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Council of nations for disputed waters

/ 05:12 AM July 19, 2018

This is regarding Dr. Edilberto C. de Jesus’ piece, “Return to great power geopolitics” (6/2/18).

As an expatriate for 30 years, I sat as founding member of a public safety committee in one of the northerly territories in North America. From time to time, I had discussions with delegates of the Circumpolar Conference and Arctic Council that deals with iffy issues on what to do with the resources in the Arctic Ocean, which borders the coastlines of Russia, the Scandinavian countries, Iceland, Finland, Greenland, Canada and Alaska, without resorting to war. Emerging military and economic power China, and past imperial powers like Great Britain and Spain, have expressed their desire to be invited on observer status to such collective bodies.

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De Jesus seems to be nervous of China. But, to my mind, China is not the only one that makes Filipinos nervous. The United States, the superpower that did not sign treaties they perceive would curtail their liberty to navigate around the globe, is cruising their battleships around and flying their bombers over contested sandbars and coral reefs inhabited by migrant fish.

The Philippine claim of sovereignty over the West Philippine Sea ought to be granite solid and unchallengeable. What are the basic elements, or the requirements, for establishing territorial sovereignty?

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Did we inherit those sandbars and coral reefs? Or were they ceded to us by a colonial power? Quasi purchase—and if so, from whom? Did we discover them? If we discovered West Philippine Sea, how did we exercise control over the sandbars and coral reefs?

If we view the world from a biblical perspective, no one owns a thing, even an iota of dust. “The earth is the Lord’s and everything therein.” Silver and gold “are mine,” says the Lord. Humankind is the delegated steward, but ownership belongs to Him.

To resolve the pestering issue over “ownership” of WPS, perhaps nations that claim a stake in the controversial body of water should come together and form a council of nations. Member nations must seek active partnership in the economic development of the region, rather than show their fangs and snarl at each other.

It is easy to start a war. But, how easy is it to stop a war?

Bob Gabuna, bob.gabuna@gmail.com

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TAGS: China, South China Sea, territorial dispute, West Philippine Sea
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