Why condemn the US?

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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

I USED to join anti-US and anti-Marcos rallies in my college days at the Ateneo de Zamboanga in Zamboanga City in the early ‘80s. Whenever the legendary Zamboanga City mayor Cesar Climaco, a hardcore Marcos critic, calls for a rally, I would skip classes and attend the activity.

I used to shout slogans and hold placards about “US imperialism” and of Marcos being “tuta sa mga Kano.” There was no Bayan Muna or League of Filipino Students then. The prominent student militant organization in Zamboanga City then was the Kabataang Makabayan. Some Jesuits priests who managed the school were also actively involved in activism.

I attended “teach-ins” held by some student leaders. One of them, who was from Zamboanga del Sur (now Zamboanga-Sibugay province), invited us to his place and we met New People's Army (NPA) leaders there. Insurgents were then aggressive in the boundary of Zambaonga del Norte (my home province), Zamboanga del Sur and Misamis Occidental.


Our leader, whose uncle was an NPA commander, convinced us not to go back to the city and instead join the underground. I told him, “Nabuang ka. Gipa-eskwela ta sa atong mga ginikanan unya magrebelde ta?”

I was not influenced by the communist ideology. As a young man, I didn’t have a clear direction in life. I even planned to enter the seminary. Obispo na unta ko ron kun nadayon pa. Kana kun wa ko magminyo pagka-pari na.

When I joined the media as a radio and newspaper reporter, I distanced myself from activism. I lost my friends in that “movement.” Some of them even accused me of being a military spy. That was when I covered the police and military beats and befriended some high-ranking officers. Those were the days.

I am writing this because of the two-day visit of US President Barack Obama in the Philippines. The visit was meant to strengthen RP-US relations. A new agreement was forged and this was strongly condemned by so-called nationalists and militant groups.

I can no longer change the “mindset” of these people who are against our partnership with the US because they see the “devil” in the US government. When the US government coughs, these groups shout, “US imperialism!”

US imperialism is the economic, military and cultural influence of the US on other countries. Such influence often goes hand in hand with expansion into foreign territories. The allegation that we are being dictated by the US in some aspects could be true. But what can we do? We need to be allied with the US, as we cannot stand alone.

Why do other powerful and rich countries like Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia aligned themselves with the US by allowing it to put up its military bases in their territories? Because these countries need the US.

We know the limitations of our defense capability. We need a “big brother” to defend us in case of invasion by other countries. I doubt if the US will just close its eyes if China will attack us because of the West Philippine Sea issue. We have long been an ally of the US and I am sure it will “rescue” us like what it did in World War II when the Japanese invaded us.

Also, we know that despite the aggressive tax campaign of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), we are operating on deficit. We mainly rely on foreign borrowings.

International financial institutions like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) are controlled by the US. What if the US will pressure these institutions not to let us borrow money? Where will we go?

As the saying goes, “no man is an island.” During calamities, which country was the first to respond? The US. Yet some of our fellow Filipinos are condemning them.

We should not be too parochial. Joseph Estrada was one of those who voted not to renew the US bases agreement when he was still a senator.

When he became president, he abandoned his personal stand and visited the US during the George Bush Jr. administration.

Erap said, “Iba na kung magiging presidente ka. Ang titingnan mo hindi lang ang sarili mo kung di ang kapakanan ng buong bansa.” I agree.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 30, 2014.


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