2. What is U.S. interventionism in the Philippines?
First, let us recall that the U.S. colonized the Philippines after Filipino revolutionaries proclaimed the country’s independence from Spain (which subjugated the Philippines for three centuries) in the revolution of 1898. American colonizers, led by President William McKinley, coveted the Philippines not only for its natural wealth but also as a staging base for colonial and extra-territorial claims in China and the whole of Asia. The U.S. waged a brutal pacification campaign against Filipino revolutionaries and the masses thereafter, resulting in the genocide of almost 1.5 million, based on independent historical accounts.
The colonialist drive of the U.S. in the late 19th century – which included the takeover of Cuba, Puerto Rico, Hawaii and other countries – became part of President Theodore Roosevelt’s crusade to establish American hegemony in Asia-Pacific and the rest of the world in behalf of the rising monopoly capitalist power of America.
The U.S. colonization of the Philippines led to the establishment of military bases and the training and formation of military and police forces that would be forever beholden to, and would be under the control of, the U.S. Aside from the unilateral bases treaty that it would impose on the Philippines later in 1947, the U.S. state department also issued in February 1948 Policy Staff memorandum 23 (or PPS/23) – a top secret document that defines U.S. post-war military strategy in Asia-Pacific particularly in the Philippines and Japan.
Under PPS/23, the Philippines and Japan should “remain in hands which we (the U.S.) can control and rely on.” In particular, the Philippines would be retained as a “bulwark of U.S. security” in the region. In effect, the document affirmed U.S. pre-war designs to preserve the Philippines as a neo-colony that would serve America’s long-term and vital economic and security interests.
Consequently, even after the U.S. “granted” independence to the Philippines in 1946, the country has remained a neo-colony until today through the installation of or support for puppet governments from Manuel Roxas to Ferdinand Marcos to today’s Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and its tight hold and influence over the Philippine armed forces. Through the puppet governments, the U.S. is assured that laws, policies and programs enhance and guarantee U.S. interests. The latest of such neo-colonial policies is of course the 1998 Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), the secret Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA) and the July 2003 executive agreement granting American forces in the Philippines immunity from criminal prosecution.
The U.S. remains the Philippines’ biggest investor and trading partner. American domination of the country’s economy is guaranteed not only by onerous and one-sided bilateral agreements but also by the Philippine government’s blind adherence to the U.S.-initiated General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec); as well as economic preconditions dictated by the U.S.-controlled International Monetary Fund, World Bank and other multilateral agencies.