By By Atty. Romulo P. Atencia
Statehood
posted 27-Jun-2012  ·  
2,285 views  ·   0 comments  ·  

In 1898, the United States won Cuba, Guam, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico from Spain. The Philippines became an American territory when the Treaty of Paris, at the end of the Spanish-American War, transferred control of the Philippines to the United States.

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For a territory to become a member-state of the United States of America, elected leaders representing the majority of voters must file a petition for statehood to be approved by the US House of Representatives, then by the US Senate, then ratified by the President of the USA. All US states were former territories that voted for, and were accepted for, statehood. Puerto Rico became a US territory the same time as the Philippines, and remains a US territory, because Puerto Rico never achieved a majority of votes to petition for either statehood or independence, in several elections on statehood held in Puerto Rico over the past 100 years. Alaska and Hawaii were the last 2 territories to become states, about 50 years ago. No US territories were ever denied a petition for statehood.

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Theoretically, Filipinos could have elected Filipino leaders who could have petitioned for statehood back when the Philippines was a territory, then statehood for the Philippines could have been considered by the US congress. Before World War II, Taft, Governor of the Philippines and later US President, dreamed of Philippine statehood. However, the Philippines was never considered, and could not have been considered, to become a member-state, because elected Filipino leaders never petitioned for statehood in the US congress. Our leaders, notably Manuel L. Quezon, opposed statehood. In his famous (?) words, he said that it is better to have a government ran like hell by Filipinos, than a government ran like heaven by Americans. Of course, as we now realized, he got what he wanted – our country is being ran like hell by Filipinos. That is not to count some municipalities and provinces which are lorded over by Chinese kingpins. Chinese mayors and governors, too, can run local government units like hell.

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After WWII the Philippines still had an opportunity to become a state of the American Union as many who served in the guerilla forces and in the Philippine armed forces felt a genuine desire to become part of the United States. After the war, many Filipinos began to participate in a grass roots effort to become a state. The Philippine government was corrupt and many heroes of WWII watched in dismay as their government sank down to the lowest levels of depravity and their country became the “sick man of Asia” due to corruption and mismanagement. Discontent rooted in economic disparity and religious differences grew in the late 1960s. The New People's Army (NPA) soon spread to other parts of Luzon and throughout the archipelago. In 1969 the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) was organized as a guerrilla force for the Muslim cause.

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In the late 60's and early 70's before Marcos, there were efforts led by former Congressmen Bartolome Cabangbang and Rufino Antonio for the Philippines to be a state of the American union. Why not, indeed? On the side of the Americans, their country would immediately increase its population by about one-third, and they would have a vantage point in this part of the world. In world politics, size is might. Present population in the United States is 313 million, ours is 100 million, including those working overseas. If the Philippines is annexed into the United States, the latter's population will increase by almost 30%, and will outstrip that of the Russia Federation.

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Insofar as the Philippines is concerned, the Philippines will be the most populous state of the union, bigger than the two most populous states -- California and New York -- combined. The Filipinos will be the largest ethnic group in the United States, larger than the Irish, the Blacks, the Chicanos, or any ethnic group of European extraction. With our voting power, we can elect, say, Lito Lapid, an American President. Considering the penchant of Americans for interfering in our elections and exploiting us, this constitutes delicious irony, poetic justice and divine retribution. Moreover, our senators and congressmen can vote the Philippines all sorts of pork barrel allocations, social security, medicare and welfare, that will make us Filipinos the recipients of American bounty beyond our wildest dreams, enough to compensate us for all the wealth American carpetbaggers and multinational corporations have been taking out of our country since the turn of the last century. Filipinos will find jobs in American corporations and be paid in stable dollars instead of shrinking pesos. Filipinos can go to the United States, the land of milk and honey, anytime without having to line up for a visa, and be insulted by Americans of low IQ. Also, Filipinos will automatically be American citizens, which by perception means being free, rich and sexy.

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There were also efforts at annexing the Philippines as several states. According to this formula, the Philippines may choose to divide itself into 5 states with a total representation in the U.S. Senate of 10 senators; and according to its population, the Philippines would have a representation in the Lower House of at least 60 congressmen. How's that for political clout? We will be the most powerful political force in the American Union.

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There are others who opted not for US statehood. Some Filipinos have sought, such as the Moro National Liberation Front, to join Indonesia. Other groups seek for individual islands to become an independent nation. (How does Republic of Catanduanes sound?) Any way out of the rut known as the Philippine government was perceived to be good.

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Opponents cite Nationalism, self-rule, and point out that US forces once ravaged the Philippines, slaughtered villages, and imprisoned many of our heroes like Aguinaldo, and many others were held captive and forced to bow. Some Filipinos worry about taxation, and the concern that rich Americans would be able to travel to the Philippines and buy land and property which is now very hard to do as a foreigner.

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To be sure, there is no guarantee that our lives would have improved had we become a state of the United States of America. Terrorists and other mortal enemies of America who cannot infiltrate the continental U.S. may instead wreak havoc in our shores. America, such as in WWII, may again fight its war in our land. Additionally, we are culturally different from the Americans, raised in a different atmosphere/environment and upbringing totally in contrast with theirs. The materialism of American society does not blend well with some of our cherished values and traditions. The greed of some American corporations would have been repugnant to our taste as a people. And what about the side of the Americans? Would they have welcomed us into their fold and looked at us as their little brown brothers or sisters? Most of them are racists and it wouldn't have been long before they made us targets of their ridicule and smirks. That would sting our Filipino pride and we are known not to take insults sitting down.

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No, sir. I think it is better just to fix our own backyard, and endeavor to put up a government ran like heaven by Filipinos.

 

Atty. Romulo P. Atencia

Email add: romuloatencia@yahoo.com

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