By BENJIE OLIVEROS
There is so much government and media hype over the country’s disputes with China. First it was about the territorial dispute over the Spratly Islands. Now it is about the standoff at Scarborough shoal. It seems as if somebody is trying to stoke the tensions or create a crisis.
At the center of it all is Pres. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III who swings from declaring that he is all for a diplomatic resolution to the Spratly islands dispute to begging for assurances of support and weapons from the US; from sending a coast guard cutter to the Scarborough shoal purportedly to “defuse the tension” to declaring that his government is not inclined to go to war with China. But now the US-RP joint military exercises are being held near the disputed waters.
What is the point in all this?
Is it about asserting the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity? Perhaps, but why is the Aquino government trying to assert it by surrendering the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity to the US by begging it for support and weapons, and by “inviting” it to station more troops in the country?
Is it about asserting the country’s right and freedom to exploit the natural resources, most especially oil reserves, in the Spratly islands only to surrender it to giant oil companies in the future? Look at what happened to the Malampaya Deepwater Gas-to-Power Project.
That is the problem with the world dominated by the US and other imperial powers, with its coterie of minion governments. The only freedom it recognizes is the freedom of capital and the only right it respects is the right of private, corporate property.
For them, democracy is limited to the act – not the essence – of voting and all civil liberties could be restricted at the first sign of protest against the plundering ways of capital. For them, freedom is about providing venues and opportunities for capital to expand at the expense of majority of the peoples of the world, who live in abject poverty and immiseration. And anyone who opposes this is labeled a terrorist, stripped of all his or her rights, including the most basic right to life and humane treatment. The US even openly legalized torture, which it terms as enhanced interrogation techniques such as the infamous waterboarding, which was called in the Philippines during martial law as water cure.
So what is most probably behind the provocations, tensions and conflict with China? It is about providing opportunities for giant oil companies to exploit the oil and natural gas reserves in the Spratly islands and to justify increased US military presence in the region to allow it to corner the market and secure its interests in the Asia-Pacific region.
And it seems the Aquino government is a more than willing accomplice in all these. Thus, it is up to us. It is only through the collective will and action of the Filipino people, in solidarity with other peoples in the region, could we put a stop to the US, with the able assistance of the Aquino government, from using us as pawns in this real-life “hunger games.”