Geopolitics: Philippines, China, Nigeria
Philippines. The controversial Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which aims to give vast powers to the rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), is less about peace and more about politics. Lately, a lot of pro-BBL articles and videos have been coming out in the media. There is reason to believe there is massive funding behind this PR drive, which may come only from two possible sources. First are Christian and Muslim power politicians in partnership in Mindanao, seeking Muslim votes in the coming elections, in return for facilitating the passage of the BBL. Second are foreign groups, such as Malaysia, which has been exposed in several breakfast forums lately to have been reportedly supporting the MILF with arms and funds, whose purpose is to distract and dilute the government’s focus on the Sabah issue.
The BBL will legitimize, fund and arm the already overarmed MILF, some of whose members have been accused of murder in relation to the infamous Mamasapano encounter of 44 soldiers of the police Special Action Force (SAF). The MILF has also stolen the arms of the SAF victims, promised to return them, but never did. MILF mobile arms factories have also been discovered in remote forests, that is why they are overarmed. Past gestures of media-covered surrender of arms involved rusty obsolete rifles. An MILF spokesperson in fact said the MILF will never surrender their arms, making the BBL and the peace talks a sham. There will never be peace if rebels are allowed to keep their arms, much less arm them. The BBL is a pet project of President Aquino because he truly believes it will bring peace in Mindanao, which will be his legacy in history. Yet the BBL may be the agent for war rather than peace if we appease and arm rebels whose sincerity is being questioned.
China. When China’s economy achieved rapid growth, most of the Western mining companies which supplied China with industrial resources had an unprecedented boom. Now that China’s economy is starting to taper off, these mining companies are experiencing losses, as articulated by super-giant Glencore. The same story is true for other corporations trading with China. The decline or collapse of the China economy may trigger the same of the global economy, starting with the US, the biggest trading partner of China.
To prevent this, China is in a frenzy to occupy and conduct oil explorations in the 3 million-hectare South China Sea, because the biggest factor in its economic decline is the lack of energy to fuel its industrial growth. This involves militarization to protect their oil fields from other claimants. China is even willing to risk a war with the US just to achieve these needed economic inputs. China’s brazen occupation and militarization of the Spratlys have two goals in mind, to get much needed oil, and to contain the “encirclement” efforts of Barack Obama’s pivot to Asia. For the prophets of doom, there are only two alternatives in the long term, global economic collapse or a China-US war in the South China Sea.
Nigeria. The Boko Haram militants are currently conducting systematic massacres in northern Nigeria, which is their turf. Close to 1,000 have been reported killed in four months since President Muhammadu Buhari took over last May, according to the BBC.
Boko Haram is a monster created by an extremely corrupt government in partnership with greedy oil multinationals. For the last three decades, the government has been living in luxury, not extending help to the poor in the north, developing its affluence in the south shores where all the oil flows out to the West. Ironically, the oil fields are in the north. They have left the sources of the wealth destitute in their greed and corruption.
The Western oil multinationals, which are equally guilty, turn a blind eye to the corruption in the government, as long as they get their pound of flesh for the enrichment of Western nations. The multinationals have no reason to disrupt their windfall with such social issues, which they perceive to be local problems, not their business. But in truth, they are guilty of the sin of omission in participating in the systematic impoverishment of the poor.
The government is intent in quelling the Boko Haram rebellion, not even conscious that they created that monster. The multinationals have no guilt. They are only after the oil, which has drawn the blood of Nigerians on a massive scale in the last three decades of extraction without development. In truth, the multinationals, if they wanted to, can pressure the government to attend to the poor to achieve long-term stability. But they refuse to rock the boat and risk their windfall falling into rivals’ hands.
Bernie V. Lopez is a frequent contributor, a radio-TV broadcaster, a documentary producer-director and a former Ateneo professor ([email protected]).
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