COTANGENT – By Daphne Cardillo
With the coming commemoration of the Leyte Gulf Landings on October 20, I am brought back to reflect on the relevance of this event. One thing worth noting is that the Philippines has acquired a place in the world’s history with the Battle of Leyte Gulf, remembered as “the most savage naval engagement of World War II.”
Still, it is an honor to have joined the war—never mind our dead. We have earned enough medals and graveyards for our men. We were supposed to be “liberated.” And since it was the Americans who won, we were liberated from Japanese occupation. Had the Japanese won, we would have been liberated from an earlier American occupation.
What actually happened was that for the second time we have hosted a foreign war, the Japanese-American War or between the Axis and Allied forces. About fifty years earlier of that war, we have hosted the Spanish-American War. I don’t know if this line of event should be a cause for celebration. I mean—the hosting.
Now that the American soldiers are expected to stay on with the marking of the 50th year of the Mutual Defense Board, our country is prolonging its possibility of hosting another foreign war. At the least would be a Korean-American war, with North Korea developing longer-range surface-to-surface missiles, and in the long run, a war between the United States and any country from the Muslim world.
The United States has been committed to defending South Korea against communist North, and should a war breaks out in the Korean Peninsula, the North’s target would be the US forces in the South and in Japan and inescapably, the Philippines. Remember how the Japanese came here in the first place during the Second World War—to attack the Americans.
Another of America’s long-standing war has been with international terrorism which seemed to have evolved from a mere art to a new science. Most of these terrorist operations have been carried out by nationals from the Muslim world. The US government indeed has made a formidable enemy out of the followers of Islam simply for its racist stance. It supported Israel against Palestine over territorial rights, betrayed Libya in the oil wars, and intervened in Iran and the Gulf War in Kuwait, and invaded Iraq and Afghanistan.
The pull out of the US Military Bases was not a thorough clean-up. We still have American soldiers roaming in our yards, making our country a training ground for their military activities. Mindanao has become such a favorite place for military activities like the Balikatan exercises, not to mention the monitoring of Muslim movements in the area.
The mere patrolling of US troops even with no permanent base on Philippine soil is still an infringement on Philippine sovereignty. What’s worse is that diplomatic immunity is granted to US military personnel. When they commit crimes here, American soldiers are not bound by our laws. The US government is protecting their men in our territory while the Philippine government is not protecting our people in our own land.
Call it Filipino hospitality, but stupidity would be a more apt term. But probably we want to earn more war medals for bravery, and that there is still space for more graveyards for our men, veterans willing to be neglected, and people and properties ready to be destroyed. That is, if we continue to allow US military presence in this country and continually open ourselves to hosting any foreign war.