Sunday, September 21, 2008

Losing Spratly on May 13, 2009

House Bill 3216 otherwise known as “An Act Defining the Archipelagic Baselines of the Philippine Archipelago, Amending for the Purpose Republic Act 3046, as Amended by Republic Act 5446” is still pending in the house of congress. Time is of the essence as the United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS) requires every archipelagic nation to establish its archipelagic baseline by May, 2009, is fast approaching.


But the senate is not discussing the details of the baseline law. They are instead on the disagreement who will head the technical working group. Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago which head the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations as Chairman designated Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita as Head of the Senate Technical Working Group on the baseline bill. Detained opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes questioned the legality and impropriety of the participation of Secretary Ermita being an executive officer violating the doctrine of separation of powers with the legislative branch. Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. likewise deplored Senator Santiago’s move.


With the “undue and unusual interest” the administration senator and the executive branch are exhibiting in altering the lower house version of the baseline bill, there is no assurance that the Philippines can catch up with the ten year deadline. And it will be an international shame on our part considering that the Philippines is one of the important contributor in establishing UNCLOS. With barely eight months left before May l3, 2009, deadline we will become again the international laughing stock and will be subjected to mockery being the only State which has the strong basis of ownership of the backyard reefs but unrecognized due to its faltering policy as an archipelagic state.


We have been distracted by economic crisis, the Muslim secessionist movement, and the present political posturing relative to 2010 national election; and the executive branch seems to be not in a hurry passing the baseline bill. What will be the outcome if we fail to come up with the UNCLOS requirements? This is a quintillion dollars question of tomorrow. I hope our government officials will be ready to answer for the consequences of their late actions. And the future generation will be hurling the blame to their forebears’ incompetence, stupidity, and worthlessness.

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