‘US soldiers not liberators but oppressors’
“I HAVE tried hard, and yet I cannot for the life of me comprehend how we got into that mess… I thought we should act as their protector—not try to get them under our heel.” In these words did the great American author and humorist Mark Twain openly oppose the US colonial conquest of the Philippine Islands in the early part of the 20th century, where some 200,000 Filipinos were slaughtered under the banner of US President William McKinley’s “Benevolent Assimilation.” Patriots then like Gen. Macario Sakay were branded as bandits, while the new colonizers were hailed redeemers.
Then came World War II; Bataan fell into the hands of the invading Japanese. Both Filipino and American soldiers were said to have had their share of sacrifices in that conflict—except that the former suffered twice or even more than the latter. When the United states regained full control of the Philippines in 1945, it gradually transformed it into a neocolony. The Mutual Defense Treaty was reinforced, legitimizing and perpetuating the US military presence in the country.
From Claro M. Recto’s crusade in the 1950s to the resurgent nationalist movement that led to the removal of the US military bases in 1991, GIs were involved every now and then in various crimes and misconduct against local Filipinos. Films like Aquino-Kashiwahara’s “Minsa’y Isang Gamu-Gamo” and Brocka’s “PX” may help refresh our memories or understand what it’s like during those times.
But then in 1999, the Senate ratified the Visiting Forces Agreement, paving the way for the “Balikatan” joint military exercises that resulted in an infamous rape of a young Filipino woman by a US serviceman a few years later. And then, showing no fundamental difference at all from his predecessors, President Aquino sponsored the signing of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement early this year, like a servant eager to impress and get a pat on the back from his master. In all (un)fairness, we’ve never got the commitment from the US government that it would defend us against the bully China in case of the latter’s aggression. This came as no surprise. What then would you expect from America whose business partnership with China is nothing but invaluable to their imperialist interests?
Today, another military serviceman is facing charges for the killing of a Filipino transgender. One can’t help but doubt if the United States would not indeed use its political influence to manipulate the case as it did in the rape case against a US soldier.
The brutal murder of the transgender should prompt us to reexamine the “friendly” relationship between the Philippines and the United States. It has been 118 years since “the eagle clamped its talons” on our land; we should know by now that the presence of the US military in the country is never meant to help in our territorial dispute with China nor to modernize the Armed Forces of the Philippines (that should have happened a long time ago, if that were so). Through the years, we’ve been trained and miseducated to become faithful colonials while the almighty United States continues to siphon our natural resources and strengthen its hegemony not only in the Philippine but also in the Southeast Asian region.
It’s now time to realize that those US soldiers are not liberators but oppressors who would only drag us into wars.
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