PRAISES & COMMENTARIES on Professor Roland Simbulan’s new book, Forging a Nationalist Foreign Policy:
” I strongly commend this book to all our countrymen….For the Filipino is the key to resolve the challenges vividly portrayed by Professor Simbulan….The Filipino is the answer to his own destiny.”
– from the FOREWORD by Teofisto T. Guingona,Jr. former Vice President and former Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Republic of the Philippines
“This book quite rightly articulates the Philippines’ aspiration for sustainable human development. Students of politics and history as well as policy-makers will truly gain from this book that challenges the country to assert national sovereignty and self-determination.”
-Rep. Edsel Lagman, Vice Chairman, Committee on Appropriations , House of Representatives, Congress of the Philippines
“This is how our young students can learn the crucial lessons of our past, how teachers, advocates and activists can appreciate the contemporaniety of events that continue to shape our country today, and how legislators can craft the laws and policies that can propel our nation to its rightful place in world politics, asserting a national identity and pursuing genuine pro-Filipino interests. Prof. Simbulan’s mission to imbue or to strengthen a sense of nationalism in the reader, while fully understanding the complex tapestry of our country’s past and present, is the unifying thread of this compelling collection of lectures and speeches. But the most important value we can get from this book is a sense of history — of knowing what we, as a people, have done in the past, what we can do today, and what we can be in the future.”
-Rep. Luzviminda C. Ilagan, Gabriela Women Party, House of Representatives, Congress of the Philippines
” At a critical time when the Philippines is debating its place in the world, in history and its relationship to the United States of America and the Visiting Forces Agreement is under review, this enlightening and excellent book is just in time. Professor Roland Simbulan has a unique personal experience, insight and knowledge of what he writes in Forging a Nationalist Foreign Policy. It will be a lasting resource book for generations to come. I recommend it to all.”
– Fr. Shay Cullen, Mssc, President, PREDA Foundation People’s Recovery, Empowerment & Development Assistance, Olongapo City
” Roland Simbulan’s book is a rare initiative that rekindles the indomitable spirit of national integrity ingrained in the 1987 Constitution. In today’s confusing world, the book probes through the tortuous road of paving a nationalist foreign policy obstructed by continued U.S. military presence, made legitimate by the dictates of U.S. visiting forces and bilateral immunity agreements.”
– Etta P. Rosales, former Akbayan Partylist Representative, & former Chair, Committee on Civil, Political and Human Rights, House of Representatives, Congress of the Philippines
” As in his past works, Roland G. Simbulan reminds us of the unfinished struggle ahead — the need for a more vigorous mass-based nationalist awakening that will once and for allput an end to foreign hegemony and elite rule. Only a nation that is free can forge a truly independent foreign policy at peace with the whole world.”
– Bobby M. Tuazon, Director for Policy Studies, Center for People Empowerment in Governance
“While reactionary elements would amend the 1986 charter to eliminate its nationalist and economic provisions and open the country to untrammeled foreign exploitation to its resources, this book should serve as a primer and reference book for those who love their country and would like to effect genuine social change. Let us heed Simbulan’s call for people’s call for people’s participation in abrogating the VFA and in forging a nationalist foreign policy.”
– Dr. Elmer A. Ordonez, former Vice President for Academic Affairs, & former Dean, College of Arts & Sciences, Lyceum of the Philippines University
Editors Note: For more information see the article by Arkibong Bayan
Book Review by Jeremy Agar
“FORGING A NATIONALIST FOREIGN POLICY”
by Roland G Simbulan, Ibon Books, Quezon City , 2009
Roland Simbulan is a Filipino academic, active in the movements to free the Philippines from nuclear weapons and American troops. Nationalism, he insists, is not about “advancing your country’s interests at the expense of those of other peoples”. On the contrary, it can be an aspect of what the Americans might call a good neighbours policy. To Simbulan, nationalism and internationalism are linked.
The Philippines ’ struggles have been partially successful. Simbulan sees a 1991 Senate vote to close the country’s US bases as a highlight of his country’s history. The Philippine archipelago, handily off the East Asia mainland, had served as an anchor on an American chain of foreign bases. For a century the US saw the Philippines as vital for the projection of its military power to key places like China , Vietnam and Japan . The host elites, Simbulan writes, had been traditionally servile and opportunist. So why did they surprise everyone and give Uncle Sam his marching orders? Simbulan suggests that it had a lot to do with the late, unlamented President Ferdinand Marcos. Marcos, who grabbed dictatorial power in 1972 as his American sponsors squatted in the Philippines , began to lose his grip, forcing the Yanks to increase their aid, and Marcos his terror, so that he could hold on. This showed just how much the two countries’ interests were incompatible and some Senators were emboldened.
US Military Back
Since the door was locked, the US has been rattling the windows, trying to get back in. The resulting tensions are Simbulan’s theme. In Manila Presidents come and go, sometimes promising democracy but never delivering. Local elites, who often need soldiers to prop them up, have to keep out a complex number of opponents. Violence lurks below, emerging in crisis into the open. Basilan, a small island with a mixed Christian and Muslim population, is known variously as “the kidnapping capital of the Philippines ” and as “the second front in the war against terrorism”. There, as Simbulan sees it, US troops support the Philippine Army against a “rag-tag bandit group” whose average age is 18 (McCoy – see my above review – says they were originally a Muslim group but degenerated into a kidnapping gang. It’s a typical regression). The Governor, a former member of the rebels – and believed by some to be secretly loyal still – conducts a “balance of terror” policy, exploiting the situation to settle personal accounts.
That’s just one island. Others have quite separate dynamics. Given the Philippines ’ difficult and exploitative history, it’s not surprising that Uncle Sam is still around. The Visiting Forces Agreement allows the US military to enter the country to carry out “activities” that don’t have to be specified and to stay for as long as they like, immune from local law. There might not still be a Clark Air Force base or a Subic Bay Naval base, but they’re back. With all the conflicting agendas being enacted, Simbulan muses, the countryside is a “free-fire zone”. This book, a collection of essays and speeches, is an authoritative account. The author has a long and consistent record in speaking up for the Philippines . Those wanting to look closely will find the appendices useful. They contain photocopied texts of the key agreements.
MESSAGE FOR THE LAUNCHING OF BOOK, FORGING A NATIONALIST FOREIGN POLICY
Wigberto E. Tanada
former Senator (1987 – 1995)
I am happy to be with my post EDSA ONE colleague in the Senate, former Vice President Tito Guingona. For we have fought many battles together inside and outside the Senate – against the Marcos dictatorship, for civil and political rights, but most important of all, on issues of national sovereignty.
As one of the 12 Senators who rejected the proposed bases treaty on Sept. 16, 1991, I take great pride in giving this message on the occasion of the the book launch of Professor Roland G. Simbulan’s new book, FORGING A NATIONALIST FOREIGN POLICY. The publication of this book is even more given significance by the fact that this November 24, 2009, we will be commemorating the 17th anniversary of the completion of the U.S. military base pullout at Subic and from other parts of Philippine territory.
I was Senator from 1987 to 1995, and the author worked with me as my Senior Political Consultant, in which capacity he assisted me in preparing legislation and resolutions in the chambers of the immediate post EDSA I Senate. These covered areas of foreign policy, defense and national security issues. More specifically, Roland assisted me on issues on the implementation of the nuclear weapons free provisions of the 1987 Constitution, foreign military bases and the U.S. bases conversion legislation. The author was then also the National Chairperson of the Nuclear Free Philippines Coalition and was author of the book, The Bases of Our Insecurity, and many articles on U.S. military bases and nuclear weapons in the Philippines.
The author -Roland -had also previously worked side by side for many years with my father, the late Senator Lorenzo Tanada as they were both officers of the Nuclear Free Philippines Coalition- since its founding in 1982- which fought the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant and U.S. military bases during the Marcos dictatorship.
If the EDSA I People Power Revolution was an exercise of sovereignty of the Filipino people to end the Marcos dictatorship, the removal of the U.S. military bases in 1991 and the completion of their dismantling by November 1992, was an act of Sovereignty by the Filipino People to end long years of foreign military occupation, extra-territorial rights and the economic, political and social costs that came with foreign basing presence.
In this book, Roland sums up the Philippine experience on the bases, and traces the political, environmental, social and economic impact of these bases on the Filipino people. He shows how even in the communities surrounding the bases, opposition to foreign military presence has been longstanding and widespread as in the rest of the country. He examines through analysis and critique the implementation of the ongoing bases conversion program, the poisoned legacy of toxic and hazardous waste contamination that the U.S. military bases left behind. He also shows how Philippine sovereignty has been undermined in the past and present through U.S. military operations and intervention. This includes the secret operations of the Central Intelligence Agency to undermine sovereignty and institutions in our country.
Also, he exposes how the more subtle use of “soft power” – the so-called humanitarian and infrastructure asistance of the USAID has been mobilized and used to undermine Philippine sovereignty and its political and economic institutions. Today, we are again a war-zone, especially many parts of Mindanao, and as Roland strips the facade of the VFA and Balikatan, “once again a laboratory for the testing of U.S. counterinsurgency tactics and strategies” which are also used in other U.S. military interventions in other countries.
This book is needed for the ” internet generation” today who have had no experience with the vast U.S. military bases that were then considered the largest overseas naval and air force bases overseas of the United States. In fact, the land area that they occupied in our country is even larger than that of the land area of the nation-state of Singapore and Hong Kong combined. This internet generation of today who were born in the 1990s will be the vast army of new, first time voters in the 2010 elections.
The book is also needed to remind us of the evils of foreign military presence in this country, so that this can arm and equip our continuing struggle against its restoration through the Visiting Forces Agreement and the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement. Knowledge of our adversaries is empowering, and will surely lead to more vigorous, intensified campaigns for national sovereignty. Indeed, interest in Philippine foreign policy and international affairs should not just be the concern of people in government, but as the author puts it, we must develop “grassroots foreign policy activism” in our communities and barangays.
At this time when our country is preparing for the 2010 elections, and seeks new hope for the future, this book will be an important guide and blueprint for a new generation of emergent nationalist leaders. This is so because Roland’s book offers constructive ways of how to reorient our foreign and security policies – towards pro-Filipino, pro-poor, more humane, and truly secure directions.
Maraming Salamat at Mabuhay ang Sambayanang Pilipino!
Nov. 20, 2009
University of the Philippines, Diliman