How successfully the United States shaped our collective mindset during the American colonial period is best illustrated in three recent developments: the case of Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith, the Senate probe on the rigging of World Bank-funded projects and the US compensation package for Filipino World War II veterans.
The Supreme Court’s order to return Smith, an American marine convicted of rape, to Philippine custody was not complicated; what made it so is the “Little Brown American” or “Big Brother” mentality. The hesitance to assert Philippine custody over Smith is obvious. We’re like a kid pleading to a bully to return a toy seized from him.
That all, or okay most, government projects in this country are tainted with corruption is common knowledge. Or call that open secret: we all know about it but cannot prosecute the culprits or do not want (do not bother) to. That’s why concerned sectors welcomed that World Bank report about attempts to rig the bidding of some of its projects in the country—until it became apparent its officials won’t divulge its contents.
I agree Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago went overboard when she lambasted World Bank execs that refused to share with the Senate the complete details of the report. But I don’t buy those warnings from our own officials about not pressuring World Bank execs to cooperate with the probe. Their objectionable line: that bank officials might get angry at us and cut off the loan pipeline to the country. That’s hogwash.
Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama may have been wise enough to insert in his economic stimulus package the long overdue compensation for Filipino World War II veterans. But consider this Department of Foreign Affairs data: of the 250,000 Filipino veterans originally listed as qualified to receive benefits from the US government, only an estimated 18,000 to 20,000 are still alive.
That’s why what we are hearing after the US Congress approved the economic stimulus package was not euphoria but a sigh of relief, or even grudging acceptance, from the supposed beneficiaries. Those veterans fought under the US flag in a US war, and even during that time were already paid minuscule wages compared with those of American GIs. Salt on the wound was the refusal of the US government to recognize for decades the sacrifices of these Filipino soldiers, thousands of whom died bringing with them to their grave the American insult.
Often, there’s not much equality in US-RP relations.
(I wrote this for my February 19, 2009 “Candid Thoughts” column in Sun.Star Cebu)