Thursday, December 13, 2012

‘Blind eye’

Seriously, if I have 4.8 million pesos in my bank account, I am going to spend my semestral break in Boracay. I will buy a house and lot near the beach or perhaps a second-hand Ferrari car. Four point eight million pesos with nine zeros. That is a lot of money. But that is not too big for a state university which has a population bigger than 15,000.
The university has traded a thousand dreams for a blue, lifeless mechanical luxury. This was the belief of most students and parents after the only state university in the province has decided to officially close its maritime course offerings not so late in September this year. The news itself was devastating. But not really devastating at all since the university has purchased a 4.6-million bus before the closure was announced.

Why was the new NORSU bus a big issue for the parents whose sons can no longer continue their maritime education here in the university? CHED declared its closure because the school failed to comply with their requirements. I mean equipment and qualified teachers. The parents believed that the school was not responsible enough for the welfare of its students. It was their initial reaction for the issue. Who can blame them anyway? They worked hard, to send their sons to college only to find out later on that the university who promised to fulfill their dreams had no choice but to fail them, to sink their boat, to break the hearts of a thousand CME students.

Transferring to another school sounds easy, sounds good. But for a parent whose job is only to sell goods at the canteen, to drive a pedicab, and to do whatever they can to have an income, that is just financially hard. No nearby state university can offer a maritime education as cheap as NORSU.

The former university president said that NORSU is business, that spending the funds wisely will ensure a good future for a starting business. With this, he is able to turn a rusty vocational school into a university. I believed in him. Why invest millions if you cannot get something in return, right?

Then I came to realize. Did he mean that the new NORSU bus is a good investment? Did he mean that the new buildings inside the university are good investments? For display, yes. But for the students who lost their chance to attain a college education because the school failed to meet the requirements of the government, the future has again become too distant. Something is wrong with us, with our system. Let us not compromise the welfare of the students next time.

Is it possible that instead of the bus, the school should have spent the 4.6 million for academic purposes? Invite qualified teachers to teach in CME and other academic programs who lack qualified instructors. If they refuse to teach because of the modest salary, let us give them free lodging, food, and transportation every time they come here. This investment is not as bad as the multi-million worth of stagnant vehicle in display which will later on rust, and if the driver is not too careful enough or if fate permits, will scatter into pieces below the cliffs of Sipalay, Negros Occidental.

The United States made a statement that Philippine seafarers are on the “white list.” This means that we are doing well abroad. We Filipinos comprise the largest population of seafarers in the world.

Shall this be the time that the NORSU administration focus more on academic programs that are in demand in numerous industries and stop giving a ‘blind eye’ to our needs?

You should know that I am a student majoring in Geology, a very demanding job in the mining industry today. But not even once I was able to hold the arm or to peek at the eyepiece of a polarizing microscope here in the university. I was able to experience one during my on-the-job-training but I can hardly recall how to use it because I did not grow up with such kind of equipment here. And oh, it is just worth more or less 200,000. Two hundred plus geology students would be happy to have that.

The E-martial law

As soon as possible, I suggest that you download as many torrent files/free downloads as you can while supplies last because once the new cybercrime law reaches the peak of its demands to the netizens (citizens of the internet) of the Republic of the Philippines, it is going to be too late and you will run out of internet freedom. Unfortunately, latest movies, songs in the hit chart, games, and reference files will no longer be available for downloads in the internet. Even though this idea is just an initial assumption of some concerned citizens, this is likely to be true because the said cyber law is derived from an international law which prohibits websites from hosting movies, songs, software, and electronic files with legal patents or copyrights.

Perhaps the law itself is reasonable after all. It can be noted that the film and music industry have lost millions of dollars because of piracy. A few days after an original track, software, game or movie has been released, a pirated version is already available and is ready for download. With this, the entertainment industry has been very adamant in eradicating piracy, this time, by means of cyber law. No more file-sharing and torrent downloads.

I understand the entertainment business sector, why they want this law to be implemented so badly. But one of the lawmakers in the congress made a rather ridiculous explanation on why cybercrime law is necessary. He cited a good example—social networking sites. I mean Twitter, Facebook, Plurk, Blogger and others. According to him, these social sites can be a medium of libelous intention towards others [libelous came from the root word ‘libel’ which means to state a false statement towards others; to make people think bad about them]. The actor-turned-senator said that a Filipino who posts a libelous “shoutout” on his wall is a crime. Worse, people who are going to like his post are criminals too.

Are you getting my point? The Department of Justice and the Philippine government, after this law is imposed, can easily ban Facebook and other social networking sites in just a snap of a finger. That is how bad this cybercrime law could be. That is how ‘kill joy’ our politicians could be. Is this possible? Yes. It can be noted that a country in the Middle East banned all websites that are affiliated to Google, after Youtube, a Google-owned video hosting and streaming site, hosted and streamed an anti-Islamic video about Muhammad.

But is it really our fault? Why give us the blame when in fact we are just receiving these files second hand? Does buying or downloading a pirated copy of ‘Ice Age: The Continental Drift’ makes an ordinary citizen a criminal? I don’t think so. Just because they cannot put the culprits of the cyberworld behind bars means they are allowed to cut our freedom of the internet. Instead of limiting internet freedom, why not trace the hackers/crackers/pirates and hand them over to the authorities? The Philippine government can do that… or perhaps they cannot. Government websites and servers are repetitiously hacked by a group of local hackers early this September who are against the cybercrime bill. Our government talks about cyber crimes big time yet their computer system can be easily entered and compromised by a group of Filipino hackers so easily like they are just logging into their Facebook accounts.

The bottom line is that I am against it. You should, too.

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