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Volume 3,  Number 11              April 13 - 19, 2003            Quezon City, Philippines


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Philippines a U.S. Puppet – Armed Forces Chief

There may have been a slip of the tongue when Armed Forces chief, Gen. Dionisio Santiago, said in a recent TV interview that the Philippine government is a “U.S. puppet.” Whether a slip or not, his statement provided ammo to the country’s militants what they’ve been saying all along.  

By Alexander Martin Remollino 

On the day of his retirement as Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff, Gen. Dionisio Santiago corroborated what the cause-oriented movement and its nationalist allies have been saying for decades: that the Philippines is a surrogate state of the United States (U.S.).


In an interview with GMA 7 last April 6, General Santiago said: “You know, there are many who are good at criticizing but do not know how to provide solutions. And then they say that we are a U.S. puppet. Okay, so we are a U.S. puppet.” It was obvious he was referring to critics of the Philippine government’s subservience to U.S. foreign policy interests.


It must be made clear, first of all, that Santiago was not entirely correct there. The cause-oriented movement and its nationalist allies have been fighting for an independent foreign policy for decades; it is just that the powers-that-be have preferred to cling to the old colonial ways.


But he was correct when he said that the Philippines is a U.S. puppet; the unabashed support of the Macapagal-Arroyo administration for the unjustified and unilateral U.S. war on Iraq—even at the risk of the lives and limbs of millions of Filipino workers in the Middle East—is more than adequate proof of this. Nothing could illustrate the extent of the government’s support for the war on Iraq more vividly than that shortly before it began, the President was echoing Bush’s line that Iraq must disarm or be disarmed and that Foreign Secretary Blas Ople went to the extent of accusing Iraqi diplomats of complicity with the bandit Abu Sayyaf—with no evidence except an “intelligence report” the contents of which he would not divulge to the people.


Accomplishment and weapon


But more than that it is in large part correct, the statement of the AFP chief is significant in that it could be considered an achievement for advocates of genuine sovereignty.


For the statement comes at a time when the defenders of the present dispensation are coming under stronger and stronger fire.


There has been a steady build-up of anti-imperialist sentiment ever since the U.S. launched its borderless war on “terror”. This is dramatized by the fact that participation in protests against U.S. military aggression is no longer limited to the activist groups and the likes of Vice President Teofisto Guingona, Jr. and former Sen. Wigberto Tañada—as the weeks pass we see more and more protesters against U.S. military aggression from the ranks of those who not too long ago were convinced the U.S. had the moral high ground for its military adventures—the legal high ground be hanged.


Accompanying these protests are stronger and stronger criticisms of the Macapagal-Arroyo government for its blind subservience to U.S. foreign policy. That no less than an outgoing AFP chief should make such a statement in the midst of all these is a sign that the growing pressure for an independent foreign policy is being felt in the corridors of the establishment.


In another sense, that Santiago has found it in himself to issue such a statement is an accomplishment for the cause-oriented movement and its nationalist allies because it ushers in a new phase in the propaganda war between them, on one hand, and the defenders of the status quo, on the other. Partisans of the existing order can no longer simply resort to the simple expedient of red-baiting—a cherished tradition on their part—when confronted with opposition to the subservience of Philippine foreign policy because no less than one of their own has admitted its subservient character. They would be forced to come up with more substantial arguments—or face ridicule from the public.


Historically there has been a propensity among the middle forces—and even some sections of the basic masses—to be uneasy toward those who speak the language of anti-imperialism. They have tended to view these people as too “hard-line”. These sectors should find it easier to digest the logic of anti-imperialism when confronted with the fact that no less than the general, who faithfully implemented the U.S. anti-“terrorist” agenda in the Philippines, has admitted that the Philippine government is an imperialist stooge.


Brighter days


It may or may have not have been the farthest thing from Gen. Santiago’s mind, but when he said that the Philippines is a U.S. puppet, he scored a victory of sorts for the anti-imperialist forces. If properly taken advantage of, this victory could bring about brighter days for anti-imperialism in the Philippines. Bulatlat.com

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