Monday, April 22, 2019

It’s the Food Security, Stupid!

Photo from PDI
By Chester B Cabalza

Blogger's Notes:
Commentary of an Academic 
(Copyright @ 2019 by Chester B Cabalza. All Rights Reserved).

Paris – the aristocratic tweet of Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. as an insensitive clam defender and obviously being a brute gen on food security whose foul mouth (f****** food) aberrantly echoes French guillotined queen Marie Antoinette when she ostentatiously (allegedly saying that became herstory trademark) to the masses, ‘qu'ils mangent de la brioche,’ or ‘let them eat cake, (but actually a brioche) in pompous Versailles palace.

Luckily Locsin may not suffer the 189-year tradition of guillotine, the harshest punishment for a Parisian in that tumultuous period. However, the secretary’s poor foreign policy understanding writhes from bashers in social media with a slamming high note from Asia’s songbird Regine Velasquez.     

And who says that no one goes to war for food…at least for clams? Teddy Boy Locsin ends his micro note twitting, ‘but they just happen to be OUR food’.

The changeur de jeu French Revolution kindled the aphorisms of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity which bore from the food insecurity, a watershed event in modern European history, as French proletariat razed and redesigned their sovereign nation’s political landscape against selfish elites. While these political elites whose ill remarks (translated today as tweets in social media) were doomed to protect common peoples’ national interests and commonwealth. The upheaval rooted from widespread discontent and poor economic policies of the French monarchs, and the same situation, we see today from our own Filipino leaders.  

It’s not just about the harvested giant clams!

The continuous plunder of our natural resources in the West Philippine Sea, estimated by Filipino national scientist and UP professor emeritus for marine science Edgardo Gomez, reveals that since 2015 reefs buried by China in sand and rocks as it created artificial islands have expanded to nearly 1,200 hectares and more, raising to $500 million and more the annual losses in marine resources to the Philippines, China and other nations claiming territories in the Spratlys. The estimate of losses is based on natural capital ecosystem service valued at $352,000 per hectare per year.   

What is even alarming among Chinese marine scientists and strategists when they presented China’s status of reef-building corals in inshore Mainland China during the 2016 Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific (CSCAP) in the First Meeting of the CSCAP Study Group on Marine Environment Protection held at Marco Polo Ortigas, they revealed that there is an asymmetry of scholarship and lack of research publications caused by human-induced activities from island-building to giant clam harvests to the environment. It only means that China does not have strong environmental laws unlike the Philippines in which enforcement of such laws in the West Philippine Sea remains our weakest. Recently concerned Filipino citizens are praying for the legal use of the writ of kalikasan. 

Considering the strategic location of the West Philippine Sea in the coral triangle covering as well the entire South China Sea, scientists and conservationists worldwide baptized it as a meta-center of the earth’s marine biodiversity using the main criteria as to its high species biodiversity, habitat diversity, and oceanographic currents.

Dr. Edgardo Gomez deems that a coral triangle consists of 76 percent of the world’s coral species having endowed with 605 out of 798 coral species; 15 of which are regionally endemic species and shares 41 regional endemic species. It has 37 percent of the world’s reef fish species or 2,228 out of 6,000 of its kind are found in the area.

The coral triangle also houses 51 of the world’s 70 mangrove species; six of the world’s seven marine turtle species; seven of the world’s 12 giant clam species; 23 of the world’s 50 seagrass species; and various cetaceans including whales, dolphins, porpoises that are frequently observed in the region including our native dugong (not Digong).

Beginning with the Scarborough Shoal standoff between China and the Philippines on April 2012 and the March 2014 when Chinese boats heavily harvested giant clams and corals in Bajo de Masinloc - nothing has changed until now. Chinese fisherfolks are even allowed to befriend Filipino fishermen to gather information from them accrued in their espionage game plans. We won an arbitral case in the Peace Palace at The Hague in July 2016 but our government’s enforcement of it remains elusive, flip flopping until China becomes the supreme owner above and beneath the South China Sea.

And war is not even the immediate solution! The current superpower and other regional powers won’t and can’t do it this time! But the figment of imagination of armed conflict may be plausible. The Chinese art of war is arguably and solidly taking a good place at the moment but its integrity falters.  

Certainly, food played an even larger role in the French Revolution. If the French love their bread and salt, Filipinos put premium to rice and fish, representing our agricultural and maritime tenacity to survival. Losing one of the staple foods on our table is a mortal sin that any Filipino leader deprives of from his own people and that is called treachery. We abhor traitorous leaders and we have seen them a lot from our history!

This is not just a f****** food but it’s about our food security that goes beyond protecting our territorial integrity and national sovereignty!  

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