MAGANES: Cutting ties with US government?
President Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte has just arrived from his four-day state visit to China, from October 18 to 21. According to him and his entourage which is composed of his cabinet members and more or less 200 businessmen, the state visit was a resounding success. President Duterte was able to bring home US$13-billion to jumpstart his pet programs and projects aside from a stand by credit from the Chinese government.
However, critics of President Duterte are not happy with the results of said visit particularly on the area of foreign relations. They were criticizing Duterte when he said before the Filipino community and the international media that he will cut ties with the US government in terms of “military and economic” pursuits. Many critics said that US has been a long time ally of the Philippines and ” cutting ties” with it might lessen the aid being extended to the Filipino people.
What does Duterte mean in cutting ties with the US government? Let us remember that in his previous statements, President Duterte said that he will pursue an “independent foreign policy” but will recognize whatever treaties the Philippines has entered into during the past administrations. The “independent foreign policy” as pursued by Duterte is for the country to assert its sovereign power as an independent nation like that of the US, and not be beholden to the whims and caprices of the more developed and powerful nations.
By asserting our rights as a sovereign country, President Duterte’s message to other countries like US is very simple: Philippines is an independent nation. It has its own laws and Constitution to be followed. While the country is bound by international laws, domestic problems that have to be addressed must be left for the Filipinos to resolve. US, European Union countries and even the United Nations should not intervene and must respect the independence of the Philippines.Personally, I am for it considering that it’s now the time that we will have our own identity as a Filipino nation devoid of foreign interventions, be it in the areas of “military and economy”.
We have been a long ally of the US government. It all started when the Spanish government sold the Philippines under the Treaty of Paris of 1898 for the sum of US$20,000.00. Since then, Americans have colonized the Filipinos’ senses in our educational and cultural values. Of course, we are indebted to the Americans because we adept in the English language but slowly our innate culture was subsumed to the Western culture- food, clothes,etc.
We were under the American occupation during World War II. Our soldiers and guerrillas were under the United States Armed Forces of the Far East (USAFFE), which means that they were fighting for the Americans against the Japanese forces. The war that lasted for three years- 1942 to 1945 led us to an “independence” on July 4, 1946. But the word “independence” was a misnomer. We were not fully independent as a sovereign nation. Our Constitution at that time was even patterned after the US Constitution. US Bases were established in Subic, Zambales and Clark, Pampanga. Indeed, we were under the shadow of the US government.
And how about our soldiers and guerrillas who fought with the US forces during the World War II? Were they recognized as US forces? No! The veterans fought hard for the equity law, lobbying with various legislators of the US Congress. Finally, US government has approved a modicum financial assistance to them that they could no longer enjoy because of their old age.
After the agreement on US Bases has ended during the time of former President Corazon Aquino, Philippines has entered a treaty with the US government that of “Visiting Forces Agreement”. The country was opened to the US forces for a military exercise hand in hand with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). This was called the “Balikatan” based in Zamboanga Province where the military hardwares were showcased to the AFP. AFP forces were taught on how to use them but after that those military hardwares were sent back to US. The military exercise, according to Duterte, was a futile exercise. We have not benefited from it even from the start.
Now, why are the critics of Duterte keep on harping that we need US assistance? Are we beholden forever to the Americans? This is the notion that President Duterte wanted to stop. He said, we have to end our “beggar mentality” and move as an independent and sovereign country.
Duterte’s act to align with China is a foreign relation strategy. China is part of the Asean countries and as our neighbor it is best for the country to work and in alliance with it, but not necessarily surrender our sovereignty. “Cutting ties with the US” is a foreign relations strategy as well. Will the US stop its aid to the Philippines after those pronouncements of President Duterte? Will the US government stop its interference on the government’s policy on cracking illegal drugs where deaths are inevitable?
“Stop your criticism against my administration!” This is the message President Duterte is trying to convey to the US government- and to the European Union countries and the United Nations.
(For comments and suggestions, email me at email@example.com. Visit my blog “The Roving Pen” at http://www.virgilmaganes.wordpress.com. Listen to my radio program “VIRGIL MAGANES SA DWPR” aired over DWPR Radyo Asenso, 1296 KHZ AM Band at 8:00-9:00 AM, Mondays to Saturdays.)
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