Why the Philippines is not truly independent

6

Ricardo Saludo

FOR leftists, American assistance in the Marawi battle shows that our freedom as a nation is compromised, subject to the pressures and policies of a global superpower.

For Marawi evacuees, their lives are upended, endangered, or ended by terrorists seeking to supplant the government at the instructions of a brutal foreign cabal.

For at least a million families, Filipinos are enslaved by narco-syndicates sucking wealth, wits and will out of sons and daughters, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters desperate for a sniff, a smoke, a pill, or a poke.

And for most Filipinos spared from geopolitical machinations, extremist assaults, and narco-slavery, the burdens of poverty, misgovernance and corruption shackle the lives and futures of millions.

Going over these very real and seemingly eternal chain of crime, drugs, rebellion, corruption, and foreign domination binding so many millions in the Philippines, one wonders what all the flag-raising was about on Monday.

Quite simply, we as a nation cannot really cheer or even speak of freedom when so many of us remain subjugated, if not imperiled by enormities and entities seeking to exploit, enslave, intimidate, exterminate, and otherwise impose their will and agenda on huge swathes of the nation.

Chained by extremism and drugs
For sure, the most brutal and headline-grabbing oppressors are the so-called Islamic State, which then-UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon decried as neither Islamic, nor a state. IS has spurred and funded the hundreds of extremists still fighting the Armed Forces for one-fifth of Marawi City, according to the AFP’s update on Tuesday.

IS not only threw 200,000 mostly Muslim Maranao folk from their homes, but has ensnared the minds, hearts and bodies of many young Mindanaoans, who have given their lives and futures to IS’ false-Islam ideology.

One wonders who is more oppressed: the Marawi residents fleeing the demon of IS–funded and –inspired extremism, or the armed bands enraptured by it, thinking it is the way to heaven in this world or the next, when hell is the only thing it will bring.

Turning to the top headline-making enslaver until last month, narco-syndicates have by the nose, puff, pill or needle between 1 million and 5 million drug users, depending on who’s doing the counting.

Add five close family and friends per junkie, and that’s one in 20 or up to one in five Filipinos burdened by narcotics. And if addicts are driven to rob, steal, rape, assault, or kill by their habit, the narco-chain winds around even more people.

How many more? In the past Aquino administration, crime tripled from 324,083 incidents in 2010 to more than a million a year in 2013 and 2014, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.

In that same period, smuggling trebled too, from $7.9 billion in 2009 to $26.6 billion in 2014, based on International Monetary Fund trade data. And as then-President Benigno Aquino 3rd decried, the torrent of contraband included guns and drugs.

Lots of the killer cargo gushed in during Aquino’s first full year in office, when more than 2,000 shipping containers disappeared uninspected and untaxed, with no investigation done on that biggest spate of smuggling in Philippine history.

Bottom line: With 3 million or more crimes committed under Aquino since 2013, that explosion of lawlessness victimized nearly 5 million Filipinos, assuming a low average of 1.5 victims per crime. And their close kith and kin, conservatively estimated at five per victim, bring the number of victims, family and friends to 30 million or so.

In sum, one-third of Filipinos suffered from drugs, crime or both. And the about same proportion of voters elected Rodrigo Roa Duterte to free the nation from the scourge of lawlessness and narcotics.

Insurgents and empire-builders
Next on our list of “freedom frighters” are empire builders on opposing ends of the ideological spectrum.

Communist rebels and Mindanao separatists fought the government for decades, and carved out areas of insurgency, where they fancy themselves as liberators of the poor and the oppressed.

Yet their violence and extortion have only driven away the development programs and business ventures needed to truly free communities from poverty and backwardness.

Thankfully, Muslim rebels have shaken off extremist leanings, and forged peace accords with the government. They now help in creating secure corridors for Marawi civilians caught in the crossfire to escape or at least receive relief goods.

By contrast, leftist insurgents continue to cling to the mad idea that their guerrilla attacks can somehow bring progress and liberation to the suffering Filipino masses. Thus, when Marawi erupted in jihadist terror, the communist leadership ordered its armed wing, the New People’s Army, to escalate attacks.

And who suffers from the NPA depredations? The communities oppressed by Red rebels, and the fighters themselves, wasting their lives on a failed, pointless ideology.

Rounding out our list of oppressors are the power-wielders in governments here and abroad.

At home, corrupt officialdom, though a minority of elected and appointed officialdom, have wasted resources and gamed policies, projects and programs for the venal, well-connected rich.

Thus, the poor remain bereft of social services, infrastructure facilities, and economic opportunities, because the elite skirt taxes, skim contracts, and evade rules meant to help the needy and enforce fairness.

Turning abroad, rulers of powerful nations and their business and media cohorts seek to expand their global dominance. And like IS, they have their minions, who extol the virtues of alliance with one or the other country.

But in the end, all these big powers serve their own interests, and will use and abuse little nations, while seeming to serve the latter’s welfare and interests.

Amid this menagerie of extremists, criminals, rebels, grafters, and imperialists, plus their pawns in the country, how can Filipinos truly be free?

Let’s talk about that next week.

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6 Comments

  1. Our arm forces should learn how to depend our own. Our government should put the interest of our republic first. We should learn how to believe in ourselves.

  2. My sentiments exactly!!! Very very sharp observation!

    “Communist rebels and Mindanao separatists fought the government for decades, and carved out areas of insurgency, where they fancy themselves as liberators of the poor and the oppressed.

    Yet their violence and extortion have only driven away the development programs and business ventures needed to truly free communities from poverty and backwardness.

    Thankfully, Muslim rebels have shaken off extremist leanings, and forged peace accords with the government. They now help in creating secure corridors for Marawi civilians caught in the crossfire to escape or at least receive relief goods.

    By contrast, leftist insurgents continue to cling to the mad idea that their guerrilla attacks can somehow bring progress and liberation to the suffering Filipino masses. Thus, when Marawi erupted in jihadist terror, the communist leadership ordered its armed wing, the New People’s Army, to escalate attacks.

    And who suffers from the NPA depredations? The communities oppressed by Red rebels, and the fighters themselves, wasting their lives on a failed, pointless ideology.”

    Coming from an NPA infested island where during the 70’s and 80’s the sounds of gunfires were a nightly staple, where us kids would be allowed to gather around to stare at a corpse on the ground the day after, where adults spoke in hushed voices when gathered together, where lights went off at 9pm, where being stopped and inspected were normal… I really get what you mean.

    You have to have lived the consequences first before you could judge.

    I hope many people will read your article.

  3. You’ve inked on paper what many well-informed Filipinos are thinking and for the better part, debating. Rightly or wrongly, the masses look to leadership for responsibility and accountability, which for the most part of Philippines independence, especially in modern times, has been lacking. This article provides a holistic picture of Filipino shackles that have long since become “normal”. Thank you for shedding light to what many have come to accept and tolerate. The citizens have gotten used to it #SSDD. Great leaders have come and gone but no matter their skills (except BS Aquino and Trillanes I think they are… ), they were not right for the job. Then here comes a spanner named Duterte, who’s a long shot against the qualifications of other candidates… but no matter his credentials, he is the right man for the job. So said the masses. Never have I seen Filipinos more engaged, more passionate and more patriotic. Never have I seen Filipinos discuss their being Filipino, alongside the friendly smiles, are empowered to say, “don’t f*** with me, I am a Filipino.” Overseas, we have never been more proud to call ourselves Pinoy/Pinay – Duterte bumper stickers on cars and fist signs are plenty. Finally, someone speaks our thoughts and voice it out loud, nevermind the backlash. Finally, someone is listening to our plights, sacrifices and prayers. Finally, someone driven to prevent Govt process delays and punish criminals and corruption. As far as the majority is concerned, finally we can see in full colours there is hope. We feel it, touch it and use it. The masses has been empowered to do better, to match Duterte’s efforts and scrutinise those who stands in the way, who drops bullets in my bag and asks me to pay. It is the masses. It is every Filipinos in unison who can truly liberate Philippines as self-reliant and independent. So during this time of Philippines uncertainties, under Duterte, I finally feel free.

  4. To the Editor,
    I have on many occassions warned in this newspaper, that the situation in Mindanao, was predictable and imminent. One didn’t need to be a rocket scientist to see the returning jihardists from Syria were going to amalgamate rebels into an experienced revolt. Successive so called leaders have been asleep at the wheel. Now the authorities are playing catch up and still using 20th century tacticts for a 21st century problem. I have a vested interest in this problematic situation, as some of my family and extended family, live in Mindanao, and the current uprising is only the start. Your Presidents have allowed foreigners to control your public utilities and by doing so, have surrendered your sovereignty, the proceeds of which often feed the very rebels that your soldiers are now fighting. Australian politicians are also abrogating their duty by not acting with sufficient urgency to combat these ever increasing threats.

  5. Since the end of the Spanish American War Americans have had mixed feelings about the Philippines. Many at first and a hefty majority later on thought it was a big mistake to get involved in the archipelago. The main American beneficiaries were wanna be colonials in the worst British traditions and burnt out military officers nearing retirement. The legacy is one of victim hood and low self esteem for Filipinos.

    These days a huge majority of Americans know nothing of the Philippines or the history of the country. There will be no “I shall return” speeches; that generation is long gone and nearly forgotten. As for the Americans in Mindanao, they are harmless and largely unknown in America. If they are useful against terrorists, use them. Take advantage of their help. There are no Russians or Chines who can do what they can do. When your done with them, tell them to leave. Like the US Navy at Subic, they will go. But remember, when they go someone else will move in, as what happened in the South China Sea.

    • I know about the US history in the Philippines and how bloody it was, of course why is it that you always magnify that period more than the hundreds of years living under enslavement of the Spaniards?? China filled the void. You are on point! Good luck.