From Fourth International, July 1946, Vol.7 No.7, pp.197-198.
Transcribed, edited & formatted by Ted Crawford & David Walters in 2008 for ETOL.
On July 4, America’s own Independence Day, the Philippine Islands are to become, by the grace of Wall Street, the habitat of a “free, independent nation.” That is what the words say in the Tydings-McDuffie Act passed by the US Congress in 1934 and now about to be put into effect. A 10-year period of transition, of “political tutelage“ in the art of self-government, will come to a close. The Philippine Commonwealth will become the Philippine Republic. The US high commissioner will pack his bags and depart. The Stars and Stripes will be ceremoniously lowered and the Philippine flag just as ceremoniously hoisted. The bands will play. Perhaps the crowds will cheer. Wall Street’s government, with a cynical smirk, will have demonstrated its “sincere devotion” to the cause of freedom and independence for all the peoples of the world, its moral superiority over the older empires which hold their colonial subjects in bondage without promise or hope of freedom.
Beneath all the pageantry and fanfare, and lurking behind the formal grant of independence, is the ugly fact of continuing and even tighter domination of the Philippines by Wall Street and its government. Behind the façade of supposed sovereignty stands the reality of colonial servitude. Only the outward political form is being changed. From a colony, the Philippines are being converted merely into a semi-colony.
Let us take a look at the hard realities. As a condition of putting into force the act of independence on the date specified 12 years ago, the US government last year demanded the right to establish its own military bases in the Philippines and to maintain them in perpetuity. Navy Secretary Forrestal stated that the US will “continue to bear responsibility for the security of the Philippines, and will have to have bases, and strategic areas supporting those bases, to carry out that responsibility.” Sergio Osmena, the former Philippine president, readily acceded to this “request.” His successor, Manuel Roxas, stands by the commitment. The “independent” Philippine Republic must permit the US to establish air, ground and naval bases in the Islands wherever the US Joint Chiefs of Staff deem them necessary. A treaty specifying locations, facilities, transit rights and personnel is to be negotiated between the US and the Philippine Republic after July 4. More accurately, Washington will draw up a document and Roxas will sign on the dotted line as directed. The Philippines will thus be brought under more extensive American military control than at any time during the preceding half-century of US rule.
But perhaps there will be real freedom in the economic domain? Perhaps the 18,000,000 Filipinos will be freed from the exploitation of the Wall Street money-changers? Here the reality is as stark as in the realm of military affairs. The Philippine Republic is being compelled, by treaty with the US, to grant extensive rights to American capital and American business. By way of return, the Philippines are to receive from the US $625,000,000 as aid in reconstruction, plus the privilege of staying inside US tariff walls for another 28 years. The Filipinos are not to be permitted, however, to spend the “grant-in-aid” as they wish. Materials and technical services are to come largely from the US Personnel of US agencies will be assigned to the Philippines for planning and administering reconstruction. Moreover, none of the money will become available until the Philippine Government accepts the provisions of the Philippine Trade Act of 1946. This act provides that Philippine exports to the US shall continue to be duty free until 1954. During the 20 years thereafter, or until 1974, exports to the US are to be subject to a progressively increasing tariff until, by 1974, US trade with the Philippines is on the same basis as trade between the US and other countries. In addition, Philippine exports of certain items are to stay within volume quotas during this period.
However, stiff conditions are attached to the 28-year tariff postponement, which is ostensibly intended to give the Islands time for economic recovery and an opportunity to adjust toward the day when they will be outside US tariff walls. The Filipinos are required to amend their constitution so as to permit American businessmen and American capital to enter the Philippines on the same terms and with the same rights as Filipino businessmen and capital. Moreover, Philippine exports limited by quotas are to be allocated, as the US may specify, among Philippine exporters (mostly American) who were in business before the war. Finally, the Philippine currency unit, the peso, is to be pegged to the US dollar. The Wall Street carpet-baggers thus establish a highly favorable position for themselves as investors and traders, and with constitutional guarantees at that. It is not difficult to foresee a period of unbridled economic swashbuckling by these dollar-greedy hogs, who under the guise of. Granting independence are in reality fastening more firmly the shackles of colonial exploitation on the mass of poverty-stricken Filipinos. On a greater scale than ever, the Islands’ riches will be siphoned off by these parasites. All possibility of a rounded economic growth will be stultified, as it was in the past, and development tailored to the specifications of Wall Street. The Philipines will remain a collection of plantations, with a few factories processing profitable export crops. The economy will remain backward, the people poor.
As before, the American imperialists will be joined with the native Filipino exploiters, the hacienderos or landed capitalists, in robbing and oppressing the overwhelming mass of downtrodden taos or farmers. It is these native exploiters that the Roxas administration represents. The native exploiters are only too eager to be the junior partners of American imperialism. They shouted loudly for Philippine independence all through the years, only in order to retain the leadership and control of the genuine independence movement of the masses. But the kind of “independence” they sought, the only kind of “independence” they really want, is that which is to be formally consummated this July 4.
These wealthy Filipino parasites collaborated with the Japanese imperialists, who protected them and their estates and moneybags from the wrath of the landless tao. When Japan was defeated the taos, long in revolt, rose up in angry rebellion. A tremendous mass movement, still powerful, threatens to topple the whole system of landlord parasitism. The agrarian movement represented by the Hukbalahaps has the hucienderos trembling on the great estates. They are glad to have at their elbow a powerful ally and guardian to help them preserve “law and order.” For this they have sold out the independence movement, become parties to a brazen fraud, and turned the Philippines over, once more, to Wall Street. Roxas and his government are more than willing to serve as a political faÃ§ade behind which Wall Street will share with them the exploitation of the Philippines, in the same way that the Indian bourgeoisie and the Indian princes, who have accepted the latest British plan, are content to share in the continued despoliation of India by British imperialism. It costs Wall Street little to exalt the Filipino bourgeoisie, to give them “face,” by a formal grant of independence which is empty of real content except continued colonial servitude and poverty for the mass of the people.
The fake independence being given to the Philippines, quite apart from its local significance, is in the nature of a world gesture by American imperialism. The global economic needs of this swollen Colossus require it to smash the colonial monopolies of the older imperialist states. It must break into these CIOEd markets. Already during the war it had begun to elbow its way in. Today these colonial lands are all in revolt against the imperialist violators. Is this not, then, a propitious time to plant in the minds of the colonial bourgeoisie of India, for instance, the idea that American imperialism is liberal and benevolent as compared with British imperialism, which is reactionary and violent? “Look! – haven’t we given the Philippines their independence, as we promised we would?” The day may not be far distant when the native Indian exploiters will be looking for a more “generous patron.” And what more “generous patron” could be found than Wall Street?
The journalistic liberals, those doughty defenders of anything vile and reactionary so long as it parades in liberal vestments, have already extolled Philippine “independence” as a “model” of benevolent political enterprise, as living proof that the United States “keeps its word” (in contrast, for example, with perfidious England), as a conclusive demonstration that America is not an imperialist power.
One thing is certain: The Filipino masses will not be deceived. For 50 years they have fought for their independence, against Wall Street and against Japanese imperialism. Before that they battled to free themselves from the cruel grip of imperial Spain. The fight must and will go on until genuine freedom and a chance to create a better life for the masses is assured.
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Last updated on 10.2.2009