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Philippines: The Next Vietnam?
by Friends of the Philippines
Since the declaration of martial law in the Philippines 23 September 1972, many people in the United States have been alarmed about the growing repression in that country and continued U.S. involvement there. With this in mind, representatives from ten eastern seaboard cities held a conference in Philiadelphia on 20 October 1973 and founded the “Friends of the Filipino People” (FFP). The conference approved an essay outlining the main concerns of FFP, based on four central points of unity, and set guidelines for a nation-wide organization.
Today the situation in the Philippines is remarkably similar to Vietnam a decade ago. Will the Philippines be the next “Vietnam”? This is the central concern of FFP.
On 23 September 1972, President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in the Philippines, imposing a dictatorship on the Filipino people. Since then the “showcase of democracy” in Asia has become a military state alongside South Vietnam and South Korea.
The dictatorship in the Philippines depends upon economic and military aid from the U.S. Because opposition to the regime is growing and there is open rebellion in parts of the Philippines, Marcos is seeking additional U.S. military assistance.
A major purpose of the FFP is to inform the American people that such aid carries with it the threat of another U.S. war against an Asian country. Already, U.S.-trained pilots have flown U.S.-made planes on bombing missions against peasant guerrillas; and the U.S. military has been involved in counter-insurgency activities. Even though Americans want no more “Vietnams”, and Washington, no doubt, will be wary of getting into another Asian war, the strategic and economic importance of the Philippines is so immense-far greater than South Vietnam ever was-that the potential for escalated intervention is considerable.
THE UNITED STATES IN THE PHILIPPINES
Whereas U.S. involvement in Vietnam goes back only to the 1940’s U.S. interests in the Philippines date from the late 19th century. After suppressing the Filipinos, the U.S. made the Philippines an American colony.
Though in 1946 the U.S. ended formal colonial rule, the Philippines remains an economic ally tied to the U.S. After “independence”, U.S. business interests strenghtened their hold on the Philippine economy through a parity amendment to the new Philippine constitution. This amendment, which was literally forced upon the Philippines, gave U.S. citizens equal rights with Filipinos to own and exploit the country’s land and resources. Today, 800 U.S. companies in the Philippines hold or represent investments of between two and three billion dollars. Research reveals that U.S. investors own over one-third of all business assets in the country, extracting high profits which drain off the nation’s wealth. All of this led to increased popular discontent and a revival of Philippine nationalism that the Marcos martial law has attempted to suppress. One of President Marcos’ first moves after declaring martial law was to suspend the previous legislation and Supreme Court decisions that tended to weaken and nullify the parity arrangements by 1974. Following this, Marcos also granted oil exploration rights to several American oil corporations, an act that earlier laws had prohibited.
U.S military and business interests have, therefore, an important stake in the survival of the Marcos regime or some other anti-democratic rule. As the Filipino people increase their opposition to the Marcos dictatorship, there is the real possibility that the U.S. government may drag the U.S into another war against an Asian people.
WHAT CAN YOU DO
The U.S. government has been interfering in the affairs of the Filipino people for over 75 years. If you think it’s time to call a halt and if you agree with the four points of unity, you are invited to join Friends of the Filipino People and help with its work of education and action.
POINTS OF UNITY
- We seek an end to U.S. support to the Marcos dictatorship.
- We seek an end to U.S. military and political intervention in the Philippines.
- We condemn the long standing domination of the Philippine economy by U.S. corporations which has been a major cause of the continued poverty and underdevelopment of that nation.
- We support Filipino people in their efforts to secure full independence and freedom in their country and social and economic justice in the U.S.
FRIENDS OF THE FILIPINO PEOPLE
235 East 49th Street
New York, New York 10017