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To hell with your aid!

/ 12:07 AM October 24, 2016

This morning the Philippine Army, led by its commanding general, Lt. Gen. Eduardo M. Año, commemorates the 150th birth anniversary of two generals, Artemio Ricarte and Antonio Luna. Both are considered the army’s founding fathers.

By coincidence, both were Ilocanos although Luna was born in Binondo, Manila. Ricarte is best known for his refusal to pledge allegiance to the United States, resulting in his being exiled and kept away from the country for many years. Luna was responsible for the establishment of the Academia Militar, forerunner of the Philippine Military Academy. He was considered by his American foes as “the ablest and most aggressive leader of the Filipino Republic.”

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General Año is to be commended for reminding the nation of two of our greatest military leaders. It is important that we continue to keep alive the memory of our heroes and patriots.

More than 50 years ago in March 1964, President Sukarno of Indonesia, in the course of dedicating a new building in Jakarta, began his speech by quoting from an editorial in a leading US weekly magazine. The editorial suggested that Sukarno refrain from aggressive actions against Malaysia, or the US government would stop all aid to his country. Sukarno then replied, “We receive aid from many countries and we are grateful for such aid. But when any nation offers aid with political strings attached, I say, ‘Go to hell with your aid!’”

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It was the headline story of newspapers all over the world. For the first time in history, an Asian leader had dared to tell America to “go to hell.” The United States, in anger, suspended its bilateral aid program and cancelled plans to organize a free world consortium in aid of an IMF stabilization program for Indonesia. Sen. Wayne Morse of Oregon referred to Indonesia as a “rat hole” and called for the country to be removed from its aid program.

It appears that President Duterte is only the second Asian leader to tell Uncle Sam to “go to hell.”

In 1992, the Indonesian government announced it would no longer accept any aid from the Netherlands, its former colonial master. At a news conference, Indonesia informed the Dutch government of its position, charging the Netherlands with intimidating Indonesia in the use of its development assistance.

The Dutch government had strongly criticized Indonesia for carrying out death sentences on rebels convicted of participation in coup attempts. It had also condemned the bloody dispersal of a funeral procession in Dili, East Timor, the previous year. At that time, the Netherlands was chair of the Inter-Governmental Group on Indonesia that provided funds for rehabilitation and development initiatives benefiting the country.

There should be some lessons here from our next door neighbor—lessons in national dignity and pride.

Last Thursday in Beijing before a Philippines-China Trade and Investment Forum, President Duterte declared, “In this venue, I announce my separation from the United States, both in the military … not social, but economics also.” Earlier, at a gathering of the Filipino community, he made these remarks about the United States: “It’s about time to say goodbye, my friend. Your stay in my country was for your own benefit.”

The reaction from the United States was understandable. US Embassy press attaché Molly Koscina said Mr. Duterte’s remarks were creating “unnecessary uncertainty.” Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel is in town over the weekend trying to figure out what the President’s remarks exactly mean.

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Among the locals, former foreign secretary Albert del Rosario called the whole episode a “national tragedy which does not need to happen.” My good friend Albert who usually speaks in soft, principled moderation must have suffered a slight case of amnesia in fearing a “national tragedy” in light of the presidential pronouncements.

As I recall, some 25 years ago—Sept. 16, 1991 to be exact—the Philippine Senate voted not to concur in the ratification of the proposed Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Security with the United States. Of the 23 Senate votes, only eight were needed to reject the treaty. Twelve senators voted for rejection. They have since been called the Magnificent 12. They were: Agapito Aquino, Juan Ponce Enrile, Joseph Estrada, Teofisto Guingona, Sotero Laurel, Ernesto Maceda, Orlando Mercado, Aquilino Pimentel Jr., Rene Saguisag, Wigberto Tañada, Victor Ziga, and Jovito Salonga.

In voting against the treaty, the 12 senators, like Presidents Sukarno and Duterte, in effect told the United States to “go to hell with your aid.”

In the deliberations prior to the Senate vote, the “pro-bases” people presented a doomsday scenario following the loss of the bases, warning of massive economic dislocations, with poverty and starvation for millions of our people. The bases employed 44,000 people and provided $200 million a year to the economy. The “anti-bases” advocates regarded the presence of the military bases as an affront to national sovereignty and a reminder of Yankee imperialism.

In voting against the treaty, Enrile declared, “I cannot live with a treaty that assumes that without some 8,000 servicemen and some passing warships, we shall fall flat on our faces. I cannot believe that the vitality of this country will be extinguished when the last bar girl in Olongapo turns off the last light in the last cabaret… I have a higher vision of our country’s importance than as a depot of diminishing importance of a foreign power.”

Enrile was right. When the Americans left Subic, they took away everything that was not nailed down, including the driving range golf balls of the Binictican golf course. When then President Cory Aquino asked that we keep one of the floating drydocks of the US Navy, she was told that they were not available. Four years after the Americans sailed away, we proved to ourselves and to the world the resilience and strength of our people. Today Subic and Clark companies employ more people than the US bases ever did.

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TAGS: Aid, foreign policy, opinion, Philippine army, treaty, US
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