I WATCHED PTV 4’s live coverage of a Malacañang press con last Wednesday and it was a big disappointment to observe how the Malacañang press corps would repeat and repeat the same question when the answer given them was not, judging from their facial expressions, what they wanted to hear. Their questions went short of putting the answers they want in the mouth of the government spokesperson.
Take the question: “Is the president breaking up ties with the U.S.?” Spokesperson Ernesto Abella’s answer couldn’t be simpler and clearer that no, the president only said he might. So, he might or might not depending on what it will take to advance his independent foreign policy.
After variations of the same question in obvious attempts to get their desired answer, another journalist, in what I suspected was an attempt to trap spokesperson Abella, asked him if the word of the president is policy. To which Abella simply answered with what the journalist is supposed to know that foreign policy needs an act of Congress or an executive order ratified by Congress.
But I am not writing about editorialized reporting of what the president says or is does. I write to converse on what could be so wrong (that journalists should insist on Abella confirming it) with breaking ties with the U.S. if that is what it should take to be independent and sovereign in our homeland?
We have always been a close ally of the U.S. So, is it mere coincidence that we are weaker economically, politically and militarily than Japan who stood up to the U.S. and lost, than Vietnam who stood up to the U.S. and won, than Thailand who has never been colonized and always been independent, than Indonesia, South Korea and Taiwan who were not given their independence (like we were) but worked to gain it, and than Malaysia that grew economically under Mahathir’s hardly pro-American stance? Myanmar that is fast democratizing independently of any foreign power might be next to pass us.
Out of gratitude to the U.S. for not dismantling their feudal control of Philippine resources but also out of corruption because a lot of U.S. foreign aid went to their pockets, our ruling oligarchy has always maintained a policy of dependence and subservience to Big White Brother.
Consequently, like it or not we need the U.S. and may not break ties with her without hurting our economy. But that should not mean we cannot move forward from nationalist removal of U.S. bases to an even more mature nationalism of carving out an independent sovereign destiny.
It’s like we have so far been hitchhiking on a friend’s vehicle. At some juncture we must get off at the crossroad that leads to our destination. And no friendship needs be lost in the process.