The Importance of the United States in the Philippines
“I am a president of a sovereign state and we have long ceased to be a colony. I do not have any master except the Filipino people, nobody but nobody,” “You must be respectful. Do not just throw questions. Putang ina, I will swear at you in that forum.” “Putang ina” can be translated to son of a bitch. This was the President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte’s response to a reporter asking how he would respond to criticism of his drug policy from the United States. His drug policy by this point, has been responsible for the killing of 2000 drug dealers and users, which has resulted in strong disapproval from the U.N. and humanitarian groups. Duterte expresses his anger at how the United States still treats the Philippines as their own territory. He feels his power is undermined by the United States and is restricting him from pushing his political agenda. Clearly, Duterte would prefer to be independent from the United States as he views their relationship only hurts the Philippines. For the last few years, the relationship between the United States and the Philippines has been rough, dating back to their interesting relationship during the Spanish-American War. Duterte has very strong opinions on U.S. involvement in the Philippines, however, their alliance is far too important to be jeopardized by U.S. criticism of Duterte’s leadership.
Ever since the annexation of the Philippines, arguments over the relationship between the U.S. and the Philippines have been prevalent. With the swift defeat of the Spanish in the Spanish-American war, the Spanish gave up the Philippines to the United States. Domestic arguments erupted about whether the Philippines should be annexed or not, creating the argument of whether the United States is nation-building or participating in Imperialism. Albert Beveridge, a senator and prominent imperialist is one of many politicians including Theodore Roosevelt and Henry Cabot Lodge who supported the annexation of the Philippines.In a speech by Beveridge, he talks about the importance of annexing the Philippines.
We govern the Indians without their consent, we govern our territories without their consent, we govern our children without consent. I answer, How do you assume that our government would be without consent? Would not the people of the Philippines prefer the just, humane, civilizing government of the Republic to the savage, bloody rule of pillage and extortion from which we rescued them?
Beveridge argues that it is completely necessary for the United States to intervene in the Philippines because they are unfit to govern themselves. He makes arguments about how the U.S. government acts and how people act to convince his audience the logic and importance of being involved in the Philippines. However, his true ambitions for annexing the Philippines are driven by the ideas of Manifest Destiny, the belief that the U.S must expand territorially.
On the opposite side of the argument, were the anti-imperialists. These anti-imperialists formed the Anti-Imperialist League in Boston in 1898. In a campaign, they critique the annexation of the Philippines. “We earnestly condemn the policy of the present National Administration in the Philippines. It seeks to extinguish the spirit of 1776 in those islands.” The anti-imperialists believe that U.S. involvement and their interactions with the Filipinos were in direct contradiction of the principles in which the U.S. was founded on. They believe that the U.S. was too forceful with the Filipinos, which did not reflect the image of the United States in a positive light. In fact, the U.S. can be compared to the likes of how European empires act imperialistically. The U.S. was not trying to be like Europe and is the basis of the United States’ foundation. Not only were there political issues in the United States, but there was Filipino opposition to U.S. presence in the Philippines. The leader of this opposition was Emilio Aguinaldo, in which he declared a Philippine republic. In a speech, Emilio Aguinaldo explains his reasoning for creating an uprising against the American government. “I know that the Philippine people have not yet recovered from past losses and are not in the condition to endure others. But I also know by experience how bitter is slavery, and by experience I know that we should sacrifice all on the altar of our honor and of the national integrity so unjustly attacked.” Aguinaldo embodies the Filipino people in this account. He expresses how the people feel enslaved as opposed to feeling helped by the Americans who ironically were supposed to free the Filipinos from the Spanish. The Filipinos in the beginning of this U.S.-Philippines relationship are not fond of U.S. treatment. Part of Duterte’s anger against the United States comes from the rough beginning of this relationship, talking about how the Philippines is not a colony.
As time went on, the relationship between the Philippines and the United States only got better. With the passing of the Tydings-McDuffie Act in 1935, it allowed for the Philippines to be independent and legally separated from the United States in ten years. From here on out, the relationship between the United States and the Philippines has only been positive.
The United States has been helping the Philippines militarily since World War 2. In 1944-1945, The United States defeated the Japanese in the Philippines and kept their promise made in the Tydings-McDuffie act by allowing for their independence in 1946. This military interaction would set-up a special relationship between the two nations and serve important in future events. The U.S. army protects the Philippines with its many military bases scattered all around the Philippines. The Philippines was home to the United States’ largest overseas naval base at Subic Bay before it closed in 1991. The installment of this naval base represents the importance of the Philippines to the United States. The United States is willing to invest millions of dollars to protect the Philippines, making them a great ally. Also, the United States helps the Philippines with domestic issues.
Last year, the United States helped end the siege of Marawi City in the Philippines, without being asked by the Filipino government. This is one of many examples of the United States going above and beyond to help with domestic issues. The United States is willing to sacrifice the lives of their own to help their ally in a situation that does not even involve the United States. The Philippines needs the United States for protection reasons and to help with violent domestic issues.
The United States is also important to the Philippines on an economic level. Firstly, the United States is the Philippines’ largest investment partner with over 600 U.S. based companies involved in the Philippines. Economically, the United States is the most important factor to the Philippines bringing in a lot of revenue for the Philippines. Without the United States, The Philippines would have millions of jobless workers, and less overall revenue from exported goods. Also, the United States has the most Filipino immigrants. A big exported good of the Philippines is its labor force and since the United States has the most immigrants, it shows the importance of having this alliance. The United States is the Filipino economy. Their economy is based on the actions of the United States with U.S. business investing lots of money in Filipino infrastructure and with the Filipinos investing their work in the U.S. The economy of the Philippines would surely fail without the United States.
Even though the Philippines is not a colony of the United States, the United States invests way more than they need in the Philippines, making this alliance too important to be destroyed by political differences. The Philippines depends on the United States to protect them as they do not have the military personal to protect themselves well enough. Also, the Filipino economy rests in the hands of the United States, with its constant investment. Duterte needs to relax and understand the importance of their relationship. Although the history of their relationship is deep and controversial with the United States acting as an empire, the overall importance of the United States and their affect on the stability of the Philippines is far too great. The influence of the United States reflects in the Filipino people who have embraced western culture with their love for basketball and fast food. The Philippines is still a developing nation with a great future ahead of them. Even though it seems far, the United States has always been there and will always be there to support the Philippines and their people into becoming strong and truly independent.