Last of 3 parts
AND the boon is this: a media sympathetic to President Ferdinand Marcos, strengthening his hold on the Philippine press.
Marcos and the US defense secretary jointly announced last February 2 that the Americans would have four more of our military camps that they can use under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).
So telling that in their first columns after this announcement, rabid Yellow anti-Marcos columnists praised him to high heavens.
One Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist, who had been vociferously against the elder Marcos as well, titled his piece “EDCA: Marcos, Jr.’s bold move.” He couldn’t contain himself lauding Marcos for his “decisiveness to raise and enhance the profile of the Philippines.” Another columnist in the same newspaper, a certified Yellow ideologue, on the same day titled his, “EDCA: Marcos Jr.’s game-changer move,” practically saying that Marcos’ big move will be the key in giving the Philippines the leverage to “confront China.”
I found it a bit funny that in the Philippine Star, one known sharp anti-Marcos critic there who had consistently pejoratively referred to him as “Junior” in his pieces quite suddenly changed his tune, calling him, as we should, “President Marcos Jr.” Rappler suddenly stopped referring to him, as it had always done especially during the elections, “the dictator’s son.”
Indeed, I had always suspected that the vitriol of most columnists against the former president Duterte was not because of his profane language nor the alleged extrajudicial killings under his war on illegal drugs. It was rather Duterte’s expressed detestation towards the US government, to the extent that he even cursed US President Obama once.
You don’t do that against a superpower, especially one that thinks that it is still the font of the ideals of democracy, and with its unmatched military strength is the sole empire in the world.
Indeed, the US mobilized its entire propaganda machinery to demonize Duterte, mobilizing even academics such as Columbia University journalism professor Sheila Coronel, who looked away from the many other evils of the world and the US to focus on Duterte’s alleged human rights violations; Australia-based academic Vicente Rafael who in a recent book threw away all academic standards, vandalizing in its frontispiece Duterte’s official portrait with him raising a dirty finger; billionaire Loida Nicolas allegedly convincing New York-based journalists how evil Duterte was; getting the International Criminal Court to investigate Duterte for “crimes against humanity” solely on the basis of biased media reports; and miracle of miracles, getting the convicted Maria Ressa a Nobel Peace Prize at a time when there were dozens of other obviously deserving candidates such as climate-change activist Greta Thurnburg and naturalist David Attenborough.
Much of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s unpopularity that nearly brought her down emerged when she decided to leave in 2004 the so-called “coalition of the willing,” which was a PR trick the US undertook to portray to the world that its invasion of Iraq in 2003, which violated international law, was supported by so many countries of the world.
Arroyo decided to leave the US-controlled “coalition” to ensure the life of a Filipino truck driver Angelo de la Cruz who was kidnapped in 2004 by Islamic terrorists. While the Philippines was just one of the 31 members of the coalition, the move enraged the US so much it unleashed a series of vile propaganda against her, through such venues as the ABS-CBN broadcasting behemoth, the Philippine Daily Inquirer and the Philippine Star.
What also made the US mad at Arroyo was her increasing friendliness toward China, and especially her rapport with then Chinese premier Jiang Zemin who facilitated big Chinese investments such as State Grid Corp.’s 40 percent stake in the privatized National Grid Corp. of the Philippines. The US was also especially incensed with Arroyo’s move in 2007 to get China’s global ZTE to build the country’s internet backbone, or the national broadband network. The US felt that the Chinese would put software or even hardware in the system to use it as an intelligence-gathering system. A tsunami of corruption allegations — not a single one proven to this day — broke out against the project that it was aborted. Such is the power in Philippine media of the US.
What gives the US a lot of influence in media here and elsewhere is that they have been undertaking since the 1960s a program that brought journalists regularly “to study tours” in the US, either under the auspices of the defunct US Information Service or academic institutions, which in effect very subtly brainwashed them to believe that America is the world’s benign empire, concerned solely for propagating the ideals of democracy and freedom.
I know how the Americans very subtly brainwashes a journalist without him knowing it: I was a recipient of a USIS study tour in the 1980s, and a fellow of Harvard’s Neiman Center for Journalism. It took me years to shed off my brainwashing, helped by such US events as its huge role in bringing down Ferdinand Marcos Sr., the US illegal war on Iraq, and its war crimes in the Middle East.
Our political leaders of course don’t need subsidies to be brainwashed by trips to the US. Being members of the elite, many of them studied in America’s top universities, the curriculum of which always has subjects that praised democracy and freedom — and how the US has spread these throughout the world.
The fact is that most of our elite — which owns media that has disseminated pro-American views since our independence — have really been little brown Americans, acculturated to US society, their children taking US citizenship while exploiting our very liberal dual citizenship laws to become “dual citizens,” their language really not Filipino nor Visayan nor any Philippine language, but American English.
Between the US and China — as American propagandists have maliciously, wrongly claimed is the choice Filipinos must choose — hands down, they’ll choose the US of A. They have swallowed hook and line and sinker the belief that the Middle Kingdom is out to conquer Asia, and put it under its yoke.
Marcos’ decision to embrace the US eagle beyond expectations is his strong message that he is very much pro-America.
Even if his move to expand the EDCA puts us in harm’s way when conflict between the two superpowers break out, this won’t be high in Filipinos’ and the elite’s consciousness, as decades of US brainwashing and the elite’s ties with America have remained strong. If anything, about half a million US citizens came from the Philippines — the fourth largest after neighboring Mexico as well as the two largest countries in the world, China and India. That’s a huge lobby group for Philippine leaders to side with the US.
While Marcos would now have press and noisy columnists supporting him, it wasn’t really necessary to go overboard in his alliance with America, that the new bases he gave it are obviously intended for the US defense of Taiwan if ever China decides to invade what it calls a “breakaway province.”
Four of the 11 Asean members have territorial and maritime-area disputes with China in the South China Sea — Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, and our country. Vietnam has even battled in 1974 with Chinese forces in the Paracel islands claimed by the two countries in which over 50 Vietnamese soldiers were killed. The Vietnamese have even fortified the reefs and atoll under their control by transforming oil rig-type edifices into military fortifications.
Yet it is only the Philippines under Marcos that has decided that for the love of America it is gifting Washington its nine military camps that the US could use in a war with China, even if it is dangerous for us to do so.
Embracing the US will mean most of the elite supporting Marcos. But that doesn’t automatically mean it will be to our benefit.
And by the way, If Marcos thinks the expanded EDCA is such a good idea, why didn’t he designate Camp Elpidio Quirino in Ilocos Sur or Camp Valentin San Juan in Ilocos Norte — nearly facing Taiwan — as camps the US armed forces can use? He wants to spread around the economic benefits Defense Department OIC Carlito Galvez says such camps will reap?
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