Solons call for official commemoration of Philippine-American War

Philippine - American War
U.S. soldiers and Filipino political prisoners: Manila, 1899-
By Miscellaneous Items in High Demand, PPOC, Library of Congress – Public Domain

MANILA — ACT Teachers Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro called on President Rodrigo Duterte to urgently enact HB 2092, An Act Declaring February 4 of Every Year as “Philippine-American War day” into law.

“We need to commemorate it to recognize the heroic struggles of our fellow Filipinos who fought against the invasion, oppression, and intervention of a foreign power,” ACT Rep. Tinio said.  The commemoration, he said, will serve also as a reminder of the nationalist principles of those who fought in the war and prevent historical revisionism.

Tinio calls it “unfortunate” that the Duterte administration has been implementing anti-people policies abetting “the continuation of US atrocities,” and allowing at the same time other foreign powers like China to invade our lands and waters.

The ACT solons filed HB 2092, “An Act Declaring February 4 of Every Year as ‘Philippine-American War day’ in 2017. The bill passed the third and final reading at the House of Representatives in May 2018. Its counterpart bill at the Senate passed the 2nd reading last Wednesday January 30. The teacher solons urged the Senate to approve its version of the bill on 3rd reading, paving the way for its enactment into law.

Heroic struggle

The Philippine-American War has been described as “one of the most heroic struggles ever waged in modern times; a struggle waged against implacable odds and at terrible cost,” through various resistance movements across the country such as those led by General Antonio Luna, Simeon Ola, Macario Sakay, and the Pulajanes.

Philippine-American War
FILIPINO CASUALTIES ON THE FIRST DAY OF PHILIPPPINE-AMERICAN WAR.
This image is a work of a U.S. Army soldier or employee, taken or made as part of that person’s official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.

From 1889 until late 1910s, the Philippine-American war resulted to the death of over a million Filipinos. This includes the 200,000 civilians killed during the pacification campaigns that used hamletting, “scorched-earth” policy, and “cordon tactics” against entire villages, tortures such as the water cure, and other atrocities by the US armed forces.

Despite the success of the campaign to compel the US to return the Balangiga bells,  a success considered as an important step in educating Filipinos on the heroism of earlier generations and the suffering they endured in the struggle against US colonial occupation, much still need to be done, said the teacher solons.

“A large gap still remains in our collective memory regarding the Philippine-American War,” Tinio said. An official commemoration of the outbreak of the war through the enactment of their bill into law is hoped to contribute to addressing this “historical amnesia.”

Honor our heroes’ sacrifices – ACT Teachers’ Partylist

“By refusing to take concrete steps towards a truly independent foreign policy, the Duterte administration fails to honor the sacrifices of the countless named and unnamed heroes who fought for our independence,” ACT Rep. Castro said.

Worse, Castro said, “The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) and the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the U.S. remain in force while the administration is hell-bent on allowing China to explore Benham Rise and a Chinese corporation to exploit the telecommunications industry.”

A disservice to Filipino fighters for independence, the Philippines’ rich human and natural resources continue to serve the interests of big foreign businesses while our government continues to deprive the people of basic social services and decent living wage, Castro said. She cited as example the Tax Reform Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law which “worsened a tax system that already collects more from the poor while enabling incentives for the rich.”

“Now more than ever, we have to be reminded of the Filipinos’ long history of struggle against the systematic oppression of imperialist nations like the U.S.”

Philippine - American War
Attack by Filipino forces on the barracks of US soldiers (Company C of the 13th Minnesota Volunteers) during the Tondo Fire in Manila, 1899 (Published in Harpers Weekly 1899); Public Domain

The teacher solons appealed to each and every Filipinos’ “nationalist earnestness.”

“Please act against historical revisionism. Let us honor the heroic struggles of our fellow Filipinos who fought against the invasion, oppression, and intervention of a foreign power in the past by uniting to fight the U.S.-Duterte regime’s dictatorial ambitions and tyrannical rule. Honor their lives by continuing the struggle for genuine independence,” Tinio ended. (https://www.bulatlat.com)

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