The State of the Philippine Independence

The hypocrisy of the Opposition was shown again when reports about a Chinese fishing vessel ramming a Filipino fishing boat went viral. They are targeting President Duterte for his silence on the issue.

It was Diosdado Macapagal who asked Congress to pass a law reverting the date of Philippine independence to June 12 from July 4 which was when the event was celebrated after World War II. The former was when we declared our independence from the Spaniards only to be sold to the Americans as Spain's empire was crumbling across the world. The lingering question has always been are we truly independent in word and in deed?

The unabridged version of Philippine history tells us about how our leaders have sold us out in pursuit of their own interests. This was the case with Aguinaldo with the Spaniards and with his coterie of advisers with the Americans. While Aguinaldo was retreating to the north, Felipe Buencamino and Pedro Paterno had cut a deal with the new colonial masters.

While the Americans granted the Philippines self-rule, the US High Commissioner still held sway over the Commonwealth President Manuel Quezon. From 1905 to 1945, it was the triumvirate of Quezon, Osmeña and Roxas who held power over their countrymen while the US High Commissioner held the same over them.

The changed global landscape after World War II saw the US having different priorities so they promptly ditched their Philippine colony but not without exacting a provision granting them parity rights. The 1935 Constitution had to be amended to accomodate this imposition. Manuel Roxas rammed it through the fledgling Congress because it was part of the deal which made him President.

The opposition constantly blames Marcos for the country being poor but they never take into account how Roxas was the yes man of the Americans. Independent in name but still under the control of the Americans in terms of politics and the economy.

The oligarchs of old lost a huge chunk of their fortunes during the war. They promptly gained it back by directly entering politics or having their political proxies channel war reparations to their businesses.

The Philippines filed a claim of $8B against Japan for damages during their occupation of the country. Given Japan's new status as the symbol of American might in the region, the US didn't lift a finger in helping its former colony to receive what was due it. In 1957, the Philippines formally ratified the peace treaty with Japan settling the reparations issue for a measly $800M payable over a period of twenty years in the form of cash, capital equipment and concessional loans. It is for this reason that Japan continues to be the number one aid donor to the Philippines to this day. Think of it as charity driven by guilt.

The other day reports of a Chinese fishing vessel ramming a smaller Filipino fishing boat went viral. Rappler broke the news online and curiously it had all the details about the Filipino vessel but not much about the circumstances behind the incident. The opposition pounced on the story like a pack of starved hyenas. Sinophobia was again the main narrative of the story arc. China out of the West Philippine Sea. The target was the President again and how he is China's puppet for his silence on the issue.

The hypocrisy of the opposition was on full display again. They are oblivious to the history of past President's who kowtowed to the Spanish and American colonial masters. What they are accusing Duterte of today was actually how those who came before him acted in favor of the global powers at that particular point in history.

China has emerged as the dominant military and economic power in the region. It has also become a technological innovator. It is the factory of the world at the most basic which has led to trade conflicts with the US and Europe.

The Philippine pivot to its Asian roots has been well-received by the ASEAN community. ASEAN would prefer to deal with China as one instead of a bilateral basis on the issue of the South China Sea. Both parties are working on a code of conduct and the easing of tensions by engaging in open and diplomatic dialogue.

It begs the question then who is really working genuinely for the Filipino interest? Is it the opposition who favors Western liberal democracy or is it the President who made the dramatic declaration of a truly independent foreign policy at the start of his term?

About the Author
RG is a seasoned international trade and sales and marketing professional who also dabbles in writing. He was a contributor to Business World in the mid-90s and is also a tech geek.
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