The love-hate diplomatic relations between RP and USA

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus Jimenez - The Freeman

Any freshman student of Foreign Relations would easily discern that the quick trip of US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and his hurried visit to Malacañang was an urgent repair job ordered by President Joe Biden by way of a second thought. The White House understood that the Philippines felt slighted that US Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the number 3 top American official, bypassed Manila in her diplomatic visits to the Asia Pacific. We have reason to complain about that diplomatic snub considering the long historic ties between Washington and Manila.

Speaker Pelosi committed a diplomatic faux pas when she opted to visit Kuala Lumpur instead of Manila, despite the fact that Malaysia and the US have no record of long friendship and alliance like the Philippines and America. Pelosi also prioritized South Korea, although the president avoided her palpably in order not to exacerbate Beijing's anger at Seoul, due to the latter's lovey-dovey affairs with Washington. Pelosi got a virtual slap in the face in South Korea when the latter's president opted to hide under the pretext of a vacation. When the head of a house refuses to face an uninvited guest, that means the visitor is unwelcome.

On the other hand, the Philippines, a loyal ally for 120 years, was ready to give Pelosi a red carpet welcome. But we were snubbed in favor of less-important US friends. And the unkindest cut of all was that the planes carrying the large delegation led by Pelosi, passed over Philippine airspace from Malaysia to Taipei. That was like your closest colleague and long-time officemate visiting your richer neighbor and passing through your private backyard, without even waving at you. The USA has a long-standing Mutual Defense Treaty with us and none with Taiwan, Malaysia, and South Korea. Why does the USA keep on insulting a long and faithful ally like the Philippines? Because we are poorer than Malaysia, Taiwan, and South Korea?

The Filipinos served under the American flag for the longest time and catered to American caprices since the Treaty of Paris in 1898 sold the Philippines along with Puerto Rico and Guam to the USA for a measly $20 million. Spain ceded the whole archipelago, except Muslim Mindanao, to the USA. The treaty was surreptitiously entered into in France by the two superpowers then, behind the back of General Emilio Aguinaldo, who declared independence on June 12, 1898. That cheapest real estate deal was made possible when Spain allowed itself to be defeated in the mock battle of Manila Bay between Admiral Montojo of Madrid and Commodore Dewey of Washington. That moro-moro between Spain and America paved the way for the Treaty of Paris.

From then on, hundreds of thousands of Filipinos died fighting under the American flag. World War II caused the devastation of Manila and other cities and towns, the destruction of our historic sites, and the massacre of at least a million people. The Filipinos also, upon the instigation of Washington, sent the Philippine Expeditionary Force to Korea to help that country against North Korea and the Chinese volunteer army during the Korean War. Again, during the Vietnam War the Philippines, pressured by America, sent the Philippine Civic Action Group. The Battle of Mactan in 1521 was more authentic than the staged Battle of Manila Bay, and the Sikatuna-Legazpi Blood Compact in 1565 was more genuine than the Treaty of Paris.

Thus, the Philippines has all the reasons to be hurt by the lackadaisical attitude of Washington, often oblivious of the long and historical ties between the two allies. Former president Duterte had all the valid grievances against America and refused to visit Washington while going to Moscow and Beijing several times. Duterte was more genuine than diplomatic. He carried the hurts of General Aguinaldo for he also carries the blood of Lapu-Lapu and Sikatuna. They are all warriors, not diplomats. They don’t forget, much less distort historical facts.

The trip of Blinken and his very brief talk with our president was only a symbolic act of a rich lover boy making up with a shabbily-treated, long-time, and faithful girlfriend. Nothing substantial was agreed on. No document was signed, only very vague, hazy motherhood statements. Diplomacy, it is often said, is the art of telling lies, couched in very sweet words not really intended to mean anything. Well, Manila is so in love with Washington that we are willing to close our eyes to all those lovers' quarrels. We will not forget MacArthur just because of a reckless Pelosi and an obviously sweet-talking Blinken.


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