of the Vice President, increasing the number of killings everyday, the possible first death penalty ever imposed on a senator if Leila de Lima is convicted of crime on drug-related cases, and it is not a joke once the European Parliament carry out its threat of removing zero tariffs on trade if the Duterte’s administration fails to address extrajudicial killing. Dangerously, if other economic zones follow. Will not our economy go crazy?

Establishing closer relationship with the Duterte administration, former president Erap wants to bolster claim on destabilization plots, as a “victim” of “destabilization” himself. People are not blind of his inept regime then and its culture of corruption and immorality.

Good natured and peace-loving, there are so many ways of making the Filipinos believe the incredible. Who wants to be the cockpit of the United States and China anyway? While our leaders are so busy, preoccupied by plotting, manipulating, parrying accusations, accusing the accusers in turn, China silently but surely, inches its way, ignoring the United Nations Arbitral decision (of which it is part of its permanent members, the Big Five: United Kingdom, United States, France, Russia and China) that the Panatag Shoal is ours. Thanks for giving Filipino fishermen the permission to fish in their own sea.

During the Marcos dictatorial regime, a foreign observer said, “There are millions of stupid Filipinos and one son of…”  Indeed, it is correct to say, “Everyone is entitled to his stupidity.” But please, not the kind of stupidity to betray us and the next generations.

Is the Legislative Branch of our government degenerating to impotency? Lest we forget, these “honorables” are paid by us, out of our hard-earned money. Check the Philippine Constitution on the system of checks and balances. Check if the President has that absolute power to bind the Philippines as he wishes. How many good and brilliant men and women do the Philippines have?

 

Rise Philippines, rise! God has so loved us to give us enormous gifts of natural and human resources. Free ourselves from gullibility and apathy. Rise above our own stupidity! ([email protected]/PN)

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