By Erick San Juan
The incident that raised tensions at the Scarborough Shoal between China and the Philippines and how Uncle Sam took advantage of the event to pin us down even more under their whims, gave way to some nationalists and observers of events in revisiting the recent past. How on earth did we ever been so beholden to a perceived master despite the fact that our independence was rightfully granted to us? Did we really get what we deserve as a sovereign nation?
As what the late Renato Constantino (and other nationalists) has termed it, we are still a neocolony of the US because one of the conditions imposed by the US when it granted our independence was the approval of the Treaty of General Relations between the Republic of the Philippines and the United States of America signed on July 4, 1946. Basically, the treaty was to establish the legal basis for the continued existence of US bases in its neo-colony, and thereby the total nullification of Philippine independence. (Source: The Bases of Our Insecurity by Roland Simbulan)
According to the former RP ambassador to the US Salvador Lopez: “Our foreign policy was based on total alignment with the policies of the US on the simplistic assumption that our national security and welfare – the protection and advancement of our national interests – depended entirely on American goodwill and generosity.”
This is how it all started, after sixty-six years we are still beholden and obviously it shows why our past (and present) leaderships seems to be unaffected by how we were shortchanged and treated unequally in the process by a supposed friend and ally.
I am just citing here the contemporary history of how we were trapped and dumb down in this so-called mutual defense policy imposed on us by Uncle Sam. This is very important because we are living in crucial times where any moment now a pretext for a possible global war might erupt. I am not an alarmist, this is my humble but very significant reminder to PNoy administration and the whole Filipino race that we have to be extremely cautious of how we are being used as a pawn for a possible war.
For people repeating history, re-examine the past
The foundations laid by Uncle Sam were so deeply rooted in our history that even our nationalist solons had no choice but to preserve the status quo at that time. I am referring to the ratification of the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) that was ratified in August 30, 1951 (the MDT was one of the offspring of that mother treaty I cited earlier). Despite the oppositions to this treaty, it was ratified anyway for lack of something better according to Senator Claro M. Recto who voted for its ratification with his ‘eyes open’.
Look at how we have been ratifying laws and treaty that are not ratified by our counterpart, the U.S. One example is the Law of the Sea Convention, in effect since 1994 and ratified by 160 countries to set an international freedom of navigation rules and guidelines for the use of deep-sea resources, including mining and fishing. The United States has NOT RATIFIED the treaty which was first completed in 1982. Without signing the agreement, then President Ronald Reagan announced in 1983 that the US would act "in accordance" with the convention's traditional uses of the oceans except for the deep-sea mining provisions.(Treaty on the seas is in Rough Senate Waters by Walter Pincus,5/28/12).
The treaty was amended in 1994 during the Clinton Administration. Both Clinton and George W. Bush administrations along with a bi-partisan group of senators supported the ratification but it failed to come to a vote.
But did we really had no better choice then? Was it really the lack of choices or the lack of stronger sense of patriotism and a true Filipino ideology that led our leaders in the past and more so of the present to enter into treaties that are so one-sided? Just asking.
As a sovereign nation, we have to learn from the past mistakes of our leaders so that we will not keep repeating history when we are treated as doormat and mere slaves in the process. Sadly, we cannot turn back the hands of time and undo the wrongdoings of the past administrations. We cannot ask them for accountability now but only history will always be the better judge of their mistakes. And as we learn from these, we can be wiser now and always be wary not to commit the same blunder.
We have to be kinder for the generations to come and give them the true meaning of the word sovereignty, this is the most essential legacy we can pass on to them.