Sun. Jul 25th, 2021

By Ado Paglinawan

The fourth of July ought to be day of freedom celebrated by all Amboys in the Philippines.

It was on this day, highlighting the independence ceremonies in 1946, that the star-spangled banner of the United States gave way to the raising of the sun and stars, red and blue flag of the Republic of the Philippines.

Douglas MacArthur relinquished running the country to his and Manuel L. Quezon’s protege, Manuel Roxas, by virtue of High Commissioner Paul V. Mc Nutt’s signature to the Treaty of General Relations and Protocol, in what more appeared as a turnover of powers to Filipino sovereignty but actually just a transfer of colonial powers to a neo-colonial self-government, from a country most devastated by World War II – Manila being next only to Warsaw, Poland – to self-management of its own reparations which was only pegged by the Bell Trade Act of 1946 to $800 million. 

Traces of American reluctance to truly give its former colony independence were however all over the wall. Uncle Sam was stepping out but reinvents itself among the ranks of the homegrown oligarchies of the Spanish and American era.

The Parity Amendment required an amendment to the Philippine constitution allowing U.S. citizens equal rights with Filipinos in the exploitation of natural resources and operation of public utilities, This was updated by the Laurel-Langley Agreement of 1955, but will live on this day in some other forms and representation.

July 4, 1946 at the Luneta Grandstand.

Three major treaties will eventually proceed implementing the Treaty of General Relations – the greedy Military Bases Agreement, the stingy Mutual Assistance Pact and the toothless Mutual Defense Treaty. The MBA would be abrogated, the MAP re-engineered and the MDST retained, but still there is yet no iron-clad guarantee that the Americans would come to the immediate rescue of the Philippines in the event of an attack.

Hillary Clinton once said, the US does not react to hypothetical questions.

To this day, the Americans want to base in the Philippines but sans rent.

They are generous to sell us surplus military equipment and render grants and official development assistance but with conditionalities.

Meddling in the choice of our leaders

They have meddled in all our elections since Roxas shaved Sergio Osmena’s votes in the first dagdag-bawas in our history. They can deny reelection to any president in order to assure an “effective government which will preserve and strengthen the pro-United States orientation of the people”, according to the memorandum of US State Undersecretary Walter B. Smith on July 16, four months before the November 1953 elections, to truncate Elpidio Quirino ambitions for another term.

There are schools of thought who aver that the presidential plane, a C-47 called Mt. Pinatubo, was caused to crash by the Central Intelligence Agency because Ramon Magsaysay was had finally mustered courage to act on his nationalism and was about to stray from foreign policy acceptable to the gringoes.

When President Carlos P. Garcia stood firm on his Filipino First Policy, hence insubordinate to the US, he failed to gain re-election against Diosdado Macapagal. When the latter allowed de-control of our economy, the devastating result was that the US devalued our currency against the US dollar, the first time the peso sank since the Bell Trade Act guaranteed a 2 to 1 exchange.

The world thought a People Power Revolution toppled Ferdinand Marcos in 1986, little did the world knew that as early as right after Septemer 1982 when on a state visit the first couple endeared themselves to the Reagans, the neo-colonials in Washington DC led by George Schultz and Paul Wolfovitch launched their very first version of a regime change.

Cory Aquino was of course their agent of change, the first president of the country who was installed after losing the presidential elections. They has to kidnap the winner, Marcos, and exiled him to Hawaii until his death. To fill the vacuum, they improvised a “revolutionary government”.

A participant in the neo-conservative sessions of Shultz and Wolfovitch, even ahead of the assassination of Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., succeeded Cory. It was during the term of Fidel V. Ramos, in the first place a West Pointer by education, were the odious and obnoxious policies of privatization of public utilities were fast-tracked, totally obliterating the nationalistic policies of the President Marcos.

The revolving door could have been prevented when Joseph Ejercito Estrada forged an unprecedented landslide in the 2008 over Ramos’ chosen, but barely half through his term, the American Embassy with the collusion of the country’s oligarchs, had its second regime change, tagged as “Edsa Dos” to install the sitting vice president, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, eventually ending up as the longest ruling president from 2001 to 2010 because of her reelection in 2004.

The Supreme Court had to invent a new legal theory “constructive resignation” to accommodate the US Embassy. They had to fool the people that Estrada’s leaving Malacanang Palace in order to go home to his residence in Greenhills, San Juan was an abandonment of duty.

At any rate, regime change was getting to be more and more difficult because of a nascent nationalism growing among the people. Even if Arroyo could not muster popularity figures over 30%, the lady at some point also stood up against the force that installed her to power by withdrawing our participation in the War in Iraq.

That was fatal, the Americans required our participation in their wars, just as in Korea, Vietnam and Iraq, a withdrawal was considered an affront to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s “coalition-of-the willing”.

So 2010 saw the birthing of an electronic demon called Smartmatic – a machine that pretends to count your votes but actually trashes your votes, and replaces them with a final count according to the programming of its handlers.  The first digital president was Benigno Simeon Aquino III.

It worked in landing most of Aquino’s bets to the 2013 senatorial elections, but failed to create an algorithm that would have deducted more from Rodrigo Dutertes count. Drunk with hubris, the Liberal Party-in-control underestimated the vote-gathering power of the mayor from Davao and preprogrammed a shave of only about 5 million from his votes.

As the machines made its final roll, Duterte emerged as a dark horse with a plurality of 6.6 million votes. It was really a landslide affirmation that the people no longer want the ruling elite to be shortchanging the many who are poor.

Fast forward to present bloopers

The neoliberals or the yellows, however, have not given up their agenda.

In fact, former associate justice of the Supreme Court Antonio Carpio, acting as brokers for the oligarchs behind foreign powers for the purposes of the coming 2022 elections, presumptuously convened “1Sambayan” to choose the most-likely ticket facing the administration candidates in the 2022 presidential elections.

Carpio is a proxy to the Center for Strategic and International Studies and its local agent Stratbase Albert del Rosario Institute who has been attempting to steal the opposition from stragglers of the defeated Liberal Party.

The former magistrate has been mainly speaking for the opposition claiming to have masterminded the Aquino policies in what former the former president called “West Philippine Seas”.

Worse, despite surveys saying that Philippine engagements in the South China Seas do not constitute a national security issue, Carpio has been acting as if the people will choose the next leadership on the rise or fall of his own ideas about the US-China confrontation north of the Philippines.Former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay slammed retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio for claiming that there were factions between advisers of former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III in the 2013 arbitration case against China, which led to the landmark victory for the Philippines.

Cartoon by Steven Pabalinas.

In a five-page response to Carpio’s column at the Philippines Daily Inquirer column, Hilbay however said he read the former SC justice’s piece with “amusement” and “disappointment” as he pointed out the “falsehoods” and “inaccuracies” in the former magistrate’s claims.

In his column, Carpio bared that there was one faction against the arbitration case and one in favor of it. “These two factions fought from the beginning to the end,” the former SC justice said.

The former magistrate also claimed that the two factions, composed of Aquino’s closest advisers, were “bitterly divided” and “fought from the beginning to the end.”

With this, Hilbay said that Carpio was merely an “observer” and had “no skin in the game” as far as the arbitration case is concerned.

For the former Solicitor General, Carpio’s views that there were two single-minded factions within the Philippine arbitration team were merely that of an “outsider, which naturally misses out on the nuanced interplay among the actual players in the game.”

“The reality is that the players were independent republics of various sizes, with interests and goals of their own. Some of them had actual skin in the game,” Hilbay said.

Hilbay also took the opportunity to clarify the issue about Itu Alba, the largest naturally occurring feature in the disputed Spratly Group of Islands, over which – Carpio said, “When Paul Reichler recommended the amendment of our Statement of Claim to include the status of Itu Aba as one of the issues to be resolved by the arbitral tribunal, the two factions fought again.”

The former associate justice added that former Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario arranged for Reichler and his team to meet Aquino in Malacañang “so our lawyers could explain to the President the need to amend our Statement of Claim.”

Hilbay, however, said that the Itu Alba issue was merely a “proxy” for the debate over joint development with China as a compromise, should the Philippines lose the Itu Alba issue.

“I rejected all these proposals for a compromise.

“I was against joint development because it is impermissible as a matter of constitutional law. With specific reference to China, we simply can’t enter into an economic compromise with a country that doesn’t respect our full sovereign rights,” the former Solicitor General said. 

I do not agree that joint development is a constitutional issue when it comes to discussions pertaining to disputed areas. Even within our territory, joint development is not prohibited by our basic law, as in the case of the Malampaya exploration. Lawyers applying municipal law limitations to international law discussions are missing opportunities for the country, and should not be fielded abroad where our trained diplomats have an advantage.

In fact, if there is any Constitution provision is static and retrogressive when it comes to opening opportunities for new wealth and growth for the Filipino people, it must be amended.

But does this mean that despite losing his hair, former Solgen Hilbay is now starting to grow a conscience?

His position is not as polarized as Chel Diokno or Risa Hontiveros. If Hilbay plays this well, he could land one of the 12 senatorial spots in the forthcoming elections.

Afterall, the Filipinos are a forgiving people. When anybody comes closer to the truth, they give this valuable brownie points.

Reichler is the American lawyer who served as the Philippines’ lead counsel in the arbitration case. In this social media posting, broadcaster and columnist Herman Tiu Laurel adds his own flavor exposing the $7 million in attorneys’ fees that the Aquino administration paid foreign lawyers while at the same time drumming up nationalism as the lynchpin in the Philippine position in the territorial dispute. Former Solgen Hilbay is seated leftmost with Albert del Rosario to his left. Paquito Ochoa and Francis Jardeleza, former Aquino officials, are also shown in the background.

Leave a Reply