Thursday, 21 July 2016

"A 'tradition' brought about by gold and a stick of iron"

"A 'tradition' brought about by gold and a stick of iron"

Notes on the (un)fair and (un)just socioeconomic relations and policies
between the Philippines and the United States since 1946

Since 1946, or even before independence as a commonwealth in 1935, the Philippine socioeconomic and foreign policies has been indirectly patterned from those of the United States.

With its emphasis on free trade on economic policies and rabid anticommunism over foreign relations, the western-inclined policies in the Philippines has created a generation whose views involves depending on the goodwill of the United States as its primary benefactor of its aid, as well as its allies mainstream media described as the "free world" against those of the Soviet Union, People's China, and to some extent, the so-called "non-aligned countries" due to its skepticism especially towards the west.

It may sound controversial with all these concrete observations but true, for being a once colony and later vassal of the United States has made its inhabitants contented in being a "neo" or even a semi-colony: that in national defence it almost reduces the role of the Armed Forces into an Internal Security force (as it depends on the United States for its external defences), that in education it tries to emphasise English as language of instruction as well as putting emphasis on education for labour export (and even changed its academic calendar to those patterned after the west), what more of insisting free trade with an emphasis on commerce and trade while abhorring the need for a massive and concrete industrialisation plans as insisted by patriotic businessmen and bureaucrats long ago.

For as according to Peter Binns, it stated that:

"From the outset, the Bell Trade Act of 1946 established the neo-colonial pattern, and prevented the emergence of such a national bourgeoisie. It enforced free trade which prevented the growth of domestically owned industry within tariff walls. It granted American nationals parity rights with Filipino citizens in all financial matters, and it ceded sovereignty over foreign exchange transactions to the United States.

As with most Asian victims of imperialism, the Philippines has been forcibly underdeveloped to such an extent that the development of a native capitalism is ruled out by the objective conditions rather than the political failure of its leaders. Garcia, the only president elected against US pressure, tried during his period of office (1957-61) to create such a national capitalism, but with disastrous results."

Again, quite strange for a country that assumes to be politically and economically independent trying to have a "place in the sun" with all its relevance, and in speaking of patriotism from so-called concerned individuals and groups by those who insist the relevance of "decontrol",  "neoliberalism", that those who clamour for industrialisation, progressive fiscal and social policies, patrio-scientific popular instruction and culture, as well as al serious non aligned foreign policy is been treated with scorn by the present social system with the latter putting stress on multinational and transnational interests and the former be deemed passé as it synonymous with those of what they described as an era of production and the present as an era of finance. Non aligned? Sounds contrary to the usual policy that is supporting the United States in the name of the "free world" willing to fight against rouge states creating international disorder. While finance, as what the neoliberals insisted, has to be aligned with multinational or transnational interests with regional integrations in its full swing with "standards" to observe.
And those who consistently against policies hath been easily made them synonymous with "enemies of the state: That in 1946 those who strongly against Parity Rights and the Bell Trade Act were unjustly ousted from their seats simply because it hinders the approval between a master and its puppet; and most of them, left-wing patriots so to speak, been accused on grounds of fraud and violent campaign tactics during the April 1946 election. That said action brought about by a puppet state meant a seal-off in the name of keeping Yankee interests alive and well in a "newly independent country", if not equating the desire for full economic and political independence into a means to turn back against the United States and the so-called "free world" as feud between U.S. and the Soviet Union been brewing and thus, affects the newly-freed colonies and developing countries in the "third world."

Ironically, the Bell Trade Act that was opposed on nationalist grounds was superseded by the Laurel-Langley Agreement (also same as the Bell Trade Act yet watered down, but still keeping American interests further), and despite that same agreement  being expired in 1974, the United States, "traditionally" remains as the Philippines' largest foreign investor, with about $6.6 billion in estimated investment as of end-2005 (U.S. Department of Commerce data), while 16% of the Philippines' imports in 2006 came from the U.S. consists of raw and semi-processed materials for the manufacture of semiconductors, electronics and electrical machinery, transport equipment, and cereals and cereal preparations; while about 18% of its exports were bound for the US, mainly consists of semiconductor devices and computer peripherals, automobile parts, electric machinery, textiles and garments, wheat and animal feeds, coconut oil, and even Cane Sugar (despite America's use of artificial sweeteners if not corn-based).
And in speaking of "tradition" between U.S.- Philippine relations,  lies the former's assertion in its present-day vassal to continue keeping its ties what more of pushing the subject country to socioeconomic "reforms" that rather encourage foreign investment as a basis for economic development, as well as joining organisations such as the Global Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, as well as the World Trade Organisation with the latter also known for neoliberalism as well as globalisation as foundations of today's economic policy. The proposed "Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement", which is probably similar to the "North American Free Trade Agreement" may also include the Philippines, that perhaps likely to agree amidst popular criticism like earlier treaties and agreements between Philippines and the United States.

After all, those agreements that all started from the Commonwealth period, with all its reworded and amended versions, has been trying to keep firm its once colony, thinking all its raw materials hath been extracted there, what more of exporting it almost "tariffless" due to those agreements; the Philippines, however, has to pay a bigger price through a cycle of debt-driven developments, that is also marred by corruption as well as interests brought about by landlords and compradores. Those same agreements had also suffered the fate of local companies like A.T. Suaco, to have tie-ups with American-based nutritionals giant Wyeth to establish the first Filipino-American joint venture in the pharmaceutical industry with promises of USAID loans on the local-based manufacturer last 1959. However, that "partnership" that meant to be a means for possible help from a foreign government agency led to an eventual merger under Wyeth! So with that example, isn't it that an intention by U.S.-based companies to take over local ones in pursuit of expanding markets if not tying to overcome potential competitors? Worse, the use of government agencies such as USAID on the pretense of latter's promise for developing basic industries such as those related to health services.

Well, regardless of all its pretensions coming from a semicolonial-semifeudal order assuming to be "democratic" and "liberal", as well as a greater foreign entity whose interest-seeking venture involves carrots of gold and stick of iron over its "loyal vassals", most policies prevailing in a "newly industrialised nation" may have rather harmed than benefited the people for years knowing that the existing ruling order has benefited from it. With those so-called agreements with the United States, Landlords continue having disdain for land reform as it favours joint venture with foreign-based agrobusiness entities, Educators  who meant to resolve the issue on illiteracy rates are unbecoming educators and more of profiteers in commercialising education, that Compradores insisting irrelevance of industrialisation as stubbornly favouring commerce and service-oriented sectors if not urging the mass ranks of unemployed to become migrant workers with remittances serving as "life blood" to a struggling economy; these realities brought about by such corrupted entities known for connivance with obvious western imperialism has shown that there is no stronger "nationalist" solution to the problem of the Philippines’ underdevelopment and poverty besides those from the laboring masses, and no section of the bourgeoisie is truly capable of smashing the imperialist stranglehold as they have benefited from the system and it's interests. 

As saidth it again, that ever since it was started decades ago, and now in its continuing past it has harmed, rather than benefited the majority of a nation's people. Possibly there is hope in a truly concerned patriot including those within the system, but it is from the laboring people in order to make it realise further all for the nation's common good: that instead of relying on to the United States and the half-hearted "free world", why not stand up on its own and develop what is necessary to achieve? That instead of keeping firm in what people described as "feudalism", why not distribute land to the landless and create cooperatives to pave way for rural developments? That instead of trying to pattern a nation's education and cultural system with those of the west, why not put efforts on building a patriotic, scientific and mass-oriented instruction? These may sound nonsense if not out of date, but the realities that creeps until the so-called present, supported by so-called "reforms" brought about by "treaties" and "agreements", makes these radically-charged alternatives as relevant.

And if the ruling order in the Philippines chose to remain a vassal, then perhaps no wonder how that country people tries to break free from neo-colonial rule may remain itself one of the few non-western "Atlanticist" all suffering from its inherent "Occidentosis."