Legacy of Claro M. Recto

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Tuesday, February 4, 2014


ON FEB. 8, 2014, the nation will commemorate the 124th birth anniversary of one of the greatest Filipinos of our time.

Fifty-three years after his death on Oct. 2, 1960, Claro M. Recto continues to wield a lasting influence on the life of the nation. His uncompromising nationalism, his towering intellect and his brilliant statesmanship will surely be missed by Filipinos in search of a truly independent and sovereign Republic.

It was Recto’s legacy of nationalism that helped inspire the Philippine Senate to reject the US bases on Sept. 16, 1991, thus ending 470 years of foreign military presence in the country.

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The historic vote of rejection by the Philippine Senate despite pressure from the US government, made us proud that we had truly attained our true independence as dreamed of by our national heroes who fought against Spanish colonization, Japanese invasion and US imperialism.

But our victory was short-lived. In open violation of the constitutional ban on the stationing of foreign troops in our country, the Estrada government entered into an agreement with the US to allow the latter to station its troops and build permanent structures in Mindanao under the auspices of the so-called “Visiting Forces
Agreement.”

The arrangement is supposed to be “temporary” but more than 10 years have passed and the US troops and their facilities have now become an annoying fixture in some areas in Mindanao.

If Recto were alive today he would have led a crusade to terminate the “Visiting Forces Agreement” for being an affront to our independence and sovereignty. He would have destroyed the myth that US troops like the former US bases, are here to protect us since they are actually intended to preserve US geo-political interests in the region.

The assault on our national sovereignty in recent years has been unrelenting but we take it for granted. The recent visit of the USS George Washington, a nuclear powered aircraft carrier, trumps Sec. 8, Art. 11 of our Constitution that clearly bans the presence of nuclear weapons in our territory.

It is frustrating to note that Foreign Secretary Alberto del Rosario and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, who are supposed to protect our national interests, seem to have relished these constitutional transgressions.

The US unashamedly mocks us when it continues to refuse to pay for the clean-up of the toxic wastes which it dumped and left in its former naval base in Subic Bay. Until now, the US has not paid our government for the ecological damage that its warship has caused to Tubbataha Reef in Palawan.

When will the Americans stop their abuses on us Filipinos?

A plan is afoot to develop Oyster Bay, a beautiful virgin cove in Palawan, as a US naval base, a revival of the old US Subic Naval base in Olangapo in which drugs and prostitution will replace the ecological beauty of Oyster Bay.

We are so engrossed with the perennial issues of graft and corruption that we forget the more fundamental issue of national sovereignty and independence. Can we dream again of producing another Recto, Tañada, Diokno, Salonga, and other nationalists instead of intellectual pygmies and hilariously mendacious actors in the Senate?--Democrito C. Barcenas

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 04, 2014.

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