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Thursday, May 1, 2014


I WILL have to give way to two more reactions from readers to my column, “US imperialism” (Sun.Star Cebu, April 28, 2014). I am publishing portions of the letters, with some editing for clarity and brevity. The first one is from Tom Smercak:

“I read your column fairly regularly. I am a US citizen living in your country for three years now. I like the country and the people here are very open and friendly.

“I understand your pride at being a sovereign nation and not a 51st state of the US. I also know the distinction between me as a citizen of the US and my government's policies. But I take offence at your statement that China is a greater evil only because it is an immediate and direct threat to your country, implying that the US also threatens your country but not immediately and directly.

“We are not a threat to the Philippines. We have a treaty to come your aid and we will honor it. If you do not understand that, you don't know much about US foreign policy like you think you do.

“Had Americans not died alongside the Filipinos in your country during World War II, the result of the war would have been different. How soon do you think the Japanese would have given you independence as the American government did following the war?

The US did give you independence. Acknowledging that fact in your column would be good.”

I didn’t say the US is a threat to the Philippines, if “threat” means invading the country. The US already did that in 1898 when it colonized the country at the expense of the Philippine revolution against Spain, the previous colonizer. The effort by the Americans at that time to control the archipelago cost the lives of many Filipinos.

When the Japanese invaded the Philippines in World War II, Gen. Douglas MacArthur left the country for Australia. Filipinos, with some American soldiers that were left behind, were forced to wage guerilla war on their own for a few years until McArthur “returned” in 1944.

The US eventually gave in to demands by Filipinos for independence, but it did so after binding our country to treaties that later historians would describe as unequal.

These treaties ensured that the Philippines would remain a “neocolony” of the US.

The second letter is from Bill Byrd, an American in Cebu:

“Reading your columns for couple years now, I fully realize where you stand politically so I was not at all surprised by your comments about the US.

“Some countries like Taiwan, Japan and South Korea made use of US ‘exploitation’ by building powerful nations and economies that are envied the world over. What has your country achieved during this period of time?

“I read a column recently (in your paper, I believe) where it was stated that the biggest problem here (aside from theft and murder) is the failure of Filipinos to accept responsibility for any of their actions. That is evident everywhere here.

There should come a point when you folks here have to look in the mirror and realize the problem.

“Am I saying that the US is 100 percent right all the time? Of course not and, in my opinion, not right even 1 percent of the time lately, and that is solely the fault of our citizens.

“That being said, I am greatly offended whenever someone from a nation like this for whom we have done so much for, wants to blame their troubles here on US ‘exploitation’.”

“I have read that you, once upon a time, rose up against a dictator here, and I commend you for that. Sadly though, from where I sit, it seems like your country might have been more prosperous then, than now.”

I agree that the Philippines failed to follow the examples of Taiwan, Japan and South Korea and I can partly blame that on the country’s corrupt politicians. As for the country being better off during the dictatorship, that is a mirage. In fact, had the dictatorship not plundered the nation’s wealth, we would have been, economically, prosperous now like Taiwan and South Korea—-or even better.

(khanwens@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 02, 2014.

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