Sunday, July 25, 2004

On our own finally, I hope

The main benefit from the pull-out of our troops from Iraq is that the Philippines will learn to chart its destiny independent of the USA. That is if our leaders will hew a straight course from hereon.

We already started on that way when the Americans pulled out their bases. I have always believed that we should celebrate our independence day from the time the Phil. Senate voted against the Phil.-USA base treaty.

When the Americans sailed away from Subic they crated off everything that can be carried on their ships and planes. Everyone thought it spelled the end of the place and the surrounding areas. But everyone helped. Here I raise my hat in praises for Richard Gordon, now a senator of the realm, and his volunteers.

Of course, as everybody knew, Sen. Gordon was vehemently against the pull-out. He even prognosticated that it would mean the disruption of the regional economy of Bataan and Zambales, even of the whole Philippines. Without American aid the Philippine economy would grind to a halt. But Gordon eventually proved himself wrong by spearheading the movement to save Subic. Alas, we did not have anyone else of his caliber taking charge of the vast Clark Air Base.

What we have proven is that we can be and should be self-reliant. But somehow we faltered along the way to that goal.

Without self-reliance we will never be treated as partners by the Americans. They will always consider us as beggars to be forced to do their bidding like joining the Coalition of the Unwilling in Iraq.

For instance, our defense establishment still waits with begging bowls in hand for cast-off military hardware instead of manufacturing them ourselves. The main worry of our military officials is that we will not receive the helicopters promised by the US government earlier.

Nations who see us as subalterns to the Americans will never treat us as equals at international fora. Even the Americans will not accord us proper respect unless we rise up and become their equal partners.