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UP Convenes Systemwide Network

The first of a series of roundtable discussions on the concept of Archipelagic Studies and Oceans Policy was held on December 8, 1997 at the Ang Bahay ng Alumni, UP Campus, Diliman, Quezon City. This was convened by then UP Vice-President for Planning and Development, Prof. Fortunato de la Peña to plan for an agenda-setting conference that will involve the University's personnel from all campuses whose expertise is in the area of Archipelagic and Ocean Studies.

Then UP College of Law Dean Merlin M. Magallona presented a concept paper regarding "the need for constructing an integral framework based on the archipelagic nature of the country, and therefore consider the archipelagic reality as a central reference point from which certain projections, academic studies, and critical analysis can be formulated." Dean Magallona noted that "we do not seem to have given due importance or significance to the various problems that are critical based on the country's archipelagic reality."

For instance, the vast expanse of Philippine waters creates problems in coastal zones. But this has never been given integrated treatment in terms of the operation of local government codes and devolution of powers. Dean Magallona suggested that "an archipelagic framework will give us a good orientation to place national and regional problems in a new light, allowing us to develop relevant policy directions for the resolution of problems" such as coastal management and the progressive degradation of the marine environment.

Furthermore, the assessment of resources — living and nonliving, including mineral resources in the country's exclusive economic zone, in the coastal zones, and in the continental shelf — has hardly been accomplished. The onset of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea will open sea lanes into Philippine internal waters. Dean Magallona foresees that such will "create problems in national security and new serious threats in our marine environment." He also said that there is hardly any significant policy on conservation.

Dean Magallona expects the University program to make an assessment of vital problems that can be traced or defined by the archipelagic nature of the country. The social and policy implications of the resolution of these main problems is a way of dramatizing to the nation and the political leadership that the archipelagic nature of the country is hardly reflected in the national consciousness.

The UP units that participated in the December 1997 roundtable discussion were: the Marine Affairs Program of the UP Center for Integrative and Development Studies; the Law of the Sea Program of the Institute of International Legal Studies, UP Law Center; Program on Fisheries and Ocean Sciences of UP Visayas; the Marine Science Institute of the College of Science, UP Diliman; the National Institute of Geological Sciences of the College of Science, UP Diliman; the National Hydraulics Research Center of the College of Engineering, UP Diliman; and the College of Social Sciences and Philosophy (CSSP), UP Diliman.

The succeeding meeting held on January 21, 1998 at the Ang Bahay ng Alumni involved more UP programs like the Environmental Engineering Program of the College of Engineering, UP Diliman; the National Center for Transportation Studies, also of the UPD College of Engineering; the School of Environmental Science and Management of UP Los Baños; and the Department of Geography of CSSP. The Asian Institute of Tourism and the UP Visayas College of Arts and Sciences joined the February 18, 1998 meeting held at the Institute of Small Scale Industries in UP Diliman.