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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Taking us for granted

Taking us for granted"Except for a few crumbs here and there, the results have so far been close to zilch."

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The President was right about him being the architect of foreign policy.  That is written in our Constitution.

For far too long, the government of the United States of America has been taking us for granted.  We are, after all, by our own “loving” attitude towards white Americans and the government that leads them, their “little brown brothers.” I qualify Americans in terms of the color of their skin because generally, Filipinos, even Fil-Ams, do not have the same fully trusting attitude to Americans of color, which is likewise improper.

So when Rodrigo Roa Duterte rants against America, there is a real “hugot” to it.  The verbalization may be “un-diplomatic,” as Sen. Ping Lacson describes it, and they do hurt, but Duterte tells it like it is.

I will not recount the long history of abuses the Filipino race has had to suffer in the hands of the American “Manifest Destiny.”  Just read historian Agoncillo instead of Zaide.

I will not enumerate the many cases in the past where the American Embassy and its officials treated Filipinos with condescension, even their ambassadors towards our high officials, the president included.  What immediately comes to mind is Ambassador Myron Melvin Cowen having had the temerity to point his walking cane at President Quirino while stressing a demand, and was dressed down elegantly by the latter: “You don’t point your cane, much less your finger, at the President of the Philippines.”

Too much a gentleman, Quirino berated the American pro-consul with firm eloquence. If Duterte had been the president then, he probably would have slapped Ambassador Cowen in the face. 

The Americans always hated Quirino because when he was Vice-President and Foreign Affairs Secretary under President Manuel A. Roxas, he managed to reduce the number of military bases all over the country from 70 to 16, and got the Americans out of their control of Fort Santiago, the Port of Manila, Nichols Air Base and Fort William McKinley (now partly Fort Bonifacio and the toney Bonifacio Global City).  

From US Ambassadors McNutt to O’Neal to Cowen, President Quirino was one tough nut to crack. He always insisted on Philippine sovereignty and truly believed that independence should mean exactly that.  So when Quirino was up for re-election, the CIA led by Edwin Lansdale made sure he would lose through insidious propaganda campaign to Ramon Magsaysay, the guy Quirino himself plucked from Congress to become his Secretary of National Defense.

But enough of historical digression.  I just had to correct the mis-impressions among many senior citizens about one of the greatest presidents and nationalists the county has ever had, Elpidio Quirino, the son of a jail warden from Vigan who died a relatively poor man in Novaliches. 

Fast forward to the present realities, and Duterte’s proclamation of an independent foreign policy.  It started with cuss words directed at the outgoing President Barack Obama who loudly complained about human rights transgressions in our president’s war on drugs.  The words were far too strong, but the message was forcefully delivered — stop your interference.

That independent foreign policy has always been misconstrued as being too soft on China, which in truth has also been flexing its muscles, mostly through economic power interspersed with a show of military might in the disputed South China Sea, parts of which we claim as the West Philippine Sea.

Part of that “softness” springs from the hope that China could help our economy much more than the US of A, even under a “friendlier” Donald Trump who did not interfere as much but also took us for granted because there was little business to transact with our country. Part of it sprang from history itself:  China, even during its imperial days, has not been recorded as having invaded any other territory.  

The President had also hoped that America would sell us arms and materiel needed to beef up our defense capabilities.  But for a few crumbs here and there, the results have so far been close to zilch.

Thus, when Duterte hems and haws about the implementation of the Visiting Forces Agreement, using such reasons as Senator Bato’s visa cancellation, or the supply of vaccines, and now, the pay-up-or-ship-out speech at Clark, one has to understand it as his frustration over always being taken for granted by the American government who more than a century ago, “bought” us from Spain for a measly 20 million dollars through the Treaty of Paris where Filipinos never participated.

Still, one must also understand Senator Ping’s protestations towards greater civility and more diplomatic language.  Or Senator Dick.  But when VP Leni chimes in, the President acts up with a ferocity uncommon from a man who has always been gallant towards the fairer gender.

There must be a reason, a rather unpleasant “hugot.”

From offering and eventually appointing her to an important position in the cabinet, as Chair of the HUDCC, and rescinding the same after merely a few months through a statement from his then cabinet secretary, to a dare to become the anti-drug czarina after she issued “advices” on how the war on drugs ought to be done, and thereafter bringing the offer to naught, there must be some “hugot” to the dislike.

Some surmise it has to do with politics, but that is out of character with the President who as far as I know, is a forgiving man.  

There must be a deeper reason.

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