Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Disputed Spratly Island

The Spratly Islands consist of 100 - 230 islets, coral reefs and sea mounts Despite the fact that the archipelago is spread over 250,000 sq km of sea space, the total land mass of the Spratly Islands is a mere 5 sq km. The land is not arable, does not support permanent crops, and has no meadows, pastures or forests. Furthermore, the Spratly Islands have not been occupied by humans until recently. Countries with territorial claims use military means --airstrips and armed forces -- to reinforce their claims.

The Spratly Islands are situated in the South China Sea -- one of the largest continental shelves in the world. Typically, continental shelves are abundant in resources such as oil, natural gas, minerals, and seafood. According to James Kiras, a contributing editor of the Peacekeeping & International Relations journal, one study conducted by China estimated oil reserves in the South China Sea to be larger than Kuwait's present reserves.

Oil and natural gas reserves in the Spratly region are estimated at 17.7 billion tons; Kuwait's reserves amount to 13 billion tons.The Spratly reserves place it as the fourth largest reserve bed worldwide.

Country’s claims the Spratly

Claims all the islands in the Spratly region.
1950’s it claims the Paracel Island which is north of Spratley.
1974 seized Paracel Island from Vietnam.
1988 China used military to overthrow the Vietnamese Military after removing China’s flag from the aforementioned island.

China's historical claim is dubious and neglects similar historical claims by Taiwan, Vietnam and Malaysia. Moreover, China's historical interpretation of its sovereignty rights ignores current international law.

Claims approximately 60 of islands in the Spratly region. Conducted a joint Oil exploration with Royal Dutch/Shell Group and Alcorn International near the Palawan Island will raise the Philippines annual oil production from the 3,000 b/d produced in 1991 from 7 wells in the South China Sea.

Claims part of islands in the Spratly region. Vietnam's only oil well in production as of 1991 is the White Tiger field, 400 km west of the Crestone block. In 1992, however, Vietnam hastened leasing to foreign exploration.

Claims all islands in the Spratly region. The Spratly Islands are strategically important to Taiwan for two reasons: (1) important shipping lanes pass through waters surrounding the Spratly Islands; and, (2) the South China Sea, in general, is fish abundant. Thus, Taiwan feels compelled to protect its interests.

Is the earliest oil operator in the sea and claims 3 islands and 4 rock groups in the Spratly region. As of 1992, Malaysia was running 90 oil- producing wells, with $210 million planned for further development between 1992 and 1995.

Claims the Louisa Reef in the Spratly region, located adjacent to its coastline. Brunei became an active player in the Spratly disputes only within recent years. Production of its 9 oil fields in the South China Sea hovers around 143,000 b/d.

Economic exploration endeavors appear to ignite the tenuous stability in the Spratly region. The conflict is further exacerbated by foreign firms willing to undertake riskier oil development projects in Asia. The foreign oil firms are looking to profit from the current energy boom in Asia as well as to find replacement reserves for those in the United States and the North Sea where production approaches their peak.

Aside from granting foreign firms exploration rights in disputed waters and conducting military exercises in the Spratly area, China has also committed itself to the build-up of its navy and air force. The Financial Times reported in August of 1996 that China planned to purchase advanced navy radar from the British. This radar would improve warning signals to China of 'impending' attacks as well as facilitate naval task group deployment in the South China Sea. The islands are particularly strategic to China.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Philippine Educational System: On Crisis?

Photo Courtesy of:  Josh Weinstein

Being a Filipino, have you ever been so overwhelmed by problems that you felt as though you were drowning in a whirlpool? Just imagine how much suffering it could result if you made a mistake in coping with one or more of those problems! No one is born with the ability to solve all problems successfully, making good decisions every time. This is where education comes in. Where can you get education to prepare yourself to cope with life’s problems?

Many of us, both young and old, extol the importance of an academic education. Some experts believe and even say that “you will never be able to find a [decent] job without a college degree.”

On the other hand, the human capital theory states that the economic development of a nation is a function of the quality of its education. This could mean that the more and the better educated the citizen of the nation becomes, the greater the chances of economic development.

To label Philippines as “third world country” by experts, for me is no more acceptable at all. How come there is “third world” when there is no “second world”? I prefer categorizing states and nations into two: the developed and the underdeveloped. The developed of which country such as the United States, Great Britain and the like belongs for they are the countries that are more advance in terms of technology, educational system, stable political systems, high economic performance. I place the country such as the Philippines, and other Asian countries that have low performance in those indicators mentioned in the second category which is underdeveloped or more accurately “the developing nations”. 

Former President Arroyo said that we are on “take off” means our economy is like a plane who descend from the ground…going up…but, how long it would take us to get at the right level of heights before the pilot (President) would say, “you can now remove the seatbelt”? That would mean we are on the zenith where we can breathe naturally and confidently? But, the big question is are we really on take-off? Or, we are slowly on our land fall?

Education as I believe, propel development for without it the citizens remains ignorant, barred to explore new things, but how bad is the educational system in the Philippines being in a developing nation category? I always watched news on TV stating the lack of classrooms, chairs, potable water in public schools and I had experienced it myself. When I was in elementary, our classroom has no comfort room. There was no comfort room at all within the school vicinity, so when you have nature calling all you have to do is to go outside and hide in the bushes. Having no classroom is another problem of which I experienced when I was in secondary school. In our school three shifts of classes share the same room. Another group uses it in the morning, another group uses it in the afternoon and we use it in the evening. 

These problems hasn’t yet solved at this very moment. Yet, the Commission on Higher Education is planning to add another level in the Tertiary level in the Philippine Educational System. Former problems still recurs and yet, they believe by adding the fifth level would solve the problem. I don’t think this is the right solution to the problem. 

I would like to note that by adding the fifth level would only lead to the following situations.

First, additional classroom will be need of which we are already in shortage.

Second, additional teacher will be needed and again we are already in shortage.

Third, this could cost families a fortune; well fewer families can afford college education much more if one level will be added?

Fourth, where can the government milk its budget, when our government is already submerged with debts?

Fifth, is the quality of education assured or guaranteed?

It is very fine with me if the Philippines are just trying to meet the International Standard. There is no wrong with that because that would mean and edge or advantage but first let us solve those problems first that keeps on recurring because the government cannot create an enduring solution. Let’s not solve a problem by creating more and another problem.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Controversy of Reproductive Health RH Bill: A Point of View

“The standpoint of an individual depends on where that individual sits”

As of this moment I believe that a number of citizens in our country knew that there is a Bill being pushed in the House of Representatives, the Reproductive Health or RH Bill. A number of Bills are also pushed by several lawmakers with almost the same substance and the same purpose.

To label the RH bill controversial is both an accurate assessment and an erroneous attribution.

Granting without permitting that it is controversial; I would say that it is a correct observation since when we say it’s controversial it could possibly divide the opinion and support of the majority of the citizens in our country; therefore it become problematic. It becomes a hot topic in debates in schools, our law makers and even among jobless mother in the neighborhood. On the other hand, it is an erroneous attribution because a controversy implies something scandalous, though I don’t think RH Bill is a scandalous or offensive in any aspect of it. I even believe that the Bill is rational and a family oriented Bill. A Bill that promotes responsible parenthood, who am I to support against it?

By observation every individual are either strongly supportive of the bill or strongly against the Bill. Few people are lukewarm about this issue, and it is sad that these are the ones whom are less informed about the issue. The two competing groups can be referred as the advocates or the (Pro) and the detractors (Anti).

I was planning to make it a thesis topic; therefore I had the opportunity of reading it thoroughly and I found out that there is nothing extreme or radical about it. For me the Bill is just a solution of the rapidly growing population and high unwanted pregnancies among our young adolescents and even married couples in our country. For some, especially the detractors this could lead into the legalization of abortion but there is no such provision in the Bill.

I’ve read a lot conversation over social network pages that some religious leaders became personal in handling the issues. As I have remembered one priest in Baguio discourage their fellow believers to attend ceremonial masses in their church if they simply support RH Bill. How sane he is in doing such action! For me the act is shameful for the Bill isn’t about religion.

I believe that it is beyond the concern of the priest to dictate what every citizen think and believe is right for themselves. His concern maybe should only be limited to telling the people what he believe is right or to persuade them, not to prohibit them to attend masses since his belief may not resemble that of God. By the way does he own the church to act as such? And what is the knowledge of these priests about responsible parenthood when they themselves are not parent at all? Well, except those priests who pretend holy but possesses children as a fruit from their unmanaged sexual urges (well they are humans sinful as they are).

If these priests are of that responsible as what they think they are, but why they can’t feed hungry and handicapped people hanging around their church (the beggars), sleeping on very cold cemented sidewalk of their churches, and yet they still want more children and let the population grow?

The RH Bill assures an environment where women and couples have the freedom of informed choice on the mode of family planning they want to adopt based on their needs, personal convictions and religious beliefs.

There are 11 Elements of RH Bill and family planning is only one element the other elements perceived to be of equal importance includes:

(1)   maternal, infant and child health and nutrition;
(2) promotion of breast feeding;
(3) prevention of abortion and management of post-abortion complications;
(4) adolescent and youth health;
(5) prevention and management of reproductive tract infections, HIV/AIDS and STDs;
(6) elimination of violence against women;
(7) counseling on sexuality and reproductive health;
(8) treatment of breast and reproductive tract cancers;
(9) male involvement and participation in RH;
(10) prevention and treatment of infertility; and
(11) RH education for the youth.

In this very reasons, that I urged every citizen to act now. Don’t let someone else decide for you because it is you that is responsible for yourself. Let your voice be heard!!!

Participate in the poll below in this page…J

On my next blog: The Ills of The Educational System in the Philippines…watch out for it!