Ways to maintain our independence as a nation in the future

Happy 115th independence day, Philippines.

Happy 115th independence day, Philippines.

Today is the 115th anniversary of the independence of our country from 333 year rule of the Spaniards. 115 years ago, Emilio Aguinaldo waved the our flag for the first time in his residence balcony in Kawit, Cavite. The independence declaration was made possible because the Spanish rule in our country was crumbling due to American’s intrusion at the Manila Bay and a decade-long insurrection by the Filipinos to  overthrow the Spanish rule. However, Emilio Aguinaldo’s declaration of independence was not recognized by either Spaniards nor by the Americans as when the United States handily defeated Spain, the Spanish government decided to cede Philippines, Guam, and Puerto Rico into American control with $20 million (1898 price) payment by the US to Spain after 333 years of Spanish rule in the Philippine archipelago. Filipinos tried to kick the Americans out of the country in the early 20th century, but they never succeeded it because of American’s’ superiority on warfare and the cholera outbreak that killed lots of Filipino civilians as much as the casualties at the battlefield. The Americans controlled our country for almost 50 years, with the exception of 3-year Japanese occupation during WWII, and granted our independence on 4 July 1946.

However for the past 66 years, we have not achieved the real vision of our founding fathers to have our citizens a sense of independence like well-off life for example. Many of our compatriots thinking that we would have been a lot better right now had the Americans never granted us a political independence, but for me, that is wrong because from the start, Americans did not want to rule our country and they only colonized our country to serve as a platform for American business interests to have a trade with our larger neighbor, China. Many of our compatriots have left the country and prefer to be servants of American, Chinese, European, Japanese, or other employers because our government due to our rotten constitution, does not give an opportunity for businesses especially foreign to generate jobs for our compatriots in the remote areas. Our government for the past 66 years have failed us of fulfilling their empty promises during election campaign periods and swindle our tax money paid for them to supposedly spend for social services.

For the recent years, our neighboring countries like China, Taiwan ROC, and Malaysia have threatening our sovereignty while we Filipinos cannot properly think on how to counter them because of our inferior economy and lots of our compatriots are working with those countries. Our political and economic systems enshrined in our 1987 constitution are inadequate to address these external threats. Our shallow sense of knee-jerk national pride does not help either.

A month ago, I posted on my Facebook account and Skyscraper.com forum my suggestion to maintain our independence as a nation in the future like reserving the economic model we have right now from exporting our workers to importing foreign MNCs with 100% control of their investments across economic sectors and flooding our country with African, American, Chinese,  European, Indian, Japanese, Korean immigrants to strengthen and diversify our country’s culture. While the first suggestion was acceptable, the second one was intriguing for most commenters on my FB account and Skyscraper.com especially the suggestion of mine of flooding our country with Chinese immigrants where some of them branded me as “racist” or so on.  Diversifying our culture and demographics are the most essential way for our country to adopt and survive with this global cultural, economic, and perhaps, political integrations. I want to have skilled immigrants from around the world to develop our country’s economy that current Austronesian Filipinos cannot fulfill at most.

I have come to think with that because it will be impossible for our country to defeat China, Taiwan, and Malaysia if we agitate for a war which no one will win but more casualties.  Defeating them especially China will be futile if we never understand their culture because their civilization has existed for more than 5000 years and it will not demoralize them if our demographics are mostly Austronesian, but rather it will motive them to harass our national sovereignty. I believe the only way to defeat China is not fighting them with our firearms but aping their culture to be like them because China will only stop threatening our national sovereignty if our culture and demographics are at least similar to them.

Claiming Sabah is a quixotic thing to do

Map of Sabah. Malaysia and the Philippines have a long-standing dispute on Sabah's sovereignty.

Map of Sabah. Malaysia and the Philippines have a long-standing dispute on Sabah’s sovereignty.

Last week, 12 February 2013, there was a stand-off in Lahad Datu in Sabah, Malaysia where 400 persons including 20-40 who were armed have infiltrated the town of Lahad Datu in behalf of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III of the former Sultanate of Sulu on the basis that North Borneo or Sabah is in the dominion of the former Sultanate of Sulu and the recently signed peace deal between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front or MILF, appeared to have isolated that deal, prompted the decision to send the men to Sabah this month.

They were given until Tuesday or 26 February to withdraw from Sabah and return to Sulu but the Sultan has been consistent not to do so because the Malaysian government is still paying yearly rental dues to them as a result of the 1878 lease agreement between the British North Borneo Company and the Sultanate of Sulu.

The Sabah sovereignty dispute between the Philippines representing the Sultanate of Sulu and Malaysia should be traced back in 1878 when an agreement between the British North Borneo Company represented by Alfred Dent and Baron von Overback and the Sultanate of Sulu, which stipulated that North Borneo be which stipulated that North Borneo was either ceded or leased (depending on translation used) to the British syndicate in return for payment of 5000 Malayan Dollar per year. The dispute on whether the Sultanate of Sulu leased or ceded North Borneo to the British North Borneo Company has been in contentious dispute until now because different interpretations of the American, British, Dutch, and Spanish interpretations of the word “padjak” where all of them expect the British interpreted to mean as “rent” or “arrendamiento” while the British interpreted as “grant or cede”.

The dispute has become a complicated ones when the Spanish colonial government in Manila, where the Sultanate of Sulu had belong as a protectorate after the Treaty of 1851,  relinquished all claim to North Borneo which had belong to the Sultanate in the past through the Madrid Protocol of 1885.

21 years later in 1906, the American colonial government, who was controlling the Philippine archipelago including Sulu after they ousted the Spaniards 8 years before, formally reminded Great Britain that North Borneo did not belong to the Crown and was still part of the Sultanate of Sulu. However, the British did turn Sabah into a Crown Colony in 1946. American reminders were denied on the basis that the Sultanate of Sulu was a mere protectorate of Spanish East Indies based in Manila during the signing of the Madrid Protocol in 1885 while they asserted that the Spain never acquired sovereignty over North Borneo.

This ambiguity has been passed to our Philippine government through the promulgation of the 1935 constitution which states that the national territory of the Philippines included, among other things, “all other areas which belong to the Philippines on the basis of historical rights or legal claims” as a weapon to claim North Borneo.

Malaysia asserted its claim on North Borneo after the British left in 1963 and the residents were decided through a UN-supervised referendum on whether to be a part with the Federation of Malaysia or with the Republic of the Philippines and when the results were announced, Sabahans chose to be a part with the former.

A year before the Federation of Malayan States, during the presidency of President Diosdado Macapagal, the former Sultanate of Sulu ceded its rights on claiming North Borneo to the Republic of the Philippines, thus gave the Philippines an authority to claim Sabah unsuccessfully from Great Britain. The Philippines broke diplomatic relations with Malaysia after the federation had included Sabah in 1963 but probably resumed it unofficially through the Manila Accord.

The Philippines tried to claim Sabah through force through forming a number of Moro Muslim recruits to train for the invasion of  Sabah which was not executed as most of the recruits were massacred during their training in Corregidor attempting to escape the training led by military handlers according to some accounts. The massacre became the root cause of Moro discontent against the Philippine government from Marcos up to the present time.

I think the reason on why Sabah is not ours was because the Spaniards were too late of consolidating their control on the Philippine archipelago including Sabah and when the Spaniards gained sovereignty over the Sulu and Sabah for a short period of time, the British, Germans, Austrians, and even Americans were already looking to control the then-Sultanate of Sulu and as Spain did not have enough money or manpower to control the then-Sultanate of Sulu, they had to relinquish Sabah in exchange for the sovereignty of Sulu archipelago. When the Americans wanted to claim Sabah in 1906 and 1920, it was way too late to claim it. Also, the Philippine government was way too late of pursuing to claim Sabah. Therefore, Sabah’s exclusion from the Philippines was a product of Spanish Empire’s long decline of its prominence to the British Empire, who  economically and militarily controlled the world when Spain gave up its control on Sabah.

I don’t think making foolish military actions to claim Sabah to us would gather sympathy to the Sabahans and in fact, the recent stand-off further scared the motives of the Sultanate of Sulu and the Philippines on claiming Sabah. We don’t have even an enough military technology and manpower to assert our claims on Sabah against the Malaysians, how much more of making a sensible military actions to claim Sabah?

We should not sacrifice our relations not just with Malaysia but also with the rest of ASEAN on claiming Sabah in a foolish way. We need to befriend all of them though a greater economic and political integration where if the latter achieves sometime in the future, it would be easier for the Filipinos to live and work in Sabah under the ASEAN supranation umbrella like what most European Union member states under the Schengen Area where the Germans can live and work in France or vice versa without barriers.

If we want to pursue our claims on Sabah, we have to clean our own backyard first like improving the lives of the Filipinos into Malaysian levels or greater than of that so that the people of Sabah will insinuate to be part of our country.

Philippine economy grows 6.4% from 1st quarter 2011 and why it is unsustainable

Philippines’ GDP grew 6.4% in the first quarter of 2012 over the same quarter of 2011. Is it sustainable or not?

Last Thursday, the NSCB or the National Statistical and Coordination Board releases the data of the state of the Philippine economy during the previous quarter of this year. The Philippines’ GDP expanded 6.4% in the first quarter of 2012 over the same quarter of 2011. With this rate of growth in previous quarter, the Philippines has the second fastest growth in Asia after China.

For many years, the Philippine economy is a laggard compared with fast-growing East and Southeast Asian countries like China, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia because of economic and political volatility. It is just only in the recent years that the Philippines is somewhat catching-up the economic growth of our neighboring countries as some of them are becoming economically mature or developed which tends to slow the rate of economic growth compared to us who just starting to catching-up.

The economic rate of growth of the Philippines tends to be erratic even now as the government tends to intervene in the economic cycle especially during the election year that occurs every three years like spending the government’s budget for infrastructure projects that sometimes unnecessary for a certain areas, social spending to feed the urban low-class families in order to lure votes by the politicians for elections, and protecting some business interest from foreign competition at the expense of the welfare of the consumers.

That government-driven growth being postulated by the government for many years influenced by the ideas of John Maynard Keynes, a British economist who proposes that the government should stimulate the economy by increasing the money supply to circulate in the economy at the expense of long-term pain of excess inflation that would slap the consumers and the private enterprises needs to lessen and the government should make a favorable environment for a private enterprise and consumers to prosper and lead the economy in a long-run like dismantling monopolies, lowering tax rates, curbing red tape, scrapping the constitutional restrictions against foreign participation in the economy, flexible labor laws, market-based wage adjustments, and free flow of capital.

By restructuring the economic fundamentals of our country, the real prosperity would be feel by the majority eventually and the government needs to reform NOW not LATER.