He came, he saw and he made a sales pitch
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2010-11-14
Your Chair Wrecker was treated by STAR president Miguel G. Belmonte to a VIP section seat to the November 10 talk of former US President Bill Clinton. Despite the stiff price that you (or your sponsor) paid to be there and the heavy downpour that afternoon which caused heavy traffic, it was a testament to the former US president’s celebrity that a big crowd attended his talk.

Clinton did share many values and insights but what your Chair Wrecker found most interesting and worth discussing in his talk were the following:

1. Spain and US colonization hampered Philippine development

For this, Clinton deserves a SUPER A rating for honesty. However, his honest admission was incomplete because he did not say that up to now Philippine development is still being hampered by US interference in our political and economic affairs.

Of the 11 presidents we’ve had since 1946, the US hand played an active role in the making of at least 7 of them. The Parity Rights and the Mining Act are samples of US impositions which sapped Philippine resources. The imposition here of martial law on September 21, 1972 was the product of US moves during that period to sponsor dictatorships in South America, Central America and Asia which they felt will deter Communist expansion.

2. Forget the past, look forward in order to progress

That would have been a great advice to the warring factions in the Middle East, especially Israel, but to a country like ours where people are exploited because they do not know the historical truth — that would be counter productive and potentially fatal. In the case of the Filipino nation, a poor grasp of our collective history is what is causing our divisions and strife and renders us prone to foreign exploitation.

Clinton cited the Rwanda civil war experience which was fought by the Hutu and Tutsi tribes. The former US President narrated how the Rwandans forgot the past, looked forward and quadrupled their per capita income which was under US$1 a day during the civil war. While the Rwanda experience is good for warring Christians and Muslims here to note, knowing and internalizing our historical truth remains an important Filipino MUST DO if we are to attain real independence and sovereignty.
3. Continue the VFA, make peace with the MILF

When your Chair Wrecker heard Clinton push for the VFA (Visiting Forces Agreement) which is now under review and the peace process with the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) what immediately came to mind was this — so now we come to the sales pitch!

At P25,000 per ticket, the Clinton talk did not even offer any refreshment. No free lunch it was and if we are to buy his sales pitch — we could be paying for much more than the high cost to see and hear him talk.

Other than these three points, your Chair Wrecker would rather leave it to others to belabor what else Clinton imparted during his talk.

Indeed, if the choice is between war and peace — then hands down it is easier to progress under the climate of peace and harmony. However, in the Philippine context of the MILF separatist movement in Mindanao, the solution is not simply the signing of a peace pact with the Muslim rebels.

For one, there are many other stakeholders in the conflict area who deserve to be included in the peace process. Signing a peace accord with the MILF which is unacceptable to the other stakeholders may just lead to another rebellion and expand the area of conflict. You sign peace accords in order to end conflicts and not to expand or complicate these.

The bigger concern is if the MILF peace pact becomes the facilitation for the establishment of US military capability in Mindanao. That will be taken by China as a serious threat to their national security, especially at this time when there is a feared looming US-China conflict. This will place us on the frontline of that looming US-China conflict and if that happens — the consequences are unthinkable.

It is only logical to perceive that the Clinton pitch for the continuation of the VFA and the signing of the peace accord with the MILF is all part of the current moves of the US to accomplish their big Mindanao agenda. Being married to US State Secretary Hillary R. Clinton, the former US president would have been easily co-opted to promote the US agenda. Being a patriotic former president, how could he resist that request to promote US interests?

We Filipinos should realize that more intense US pressure will be inflicted in the days to come on our government to condition us to kowtow to the American agenda. A foreign agenda thrives best when a nation is ignorant and divided — and most of our people are ignorant of this big US agenda and the risks that it will impose on us. Our many divisions are like fertile soil for sowing subterfuge.

That most Filipinos still continue to regard the Imperial American — quite different from the ordinary fair and usually caring American citizen — as a benefactor underscores the depth of our national problem in being truly independent and sovereign. We’re like rape victims fantasizing that our rapist is our Prince Charming. In coming to grips with the real US and its imperial character, many of our countrymen cannot seem to differentiate a fairy tale from stark reality.

President Noynoy Aquino has exercised political will in ordering a thorough review of the VFA. He wants to restore our national dignity by correcting that insulting VFA in its present form. He does this at great political and personal risks.

In this endeavor, there is no room for Filipinos who see themselves as either administration or opposition. Among us Filipinos, we are either patriots or Quislings in this undertaking. We either choose to save our country or to betray it.

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