26. Neo-Colonialism in the Philippines (1945-1986)

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Southeast Asia: “Although my nascent countries escaped from European colonialism, the American-dominated Cartel supplanted this traditional form of political control with neo-colonialism. Neo-colonialism differs from colonialism in one fundamental way. Colonial powers establish direct political control over their colonies. For instance, England controlled Burma, France was in charge of Vietnam, and the Netherlands ruled the East Indies. In all cases, the indigenous people play a secondary role in the administration of their government.

With neo-colonialism, the nation state is granted supposed independence. Local people are even placed in charge of the government. However the neo-colonial power still calls the shots. In other words, these local political rulers are merely the puppets of their neo-colonial overlords. They must do their bidding or they are removed.

A primary reason for this transition in style was to enable the people back home to ‘feel-good’ about their country’s exploitation of their colony.  To this end, the propaganda would emphasize self-rule and neglect to mention that the government was under the Cartel’s thumb. The U.S. has played this popular song to their people so frequently that it could have made the top 40. The Philippines was probably my first country to experience America’s neo-colonialism.”

Japanese Collaborators placed in charge of Post War government

The Philippines: “We left my story near the end of World War II. Recall that in 1943, the Japanese set up a supposedly ‘independent’ Philippine state, presumably to enlist support in their losing position. The ilustrados, the landed elite who had collaborated with the Japanese, were placed in charge of this puppet government. In the meantime, the pro-American middle class and the pro-Communist agrarian peasantry had formed active resistance groups that fought the Japanese occupation forces.

My Philippine resistance movement provided Japan with a full-scale guerilla war, the only one in all of Southeast Asia. One million Filipinos lost their lives in the hostilities. To show their appreciation, the Japanese murdered 100,000 of my people as they left Manila. They also completely destroyed the business district, up to 80% of residential district and 75% of the industry on Luzon, the primary island of my archipelago, where Manila is located. Manila was just as badly damaged as Berlin, Warsaw or Budapest.

After Japan surrendered, the U.S. naturally reasserted control. After all, America’s military forces under General MacArthur had liberated my people from the hated Japanese. The U.S. then granted my many islands their independence on July 4, 1946. Initially grateful for both our liberation and independence, we were shocked by what came next.

Instead of imprisoning, or at least censuring, the ilustrados, the landed elite who had been Japanese collaborators, the U.S. first pardoned them and then placed them in charge of our new country. This bizarre move, of course, infuriated the bulk of the population who had waged a bitter battle against these foreign invaders. We assume that the International Business Cartel exerted pressure on their American branch to approve this divisive strategy.

We certainly don’t blame the Americans who fought for our cause. We can’t imagine the American soldiers or people approving of this political move. Many of them had also lost their lives, sons, and husbands to Japanese military forces fighting for our liberation. It is doubtful that they would have looked with kindness upon these men who had cooperated willingly with the enemy. American soldiers would certainly have been executed if they had been caught aiding the Japanese.

Must give up Autonomy to U.S. for Assistance

What came next confirmed our suspicions. Fairly quickly, we came to understand that our supposed independence was a sham. The War had destroyed our infrastructure. We desperately needed foreign assistance if we were to get back on our feet. The American Marshall Plan generously dispensed funds, both military and economic, to assist the many countries devastated by the war. This included the aggressive countries, whose leaders were responsible for the war, i.e. Italy, Germany and Japan.

In general, cooperation was the primary requirement to receive U.S. assistance.  However to receive our funds, we were forced to accept onerous conditions. The Americans required us to sign many agreements designed to give them tacit control of our country. The Parity Amendment guaranteed US business rights. The General Relations agreement gave the U.S. control over foreign policy; the Bell Trade Law gave America, or should I say the Cartel, control of tariffs and currency; the Military Assistance agreement gave the Cartel control over our army; the Military Bases Agreement allowed America to the maintain military bases on my islands for 99 years. To add insult to injury, the Recission Act denied full benefits to the Filipinos who had fought on the American side during the war. In other words, we had to sign our independence away for an indefinite time if we were to get any help.

With the ilustrados in charge as usual, the choice was simple. True democratic independence would result in social reform, which would tend to equalize society and negatively impact their wealth. In contrast, cooperation with the American Cartel meant riches beyond imagining. They had cooperated with the Spanish, the U.S., and the Japanese to exploit my people. Why would they not choose to cooperate with the Cartel that had pardoned them from any war crimes?

Although supposedly independent, the pre-war oligarchy reasserted complete control of the country with the Cartel’s assistance. Government operated under a patronage system, a type of institutionalized corruption. While the ilustrados became even wealthier due to their continued collaboration with a foreign ruler, the bulk of my Filipinos sank into abject poverty.

These desperate conditions for the poorer sections of the population led, of course, to frequent uprisings. In the late 1940s, there was both a Communist uprising on Luzon and an Islamic revolt in the southern islands. The purpose of these local insurgencies was primarily social reform. The leaders hoped that the government would provide decent living conditions for all Filipino citizens. Instead of addressing these social injustices, the Cartel-assisted government frequently sent soldiers to punish those who were pleading for help. Of course, these violent interactions between the working class and the ruling class, justified an increase in U.S. military assistance to stamp out these ‘communist’ threats.

In the 1950s and early 60s, a series of Philippine presidents made attempts at alleviating the squalor of the citizenry. However, the entrenched establishment, who controlled the legislature, refused to pass or enforce legislation aimed at raising the standard of living for the poor. A suspicious airplane crash killed one of these reform-minded presidents.

It was evident that compassion for the plight of fellow human beings was not a motivating force for the ruling class. Instead, maintaining or increasing exorbitant profits seemed to be the dominant urge. With basic needs lacking for much of the citizenry, uprisings continued, followed by violent crackdowns.

Cartel sets up Ferdinand Marcos (1965-1986) as military dictator.

Ferdinand Marcos was elected president in 1965. He ran as a war hero who was going to eradicate corruption. The exact opposite was instead true. With a healthy dose of bribery, he was reelected in 1969. During his 2 terms in office, social conditions did not improve, which resulted in an increase in armed uprisings. It was evident that Marcos was the Cartel’s tool. In the late 1960s, as was happening elsewhere in the world, student protests joined the mix. The Marcos government dealt with these peaceful protests violently of course, both tear gassing and even killing the protestors.

But according to the Philippine constitution, the president could only serve 2 terms, as in the U.S.A. Evidently, the Cartel was not so thrilled with the unpredictable results of democratic elections.

Cartel: “Of course not. Democracies are messy. They require lots of planning to both bribe the appropriate officials and generate enough propaganda to convince the public to vote for our candidates. And then the public was beginning to see through our transparent ruse and vote in compassionate souls. We even had to engineer an ‘unfortunate accident’ to take out one of these social reformers.

Then we were able to get our ‘war hero’ Marcos elected. He was a perfect collaborator. To become rich beyond imagining, he willingly did our bidding. In fact, we loved him so much that we wanted him to become dictator for life.

You must understand, the Philippine archipelago was incredibly important to us, not just as an income property, but as a military staging ground by which we were to dominate the Pacific, hence the planet. Centuries ago, Sir Walter Raleigh expressed our sentiments precisely:

“Whosoever commands the sea, commands the trade; whosoever commands the trade of the world commands the riches of the world, and consequently the world itself.”

This belief was explicit, not implicit. Already at the beginning of the century, one of our political collaborators clearly stated our goals. Just after the Spanish-American War, Senator Beveridge:

“The Philippines are ours forever … the Pacific is our ocean. … The power that rules the Pacific is the power that rules the world … That power is and will forever be the American Republic.”

Plus the Vietnam conflict was heating up. It was just across the China Sea from the Philippines. We required their military bases as a staging ground for our Army, Navy and Air Force operations on the Vietnam mainland. In other words, because our military actions in Vietnam were dependent on Philippine military bases, we weren’t going to let go of this strategic location to the unpredictable whims of a populace. They seemed to be more interested in their rights than ours. For some bizarre reason, they actually thought it was their country.

It is so much easier dealing with military dictators. Top-down organization. We tell them what to do; they execute our plans. Marcos was our man. Unfortunately, he was at the end of his 2nd and final 4-year elected term. What to do?

Simple. Same thing we always do in a similar circumstance. Arrange a political emergency of some kind – perhaps a bombing or an assassination attempt. Then use this presumed assault as a pretext for proclaiming martial law. Suspend democratic processes, eliminate personal freedom and close down the press. The justification for the military takeover of the government is always the same; prevent the breakdown of society and preserve social order. The army employed this same rationale to take control of governments in Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia, as well as elsewhere in the world.

In the Philippines, we arranged for a bomb to be thrown at a car that presumably contained the defense secretary, but didn’t. Marcos then presented his declaration of martial law, which had already been drawn up and signed the week before the attack. But now he and his army were firmly in charge and there was nothing anyone could do. He imprisoned the opposition leaders and imposed a full-scale military dictatorship.

Hooray! Hoorah! Now we only had to deal with one individual.”

According to Amnesty International, the Marcos regime was characterized by arbitrary arrest, illegal detention, and ‘widespread and systematic torture by security forces’. This included ‘disappearances’, i.e. the mysterious deaths of anyone suspected of undermining the Marcos dictatorship. This included almost everyone who was not benefiting from the repressive regime – most likely anyone with human compassion. Politicians, lawyers, priests, church workers, journalists and students were among the missing. Vigilante groups set up by the landed elite and supported by the government frequently performed the executions. Needless to say, the American corpratocracy supported this ‘pleasant’ military regime with copious amounts of military assistance.

Economic corruption rose to astounding levels. During his reign, Marcos squirreled away billions of Philippine government dollars in Swiss bank accounts and New York property. Guinness Book of World Records ranks Marcos as the biggest thief of all time. With Marcos and his wife Imelda leading by example, government corporations ran up huge debts with international bankers to provide wealth-making bonuses to those who collaborated. As the rich got richer, the poor continued to sink deeper into sank deeper into hopeless poverty.

Despite the obvious corruption, 5 consecutive American presidents, especially Ronald Reagan, lauded Marcos and the Philippine country as excellent examples of democracy. In 1981, Marcos staged an election to appease the international public, especially the Americans. However, he had already imprisoned and tortured the opposition leader, Benigno Aquino. Under pressure from the Carter administration, he released Aquino into exile. Due to these dire consequences no one had dared to run against Marcos. Even with these easily apparent irregularities, Vice President George Bush praised Marcos saying: “We love your adherence to democratic principle – and to the democratic processes.”

But then Marcos’ hubris caught up with him. Aquino, disregarding advice from family and friends, decided to return to the Philippines in 1983. He was immediately assassinated. Although Marcos attempted to cover up his involvement with a transparent ruse, everyone knew that government forces had arranged the execution. Frustrated by years of political repression and economic exploitation, Filipinos from all walks of life rose up in outraged opposition.

With Marcos becoming an international embarrassment, the U.S. began withdrawing support. Then Marcos held another election in 1986. This time the opposition fielded a candidate supported by both the Church and the middle class – Corazon Aquino, the widow of the assassinated opposition leader. Both candidates claimed victory, but it was obvious that Aquino had won. With the Vietnam War long over and his useful effectiveness fatally compromised, Ronald Reagan asked Marcos to leave, even providing military transport for his escape.

The elation of the Filipinos at Marcos’ departure and the institution of a true democracy was tainted by what he left behind. His legacy included massive government debt, unresolved social problems and continuing insurgencies from communist forces in the north and Islamic groups in the south.

 

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