‘Unequal treatment’ from treaty ally
Filipinos must wake up and learn from history. The United States’ opposition to return the Balangiga bells stems from the notion that the Americans were doing “pacification work” when the natives attacked, a historical lie that continues until today. The documentary “Bells of Balangiga” proves that the colonizers had employed food deprivation, property destruction and water torture on the natives—a practice later to be used by the US in the Vietnam War.
The Balangiga death toll would strike fear even today: Tens of thousands of Filipinos were killed and the town totally destroyed. Movies like “General Luna” and “Balangiga: Howling Wilderness” demonstrate that Filipinos are regaining a renewed respect for history. We must not forget the great red stain in our history, representing the immense inhumanity of the Western colonizers who called the natives “uncivilized.” The fact that the United States, until today, does not allow our government to have custody of convicted American murderers or allow us to inspect their military bases inside our own country should already be fair warning. To make heroes out of perpetrators of massacres worldwide will be our legacy for generations to come.
In 2014, while the Aquino administration rushed to sign Edca, or the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, to present it as a gift to then President Barack Obama on his Manila visit, the Filipino people were slapped in the face by his refusal to give a categorical commitment that the US would fight for the Philippines in case our territorial dispute with China escalated into an armed confrontation.
Is this the reason the US was only giving the Philippines secondhand military equipment for decades? Dangerously, some quarters falsely tout the US support as an ironclad commitment.
What made the slap an insult was, just a few days before Obama arrived in Manila, he gave an unequivocal statement in Tokyo that the US would come to Japan’s defense in the event of an armed conflict even in disputed areas. Why didn’t Aquino or then foreign secretary Albert del Rosario raise the issue? Ironically, tens of thousands of Japanese regularly rally to demand that US bases leave Japan. How can we expect our nation to be respected when we cannot even demand equal treatment from our so-called “treaty ally”?
KRISTINE SAN MATEO, email@example.com
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