Phil-Am Relationship as the Most Volatile
And Sensitive Issue to Blog About
By Apolinario Villalobos
I have always been careful when blogging about politics, more so with Philippine-American relationship, but still take the risk by going to the extent of coming out with hard-hitting views against local politicians, and sometimes the United States. The Philippine politics is just a small fleck compared to the global politics that involve superpowers, like the United States. In most cases, third world countries like the Philippines, become pawns when these superpowers discuss matters for their own benefits and advantage. And, in this global political play, many things are involved, some are even unbelievably happening. Manipulation of the weak by the strong becomes the norm.
On the other hand, the issues between the Philippines and the United States as regards mistrust, betrayal, etc. are deeply- rooted, so sensitive that most writers stay away from them, unless they are ready with hard proofs to prove their allegations. In Manila, all we see during rallies of leftist groups are anti-American slogans and even US flag-burning rituals, enhanced by chants about being a US “puppet” of whoever is the current president of the country. This scenario did not change since the time of the early presidents. Even the supposedly spirit behind the “People Power Revolution”, Cory Aquino, was not spared. There are so many underlying reasons for these that require thorough presentation before they can be understood and appreciated. Of late, noticeable are the absence of most of the principal participants of the first People Power Revolution during its subsequent commemorations. There are big reasons why they are suddenly distancing themselves away from the supposedly historic event. And, they are about politics that dwell on the Philippine-American relationship.
Basically, the Philippine system of governance was born out of the American ideology. Unfortunately, not even the several changes that the Philippine Constitution underwent, have successfully transformed it into one that centers on a “pure” Filipino ideology, based on the people’s cultural diversity and economic needs. Even the latest ratifications during the time of Cory Aquino, contained biased provisions that are still tainted with American influence. This is the reason why there is a general feeling of ambivalence among the Filipinos today, on the move to ratify the Constitution drastically, to make it a truly Filipino Basic Law. For, how can that be possible with general apprehensions in the light of the corrupt image of the administration and the two law making bodies? Mistrust and perceived betrayals are again the reasons.
In addition to the aforementioned reality, the economically and militarily frail country is faced with threats from different sectors. This weakness, though not expressed out of pride, could be the reason why the government entered into the Visiting Forces Agreement with the United States which in the eyes of many is biased in favor of the latter, especially, on the aspect of custody of erring members of the US contingent while on Philippine shore. Specifically, for the US to hold in custody their soldiers who committed a crime in the Philippines, though hearings are conducted in the Philippines, is for many Filipinos “foul”. The Jeffrey Laude murder has emphasized this supposedly “biased” provision, a replayed situation, since the early Nicole rape case.
The current Agreement is the second for the same purpose – joint exercises on the shores of the Philippines. The question is why did the government hastily finalize the agreement without considering the lesson from the Nicole rape case? Was there an oversight?…or was it done deliberately? If only those who represented the Philippine government observed utmost care and sensitivity to the general sentiment of the Filipinos, there could have been no problem on the issue of custody. Also, had there been more care on the part of the local government of Olongapo in giving appropriate caution to the locals who view the “liberty” or “rest and recreation” binges of the Americans after the joint exercises, as a source of revenue, finger-pointing may have been avoided. As reported by field radio reporters from Olongapo, the city is divided in their feelings toward the Laude case. Those who are earning honestly from the American soldiers on “liberty” or leisure are blaming those who use questionable ploys to earn.
Jeffrey Laude was suspected as a sex worker who initially went into bargaining for his/her service as mentioned even by a friend, before going with the suspected American soldier to the motel. And, yet, he/she is supposed to be scheduled for marriage to his/her German fiancé. During later interviews, another friend of Laude denied the sex worker issue. In the first place, Laude was not supposed to be hanging out in such kind of joint, if he was fair to his/her German fiancé. So who committed fault here?
The latest issue on the Visiting Forces Agreement, muddled by the Laude case has just added more lesions to the already stinking issue about Philippine-American relationship. Ironically, as I have mentioned many times in earlier shared views, the purported nationalistic Filipinos who cry anti-American slogans are themselves, dreaming of holding on to a passport stamped with a US visa. And, where was the Commission on Human Rights on the day when the Laude case exploded? Did the CHR people come out in place of the President who has no habit of going to wakes of people he does not know? Is the act of the CHR, another belated cover-up, which is the tendency of the present administration?
I personally perceive the Visiting Forces Agreement as a ploy to show some borrowed muscles to the Chinese who keeps on advancing on the western maritime front of the country. It is unethical for the President to express this. As regards the issue on custody, how can the US allow its citizen to stay in a stinking Philippine jail some of which are pitifully filled to the rafters? The Philippine government extends assistance to its citizens that have figured in drug activities in other countries, even go to the extent of appealing for the calling off of a death sentence. So how can the US be blamed for protecting its citizen, too, and who still has to undergo trial, yet, on a foreign shore? Also, there is another question on the fickle justice system of the Philippines. So how can the US government leave its citizen at the mercy of such system, by letting him languish in a stinking jail for a case that may take years to be resolved?
Finally, Atty. Harry Roque should know better than instigate his client, the Laude family into loudly protesting the supposedly injustice committed on their member, Jeffrey, by the suspected American soldier. The mother and the sister of Jeffrey even went into dramatics by insisting that they just want to ask the suspect why he committed the crime. What if the American will tell them that Jeffrey did not honor the agreed cost of service by asking for more after their act, or that Jeffrey tried to steal something from him? Will Jeffrey’s mother and sister accept the allegations calmly? Nobody in his right mind will commit such crime without any reason at all. The question on the gender of Jeffrey is out, as the sexual act was supposedly concluded which implied acceptance on the part of the suspect.
On the other hand, as a lawyer, Atty. Roque should show restraint for the sake of reason and fair justice. No amount of shouts can put the suspect in jail, this early. Trial has not yet even started, but, Atty. Roque acts as if verdict has already been handed down in favor of the suspect.
I am not taking sides. I am just amplifying realities already presented by the different media for fair information of the public. If ever conclusions have been drawn by viewers, I would like to presume that these are their personal opinions that should be respected. Sensitive issues should be perceived with open mind so that due and diligent scrutiny can be made. There are so many factors that must be considered, aside from the immediate ones that surround them. Some may not even be visible unless patiently researched. They are deeply-rooted and cling to other issues that involve security and economy of countries concerned. Most importantly, we should not resort to finger-pointing.