3. SELF-DETERMINATION AND FOREIGN RELATIONS For a nation to have its own foreign policy it must first be free and secure on its foundation, which is no less than its sovereignty. Apolinario Mabini and George Washington both agreed on this fundamental necessity of statehood and relations with other nations. Both of them, as policy-makers of their respective governments, upheld the basic principle that only the sovereign people can protect themselves and seek their true national interests. As fighters of a national-democratic revolution, they knew the sacrifices that a people must pay and the victories they must win in order to establish a nation-state that is the embodiment of the people’s unity, strength and self-determination.
It is the task of the Filipino youth, amidst the chaos and confusion created by American power here and abroad, to link the present with our revolutionary fathers so that we may gain the firm purpose of recovering the international freedom of action that was totally annihilated by American imperialism and so that we may have more firm resolve and perspective in seeking relations with all peoples who are sympathetic to the reemergence of the Philippine Revolution and who are willing to deal with us fairly in the course of normal diplomatic and trade relations. In this patriotic task, the Filipino youth should seek to strengthen and extend the threads of Claro M. Recto’s logic in calling for a rejection of our mendicant foreign policy, a policy subservient to the alien sovereignty that destroyed our national freedom and prevented us from developing a truly Filipino democracy. We seek no less than the assertion of our own sovereignty.
We need always to uphold the principle of self-determination and our national interests as the starting point of our foreign relations. We need always to rely on the strength of our own people—predominantly the masses of peasants and workers—as the power of a genuine statehood. To rely on and argue for American protection and aid for our people, as all the so-called “statesmen” of the status quo or leaders of the neocolonial parties of today do, is to betray and to be traitorous to our own people. To perpetuate our inverted view of world reality that the benevolence of one world power should be the main factor of our national security and internal peace and order is to obscure and destroy the purpose and meaning of the Philippine Revolution and to give continued permission to American aggression against Filipino sovereignty. Our neocolonial politicians are blind to the fact that American power can be effectively fought and removed so long as the people are fully united and not divided against themselves by the neocolonial politics which provide false illusions and cockfight sensation, subsidized as it is by large American vested interests and their feudal and comprador allies.
Those who argue that the Philippines is under the protection of the United States and who, in that neocolonial line of thinking and acting, would narrow down the foreign policy of the Philippine government to an exclusivistic set of “special relations” with the United States that are formalized by such treaties that we now enumerate in this lecture, actually argue that the Philippines is a protectorate and not a “free” nation as often boasted by American propaganda. The argument of American protection has always been the last argument of a pro-American and pro- imperialist in justifying the overwhelming presence and power of American imperialism in the Philippines. For instance, it is absurdly argued: After the United Sates, whom would you like to take over the Philippines? This rhetorical question assumes that the Philippines should be a perpetual protectorate, either under American protection or under another alien power’s. The true and only alternative—Filipino sovereignty itself—is obscured by this neocolonial argument. This argument of American protection does not see the large implication of patriotic unity and struggle as a prerequisite for the vanquishment of American imperialism and the reinstitution of policies and instruments serving the sovereign interests of the Filipino people.
Those who argue for American aid and protection as a necessary condition for our international relations are not aware of the history of their own people. Indeed, it has long been forgotten by many of us that American sovereignty was imposed on us, in a continuous act of aggression, against our own sovereignty from the very start. They obscure the fact that American imperialism—in its essential mission of expanding its world sphere for monopoly- capitalist exploitation—came to the Philippines exactly at the time in 1898 when the Filipino people were asserting their own sovereignty—by no less than the sovereign use of arms—over another alien power and had already established their own government and put out their Constitution to guide social order. American imperialism came only to intervene and use its own military force to crush Filipino sovereignty and its revolutionary government in the Filipino-American War of 1899-1902.
We seem always to forget that American imperialist power in this country, whether in the economy, politics, culture and the military, can be no less than perpetuated aggression. Up to the present, it signifies necessarily the brutal suppression of Filipino sovereignty and democracy. It signifies the unredeemed blood and destruction, the corruption and misleading of our people. No amount of semantical trickery or ceremonial show should veil our vision from the fact that up to now American sovereignty operates without restraint in all fields of our national life. Even after the six full decades of American imperialist brainwashing, we cannot honestly accept that sovereignty and independence can be granted or given to us by another sovereign people. It is a basic principle in political science that sovereignty cannot be given as if it were a gift. Every freshman student in political science would know this and yet our political leaders and teachers have drummed into our heads that the United States granted independence to the Filipino people on July 4, 1946. It should also be noted that neither can independence be restored nor given back by an aggressor-nation like the United States. Sovereignty is not given or given back; it is asserted by the sovereign people. In this light, therefore, the Philippine independence that was granted on July 4, 1946 can be no different from the independence that was also diplomatically granted by the Japanese invaders on October 14, 1943. The only difference lies in the source of the bogus gift. We are certain that Philippine history will soon reveal to us that American imperialism and Japanese imperialism are the same, in their aggression, brutality and deceptions.
Our foreign policy, as formulated by the successive administrations of Roxas, Quirino, Magsaysay, Garcia, and Macapagal, takes its beginnings from the state of perpetuated American aggression as formalized by the U.S.- R.P. Treaty of General Relations of July 4, 1946. We take this treaty, together with the executive agreements which went into its making, as a formalization of the resumption of American military hegemony in the Philippines after the brief Japanese interregnum. This treaty was supposed to have relinquished sovereignty to the Filipino people over their own national territory but it exempted the American military bases from relinquishment and only legalized further the persistence of these alien instruments of state power within our national territory. If the state exists by virtue of the coercive means it can use to exact obedience and the character of the state takes the character of the class or power which maintains superior coercive means within the same society, then how can we say that the puny armed forces that we have, which are dependent on the surplus disposal system and guidance of the JUSMAG, are capable of securing the Philippine state in the light of the well-entrenched American military bases which maintain superior military location and capability, with its own alien purposes, and which enjoys extraterritorial rights and whose troops enjoy exterritorial rights? The strategic military reimposition of American military power, through the Treaty of General Relations and the Military Bases Agreement, was followed by the Bell Trade Act and the Parity Amendment which were meant and which have been used to perpetuate the “parity” rights of American citizens and to reestablish American control of the Philippine economy, currency and foreign trade. In order to control further the Philippine armed forces from its military bases, American imperialism imposed the Military Assistance Pact by which logistics, intelligence, indoctrination and operation should be guided by a Joint U.S. Military Advisory Group. Altogether, these mean internal American control of the present Philippine state. In order to place the counterpart of JUSMAG in the civil bureaucracy, American imperialism imposed the Quirino-Foster Agreement by which imperialist aid is supposed to be administered more efficiently, as a departure from the surplus scandals, but actually by which the strategic branches and agencies of the Philippine government would be directed and their policies decided by overpaid American advisers who are oftentimes no better than sales agents of big American firms, and agents of the CIA. Alternately, the Mutual Defense Treaty was imposed in order to elaborate on the imperialist right of intervention in Philippine affairs which is already inherent in the extraordinary extraterritorial and exterritorial rights of American troops under the Military Bases Agreement. In 1954 came the Laurel-Langley Agreement to extend the right of American citizens to engage in all kinds of businesses. And then, the SEATO which was envisioned to involve the Philippine government in the internal affairs of the countries of Southeast Asia, particularly Indochina and Indonesia. The SEATO became the tiger on which the infamy of Filipino foreign policy makers rode, as it was immediately employed to place Southeast Asia under the gendarmerie of American imperialism.
The so-called special relations between the Philippines and the United States are defined by these said treaties and agreements which have alienated the Philippine government from the peoples both of Asia and Africa. In the historic Bandung Conference, the ebullient General Carlos P. Romulo (as Time Magazine would describe him) arrived only to try to shield American imperialism from the just denunciations of the representatives of Afro-Asian peoples. He went there only to perform the chore he had always done in the American-controlled United Nations, as the errand boy of the U.S. State Department. Even after representation in the Bandung Conference, the Philippine government continued to obscure and even oppose the revolutionary movements of Asia and Africa. It preferred to view world reality from the American viewpoint which provoked the Korean war and which cheered the fascist-led revolt against the Hungarian government. The Philippine government preferred to hold on to the coattails of Uncle Sam as the latter seesawed between pro-Arab and pro-Israel sentiments. It hollered for intervention in the Taiwan question and in Indochinese affairs. The arch-instrument of American imperialism, Ramon Magsaysay, had the temerity of pressuring Prince Norodom Sihanouk to join the SEATO. All the while supporting the actions of American imperialism, the Philippine government in its foreign policy closed its eyes to the various vicissitudes of the Indonesian people caused by the Dutch and assisted by American power, the Algerian revolution, the plight of Patrice Lumumba and other events which called for Filipino sympathy and support. Instead of being sympathetic to the Indonesian Revolution, the Philippine government tolerated the use of American military bases here against Indonesia in 1958.
“Special relations” have also involved the Philippine government in big-power bluffs of American imperialism against peoples who have already achieved the socialist revolution or who are about to achieve it. Bound as these countries are by proletarian internationalism, the Philippines has pitifully relied on the greed and deceit of American imperialism in its global maneuvers to expand its control over 60 percent of the world’s resources and maintain the 3,600 American foreign military bases. Through the American-controlled United Nations, the Philippines would become involved in the Korean War only to find that even in 1950 American imperialism could no longer exact what it wanted from peoples who unite and fight back to uphold their sovereignty and motherland.