EDITORIAL - Waiting for liberation

(The Philippine Star) - June 12, 2014 - 12:00am

When the founders of the republic declared independence from Spain, 116 years ago today, the revolutionary army was a ragtag band overwhelmingly outgunned by colonial forces. President Emilio Aguinaldo declared the country to be “under the protection of our powerful and humanitarian nation,” the United States, whose armada was parked in Manila Bay.

The revolutionary forces declared Philippine independence at a time when income distribution in the country was widely unequal, with money and power concentrated on a miniscule class that benefited from ties to the Spanish colonial regime. The vast majority of the population was impoverished and lacked education and basic health care.

The armed uprising launched by working class freedom fighter Andres Bonifacio was for this majority. Independence should have meant the masses’ liberation, even if slowly, from poverty and absence of basic public services.

The promise of that revolution remains unfulfilled. The declaration of independence became a best-efforts pledge as Spain was supplanted by a new colonial power. The United States would only let go of its colony half a century later, after a world war, but the Philippines remained under the American security umbrella.

Today, two decades after shutting down the US bases here, the Philippines is exploring greater defense cooperation with the United States as Asia’s new military and economic power, China, muscles its way around the neighborhood. The Philippines is free from its colonial yoke but remains heavily dependent on the international community for much of its external defense and development needs as well as emergency response during natural disasters.

An estimated 40 million Filipinos live below the poverty line. The nation is waiting for inclusive economic growth and more equitable income distribution. It is the unfinished revolution: the celebration of Independence Day becomes meaningful as more people are liberated from poverty.

 

 

 

 

ANDRES BONIFACIO COLONIAL DECLARED INDEPENDENCE INDEPENDENCE DAY MANILA BAY PHILIPPINES PRESIDENT EMILIO AGUINALDO UNITED STATES
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