Posts Tagged History

Philippine History Part V – Ngayon. Duterte’s First Quarter

Duterte at the Torotot Festival 20151/4 of 6 years term, has now passed. Much has happened in many areas – for better or worse. Nothing has stayed the same in the Philippines, and I doubt it will go back to how it was before. Whether this is good, bad or just plain ugly will be something history will decide. Let us look.

People, Places and many questions.

Around a thousand people a month have died in the War on Drugs. How many are by police, how many by police acting as vigilantes, how many are gangs using the situation? Nobody really knows. One of the first things the President came out with was “drug lists” of doubtful origin, naming politicians, judges and others. The killings of suspected addicts and pushers soon came under investigation at the Senate in 2016 , with Senator Leila de Lima at first chairing the hearing and then removed and replaced by Senator Gordon. The hearing was then inconclusively stopped.

Marawi is a complete wreck including a major refugee situation. On May 23, 2017, a conflict broke out with the Maute group in Marawi – while practically all major decision-makers (and many unimportant hangers-on) of the Duterte administration were on a trip to Moscow.  The entire delegation flew back quickly to handle the situation. As the Marawi conflict continued, new Air Force planes the President had previously referred to as useless were used to bombard enemy positions. The hostilities ended in late October 2017. Martial law was declared in Mindanao until the year-end when hostilities in Marawi broke out, and was extended for a further year recently.

The MRT3 continues to fail (link). Project NOAH was defunded and then taken over by UP. Ignoring its information may have played a part in 200 deaths from typhoons in late 2017 (link). The value of the peso has gone down and the government has a high budget, although there are no new construction projects started yet, while PPP projects from Aquino’s time are being finished. Inspite of a looming possibility of the EU cutting GSP+ privileges in early 2018 and some refusal of aid from the EU and US due to human rights questions, the economy still seems to be quite robust.

In October 2016, Korean businessman Jee-Ick Joo (link) was kidnapped by police and killed by strangling in Camp Crame, then cremated and flushed down the toilet. On Nov. 5, 2016, Mayor Roland Espinosa (link) of Albuera, Leyte, was killed in jail under suspicious circumstances. On early Sunday, July 30, 2017, the Parojinog family of Ozamiz was killed in a controversial anti-drug raid (link) under Police Chief Inspector Jovie Espenido – who had also been in Albuera, Leyte before. In late August, Espenido was given the order of Lapu-Lapu by President Duterte (link).

On August 16, 2017, Kian delos Santos was shot (link) in a police operation partly caught on CCTV and by witnesses, belying claims of fighting back. Two similar incidents (link) took place soon after, with 19-year old Carl Arnaiz and 14-year-old Reynaldo “Kulot” De Guzman killed by police. Opposition politicians visited the wake of Kian. Late August Kian’s parents met President Duterte, even posing for the fist sign with him (link). For the second time after the Jee-Ick Joo case, the war on drugs was paused – and continued from Oct. 11 by the PDEA, with officially less casualties (link).

Allies, Rivals and everyone else!

Vice-President Robredo was offered a cabinet post as head of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council in early July 2016, just days after she and the President had separate inaugurations. On November 18, 2016, ex-dictator Ferdinand Marcos was buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in a surprise ceremony. Demonstrations ensued. On Dec. 4, 2016, Vice-President Robredo was told no longer to attend cabinet meetings and resigned her cabinet post the day after. During a trip to China, President Duterte had introduced Bongbong Marcos as the future VP.

Suspected drug lord Kerwin Espinosa, son of murdered Mayor Espinosa, was one of the criminals to testify against Senator Leila De Lima in a Congressional hearing in Nov. 2016, where she was accused of being involved in the drug trade taking place in Bilibid prison. Her former driver, who had had an affair with her, also testified. On February 24, Leila de Lima was arrested and brought to Camp Crame where she is until today. Long before that, ex-President Arroyo had been released from jail in July 2016 – and held many speeches during the ASEAN Summit in Nov. 2017.

Controversial social media supporters Mocha Uson and Lorraine Marie Badoy were appointed to MTCRB in January 2017 and as ASec to DSWD in February 2017 respectively. Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno was dismissed in April 2017 with insinuations of corruption. Both Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay and DENR Secretary Gina Lopez were not confirmed in May 2017. In that month, Mocha Uson became PCOO ASec while Alan Cayetano became Foreign Secretary.  On August 16, Judy Taguiwalo was not confirmed as Social Welfare Secretary – the last leftist in a major post.

COMELEC Chairman Andy Bautista was publicly attacked by his estranged wife in August (link), including allegations of corruption. While Bautista eventually resigned under threat of impeachment proceedings – most probably to save his family from private scandal, Chief Justice Sereno has been undergoing impeachment practically for the last quarter of 2017 under very dubious charges. A connection to the still continuing electoral protest by Bongbong Marcos is possible as COMELEC and Supreme Court constitute the Presidential Electoral Tribunal or PET.

In Sept. 2017, a Senate hearing on an intercepted 6.4 billion peso shabu shipment started (link). Senator Trillanes alleged a major role of Paolo Duterte and asked him to show a tattoo on his back, saying it could like him to Chinese triads (link). The investigation has left the Senate and slowed. Dengvaxia became an issue in Dec. 2017 (link), its previous history documented in this blog (link). Attempts to pin culpability on ex-President Aquino have failed so far (link) as the matter proceeds.

The person behind the opposition Pinoy Ako Blog or PAB was revealed by pro-administration bloggers in October 2017. Jover Laurio (her real name) was interviewed by BBC soon after that. This led to an ugly scene between pro-administration blogger Sass Rogando Sasot (invited to the official dinner) and a BBC reporter during the ASEAN summit in Manila in November 2017. Many of the bloggers associated with Duterte have been seen in photos with the Marcoses very recently. My impression is that many people are now tired of the too aggressive pro-admin social media.

Nation, Institutions and what next?

A controversial tax reform called TRAIN has been passed which may indeed increase the disposable income for certain groups, but make things more expensive on the whole. An investigation on a 6.4 billion peso shabu shipment from China cast a shadow on Paolo Duterte. The Hague ruling on the West Philippine sea was ignored and China continued building there (link) while it is highly possible that the third telecom operator in the Philippines will be China Telecom. Rebuilding Marawi shall probably not be subject to bidding – the question of who will benefit looms large.

In March, Congressman Gary Alejano of Magdalo filed an impeachment complaint against President Duterte before the Congress (link). It was junked on May 15 for alleged lack of substance. Senator Trillanes and Congressman Alejano therefore filed a complaint before the International Criminal Court (link) against President Duterte and a number of others. International critics of human rights violations in the Philippines were often insulted by President Duterte and others. “Special mention” was given to the EU Parliament, Agnes Callamard of the UN, and Barack Obama.

Furthermore, there have been measures targeting certain businesses that seem close to blackmail. Philweb (link), Mighty Tobacco (link), Inquirer and Mile Long property (link) all come to mind. They are sold as measures against oligarchy while the President is close to other oligarchic groups. Talks with the Left have practically collapsed, while the tax measures of TRAIN seem anti-poor, just like the planned jeepney modernization. Uber was also subjected to pressure for a certain time. The peso has gone down against the dollar while economic indexes give very mixed signals as of now.

A supermajority supports Duterte in Congress. Congress threatened to shorten funding for the Commission on Human Rights, and really cut funds for opposition lawmakers (link) for 2018. While barangay elections have been constantly postponed, the postponement of 2019 mid-term elections and indefinite political terms now loom in connection with planned Charter Change for Federalism. There is a high probability that the Senate may impeach Chief Justice Sereno even if there is no reason to – because most Senators seem to be on the Duterte bandwagon at this point.

VP Leni Robredo has quietly worked on her privately sponsored Angat Buhay program to help the poor attain livelihoods. Independence Day on June 12, 2017 was handled by Vice President Robredo alone as President Duterte had “gone missing” and never explained where he went. The Marcos burial and the killing of Kian led to major demonstrations in Manila but also elsewhere. The left became more determined in its opposition to Duterte after Judy Taguiwalo was no longer part of the cabinet. Numerous persons and groups on social media now form a broad opposition.

International media have reported a lot about both the Marawi war and extrajudicial killings. Inspite of his pro-China and pro-Russia orientation, Duterte accepted that the military was helped by the USA and Australia in Marawi, especially when it came to reconaissance. During the ASEAN summit in Manila, Trump and Duterte seemed to get along well. The war of words begun between Duterte and Agnes Callamard of the UN was continued by Duterte’s new speaker Harry Roque.

The big picture

is a totally changed country. Much less democratic. Probably a lot more quarrelsome at all levels. Recent incidents (Mandaluyong van shooting, armed robberies) show a possible spiral of violence. Wang wang or privileged overtaking for politicians is back by all accounts. Many more funerals.

And either fear or callousness or indifference. MRT failures, typhoon deaths, refugees from Marawi apparently badly supplied with food, Lumads allegedly being kept from getting enough food, many dead in Marawi – where are those now who complained about MRT, Mamasapano and Yolanda?

Love it, change it or leave it

Recent Facebook postings indicate that passport renewal appointments are full nationwide for about 3 months in advance. Are many people trying to leave, is the government trying to create a bottleneck for that, or has DFA turned more inefficient recently? Who knows where the truth lies.

Will things eventually turn out right inspite of possible rises in consumer prices, falling peso, overspending by government, loans from China with high interest, even possible investor jitters?

Will people love the new order? Will they throw it up? Will many leave? Don’t know. Let us see.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 5 January 2018


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Pagmamata at Inggit

Tagalog dress, early 1800ssa tingin ko ang madalas na dahilan para sa maraming problema ng Pilipinas. Wala namang lipunang pantay-pantay, kahit sa Scandinavia may mababa at mataas na tao kahit hindi agad ito nakikita. Pero mukhang sa Pilipinas tatapakan ka talaga kapag mas mababa ang tingin sa iyo, at pahahamakin ka ng mga naiingit kung mayabang ang tingin sa iyo – kahit tangos lang ng ilong ang dahilan. Maski sa abroad meron nito, kaya hindi gaanong naghahalo ang mga grupong “edukado” (UP, Ateneo, La Salle atbp.) at “migrante”. Makikita ito kahit sa pagkontra sa paglibing ni Marcos – maraming nag-dedemonstrate sa US, may iilan sa Australia at UK, bihira sa Alemanya, halos wala sa mga tipikong bansang OFW tulad ng Espanya, Italya, Saudi, Singapore o Hong Kong. Masyadong simple para sa akin ang lumang klasipikasyon bilang masa o elite dahil wala namang aalis sa Pilipinas na talagang mayaman o oligarko, maliban para mag-aral ng iilang taon.

Mas maganda para sa akin ang paliwanag (link) ni Manolo Quezon tungkol sa “postwar middle class” na American-style ang edukasyon, kung paano ito sumuporta kay Marcos noong una, nabigo tapos sumuporta sa pag-alis ni Marcos, nabigo na naman sa mga oligarko na tumuloy sa kanilang pagpapayaman mula 1986, tapos mas marami pa sa kanilang umalis ng bansa mula noong 1990s, huling yugto nitong grupo ang EDSA Dos, pero hindi na nila malaman kung ideyalista pa sila o gusto na ring makinabang ng husto sa kikitain.

Binanggit din ni Manolo Quezon ang bagong middle class na mas simple ang pinanggalingan: “Together with the academic and professional elite that migrated in the 70s went Filipinos of modest means who have only begun to establish themselves as a new, entirely different, middle class. Their influence in politics is only beginning to be felt, not in Metro Manila, but in the provinces.” Sa madaling salita, mga pamilyang migrante at OFW na umasenso – baka nadagdag na rin dito ang mga nakapagtrabaho na sa BPO. Iba ang istorya ng mga pamilyang ito.

Halos hindi yata naghahalo ang mga mundo ng mga grupong ito. Madalas na umiiral ang pagmamata at inggit – hanggang sa pulitika. “Bobo”, “Dilaw”, “Elitista” atbp. pang mga pagtawag sa kabila.

Napapaisip din ako sa isang komentaryong ipinost ng isang matanda na sa blog ni Joe America (link): “We were practical, conventional, materialistic and happy… and proud to be so. We compromised. When martial law was imposed in ’73 we were in our early twenties. We were gainly employed, dreaming of a promotion, a bigger salary and more. We thought martial law was a good thing because it ended the disruptive street demonstrations, jailed suspected communists, improved obedience to traffic rules and the peace and order situation because there was a curfew.”

Ngayon, ano ang pinagkaiba ng luma at ng bagong middle class? Baka iisa lang – iyong isa papunta pa lamang, iyong isa pabalik na. Ang bansang Pilipino – di na nadala o natuto man lang.  Dahil heto ang karugtong ng kuwento: “When things started to go bad, we didn’t pay much attention because our priority was sustaining our personal upward trajectory. An arrest here, a disappearance there, Imelda’s foreign junkets and extravaganzas, Marcos’ cronies cornering of the banana,sugar and rice production and trading we simply ignored. We admired and applauded the people who were able to sidle into the corridors of power, and tried to get ‘connected’ to them.  After awhile the abuses mounted, the economy faltered. We became afraid, restless.  Then Ninoy Aquino was assassinated.  We woke up, as though from a stupor or a bad dream,depends where or what we were at when it happened.” Ngayong panahong ito, ano ang mangyayari? Ewan ko.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 3. Disyembre 2016




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Philippine History Part V – Ngayon. Manila still stands

Paco Parkbut the Philippines has expanded. Aguinaldo’s Cavite was still province. A President from Mindanao and a Vice-President from Bikol are now seated. Where is this all going? Let us ask Nicolo Macchiavelli or better a short summary (link) of his main book, the Prince, which in the original is a rambling and difficult read:

The power to form a principality lies with either the nobles or the people. If the nobles realize they cannot dominate the people, they will try to strengthen their position by making one of the nobles a prince. They hope to accomplish their own ends through the prince’s authority. The people will follow the same course of action; if they realize they cannot withstand the nobles, they will make one of the people a prince and hope to be protected by the prince’s authority.

The Philippine situation is not in Macchiavelli’s equation. President Rodrigo Duterte is a kind of country noble by the Italian writer’s classification, but he was voted by people who wanted his protection. Vice-President Leni Robredo is one of the people, but she was fielded by the Liberal Party which could be seen as a party of “noblemen”, originally instead of popular Grace Poe.  Duterte was voted by many people in Metro Manila, many overseas Filipinos, and by much of Mindanao. Robredo was strong in Bikol, the Visayas, and in Muslim Mindanao.

It pays to have a look at which social groups voted for whom. Duterte had his main support bases in the new middle class both in the cities and overseas from all reports. Robredo could have had her support bases in the rising middle classes of the Visayas and Bikol, where apparently tourism has created new wealth. The really poor voted for whoever they thought could help them most, probably more urban poor for Duterte, and more rural poor for Robredo. Since Duterte and Robredo did not compete directly, the groups that voted both could be interesting to know.

Groups with common interests across a country. Their interactions, their alliances and their conflicts, will determine the next six years. Years worth observing – history in the making, ngayon.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, 1 July 2016, München


Philippine History Part IV – Teleserye. Edsa Traffic – 2010-2016.

ASMjf3188 10President Benigno Simeon Aquino III was elected in 2010. I was not particularly impressed by him from the beginning. Also because the media understated his achievements and overstated his mistakes. There are a number of things that come to mind. Social media postings made the round among my Facebook friends about:

  • the Hongkong bus massacre which was early in Aquino’s time. Not necessarily his responsibility or fault, but his PR did not fit an emotional people.
  • the pork barrel scandal. Strangely enough many postings blamed it on the Liberal Party, even if most were not from that party and PDAF existed before.
  • the Mamasapano massacre. Suddenly the Bangsamoro Basic Law became a focus of attention – the peace process no one had cared about for many years.

There are a number of other things that came to my attention, most especially:

  • the death of Jesse Robredo. Unfortunately all I read then were the absurd speculations of GRP about a possible connection to Puno and Mar Roxas.
  • Typhoon Yolanda. Here my perception was also shaped by what I had read at GRP or Get Real Philippines. Facts later made things look different.

There is an article by Mang Juan Republic on the Top 10 achievements and failures of the Aquino administration (link). My own list:

  1. K-12 is his major achievement which can, if it is not demolished by others, bring the Philippines out of the woods. It is more than just two years more – it is a comprehensive reform.
  2. His South China Sea initiatives and even controversial EDCA as well as AFP modernization are essential for the defense of the Philippines. No contesting that for me.
  3. The stuff under Secretary Abaya – NAIA, MRT was bad. His using Purisma for the failed Mamasapano operation, then not being at the airport for those that died under what he ordered.

Yolanda is hard to judge the entire picture. Some say recovery was fast, some say it was delayed. At least DOST Project NOAH might have been an indirect result of lessons learned from then.

Yes, DOST Projects – the DIWATA satellite, the DOST Roadtrain, the DOST AGT, even the hybrid electric train that PNR is now using, DOST IT projects to automate the government. Scientists. The 4Ps to help the poor overcome poverty. Probably not enough, quickly enough to combat crime. Not enough new roads maybe, but a lot of overhauls. But that isn’t good for a teleserye.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 29. June 2016


Philippine History Part IV – Teleserye. I’m Sorry – 2004-2010.

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, DavosThe second episode of the teleserye part of Philippine history that I see starts with President Arroyo deciding to run again after she said she would not. She won the elections and her rival for the Presidency, Fernando Poe Jr., an actor and friend of Erap, died in December 2004 – but the Hello Garci scandal (link) gave indications that votes might have been stolen in Mindanao. There was a speech with the famous saying sorry for an inappropriate phone call, but denying wrongdoing, which caused even more anger and a dramatic public retort by Poe’s widow Susan Roces.

There was a state of emergency (link) for about two weeks in early 2006. Arroyo claimed there was a coup plot while others claimed she was trying a Marcos-style power grab. There was also talk of charter change to a federal and parliamentary form of government. Charter change was often an instrument for keeping power in the Philippine political setting. Concerns about human rights were also a hallmark of those days (link) with talk of death squads sponsored or tolerated by the government. General Jovito Palparan (link) is alleged to have played a major role in this.

There were allegations of enormous corruption in her times which later led to her imprisonment and charges of plunder. The ZTE scandal (link) in 2009 also showed a strong link to China, which was reflected in the Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking (JMSU) of 2004 with Vietnam and China, as well as the Northrail deal which her successor President Aquino cancelled. The 2007 Manila Peninsula siege by Senator Trillanes and General Danilo Lim (link) was motivated by their perception of Arroyo’s Presidency as corrupt and lacking legitimacy.

Erap was pardoned in 2007 based on an initiative of then-Senator Mar Roxas in the name of national reconciliation. The good thing most will agree upon about the Arroyo period was the rising Philippine economy. Most economic policies of Arroyo were continued and enhanced by President Aquino. The 4Ps policy, based on similar Conditional Cash Transfer programs in Latin America, was also started late in her second term and continued by Aquino. PNP professionalization was also started late in her term and continued by the DILG under Robredo and Roxas.

The issue of non-inclusive growth inspite of general economic progress also started in her time – in fact it seems that the incidence of hunger increased among the poor (link). Anger at the handling of typhoon Ketsana or Ondoy (link), which hit Metro Manila in 2009, as well as an ostentatiously expensive dinner by Arroyo and entourage in New York increased her unpopularity towards the end of her term. There was the Ampatuan massacre in 2009 which placed the Philippines in front of Russia as the most dangerous country in the world for journalists.

The death of Cory paved the way for her son Benigno Aquino III or Noynoy to become the next President. But that is the next episode in the teleserye. The Hacienda Luisita massacre, which took place in November 2004 (link), is often made to look like the responsibility of President Aquino even if it took place in President Arroyo’s term and Cory no longer had any share of the hacienda. Speculations exist of a connection between the ouster of Chief Justice Corona and the Supreme Court case against the hacienda the owners lost in 2011. This too is part of the teleserye.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 27. June 2016



Philippine History Part IV – Teleserye. Edsa again – 1998-2004.

Political Chess setIt becomes hard to piece together the big picture of Philippine history from 1998 onward objectively, so I have decided to be subjective and tell it like I see it as of now – like a teleserye.

Everybody is invited to put in their own picture as a comment, their own observations of these times – towards the goal of a broader understanding which is non-partisan but not necessarily neutral.


Erap or Joseph Estrada became President in 1998. He was very much a man of the people, who inspite of his mestizo origins had exposure to the world of the streets and of the film industry.  His slogan was Erap para sa mahirap – Erap for the poor. His use of Tagalog or Filipino, his living a lifestyle more like that of the masses than of the former ruling class endeared him to many. Exactly some of these ways such as his publicly known mistresses (link) – a breach of the “delicadeza” of the elite – and more work-related, his midnight cabinet (link) made him an enemy of these classes.

On the policy side, he was known for his anti-crime task forces (link) headed by Panfilio Lacson, his favoring the death penalty (link) which was already restored in the time of President Ramos. The all-out war (link) against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front as well as the Sipadan kidnappings (link) of the year 2000 also come to mind as important matters during his administration.

There were also scandals such as possible stock market manipulation (link) and charity sweepstakes shares (link). What sunk his administration was the juetenggate scandal (link).


This all lead to a dramatic impeachment trial (link) which revealed possible bank accounts under the name “Jose Velarde”. Absurd aspects of the trial which was televised in the Philippines and accessible via Internet come to mind: the maid Delia Rajas whose name was used by someone else at a bank, Senator Miriam Santiago berating someone on the balcony for staring at her, the never solved Dacer-Corbito murder case (link) and finally the suppression of a second envelope (link) with possible evidence and Senator Tessie Aquino-Oreta dancing with joy and singing “no, no, no”.

The anger at the brazen dancing seemed to be the spark that lit a fire, this is what I remember. Text messages played a major role in getting people to come to the EDSA Dos Revolution from 17-20 January 2001 (link) which led to the ouster of Estrada. Vice-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo became President. The Supreme Court confirmed it as legitimate with the reasoning that “the welfare of the people is the supreme law”. Some foreign commenters saw EDSA II as a “cover for a well- planned coup” by an “opportunist coalition of church, business elite and left”.

After the arrest of Estrada in April 2001, the so-called EDSA Tres (link) started on 30 April 2001, supported by Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Vicente Sotto III, Gringo Honasan, Panfilo Lacson and Miriam Defensor-Santiago. Demonstrators tried to storm Malacañan Palace. President Arroyo declared a state of rebellion which was lifted on 7 May 2001.


The first thing that disturbed me about President Arroyo was a statement by herself that she, daughter of former President Macapagal, was returning to the place where she grew up – including jokes in some papers that she never grew up, a reference to her stature. The brazen sense of entitlement was suspect to me. But the Philippine general election of 2001 (link) was seem as giving general approval to her administration. Her idea was to “build a strong republic” (link), focusing on “building up a strong bureaucracy, lowering crime rates, increasing tax collection, improving economic growth, and intensifying counter-terrorism efforts”. Yet there were first warning signs like the Oakwood mutiny in 2003 (link) – the first major appearance of then still Lt. Trillanes. Inspite of a cease-fire and peace talks with the MILF (link), there was the Davao airport bombing of 2003 which was attributed to them. This part of the story was to worsen yet still.

Construction of the LRT-2 which started in 1996 finished in Arroyo’s term. The entire LRT-MRT-PNR network in Manila was then called the “Strong Republic Transport System”.

The Philippine population increased from around 75 million to around 85 million from 1998 to 2004. There are many other aspects of this time such as increasing number of OFWs or overseas foreign workers, the nascent BPO or business process industry, and the ever-increasing population of Metro Manila which was turning very modern. The next episode took strange turns.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 25 June 2016

Thanks to Karl Garcia for assisting with sources!


1896 and 2016

Puente de espanaare strangely similar. Economically, politically, socially. Mark Twain said history does not repeat itself – but it rhymes.

Economic progress

The late 19th century was a time of economic progress. Things looked very much like today with booming business (link):

In 1870, for instance, a national telegraphic service was set up. In 1873, a shipping company that linked Spain and the Philippines daily through the Suez Canal was established. In 1880, a cable was laid down via Hong Kong allowing telegraphic access to the rest of the world. In 1882, running water was introduced into the city of Manila. In 1883, a tramway system was established that was improved upon constantly in the following years. In 1890, the capital was pleased to inaugurate a telephone service that quickly reached the other islands. In 1891 the first railway line was built. In 1895, electricity arrived in Manila, speedily spreading to other parts of the Archipelago. The Manila Observatory, a center established by the Jesuits for scientific research, set up a weather station that was essential for the shipping companies. Parallel to this, sugar refineries were created, foreign capital-Filipino joint ventures flourished in the realm of agro-exports, the Islands received the most recent industrial technologies from Europe and America, and companies as significant as the tobacco-manufacturing Compañía General de Tabacos de Filipinas or the brewery Cervecera San Miguel, destined to great future success, were established. In view of this feverish economic activity, two foreign banks opened branches in Manila, competing with the Banco Español Filipino that had been established in 1851… trade grew from the 2.8 million pesos it was worth in the 1820’s to 62 million pesos in the 1890’s. In other words, commerce grew twenty times its initial value.

The development of this new agro-exporting economy also implied the complete opening up of the Philippines to international free trade and an ensuing increase in foreign interests in the Archipelago. After centuries of theoretical monopolies, during which commercial exchanges were forbidden outside of the narrow limits set forth by the colonial Government (which is not to say that they were completely absent), in 1789 a partial opening up of the Port of Manila was authorized. The Port was to be completely opened to international traffic in 1834. Soon after followed the Port of Iloilo, the Port of Zamboanga, Port Sual and the Port of Cebú. Hence, during those times of the opening up of new communications paths, of steamboats, of transport subsidies, of deregulation of rates, and consequently of increases in trade activities in eastern waters, the Spanish Government embarked upon an increasing free-trader policy that peaked with the Moret Tariff of 1871. This tariff brought the list down to rates that were tax-like, with the aim of stimulating the production and growth of local industries, making the products more affordable and fostering trade. The local production of sugar, manila hemp and other tropical products (save tobacco, which stagnated until 1883) was declared free, and the right of foreigners to acquire properties and set up businesses in the Philippines was endorsed. This novel free-trading approach resulted, on the one hand, in a growing increase of foreign penetration into the Philippines as of the mid-1860’s and into the following years. Trading activities, the establishment of businesses, and international investments in the Archipelago grew notably.

Political reforms

The administration of the colony was modernized, the same link as above from the Spanish National Library provides great insights into a policy that reminds me of Daang Matuwid:

Provincial administrative practices were streamlined, and attempts were made to improve the professional profile of the representatives of the State, to put an end to graft and corruption, and to revitalize the class of civil servants. Also, both the administration of Justice and the functioning of the Treasury were reorganized with the aim of achieving greater degrees of efficiency. The Town and City Councils were restructured, adjusting for a new Filipino involvement in municipal life. Attempts were made to occupy the territory more thoroughly, ensuring the presence of representatives in areas so far not attended to and bolstering it in more exposed locations.

But we all know 1896 brought forth the Revolution – and that the outcome of the present election portends possible change in a direction we may all not be able to foresee. Why was that?

Social changes

From the late 18th century onwards, things changed in the sleepy but stable Philippines. Some important points:

  • the galleon trade became less profitable, so the government established monopolies on tobacco and liquor including taxes
  • the port of Manila was partly opened to international trade in 1789, fully in 1834, the Suez canal opened in 1867
  • agricultural products such as abaca, sugar and tobacco were in demand, enriching new segments of the population
  • foreigners mostly from other European countries came to the Philippines from the 1860s onward because of business
  • the level of education increased and many Filipinos took advantage of the opportunities – from the same link as above:

For instance, in terms of children whose schooling was provided for, if we compare the Philippines and France in the nineteenth century, in 1840 the ratio in the Philippines was one child in school per 30 inhabitants, whereas in France it was one child per 38 inhabitants. In 1876 there were 1,779 schools with 385,907 children enrolled. According to the Report on Higher Public Education for 1887 (Memoria de la Instrucción Pública Superior), there were 60,492 secondary school students in the Philippines, and over 6,000 higher education students, including those registered in universities, arts and crafts centers, the Naval Academy and Teachers Training College, among others. Finally, other data states that between 1861 and 1898, there were 40,158 students (for the most part Filipinos) enrolled in the University of Santo Tomás. 89% of these students signed up for non-religious studies, resulting in 34% of them studying law, 22% medicine and 22% philosophy. In time many of these students pursued further specialization abroad, studying law, medicine or engineering in European universities.

Spaniards born in the Philippines – the only ones called Filipinos originally – had their Representatives in the Spanish Parliament in the early 19th century, but finally a reactionary government put an end to that in 1837. In the Philippines, mestizos and natives found a glass ceiling with certain positions reserved for Spaniards. Filipinos (creole, mestizo, native) all wanted more – same link:

Affluent Filipinos rapidly perceived their requests to be seconded by the have-nots, a group whose importance was growing quickly.

These underprivileged Filipinos were the irritated farmers and the new urban classes, employees of the administration, or workers in the increasingly numerous private businesses running in the islands. They also included the Philippine secular clergy, who were granted fewer opportunities and functions than the clergy in Spain, as well as groups that had committed to defending the traditional Filipino political order, with its traditions and beliefs, in the face of colonial obligations. Although these different sectors did not form a homogeneous group, and despite the fact that their interests were different, their members coincided in condemning the discrimination they were the object of with regards to their Spanish-born peers and in opposing the colonial regime, with all its implications. Although they expressed their frustration in different ways and by different means, ultimately many of them joined in the revolutionary uprisings that erupted against Spain in 1896.

Sancho Panza

Rizal wrote something very interesting in “The Philippines, A Century Hence” (link) – something similar to many today who warn about reforms that do not yet reach enough people:

In the case of our country, the reforms take the place of the dishes, the Philippines are Sancho, while the part of the quack physician is played by many persons, interested in not having the dishes touched, perhaps that they may themselves get the benefit of them.

The result is that the long-suffering Sancho, or the Philippines, misses his liberty, rejects all government and ends up by rebelling against his quack physician.

Rizal did not know Secretary Abaya. I doubt he even knew Emilio Aguinaldo – he probably was still a cabeza de barangay or barangay captain at that time.

Rizal did know Andres Bonifacio from the Liga Filipina. Bonifacio worked at a German firm in Manila – he was a bit like some of today’s BPO workers in Makati.

History rhymes

Rizal warned those who wanted to make a revolution that independence was premature, and warned the Spaniards to hurry up the reforms. And gave this caveat in El Filibusterismo:

Why independence, if the slaves of today will be the tyrants of tomorrow? And that they will be such is not to be doubted, for he who submits to tyranny loves it.

We all know how it went on. The Revolution started, the hothead Bonifacio died in a power struggle with cold, calculating Aguinaldo who then made a deal with Spain in 1897 – Biak-na-Bato. Aguinaldo wrote letters to the USA from Hongkong and came back with them in 1898, maybe hoping to be their client. America decided otherwise or always had, we will never know the full truth.

Now substitute Spain with America, America with China. The impatience and disunity of Filipinos has remained the same.

  • Many ilustrados wanted to preserve the economic and political gains of the late 19th century especially the 1890s.
  • It took until 1907 that the Philippine Assembly was elected under US rule after revolution, war, military rule.
  • The US took until 1920 to get Mindanao under control and turn it over to the Department of the Interior.

An entire generation had turbulent years. I wonder how history will rhyme from 2016-2040. One generation.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 2. April 2016

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The Commonwealth Army – Part I – Beginnings

Filipino Constabulary 1905by Sonny

with excerpts from the book “The Commonwealth Army” by Professor Ricardo Trota Jose

“… an army which like the eagle, exuded confidence and security while suffering, behind its proud mien, a multitude of perplexing problems. War reached the Philippines before all the problems could be identified and addressed …”

Antecedent Chronology

Independence missions to US from 1920s, 1930s culminated in Feb, 1930, when the First Independence Congress was formed in Manila; President Roosevelt on March 24, 1934 approved the Tydings-McDuffie Act which provided for the creation of a 10-year PH Commonwealth as precursor to granting of independence in 1946; this in turn was approved by the colonial Senate on May 1, 1934; In July 10, 1934 delegates were elected for a constitutional convention; March 23, 1935 Roosevelt approved Commonwealth Constitution; and then in Nov 1935, the Commonwealth was created/inaugurated, withQuezon as President;

Backtrack to the period before 1934

The First Philippine commission sent by President McKinley acknowledged the independence aspirations of the Filipinos but also added they were not ready to govern themselves. And so the First Philippine Commission recommended the establishment of a civilian govt as rapidly as possible. This meant the substitution of a civilian governor in place of the military governor. This also included the establishment of a bicameral legislature, autonomous govts in the provincial and municipal levels and system of free elementary public schools. The Second Philippine Commission (March, 1900) under William Howard Taft was also given limited executive powers. Between 1900 and 1902, the legislature created 499 laws.

At the end of The Philippine-American War, after July 4, 1901, it must be noted that the participants of the war in general reverted to civilian life and dispersed into the colonial life of the nation.

The colonial “military” community consisted of the Philippine Constabulary, Philippine Scouts, Philippine National Guard and various semi-military groups unconnected with conventional troops and finally ROTC groups sponsored privately.

In July 1901, the Philippine Constabulary was established as the police force over the entire islands. At first this consisted of American volunteers mustering out of the US troops. In addition there were auditors from other nationalities such as Belgians, Irish, Poles, French, German, Italian, Turks, Cuban. Most had foreign war experiences, the rest were recruited from the local provinces and towns.

The period from 1902 through 1934 witnessed the consolidation of civilian life and was marked by the pursuit of socio-economic concerns. Aside from these, the same period saw the movement towards independence.

The Philippine Scouts (Sep, 1899 – 1945), civilians initially recruited from Central Luzon to serve as guides, boatmen, occasionally fighters attached to American volunteers, then numbered by July, 1901, 34 companies (7 Macabebe, 11 Ilocano, 4 Cagayano, 1 Bohol, 1 Cebu, 2 Negros, 8 Panay). Many recruits served in the Spanish-Philippine conflict and the Philippine-American one.

Philippine National Guard (1917 – end of WW1), 15,800. The division was a federal body that was formed by Quezon to show loyalty and allegiance to the US. They were trained 3 months but disbanded right after WW1.

Semi-military groups (1912): These had no connection to conventional troops, but rather were privately sponsored – ROTC units from UP and Ateneo de Manila. Later on encouraged by Governor Leonard Wood, units from other colleges in Manila underwent training as long as officers were available. Similar groups were the First Semi-military Unit of Insular Employees (1923), National Volunteers of the Philippines (1932) composed of politicians, lawyers, landowners; the Phil Reserve Officers Associations (PROA, 1920s) composed of reserve officers, US Army.

When the first Philippine Independence Congress was formed in Manila in Feb, 1930 the matter of national defense was not foremost in the minds of the majority of politicians. Discussions instead were done at informal meetings of national defense groups and from these a pervasive attitude there was a trust that deferred to organizations such as the League of Nations and treaties like the Kellogg-Briand Pact renouncing war as an instrument of national policy. Quezon listened to these discussions but quietly decided to seek counsel with Gen MacArthur (Chief of Staff, US Army, 1932-1937) on the subject of national defense. Before this assignment, MacArthur had three tours of duty in the Philippines and had a special affection for the islands.

On March 24, 1934, the Tydings-McDuffie Act was approved. This legislation guaranteed the granting of Philippine independence. As provided by the Act, on 1934 July 30, the National Assembly elected delegates to the Constitutional Convention. The Committee of National Defense (CND) was created (Jose Alejandrino, chairman, Teodoro Sandiko, Antonio Montesa), all three were generals in the Revolutionary Army. On Aug 6, the Committee recommended to Constitutional Convention provisions on: compulsory military service, organization of a standing army and militia, compulsory civil service, nationalization and organization of industries, essential resources, transportation, communications related to defense, and created the Department of National Defense to oversee national defense and control a national police force. The Committee of National Defense recommended 2 general principles on policy of national defense: 1- renounce war as national policy, and follow International Law’s lead, 2- have the groundwork for mobilization in time of emergency and war. After discussion and debate, both were submitted to the Constitutional Convention.

With Quezon working with MacArthur, in November 1934 the Constitutional Convention put out Bill 735 authored by Claudio Sandoval: title “An Act Creating the Bureau of National Defense in the Government of the Phillippine Islands, Defining Its Powers and Duties;” the Bill covered:

  •  training of officers,
  •  creation of reserve corps of officers and enlisted men,
  •  compulsory military education in schools, colleges, universities,
  •  funding scholarships in military and naval schools in US and other countries

Governor General Frank Murphy vetoed the Bill and asked for more thorough study and consultation with experienced military professionals. In autumn 1934, Quezon went to Washington DC to request that legislation authorizing MacArthur to head a Military Mission to the Philippines, and Quezon formally requested for MacArthur’s services for the Philippines. On this trip Quezon also requested that Secretary of War George Dern include the Philippines in a 1926 Act that detailed the conduct of military missions. In November 1934, MacArthur assigned Lt Col Dwight Eisenhower and Lt Col James Ord to study the most effective and economical means to defend the Philippines. The following December, MacArthur met with Sec Dern and President Roosevelt regarding his Philippine assignment. At this time Governor General Murphy accepts the position of High Commissioner. In the islands, the Constitutional Convention laid the legal groundwork as the technicalities were worked out in the US. The Philippine Legislature authorized the creation of a PC aviation unit and allotted funds for aircraft procurement and pilot and mechanic training. This seemed to signal preparations for the PC to become the new Philippine Army.

National defense discussions continued into 1935. Major Vicente Lim of the Philippine Scouts, the first Filipino graduate of West Point, and Major Fidel Segundo, also of the Philippine Scouts and a West Point graduate, favored an army created from scratch that would create and train its officer corps and grow its own esprit d’corps. L. Siguion Reyna, technical adviser to the secretary of the Interior envisioned an army from the Belgian and Swiss models, operating at maximum effectiveness at minimum cost. A navy is out of the question because of the cost but a coast artillery corps and an air corps could be developed to insure protection from threats at sea. He also stated that a small regular force and large reserve force and militia would be best costwise and pointed out that the army must be useful in times of peace and war lest the country be at risk of overwhelming taxpayers.

Voluntary Service like the US system was least desirable due to slow readiness and was expensive in the long run. Another system from Prussia and Japan consisted of mandatory 2- or 3-year military service from all males. A third system from the Swiss and Australian model reconciling democratic and military strength received most attention.

Even as discussions were still going on, the plan as developed stateside by the US military mission was adopted. The Plan was drawn by then Major Eisenhower from MacArthur’s Army staff and Major James Ord from the Army War College. Their first version was rejected by MacArthur because of cost even though it came from the best parameters: minimization of cost was secondary to effectiveness under Philippine conditions. A second version was drawn requiring 1,500 officers and 19,000 men and the lowest annual cost of 22 million pesos. Because MacArthur’s commitment to Quezon was a 16 million-peso annual cost, The plan was redrawn to a reduction to 930 officers and 7,000 men, a force barely larger than the current Philippine Constabulary force. The resulting shortage of officers and men was to be recovered by an annual increase in recruitment. The standard training time was cut short; the acquisition of equipment and the full achievement of preparedness was spread out over 20 years rather than the 10 year period of the Commonwealth. The rest of the comprehensive details are presented here and virtually lifted from Prof Jose’s enumeration

  • The formation of the more expensive units, the coastal artillery for example, will be deferred. Expenses for the first few years would center on building barracks and and other camp buildings, but after this construction, the resulting savings could be allotted to weapons and equipment procurement, all spread out over the 10-year preindependence period. In order to save further the army’s reserve transportation was not to be organic: buses, cars and trucks for the reserve divisions were to be expropriated from civilian concerns upon threat of war.
  • Basically the plan was to have a small regular force, based on the PC, and a large reserve force. The regular force would provide overall leadership, instructors for reservists’ training , and overhead for the army, as well as maintain peace and order within the country.
  • The trainees themselves would be 20-year-old males, who would register for duty. From the registrants a total of 40,000 would be picked for training for the next year, in two groups of 20,000 men each. In the camps they will learn the basics of military discipline and training and upon completion of the training would pass into the reserve force, liable for call any time that the country needed them. For ten years after that, the reservists would have ten days of refresfer training annually; after that they pass into second reserve, where the period of refresher training was shorter.
  • The plan called for gradual buildup. The first group will consist of 3,000 trainees in order to gain experience in the process and to save money. As officers and trainees become familiar with training procedures and as weapons were procured, more barracks would be built and the trainee classes would be expanded to full quota.
  • Every populated island was to be defended. This would be facilitated by building training camps throughout the country, with the trainees observing their obligations near their homes. Apart from providing bodies of trained men throughout the archipelago, this system would also develop a sense of defending home and family.
  • Registration and training would be obligatory and part of the twenty year old’s duty to the state. The cut in cost of salary will be redirected to construction and the acquisition of weapons and equipment.
  • To avoid long tours of duty and cut costs further, preliminary military training will take place in schools. The basics of sanitation, hygiene, citizenship, military discipline will be taught in primary and secondary schools. The PC could not meet the needed number for officers. Thus these were taken from the Philippine Scouts and the regular US Army. The Philippine Constabulary Academy was now being modeled after West Point and was to become the Philippine Military Academy. Other short term schools for reserve officers were opened. Special training sessions of two months duration for officers to teach pre-military training were created.

Various service units were formed for both regular and reserve branches of the military. This included combat arms for the infantry, field artillery, coast artillery and air corps. Support services included the quartermaster, signal and engineering corps, medical services, other branches for management and maintenance. A new branch of service would be formed, the Offshore Patrol (OSP) the marine arm of the Plan.

On weapons, the cheapest and most effective would be the rule of the day since this was the expensive item of the budget. Obsolescence of weapons must be alerted to constantly.

Tactically the defense plan reflected the backgrounds of the authors, MacArthur, Eisenhower and Ord. The reserves would be organized into divisions, half the size of US regular division for mobility and cost. Divisions will not be saddled by complex supply organization nor expensive organic transportation or equipment.

Quick mobilization, expropriation or confiscation of equipment and transportation would allow the reserve divisions to be formed almost anywhere in the country.

The Philippines would be divided into military districts, based on population rather than area. Within each district, would be a set number of camps and one mobilization center where supplies and equipment would be stocked. Each district would be administratively responsible for the training and organization, as well as mobilization, when necessary, of the reserve divisions assigned to it. Through this method a force that would assure maximum protection in every Island, District and Province of the Philippines could be organized.

The key tactical concept of the plan was the denial of any part of the Philippines to any potential foreign intruder. A cordon system of defense was practically forced on the Philippines because of the impracticability of developing naval forces to preserve interisland communication against any attack by water. This defense plan was to ensure a defense of each portion of Philippine territory that the cost of subjugation would exceed potential for rewards to any aggressor. This meant defense at the beaches by infantry, supported by machine guns and artillery. The stress on smaller units and mobility would allow for divisions to be moved quickly in support of divisions under attack.

To provide for early warning and to attempt to break up landing forces would be the job of the air corps and offshore patrol. These were the idealistic part of the plan because the planners lacked air and naval backgrounds. Contact and control by air by defenders will be sufficient to keep hostile naval forces outside territorial waters. 150 fast bombers were proposed to accomplish this. 50 small but fast Offshore patrol boats would do the job of deterring enemy navy vessels from territorial waters.

This was the plan on paper of what a relatively poor nation can expect to accomplish and at the minimum gives to itself territorial integrity and the hope that it gains allies in the case of prolonged siege.

Note: This is a summary of the National Defense Plan as drawn up by Major Dwight Eisenhower, US Army and Major James Ord, US Army. Submitted to General Douglas MacArthur on the eve of the Philippine Commonwealth


Professor Jose covers extensively the rest of the history of the Philippine Commonwealth Army under the headings below

  • Build-up Chronology: 1934, The National Defense Act; 1935 Objections and Startup; 1936; 1937; 1938; 1939; 1940
  • From concept (the National Defense Plan) to fruition (the standing forces); The first & second year to implement the National Defense Act; Objections; Quezon waffles; The final forces
  • The Beginning of the End or Countdown to baptism of fire:   Dec 8, 1941, Contact: Into the maw of destruction; breakdown and escape

Thank you to Manong Sonny for this article.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 5. March 2016


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Seven Filipino Generations

Hon Florentino Penaranda 1908Around seven generations have passed since the idea of the Philippine nation got started. During the times the Spanish East Indies were ruled from Mexico which was until the early 19th century, there was no real idea of the Philippines except as an archipelago, and even then the first to be called Filipinos were Spaniards born on the islands. From this time onwards I see these generations:

  • 1834-1860: opening of Manila to international trade in 1834, the Claveria decree on surnames in 1849, 15 foreign firms in Manila by 1859 (link);
  • 1860-1892: First Propaganda Movement for Filipino priests, mandatory public schooling from 1863 onwards, opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, Gomburza execution in 1872, Second Propaganda Movement of ilustrados abroad, La Liga Filipina and the foundation of the Katipunan in 1892 (link);
  • 1892-1916: First municipal elections in 1895 (link), the Revolution, Biak-na-Bato, the Malolos Republic, but also other republics declared in the Visayas (link), the Philippine-American war, Philippine Organic Act of 1902, Moro rebellion from 1901-1913, 1907 elections for the Philippine Assembly, Ricartistas (link), the Jones Law in 1916 and the Philippine Senate established;
  • 1916-1945: Moro territories are turned over to the Interior Department in 1920, major functions of the Insular Government are turned over to Filipinos – BIR in 1918, the Philippine Commonwealth is established in 1935 with its own Constitution, the Japanese invade and are thrown out. This central article (link) contains links to other detailed articles.
  • 1945-1972: the Commonwealth just manages to extract itself from postwar destruction, the Republic starts and seems to be in constant crisis (link), but it is economically ahead in Asia second only to Japan.
  • 1972-1998: Martial Law is declared in 1972 (link), People Power happens in 1986, the Presidency of Cory Aquino is marked by crises and coups, that of Ramos promises new stability (link).
  • 1998-present: probably one of the most difficult periods of Philippine history where it is hard to describe what happened without being accused of factionalism… 18 full years until now.

If each Filipino was to think of what stories he or she knows of the past within his family, I doubt that the stories would go very far. The lack of a national narrative, of a story of the Philippines truly felt and visualized by Filipinos, might also be lack of stories passed along generations. Not just the different and often exclusive accounts each family and each group have among themselves.

Nothing ever learned?

Could this be one reason for several phenomena that I have noticed in Philippine history? They are the following in my point of view:

  1. Patterns repeating themselves. One example: often economically progressive, yet always sliding back. Early 19th century, late 19th century, 1960s, mid-1990s even, present times?
  2. Heroization and demonization. The demonization of the Church, not only Padre Damasos, led to the First Propaganda Movement being forgotten. Rizal vs. Bonifacio among historians.
  3. Persistence of nonsense. The long overdue reform of the Penal Code of 1884, which inspite of revisions is antiquated, has been in Congress since 2014. No anti-dynasty law since 1987.

One cannot really blame people though. Rapid changes have lead I think to lack of words to describe things. Even the slang of every Filipino generation adapts fluidly to a fast-changing reality.

Is there hope?

The present discussions between those who are anti-Marcos, anti-Cory or even anti-both are a good thing in one way. They have reopened the telling of what happened in the last 30 years, maybe even up to 50 years. The movie Heneral Luna and many other recent historical films brought times that are not even old by European standards back to life, more than any dry accounts.

The Philippines Free Press (link) gives amazing insights into the Philippines over about a hundred years.  The McArthur articles by Bill from Oz show the General from an Australian perspective. Seeing multiple perspectives is important for opening minds that are often blocked by doctrinaire readings of who is the hero and who is the villain. Filipiknow (link) has a lot of historical trivia. Pictures of ordinary people in early 20th century Manila show a very simple life relative to now. There also has been much progress. The accurate big picture of seven generations remains elusive.

The Iroquois Constitution (link) says leaders must consider the next seven “spans” or generations. Understanding the seven previous ones even just a little might be a start. Picturing each “span”.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 4. March 2016


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General McArthur returns

MacArthur’s ‘Liberation’ of the Philippines

by Bill In Oz

ManilaBilibid001Most of us are ‘gifted’ with 20/20 hindsight !! We can look back on the past and see what others did wrong or poorly, because we now ‘know’ far more information than was available in the past. It is easy to do the same with MacArthur’s return to the Philippines in October 1944. For example some might say that the liberation was a mistake because the the US was developing atomic bombs which would force the Japanese to surrender in August 1945. But in October 1944 this weapons research was a closely guarded secret and nobody, not even the atomic scientist involved, actually knew if the atomic bombs would work. So it is not relevant at all in this discussion. I want to avoid that kind of fallacious 20/20 hindsight argument here.

I think that MacArthur’s ‘liberation’ of the Philippines was a massive strategic mistake by MacArthur. However he did not wear the costs of his mistake. In late August 1945 he left the Philippines to take up a new job as the effective ‘dictator’ of conquered Japan. He left behind a people & land devastated by the battles he had unleashed. The people, the society, the cities and land of the Philippines bore that burden of his massive mistake.

In the previous section I talked about Admiral’s King & Nimitz & their strategy against Japan. And I mentioned a fundamental principle of waging a war is that it is far better to attack & knock out the enemy, than it is to impose suffering & destruction & death on your own people. These insights are important.They are worth repeating now.

Nimitz & King’s’s use of submarines and carrier based aircraft to gain control of the seas & the air in Japan’s maritime empire was an outcome of this insight into waging war. The US navy attacked and defeated the Japanese army only at ‘key’ selected island locations in the western Pacific. The US navy with the US air force, then used those ‘key points’ as bases for waging war closer & closer to Japan to attack on it’s Japan on it’s home ground. This strategy was successful. From mid 1944 the USA air force started to mount mass bomber air raids directly on the Japanese home island cities. It’s merchant marine ships were unable to travel the East or South China seas without coming under attack and being destroyed. The areas conquered & occupied in 1941-42 to supply Japan with raw materials like crude oil, iron ore, coal, rice, cotton etc, were largely isolated from Japan. And the Japanese imperial troops could not be easily reinforced or resupplied. Effectively these numerically large occupying armies ( over one million ) scattered all over South East Asia were irrelevant to the future battles & outcome of the war.

I have said this once already but it is worth saying again : Australian, British & American troops mopping up the isolated remnant Japanese in late 1945 found that the Japanese soldiers had become farmers & gardeners to feed themselves. They army high command in Tokyo had no means to feed them or supply them with basic military equipment.

This strategy while it was successful in winning the war, also had it’s problems. The peoples of South East Asia & China suffered under Japanese army occupation. For example, Malaya, Singapore, Indochina, Thailand and almost all of the Dutch East Indies ( now Indonesia ) were still under Japanese army control after the Japanese surrender on September 3rd 1945. And local people suffered a lot as a result. Food stocks were seized and so was property. The local people suffered from lack of food & security. Some locals were arrested and executed right up until immediately before the surrender.

But in the days after the formal surrender on September 3rd 1945, the Japanese troops all over the conquered areas of Asia, handed over their arms to small parties of Allied (mainly Australian & British) troops. The Japanese occupation ended without any more major battles or massacres in these places. And far, far fewer of the local people were killed, injured than would have happened in the course of numerous land battles between the Allied forces and the Japanese throughout South East Asia & China, had a different strategy been adopted.

MacArthur was aware of this overall US Navy strategy to defeat Japan. He knew that it was successful. To some extent he adopted the strategy in military operations that he commanded in New Guinea and the eastern islands of Dutch East Indies. But he had other dreams and aspirations. He wanted to attack the Japanese, conquer them, and thus ‘liberate’ the Philippines. However “MacArthur’s liberation” was extraordinarily destructive to the Philippines. It is important to hold in mind that it was MacArthur who personally persuaded Roosevelt in July 1944, of the need to ‘Liberate’ the Philippines rather than attack the Japanese in Formosa as proposed by Nimitz & King. It was MacArthur’s vision and strategy. This is the story of what turned out to be a very destructive liberation.

The ‘liberation’ started with a huge invasion fleet sailing to the Philippines in October 1944. This army was composed almost entirely of US army troops who had been sent across the Pacific Ocean to northern Australia & New Guinea. There they had been trained some more and assembled for transport by a convoy of over 200 ships to Leyte.

I think MacArthur consciously modeled the whole thing on “Operation Overlord” and the D Day landing in France in June 1944, only 4 months earlier. I think he wanted to show that he could organise just as big an invasion as the one commanded by Dwight Eisenhower who was his former military assistant in Manila from 1935 to 1939. MacArthur waded ashore with the US invasion forces at Leyte Gulf on the 23 of October 1944. He had ‘returned’ as he promised in Terowie in March 1942.

The army landed on the western shores of Leyte island in the Visayas region of the Philippines. Leyte was chosen not for any particular reason. It was simply open to attack from the East by a US fleet in the Pacific ocean. MacArthur also thought it was poorly defended by the Japanese and so more vulnerable to attack. At the start this was partially correct but the Japanese sent additional troops there very quickly.

There are no records of how the local Filipino people fared during the Leyte campaign. Leyte in 1944 was mostly mountainous jungle with a relatively low population. There were also about 2000 Filipino guerilla fighters on Leyte fighting the Japanese in 1943-44. But major land battles took place in the one major significant northern valley which was closely settled with rice farming communities. I imagine that in the battles that took place, homes and rice crops and gardens were destroyed or damaged.

There were some Australians in the invasion force, only 3000. The Australian government wanted its troops to participate and offered the three divisions of men who had fought in the Middle East and then under MacArthur’s command in Papua & New Guinea. But MacArthur decided in mid 1944 that the Philippines should be liberated by Americans without help from ‘allied’ countries like Australia.

It’s important to be aware that the Japanese military knew that the US & its allies was winning the war in 1944. Japan was facing defeat in the war. This lead to the Japanese ‘prime minister’ Tojo & his cabinet resigning in July 1944 and a new cabinet being installed. The Allies had already decided together that they would only accept an end to the war if Nazi Germany & Imperial Japan agreed to ‘total & complete’ surrender. That was the Allied goal. Given this situation the Japanese military adopted a battle strategy of making a US victory so ‘expensive’ and so high in US dead & wounded, that the US would instead offer to Japan to end the war with terms that allowed it an ‘honorable’ negotiated peace.

In line with this war goal, as soon as Leyte was invaded, the newly appointed Japanese commanding general in Manila, General Yamashita ( the famous ‘Tiger of Malaya’ who defeated Britain at Singapore in 1942), sent substantial numbers of troops from Luzon to Leyte to make the American task of liberating the Philippines far, far harder. It took almost 4 months of grinding combat for the US forces to defeat the Japanese on Leyte. The Japanese army ‘dug in’ very well in the mountainous jungle areas. They wanted to draw US forces into combat as part of their ‘high cost of victory’ strategy.

On the other hand the USA army was mainly in Leyte to use the flat open lands to build air fields & other bases to use for advancing the attacks on other more important parts of the Philippines like Luzon. Maybe that is why MacArthur did not wait long for the Japanese to be defeated in Leyte. In December 1944 he ordered US troops to occupy Mindoro island. The reason was to again to build air fields for US Air Force aircraft to use in attacking & bombing Luzon. Mindoro was a lot closer to Luzon and to Manila. It was also occupied by far fewer Japanese troops who were quickly overcome.

In October 1944 as part of the ‘high cost of victory’ the Japanese navy & air force were also instructed to attack the landing convoys as well. A series of naval battles and air battles took place in the seas around the island and Surigao Gulf. It was the largest naval battles of WW2. At the end of it all, the Japanese Navy & Air Force were both very badly mauled. The Japanese navy did not engage in any more major battles in WW2. The seas of the Philippines were controlled by the US. And the Japanese air force and carrier air craft so reduced in numbers that they no longer controlled the air space above the Philippines.

And that made for an interesting situation where US forces under MacArthur could no pick & choose at will what he would next do. The US Navy commanded the seas around the Philippines. The US Air force and navy carrier aircraft dominated the air above the Philippines. And MacArthur commanded a dominant 230,000 strong army of US armored and infantry divisions plus Filipino guerillas which he could deploy. It was a larger force than the United States sent to North Africa or to Italy. It was the largest American campaign of the Pacific War.

MacArthur had in his own hands what happened next in the Philippines. Yamashita on the other hand held to his strategy of an extended war of attrition, causing as many American casualties as possible and so delaying the American attack on Japan’s home islands. He withdrew his most of army from Manila and from the open rice growing plains areas, to the hills and mountains of Luzon. He did this to minimise the advantages the US forces had with big navy guns, it’s tanks & armour and it’s planes.

MacArthur next move was a sea borne invasion of Luzon on January 6th at the Lingayen Gulf in the north west coast. It was the same area where Japanese forces landed in December 1941 with sheltered beaches. The Lingayen gulf leads directly into the central plain of Luzon which had the best roads and a railway line to help with moving the troops. It also allowed easy access to Manila. The landings were largely unopposed.

The only major Japanese response was a series of kamikaze attacks on the ships landing the troops. Once the landing was established MacArthur ordered US armored troops to move South towards Manila as quickly as possible. He was in such a hurry that he quarreled with his immediate subordinate General Kruger who wanted to attack Yamashita’s troops who had withdrawn to the hills just East of the gulf.

On the 26th of January the 1st Cavalry Division landed at Lingayen gulf. MacArthur met with the division’s commander, Maj. Gen. Mudge, and told him “Go to Manila, go around the Nips, bounce off the Nips, but go to Manila.” Mudge formed a mechanized flying column, This armored column rushed toward Manila. The cavalry armored flying column reached the northern outskirts of Manila on the 3rd of February while the rest of the division followed more slowly, mopping up the rear areas. US troops also landed just North of Subic bay and captured that important port very quickly. More US airborne troops landed 70 kilometers South of Manila and were unopposed.These troops then also moved quickly North towards Manila. Both columns were supported by Filipino irregulars.They were welcomed by a population that was overjoyed to be liberated after 3 years of Japanese occupation.

There is a lot of dispute about what happened next. There is some evidence that Yamashita the Japanese commander intended Manila to become an ‘Open city”. Most Japanese army troops evacuated from the city to the hills East of Manila and North to the Cordillera mountains. This was ordered by Yamashita in mid-December 1944. There were no Japanese troops in large parts of the city and this allowed US troops to liberate the ring of outer barios in February 1945. However a force of almost 20,000 Japanese marines and some remnant Japanese army soldiers, commanded by Rear Admiral Iwabuchi , either by re-arrangement with Yamashita, or in defiance of his orders, remained in Manila. Their intent was to defend the Japanese naval positions around the port. They built defensive positions in the inner & central districts : Ermita, Malate, Intramuros, Quiappo, Binondo, the port area. These areas were the heart of the old Spanish era Manila and the heart of the US colonial period Manila.

There is a huge amount of evidence that in late January and February 1945, the Japanese marines and army troops commanded by Iwabuchi, started slaughtering Filipino civilians as revenge for welcoming the Americans or simply out of sheer barbaric brutality. Many thousands of people died: men, women, children, priests & nuns, locals and foreigners. The slaughter was indiscriminate. Perhaps they decided that if they were going to die that they would take as many Filipinos with them as possible.

So when the US troops and Filipino guerilla units arrived on the outskirts of Manila on the 3rd of February there was a difficult situation developing. Such a situation would have been a huge problem for any military commander. And I think it should have been the main issue for MacArthur to consider when he arrived in Manila in early February. But the evidence suggests that he did not think so. Here are 10 paragraphs about the battle in Manila published by MacArthur’s staff :

“When the US ( armored ) cavalrymen entered the northern suburbs of Manila, the hangars and airfield equipment at Grace Park were already ablaze and little could be saved. The “flying column” proceeded down Rizal Avenue to Santo Tomas University, meanwhile diverting one troop of cavalry and a platoon of tanks to Malacanang Palace. Resistance on the University grounds was stiff but, with tank support, the Americans forced the main gates and wiped out the enemy troops in the area. All internees were liberated with the exception of 221 who were held as temporary hostages and released the following morning.63 Malacanang Palace was also reached against sporadic rifle fire from across the Pasig River but only Filipino police guards and attendants were found to occupy the building.

After its brief contact with patrols of the 1st Cavalry Division at the Angat River, the 37th Division pushed along Highway No. 3 South against constant automatic and mortar fire. The Japanese had blown the bridges at every stream crossing and progress was relatively slow. Malanday and Caloocan were occupied on 4 February, and Manila was entered on the same day. The division effected its own rescue mission when some of its units entered Bilibid prison and discovered 800 American prisoners of war who had been abandoned by their jailers. The brilliant record of the Sixth Army in the release of prisoners of war and internees on Luzon was described in a communique of 6 February:

The 37th Infantry Division in capturing Bilibid prison released more than 800 prisoners of war and about 500 civilian internees including women and children. With the 3,700 internees from Santo Tomas released by the 1st Cavalry Division, this brings the total rescued to approximately 5,000. About 4,000 were Americans and the rest British, Australian and other nationalities. Every facility of the armed forces is being devoted to the care and attention of those who have been rescued …

As the 37th Division approached the Pasig River, it was met by a devastating enemy machine gun and rifle barrage. Incessant detonations and collapsing structures filled the air with deafening concussions. The entire sky was lighted with the roaring fires of conflagrant buildings and at times the mixture of smoke, heat, and dust became so overpowering that substantial progress through the city became an almost impossible task. Amid this holocaust and bedlam, elements of the division effected a crossing of the Pasig River near the Presidential Palace. The entire XIV Corps then began an envelopment from the east as troops of the 1st Cavalry and 37th Divisions pushed laboriously through the streets and avenues of the capital toward Manila Bay.

General MacArthur’s victorious entry into Manila was made on 7 February. A group of officers and men which included General Griswold, General Mudge, General Chase, and part of the “flying column” which had so recently distinguished itself, met him at the city limits. General MacArthur congratulated everyone on a job well done and then drove through the war-torn Philippine capital amidst the acclaim of a grateful populace. Sniping and artillery fire continued in almost every section of the city as he visited the Malacanang Palace and the front-line troops engaging the enemy along the Pasig River.

On 10 February, control of the 11th Airborne Division, drawn up south of Manila, passed from the Eighth Army to the Sixth Army.66 On the same day, XIV Corps artillery poured a steady  concentration from the north into the enemy concrete installations on Nichols Field, placing the shells with deadly accuracy in front of the forward paratroop positions. Under cover of this barrage the airborne division moved its tanks against the thick pillboxes. General Swing’s plan was to circle northward and move on the west flank of the Japanese defense line. By the end of the day, the paratroops had seized positions to within 1000 yards of the Polo Club – the main core of enemy resistance northwest of the airfield.

Thus, in the first week of February, General MacArthur had three divisions inside Manila the 37th Division, attacking south across the Pasig River and on toward the Intramuros area; the 1st Cavalry Division, moving southwestward across San Juan Heights toward Neilson Field; and the 11th Airborne Division, pressing north and east across Nichols Field toward Fort McKinley. Despite this sizeable force, the occupation and clearing of Manila was an arduous task. The Japanese troops in the city fought bitterly, knowing that their chances of escape were small. Improvised positions were set up behind piles of fallen debris, barricaded windows, and sand-bagged doorways. Every vantage point was manned and fiercely defended with a solid curtain of machine gun and rifle fire.

The heaviest fighting took place in the sector assigned to the 37th Division. The Japanese in this area struck out viciously from every position, fighting from building to building and from room to room without surrender. It was not until 17 February that the division was able to launch its assault on the Intramuros, the venerable XVI century citadel in western Manila near the mouth of the Pasig River. Even by modern standards this ancient “Walled City” was a formidable fortress, ringed with a stone wall 15 feet high and widening from 8 to 20 feet at the top to 20 to 40 feet at the base. Four of the main gates were covered by mutually protecting redoubts backed by a heavily fortified concrete building.

Complicating the problem of breaching this massive bastion was the fact that many non-belligerents, mostly women and children, were within the city. Because of these helplessly imprisoned civilians, all thought of pulverization of the Intramuros area by air bombardment had to be abandoned. A plea was broadcast to the Japanese entrenched within, either to surrender or at least to evacuate the civilian population and prevent unnecessary bloodshed. No answer was received. There was no choice but to order a time-consuming infantry assault to move in, after the way had been prepared by artillery and mortars.

The attack started with 105 mm and 155 mm howitzer shells blasting huge chunks out of the ancient walls. On the 19th, under cover of a heavy smokescreen, 37th Division troops began to pour through the breaches and over the rubble to meet the waiting Japanese. The enemy positions in the immediate vicinity of the walls had been effectively destroyed by the terrific power of the preliminary bombardment, and the initial incursions of the American forces met with comparatively light losses. Resistance mounted swiftly, however, as the troops advanced. To add to the difficulty, movement became greatly impeded by the streams of refugees that swarmed out of the buildings and milled around the streets. Fire had to be withheld until these scattered masses of civilians could be removed from the battle zone. By 24 February, after a week of savage fighting characterized by numerous hand-to-hand engagements and room-to-room combat, the entire Intramuros was in Allied hands. “

Reports of General MacArthur :The Campaigns in the Pacific, Volume 1, pages 273-75. These reports were prepared by MacArthur’s general staff & printed with his approval by his Tokyo headquarters in 1950. It is available online.

I have included this report of the battle to get an accurate idea what MacArthur thought important at the start of this major battle. Here is a situation where thousands of ordinary Filipino people were being killed, wounded, forced to flee, and their homes destroyed every day. They were being killed by the Japanese.Women were being rounded up & being raped and then killed by the Japanese.Children & babies were killed. It was a catastrophe.

But MacArthur’s own report says nothing about what the Japanese were doing to Filipinos in Manila. Nothing at all. Judging by the report here were the issues MacArthur and his officers were focussed on, as they liberated the city of Manila :

  1. The US and other foreign internees held imprisoned by the Japanese. MacArthur’s reports has almost 150 words about the rescue of 5000 American and other foreign nationalities interned & imprisoned by the Japanese since 1942. In fact these foreign internees get an entire separate paragraph.These expats were specially cared for by the US army.
  2. The presence of a 20,000 men strong armed resistant Japanese mainly marines in the heart & port of Manila commanded by Iwabuchi, which would not surrender and had not evacuated Manila as directed by Yamashita.
  3. Third & last, the fate of the many tens of thousands of Filipinos still in the Japanese zone of control in the old centre of the city. “many non-belligerents, mostly women and children, were within the city. A plea was broadcast to the Japanese…. to evacuate the civilian population and prevent unnecessary bloodshed. No answer was received” So the attack was launched.

I think it safe to say that MacArthur & his staff officers did not think the fate of the Filipino people of major importance. And that was a major moral flaw in MacArthur’s thinking as a military commander. A military commander taking control of a city in war, is morally responsible for the fate of it’s civilians.

The American troops attacked the Japanese held area North of the river Pasig : the China town areas, Quiapo, Binondo & Tondo. After severe fighting the Japanese were forced to retreat South across the river. As they retreated they set fire to the areas and then blew up the bridges over the river. And then US troops attacked across the Pasig, from the East and from the South. The battle lasted till the 4th. of March. In the course of that battle thousands of Filipinos were being killed by the American by ‘friendly fire in the artillery & mortar bombardments and in the intense house to house fighting.Towards the end they were also killed by US Air Force bombing & strafing.

At the end of the battle virtually all the Japanese were killed. The Americans took very few prisoners. Or else the Japanese fought until killed. The Japanese commander, Iwabuchi is reported to have killed himself towards the end of the battle in late February. Just 1010 US troops died and another 5565 were wounded out of a total US Military army force in the city of 35,000 ( Source : Gen Ricardo Morales Rappler )

And thousands of Filipino civilians were dead. Counting the Filipino dead was almost impossible. After the battle was over, the US army ordered Filipino ‘funeralistas’ to clear away the bodies in the battle zone. And the funeralistas gave a count of over 100,000 dead. But the heart of the city was pulverized, destroyed. It is said to the most heavily devastated Allied city next to Warsaw which was devastated by the Nazi Germans in 1944. How many more dead lay buried under the pulverized rubble of entire districts of the city ? No one knows.

After the battle was over MacArthur authorised the bulldozing of the devastated part of the city. I have read that the Americans wanted to clear away all the battle scarred ruins so the land could be used again. But that strikes me as totally bizarre. I suspect that this was psychologically an attempt to ‘clean up’ and assuage his own guilt. The ruins bulldozed included many churches hundreds of years old. The ruined bombed out Cathedral of Manila was almost bulldozed as well but saved at the last moment.

In 1974 I stayed in Manila for a few days. I wandered around the area & ruins of Intramuros. I remember wondering then why there was so much empty space in the heart of the city. A lot of that space had been turned into a golf course.

MacArthur report states “There was no choice but to order a time-consuming infantry assault to move in, after the way had been prepared by artillery and mortars.”

But did MacArthur have any other tactical choices for dealing with the situation he faced ? I think the answer is yes, he did have another choice. And one only has to look at what had happened to MacArthur himself three years previously to see that choice at work. When the Japanese attacked & occupied the Philippines, MacArthur had his forces retreat to Bataan and Corregidor. And General Homma after failing in his initial attack on Bataan imposed a siege on both these US outposts. The US & Filipino troops held out at Bataan from January till April. They then surrendered after a renewed Japanese attack because they did not have any food.They were starving. They did not get any more military supplies or medicines. They were forced to surrender.

In February/March 1945 the Japanese were cut off from support. MacArthur’s forces occupied the rest of the city and surrounding country side. The Japanese naval marines in Manila were isolated. The seas was controlled by the US Navy. The air was dominated by the US Air force. And that meant that the Japanese forces also had limited supplies of ammunition and other military supplies. And they had no possibility of being relieved by other Japanese troops. I think that MacArthur could have made a decision to impose a siege on the Japanese. The Pasig river & Manila Bay could provided good effective boundaries for most of a siege. I think that if he had imposed a siege on the area still controlled by the Japanese he would have forced them to surrender in a period of 6- 8 weeks. And I think this tactical decision would have saved many thousands of lives by giving them time to escape from the Japanese area. And it would have not destroyed the buildings and infrastructure and history that lay there in the heart of the 400 year old city. I asked my Filipina ‘agom’, “which would be better, to fight a major battle with bombs & artillery and destroy the city of Manila & kill the Manilena people; or to surround the Japanese held area and stop them moving in or out, stop food supplies and impose a siege and wait ? She immediately replied “ Surround the Japanese controlled area and wait”.

But that is not what happened. An important fact: Manila is the only example of the US military completely destroying an allied city and the civilian population in an allied country. MacArthur was the man in charge then.I think he must bear the moral responsibility for his ‘tactical’ decision in that campaign. Just as he must bear the responsibility for persuading the US president to adopt the strategy of ‘liberating’ the Philippines.

And I think MacArthur was aware of that moral responsibility. Peter Parsons in his “Battle for Manila – Myth & Fact’ says something very interesting about the ceremony held at Malacanang palace in June 1945, where he formally handed over the reins of government to President Osmena. Parsons says that MacArthur at one point ‘choked up and could not proceed’. He then quotes MacArthur as saying :

“..To others it might seem ( this is ) my moment of victory and my moment of monumental personal acclaim, but to me it seems only the culmination of a panorama of physical & spiritual disaster”.

MacArthur claimed that he loved the Philippines and the Filipino people. Yet in late August 1945 MacArthur left the Philippines and went to Japan. He did not return until 1960- 15 years later. Perhaps this is an indication of not wanting to be present and having to face the people who he had harmed in such an awful way.

* * * * * *

There is a bit more to examine about MacArthur in the Philippines. In March 1945 MacArthur was the supreme commander of the victorious US army in the Philippines. Effectively he ran the country until he left to take over Japan after the Japanese surrender. Yes there were still some Japanese troops at large. And they were armed & dangerous. But they knew they were isolated & defeated. MacArthur declared the Philippines ‘secure’ on June 30, 1945. And he staged a ceremony to hand over power to President Osmeña of the Commonwealth of the Philippines. But still MacArthur was the boss : Revere makes a telling remark on page 82 about MacArthur

“ He had ruled the Philippines with a strong hand through the first crucial months after liberation. True he formally turned over the liberated areas to the Philippine government.. headed by Sergio Osmeña. But it was symbolic that when the ( handover ) ceremony was over and the general and his aides tumbled into waiting cars, Osmeña was left without even a jeep & driver to help him find living quarters. MacArthur & his headquarters were to make all the vital decisions in the weeks ahead.”

MacArthur made many important decisions in those few months. A key one was what to do with Japanese collaborators. From March 1945 those Filippinos who had collaborated with the Japanese started to surrender to the US troops. Roosevelt had declared that those Filippinos who had collaborated should be ‘removed from authority and influence over the political & economic life of the country’. And MacArthur himself said “it shall be my firm purpose” he said in November 1944, “to run to earth every disloyal Filipino who has debased his country’s cause”. However MacArthur ignored Roosevelt’s orders.

The key example is Manual Roxas grandfather of Mar Roxas liberal party candidate for president this coming election.. Manuel Roxas was a very prominent political leader in pre war  Commonwealth of Philippines. He was a speaker of the legislature and an aide to President Quezon. After the Philippines was occupied by the Japanese, he did not flee into exile, but went to Mindanao. There he was captured by the Japanese later in 1942 and imprisoned. Later on he became a collaborator & member of the Japanese puppet cabinet responsible for food distribution. In April 1945 Roxas was captured by US troops near Baguio.

After the capture MacArthur announced that Roxas had been rescued from the Japanese along with the capture of 4 other members of the puppet cabinet.’ President Osmena asked MacArthur how he had arrived at this interesting distinction between rescused and captured, the general replied, ‘I have known Manuel Roxas for 20 years and I know personally that he is no threat to our military security.Therefore we are not detaining him” He later sought to justify his action by claiming that Roxas was ‘ one of the prime factors in the guerilla movement” . More likely Manuel Roxas like any sensible man followed a policy of placing a number of bets of each side (Revere page 82)
Karnow (page 336) has a black & white photo of MacArthur greeting Manual Roxas. Clearly MacArthur saw him as a friend despite Roxas having worked for the Japanese for two years.

MacArthur supported Manuel Roxas because he knew him & liked him but MacArthur thus settled the political future of the Philippines. In ‘rescuing’ Manuel Roxas MacArthur set in motion a process which would end by rescuing many leading collaborators. Instead of them being stripped of political & economic power they were restored to positions of power. Manuel Roxas argued that the puppets government had acted under duress and that Osmena should immediately restore all pre war officials to their jobs whether or not they had served under the Japanese. MacArthur himself insisted on reconvening the pre-war elected Philippine congress in spite of the fact it was filled with collaborationists.

MacArthur’s endorsement of Manuel Roxas in 1945 made possible his election as the Liberal party candidate for president of the new republic in 1946 instead of the nationalist party candidate Osmena who had gone into exile in 1942. The election of Roxas meant the recapture of power by all the rich, conservative groups who had ruled the Philippines as collaborators under the Japanese. ( Revere page 84). So the Philippines is still living with the consequences of that endorsement.

General Yamashita continued to hold out against the Japanese in the Northern Cordillera mountains. But on August 15th the Japanese Emperor ended the War with his acceptance of total surrender. Yamashita finally surrendered on September 2nd. The treaty ending the war was signed on September 2nd 1945 on a US Naval battleship in Tokyo bay. MacArthur was there at that formal ceremony. But he was not the person authorised to accept the Japanese surrender. That honor went to Admiral Nimitz. Nimitz had truly earned it. If you look carefully at the photos of the event you will see Nimitz signing the US acceptance of the surrender while MacArthur stands by looking on.

Yamashita was put on trial before a panel of US generals in February 1946. Yamashita no doubt was guilty of many war crimes from his time commanding Japanese troops from 1941-45. But he was charged with the destruction that happened to Malinenas and to the city in February 1945. Yamashita was in Baguio during all the time when Manila was destroyed. But he was found guilty by the US military War Crimes tribunal. He was hung shortly afterwards. But I wonder if he was rather more a ‘sacrificial offering’ to assuage American guilt at what had happened and appease Filippino anger.

MacArthur went on to become the effective ‘dictator ‘ in Japan after the signing of the peace treaty of September 1945. And here he did something quite different. He was determined that the Japanese land owning elite that had lead Japan into war would lose power & influence.Therefore their lands were compulsorily acquired at low price.And these lands were then redistributed to the peasants who had farmed them for generations. In this way MacArthur created an influential conservative but pro-american small farmer class in the heart of Japan.

MacArthur’s own statement after the Manila Massacre

On 28 February General MacArthur made the following address upon reestablishing the Commonwealth Government in the city of Manila:

More than three years have elapsed-years of bitterness, struggle and sacrifice-since I withdrew our forces and installations from this beautiful city that, open and undefended, its churches, monuments and cultural centers might, in accordance with the rules of warfare, be spared the violence of military ravage. The enemy would not have it so and much that I sought to preserve has been unnecessarily destroyed by his desperate action at bay but by these ashes he has wantonly fixed the future pattern of his own doom.

Then, we were but a small force struggling to stem the advance of overwhelming hordes treacherously hurled against us, behind the mask of professed friendship and international goodwill. That struggle was not in vain! God has indeed blessed our arms! The girded and unleashed power of America supported by our Allies turned the tide of battle in the Pacific and resulted in an unbroken series of crushing defeats upon the enemy, culminating in the redemption of your soil and the liberation of your people. My country has kept the faith!

Its soldiers come here as an army of free men dedicated, with your people, to the cause of human liberty and committed to the task of destroying those evil forces that have sought to suppress it by brutality of the sword. An army of freemen that has brought your people once again under democracy’s banner, to rededicate their churches, long desecrated, to the Glory of God and public worship; to reopen their schools to liberal education; to till the soil and reap its harvest without fear of confiscation; to reestablish their industries that they may again enjoy the profit from the sweat of their own toil; and to restore the sanctity and happiness of their homes unafraid of violent intrusion.

Thus to millions of your now liberated people comes the opportunity to pledge themselves-their hearts, their minds and their hands-to the task of building a new and stronger nation – a nation consecrated in the blood nobly shed that this day might be-a nation dedicated to making imperishable those sacred liberties for which we have fought and many have died.

On behalf of my Government I now solemnly declare, Mr. President, the full powers and responsibilities under the Constitution restored to the Commonwealth whose seat is here reestablished as provided by law. Your country thus is again at liberty to pursue its destiny to an honored position in the family of free nations. Your capital city, cruelly punished though it be, has regained its rightful place – Citadel of Democracy in the East.

Thank you to Bill in Oz for the entire McArthur series!

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 29. February 2016

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