FRESH from the presidential elections just past, I can’t help recalling this passage from an article on the web titled “CIA Electoral Interventions: A Philippine Experiment.” I came across the article during the campaign and it sank in my mind because it dealt with a subject matter that is little known to Filipinos, particularly the current young, and yet appears now to have been with us for over half a century.
The passage goes: “In 1954, US President Dwight Eisenhower appointed a panel to make recommendations regarding covert political action as an instrument of foreign policy. The Report concluded: ‘If the US is to survive, longstanding American concepts of ‘fair play’ must be reconsidered. We must develop effective espionage and counterespionage services and must learn to subvert, sabotage and destroy our enemies by more clever, more sophisticated means than those used against us. It may become necessary that the American people be made acquainted with, understand and support this fundamentally repugnant philosophy.’ (Report of the Special Study Group—Doolittle Committee—on the Covert Activities of the Central Intelligence Agency, 30 September 1954 – https://www.cia.gov/)
“Since then, several national leaders, including democratically elected figures, were removed as the CIA tried to install their man as head of state. Some of these covert operations were publicly acknowledged by the US government itself.”
Toward its end, the article betrays itself as a piece for attacking the candidacy of Sen. Grace Poe Llamanzaares.
“An American candidate for Philippine Presidency
“ ‘In the Philippines, the CIA Has Found a Second Home’—is the title of an article published in 1989 in Los Angeles Times. The author is Emmy awarded journalist and historian Stanley Karnow. The fact that Manila has been a regional headquarters of the CIA for Southeast Asia is an open secret. From Edward Lansdale role in Ramon Magsaysay election as president in 1953 to the Wikileaks cables, CIA’s meddling in the Philippines internal affair has been a proven fact.
“A strange thing is happening these days in the Philippines. Grace Poe, one of the front-runners of the ongoing presidential campaign is, in fact, more American than Filipino. 47 years old Grace Poe lived most of her adult life in the US. She moved to Boston as a student in 1988 and lived in the US for more than 17 years until she decided to return to the Philippines. This is not necessarily unusual. 10 million Filipinos live abroad (none of them is running for his native country’s presidency, though). But most of those 10 million keep their Philippine passports. Grace Poe didn’t. In 2003, the current Philippine presidential candidate renounced her Philippine citizenship. She took an oath of allegiance to the United States and was naturalized as a US citizen.
“Grace Poe was an American citizen until six years ago. In 2010 she renounced her US citizenship, as a legal condition for having access to a chairperson position in a Philippine governmental agency. Philippine law prohibits appointment of someone with dual citizenship to government office. (In 2006, Poe had re-acquired the Philippine citizenship and, since then, she has held dual citizenship.)
“Grace Poe’s family is American. Her husband (who is US-born), son (also US-born) and two daughters are all US citizens. Her husband’s parents are American citizens.
“In a Western democracy a candidate such as Grace Poe would be, at most, exotic. In the Philippines [she]is one of the favorites. The reason for that is Grace Poe’s US-style campaign full of spin, PR and drama. Millions of dollars have already been pumped into a presidential campaign in which the work of American political consultants is obvious.
“In the Philippines we are witnessing an experiment. No more coups, underground actions, cloak-and-dagger activities. It’s an overt operation: An American is running for the Philippines (sic) presidency.”
As Senator Grace has been the first to concede defeat to Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, it would seem the American ploy has failed. But then again, as the good old American adage goes, “There are many ways to skin a cat.” In war, there are battles meant to be lost in order to achieve a strategic gain. In most cases, the obvious fight turns out to be the decoy intended to draw the enemy’s resources so that thereby he is rendered utterly unprepared for his opponent’s real—and winning—attack.
In the history of the Philippine Republic, America has never failed to install an American-friendly president. From Manuel Roxas to BS Aquino, you name it, it’s an Amboy. Except President Joseph Ejercito Estrada, who had the gall to say no to Bill Clinton when the latter asked him to lie low on the MILF and he didn’t, and so he found himself getting impeached after only some two months from the time he crushed the MILF Mother Camp, Abubakar, in 2000. And he was also one of the magnificent senators who said No to US bases.
Erap is a graphic illustration of the reverse of the above truism: no Philippine president has stayed in place who was anti-American. When President Carlos P. Garcia stood firm on his Filipino First Policy, hence insubordinate to the US, he failed to gain re-election against Diosdado Macapagal. That Macapagal was an Amboy was demonstrated by the fact that even before the declaration of martial law in 1972, he went rushing to the American Embassy, seeking political asylum due to a perceived impending arrest by Marcos. Turns out the perception was baseless.
And when Marcos, submissive to America for most part of his 20-year rule, began charging rentals to US military installations in the country, such rentals being upped even every five years, America appeared finally convinced, enough is enough. That conviction found a curt but profound expression in President Ronald Reagan’s, “Cut. And cut clean.” And with that, at the height of the 1986 EDSA People Power revolt, the US kidnapped Marcos and family and brought them to exile in Hawaii—paving the way for the ascension of Cory to Malacañang.
Election after election since then, Amboy, except Erap, has been president.
So to the point. Here is the presidential election in contention, as rehashed from another article:
“The most insidious part of the CIA operation in the Philippines was the manipulation of this presidential election. Psy-war propaganda methods were used to promote the US-sponsored candidate and military resources available were also considerable. The American role was critical throughout. A massive domestic and international publicity campaign pumped the guy’s image and assured his election, orchestrated by his American friends in the inner chamber of the military advisory group.
“A legendary CIA operative essentially ran the successful presidential campaign. Documentary evidence prove large funds running to millions of dollars were injected into our candidate’s campaign kitty through ‘donations’ from American corporations in the Philippines.
“The meddling in the election campaign was perhaps the less distasteful side of US intervention. The ‘dirty tricks’ side, though, according to the CIA Manila station chief, included an episode in which our candidate’s main opponent was drugged before a speech ‘so that he would appear incoherent.’
“The outcome of the elections was not a foregone conclusion. A contemporary CIA report warned of the damage an openly fraudulent election would cause to American prestige in Asia, but it considered only the incumbent administration as the potential fraudster. Preparations were also made to dispute the election through force of arms if the guy lost. His impressive popularity is universally acknowledged, and many leaders of his party have convinced themselves that the party can be beaten only if the incumbent administration cheats. Our Amboy candidate tells his followers to avoid violence but is alleged to have asked certain trusted aides to determine the number of armed men available in case of an emergency. US warships were said to have been mysteriously present in Manila Bay a few days before the elections and tank crews were apparently standing by for action. These measures proved unnecessary though. The guy won more than two-thirds of the votes cast. The election is a public-relations triumph.”
Who is the Amboy in this election?
Du… what! Stupid.
He is Ramon Magsaysay in the 1953 presidential elections.