Ingrate, Mediocre Pinoys
For decades the country’s statist intellectuals used Parity Rights to demonize the United States and to support their politics of victimhood. The protectionists and the useful idiots in the academia and other sectors creatively used this victimhood doctrine to get people’s support and sympathy and to push for protectionist, anti-trade, collectivist policies designed to benefit the corporate and political elites and keep foreign competition at bay.
The Parity Rights policy, we were told, was against our national and economic interests. Yet they– the country’s public intellectuals and school propagandists and Marxist operators– fail or refuse to tell us the whole story about this Philippine-US bilateral agreement.
Here’s one of the best ways to test the historical knowledge, intelligence and analytical skills of some of our so-called public intellectuals: try to ask them what they think of the Parity Rights Policy implemented from 1946 up to 1974. Chances are most of them would tell you the policy, which was contained in the Bell Trade Act of 1946, was unjust, imperialistic, and purely benefitted the Americans.
This is actually how the country’s statist intellectuals and revolutionaries like Jose Maria Sison view the post-war Philippine-US bilateral agreement.
To prove my assertion here’s how at least three politically opinionated UP professors described the controversial Parity Agreement:
Jose Maria Sison, UP’s more notorious propagandist and leader of the Maoist-Leninist CPP-NPA, wrote in “Struggle for National Democracy”:
“After the expulsion of the peasant-supported Democratic Alliance members of Congress in an all-out abuse of democracy, the Bell Trade Act and Parity Amendments were ratified, thus formalizing the reestablishment of the imperialist-landlord pattern of trade, free-trade so-called, and the parity rights for U.S. citizens and corporations in the exploitation of our natural resources and the operation of public utilities.”
Perfecto Fernandez, a distinguished UP professor, published a treatise in 1984 titled “The Legal Framework of Alien Interests in Land and Other Natural Resources in the Philippines”, wherein he wrote that American nationals “continued to enjoy the same rights to land and natural resources as Filipino citizens.”
He added that “lands and other natural resources were opened to aliens and foreign companies through legal devices: (a) service contracts, and (b) international treaties and agreements entered into by the Chief Executive.”
Another UP Marxist propagandist, Duke Bagulaya, wrote in his book titled “Writing Literary History” the following:
“In the past five decades, the guardians of the reactionary state developed a tradition of subservience, if not outright position of mendicancy, to the imperialist masters in Washington D.C President Manuel Roxas defended and implemented parity rights and Bell Trade Act.”
There you see how some of our highly schooled mentors-cum-propagandists, whose schooling was financed by the country’s taxpayers, think. Observe the rhetorical pattern of their passionate, emotion-filled statements. Their purpose is to simply tell you what to think by feeding you with politically shaded adjectives and incoherent phrases. Also, observe how they carefully packaged their mediocre rhetoric to serve their ideological agenda. No, they won’t tell you why the Philippine and the U.S. governments adopted the policy and how it became the law of the land. Their purpose is purely indoctrination.
Their ultimate goal is to make uneducated teenagers and ordinary people think the Americans forced our ancestors to compromise our sovereignty and national patrimony. Sison, who now enjoys a bourgeoisie life in the economically freer Netherlands, mentioned the word “ratified”, which proves the involvement of the Filipino voters in the country’s political process.
The truth is the policy was ratified by 79.89% of the Filipino voters. In a plebiscite conducted in November of 1946, a total of 432,833 electorates voted in favor of the agreement as opposed to 115,854 who rejected it. In other words, the RP-US agreement was democratically passed into law. Perhaps Sison preferred a political elite-only socialist system that authorizes a tiny group of diploma-toting morons to bypass the people’s will
In the little minds of Sison, Fernandez and Bagulaya, the whole world is like North Korea. In all fairness to Professor Fernandez, he wrote his legal treatise during an era of widespread anti-Americanism and Marxism.
I think that if asked to give their opinion on this issue, most young people today would probably say we were victims of capitalistic greed, American imperialism and social injustice. Others might simply say the parity doctrine granted American nationals and businesses equal access with Filipinos to Philippine agriculture, minerals and natural resources.
This is not surprising since the country’s academic and media institutions have been for decades dominated by statist intellectuals and anti-reason propagandists. For the past six decades, millions of Filipinos were either intentionally brainwashed or fed with wrong, incorrect historical information disguised as history by politically naive classroom operators.
Here allow me to briefly discuss the main reason why we adopted the Parity Rights policy.
Government documents and court records or rulings reveal that the main reason is purely economic– that is, our war torn country needed
financial assistance and foreign investment to recover.
In the case of Commissioner of Internal Revenue vs. Guerrero, et al., the Court, through Justice Enrique M. Fernando, stated, to wit:
“It was fortunate that the Japanese Occupation ended when it did. Liberation was hailed by all, but the problems faced by the legitimate government were awesome in their immensity. The Philippine treasury was bankrupt and her economy prostrate. There were no dollar-earning export crops to speak of; commercial operations were paralyzed; and her industries were unable to produce with mills, factories and plants either destroyed or their machineries obsolete or dismantled. It was a desolate and tragic sight that greeted the victorious American and Filipino troops. Manila, particularly that portion south of the Pasig, lay in ruins, its public edifices and business buildings lying in a heap of rubble and numberless houses razed to the ground. It was in fact, next to Warsaw, the most devastated city in the expert opinion of the then General Eisenhower.”
The court added— and I must highlight this: “There was thus a clear need of help from the United States. American aid was forthcoming but on terms proposed by her government and later on accepted by the Philippines.”
In other words, we needed America’s economic help and assistance, and the American government wanted a quid pro quo arrangement for putting us on welfare with its taxpayers’ dollars. The American government offered us $800 million to help us rebuild our war-ravaged country. Where did the money come from? From the American taxpayers, of course! Where else?
America’s foreign aid was part of the global democratization and benevolence policy of its interventionist Democrat-led regimes. Historically, America’s left-leaning Democratic Party was pro-war and pro-interventionism.
The Supreme Court’s historical account is supported by the 1945 Report of the Committee on Territories and Insular-Affairs to the U.S. Congress, which states:
“When the Philippines do become independent next July, they will start on the road to independence with a country whose commerce, trade and political institutions have been very, very seriously damaged. Years of rebuilding are necessary before the former physical conditions of the islands can be restored. Factories, homes, government and commercial buildings, roads, bridges, docks, harbors and the like are in need of complete reconstruction or widespread repairs. It will be quite some while before the Philippine can produce sufficient food with which to sustain themselves.
“The internal revenues of the country have been greatly diminished by war. Much of the assessable property basis has been destroyed. Foreign trade has vanished. Internal commerce is but a fraction of what it used to be. Machinery, farming implements, ships, bus and truck lines, inter-island transportation and communications have been wrecked.”
This prompted the U.S. 79th Congress to pass the Public Law 3721, otherwise known as the Philippine Trade Act, authoring the U.S. President to enter into an Executive Agreement with the Philippine President in 1946. The Philippine Congress in turn authorized then President Manuel Roxas to enter into the bilateral agreement, which led to its final signing on July 4, 1946.
However, the RP-US agreement called for requisite amendments to the constitution. The proposed amendment was then ratified in November of the same year thus creating the Parity Amendment, which read as follows:
“Notwithstanding the provision of section one, Article Thirteen, and section eight, Article Fourteen, of the foregoing Constitution, during the effectivity of the Executive Agreement entered into by the President of the Philippines with the President of the United States on the fourth of July, nineteen hundred and forty-six, pursuant to the provisions of Commonwealth Act Numbered Seven hundred and thirty-three, but in no case to extend beyond the third of July, nineteen hundred and seventy-four, the disposition, exploitation, development, and utilization of all agricultural, timber, and mineral lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coals, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces and sources of potential energy, and other natural resources of the Philippines, and the operation of public utilities, shall, if OPEN to any person, be open to citizens of the United States and to all forms of business enterprise owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, by citizens of the United States in the same manner as to and under the same conditions imposed upon, citizens of the Philippines or corporations or associations owned or controlled by citizens of the Philippines.”
Nine years following its effectivity, the Parity Amendment was revised in 1955 in an agreement known as the Laurel-Langley Agreement.
Now what was the purpose of the Parity Agreement or Policy? The main purpose is to establish two exceptions to at least two provisions of the constitution:
- Section 1, Article XIII, regarding disposition, exploration, development and utilization of agricultural, timber and mineral lands of the public domain and other natural resources;
- Section 8, Article XIV, regarding the operation of public utilities.
This is what some of our public intellectuals call ‘surrender’ of our national patrimony to foreign interest. Others claim that the policy allegedly gave both Filipinos and American nationals equal access to our natural resources.
They’re partially right, but… There’s a big but, and this is the main thesis of this blog.
Did the Parity Rights Policy actually give equal rights and privileges to Americans to exploit our natural resources?
The Supreme Court stated, in the case of Republic of the Philippines vs. Quasha, that the controversial agreement was based on the principle of reciprocity. That assertion is both incorrect and dishonestly flawed in all respects. Let me explain why.
The standard definition of the word “parity” is “the quality or standard of being equal or equivalent.” This indicates that in any agreement or contract, at least two or more entities or persons share equal or the same rights, privileges, duties, or obligations.
Was there any actual, real parity relationship between the Philippines and the United States from 1945 to 1974?
I’ll answer in the negative. No, there was no parity tie-up between the two governments. However, this doesn’t mean I agree with Sison and his ilk’s crude, ‘socialistic’, anti-reason evaluation.
I believe that the United States and its citizens were victims of our misguided nationalism and protectionist policies. We were—and we remain—an ingrate, impossibly arrogant nation! This is why we deserve our sorry economic condition and national fate. We are a society of fooled, diploma-toting ignoramuses. Fooled by who? Who else? By the political and corporate protectionist elites who sought to corner and dominate the country’s trade, industries, resources, and wealth! The protectionists gained massive economic benefits through behest loans, subsidies, economic guarantee, and political and economic protection against foreign competition.
But why did the notorious Marxists like JoMa Sison, Bagulaya and many others denounce the Parity Rights policy? The only possible explanation is two-fold:
- First, it’s because they’re all useful idiots to the country’s corporate protectionists.
- Second, it’s because they thought they’d finally grab political power and establish a Maoist-Leninist regime (ala North Korea).
Parity rights is just a political term or creature bereft of logical, objective meaning. In fact the term destroys or perverts the objective meaning and definition of “parity”. Also, the parity doctrine simply negated, ignored the political and economic realities from the 1940s up to 1970s.
Here’s the bitter, undeniable truth that our ancestors refused to consider: America didn’t need us; it’s us who badly needed America. We were a nation of naively proud, ingrate beggars. I strongly believe that without America’s help we would have been colonized by any other ruthless empire like Soviet Russia that massacred over three million of Ukrainians in the 1930s in what is known today as holodomor (forced hunger).
Also, here’s what most Filipinos and even Americans don’t know… With America’s originalist principle of non-intervention, the Americans had no obligation at all to help or rescue us, either monetarily or militarily. In fact they should have abandoned us, and they had no duty or responsibility at all to protect us against any potential internal threat or invader.
The founding principles of the America reject interventionism and imperialism. It was the left-leaning Democrats who breached the long-cherished principle of non-interventionism through their policy of global democratization. Also, it was the left-leaning Democrats who started the gradual destruction of America through their welfare policies during the progressive era (from 1980s up to 1930s). This is how great empires collapsed in the past— by abandoning the principles and ideals that made their societies great. Indeed, the quickest way to destroy a great nation is to elect enemies from within, to borrow Cicero’s term.
The U.S. Government had to enter into such agreement mainly because we closed our economy to foreign investors upon gaining our independence from the Americans. Yet our former colonizers didn’t have to stoop down to our level because they had the freest economy in the world. Any foreign national or corporation could buy and own property and invest in the United States. By embracing free market principles and economic freedom America became the most prosperous society on earth.
I must repeat, America should have rejected the Parity Agreement because it was not in the best interest of its citizens. And the following are the reasons why the agreement was anything but fair or equitable:
- America was open to foreign investment. It didn’t impose ownership limits on foreigners, including Filipinos. We imposed 60-40 law and ownership restrictions on foreign investors, with the exemptions of American corporations and citizens who were only allowed to exploit our natural resources and to operate public utilities.
- American businesses and individuals were only allowed to exploit our agricultural, timber and mineral lands and other natural resources, and to operate public utilities. Even without such agreement, foreigners, including Filipinos, were allowed the same rights and privileges in the U.S.
- American businesses and citizens were not allowed to buy and own private agricultural lands. Foreigners, including Filipinos, were allowed to buy and own lands and property in the U.S.
- American professionals (e.g., doctors, lawyers, nurses, engineers, etc.) were absolutely not allowed to practice their respective professions in the country. Foreigners and Filipinos were allowed to practice any kinds of professions in the U.S.
- The so-called parity rights and privileges given to American businesses and citizens in the Philippines expired in July 3, 1974 The U.S. Government didn’t impose the same ruthless, unjust policy on foreigners, including Filipinos, within its territories.
The Court explained that Article XIII and other provisions of the 1935 Constitution on Conservation on Utilization of Natural Resources shows the “national spirit” that pervaded the country’s charter. The 1935 Charter established Corporatism, which is also known as Fascism.
In the case of Philippines vs, Quasha, the court agreed with then Solicitor General Antonio Barredo that all the rights acquired by defendant William H. Quasha, an American citizen who purchased a private agricultural land, “will expire ipso facto and ipso jure at the end of the day on 3 July 1974, if he continued to hold the property until then, and will be subject to escheat or reversion proceedings by the Republic.” After the expiration of the agreement, the Americans were forced to either sell their businesses or property to Filipinos or surrender them to the State through escheat or reversion proceedings.
However, historical facts, government documents and court records did not deter leftist propagandists and the politically naif classroom operators from spreading the blatant lie that the Americans acquired and enjoyed equal access to the country’s natural resource. Senator Sumulong, one of the ardent proponents of the Parity Amendment, clarified that the agreement didn’t give Americans equal access to all kinds of resources. The good senator, who also opposed our territorial claim on Sabah, said:
“It is a misconception to believe that under this amendment Americans will be able to acquire all kinds of natural resources of this country, and even after the expiration of 28 years their acquired rights cannot be divested from them. If we read carefully the language of this amendment which is taken verbatim from the Provision of the Bell Act, and, which in turn, is taken also verbatim from certain sections of the Constitution, you will find out that the equality of rights granted under this amendment refers only to two subjects. Firstly, it refers to exploitation of natural resources, and secondly, it refers to the operation of public utilities. Now, when it comes to exploitation of natural resources, it must be pointed out here that, under our Constitution and under this amendment, only public agricultural land may be acquired, may be bought, so that on the supposition that we give way to this amendment and on the further supposition that it is approved by our people, let not the mistaken belief be entertained that all kinds of natural resources may be acquired by Americans because under our Constitution forest lands cannot be bought, mineral lands cannot be bought, because by explicit provision of the Constitution they belong to the State, they belong to our Government, they belong to our people. That is why we call them rightly the patrimony of our race.”
The senator added:
“Even if the Americans should so desire, they can have no further privilege than to ask for a lease of concession of forest lands and mineral lands because it is so commanded in the Constitution. And under the Constitution, such a concession is given only for a limited period. It can be extended only for 25 years, renewable for another 25. So that with respect to mineral or forest lands, all they can do is to lease it for 25 years, and after the expiration of the original 25 years they will have to extend it, and I believe it can be extended provided that it does not exceed 28 years because this agreement is to be effected only as an ordinance and for the express period of 28 years. So that it is my humble belief that there is nothing to worry about insofar as our forest and mineral lands are concerned.”
On July 3, 1973, all American businesses and citizens lost their parity rights, and the Court ruled that all property owned by them would be subject to escheat or reversion proceedings.
History has it that former President Ferdinand Marcos allowed the Parity Agreement to expire. However, Section 11, Art. XVII of the 1973 Constitution, ratified and enacted during the term of Pres. Marcos, states that “titles to private lands acquired by such persons before such date shall be valid as against other private persons only.”
Not only did the country’s intellectuals and protectionists oppose the Parity Agreement that allegedly gave undue advantage to the Americans; the Supreme Court aalso showed contempt for the RP-US economic policy that undeniably saved our country from the post-war crisis.
One of the known critics of the Parity Agreement was Justice Jose Reyes, who penned the majority decision in Quasha. In his ponencia, Reyes argued the following:
“It is thus apparent that American business enterprises are more favored than Philippine organization during the period of parity in that, first, they need not be owned by American citizens up to 60% of their capital; all that is required is that they be controlled by United States citizens, a control that is attained by ownership of only 51% a of the capital stock; and second, that the control by United States citizens may be direct or indirect (voting trusts, pyramiding, etc.) which indirect control is not allowed in the case of Philippine nationals.”
Justice Reyes then qualified his argument, adding:
“That Filipinos should be placed under the so-called Parity in a more disadvantageous position than United States citizens in the disposition, exploitation, development and utilization of the public lands, forests, mines, oils and other natural resources of their own country is certainly rank injustice and inequity that warrants a most strict interpretation of the “Parity Amendment”, in order that the dishonorable inferiority in which Filipinos find themselves at present in the land of their ancestors should not be prolonged more than is absolutely necessary.”
The Parity placed us in a “more disadvantageous position”? In what way?
Here’s one of the biggest mistakes of our ancestors who shaped the shaky, turbulent political and economic direction of this nation: They thought that concepts are detached from facts and reality, particularly economic and political reality. Also, they had this tribalist notion of nationhood, which they described as “nationalism”.
Allow me to break their conceptual error into the following arguments:
- Why did we adopt the Parity Agreement in the first place? The only reason is because we were a semi-closed economy. We limited (and still limits) foreign investment and participation, whereas the United States opened its borders and economy to foreign nationals. Did the U.S. government enter into parallel Parity Agreements with Japan, South Korea, Singapore and other Asian nations? No! These progressive Asian nations, which were greatly influenced by American politics, took down their protectionism and embraced radical free market reforms, thus there was no need for Parity Rights.
- Since its inception and in spite of its Hamiltonian protectionist influences, America embraced free market principles. Although it adopted protectionist policies (e.g., the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of June 1930) during the progressive era, America remained the freest economy in the 20th century. It didn’t have to enter into so-called “Parity Agreements” with other nations. It merely entered into multilateral and bilateral agreements (e.g., General Agreements on Tariffs and Trade, the World Trade Organization, etc.) to protect its economic interests and the intellectual property of its citizens). This is what some of our so-called intellectuals do not understand.
- The Philippines was in breach of the principle of reciprocity in international law. Other general principles established by GATT/WTO include non-discrimination and enforcement/dispute settlement, transparency and safety valves. Reciprocity demands exchange of identical or equivalent rights, privileges, or advantages. USA allowed Filipinos to buy and purchase private agricultural lands, whereas the Philippines denied the same privilege to Americans. The 1987 Constitution does not only impose the notorious 60-40 protectionist rule and other restrictions on all foreign investors; it also totally bans foreign corporations from joining and competing in our public utility industry as well as foreign professionals (e.g., doctors, lawyers, nurses, engineers, etc.) from practicing their professions in the country.
The expiration of the Parity Agreement in 1974 forced the Americans to abandon this failing nation. This gave other Asian nations, like South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Japan, a great economic opportunity. Instead of keeping their semi-socialist and protectionist systems, these fledgling economies of the past century embraced economic reforms so they didn’t have to enter into so-called Parity Agreements with the U.S. government and other nations.
The Parity Rights policy is a contradiction in terms. Yet it is still being used by the country’s statist intellectuals to prop up their utterly flawed and weak politics of victimhood. It did not only expose the tribalist culture and mentality of our society; it also exposed the intellectual bankruptcy of our public intellectuals, educators, and government leaders.