Centre for Research on GlobalisationCentre de recherche sur la mondialisation
Despite earnest grassroots nationalist opposition over the past several decades, the Philippines remains a neo-colony of the United States, economically and military bound to Washington, and hopelessly addicted to foreign capital.
The US has a huge economic stake in the Philippines, which is central as a military and intelligence base, as well as a source of energy, raw materials, land, cheap labor. It was no surprise that securing the Philippines was the focus of the first US post-Afghanistan intervention in the so-called "war on terrorism."
In his book Endless Enemies, the late Jonathan Kwitny described the Philippines as "the Zaire of Asia," and "the one Asian country where we (the United States) have engaged in covert political activity, and sometimes fighting, and where things have gone pretty much our way. Every anti-guerrilla campaign has been victorious, and every election, real or rigged, has produced the winner the US government desired."
Notes Gary Leupp, an associate professor of history and coordinator of the Asian Studies Program at Tufts University, "The Philippines was a US colony from 1889 to 1946. One-tenth of the Filipino population was wiped out in the first US exercise in counter-insurgency in Asia. The US backed a series of vicious regimes after the Philippines' (alleged) independence, most notably that of Ferdinand Marcos."
The book Development Debacle: The World Bank in the Philippines by University of the Philippines professor Walden Bello, details how the World Bank, the CIA and other US agencies have systematically plundered the domestic economy of the Philippines for transnational corporate interests, privatization, and deregulation—-and how the "Asian market crisis" of the late 1990s was the direct result of such programs.
According to Filipino investigative journalist Bobby Tuazon, who penned a searing investigation of the Arroyo cabinet ("Global Corporate Oligarchs in Arroyo's Board of Advisors," www.bulatlat.com, February 10–16, 2002, is a primary source for this section), the successive administrations of Presidents Marcos, Aquino, Ramos, Estrada, and now Arroyo, have continued the tradition of allowing the Philippines to be carved open and exploited by US and foreign capital.
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, an American-educated economist, has been a lifelong advocate of corporate globalization. She is the daughter of the late former Philippines President Diosedo Macapagal, whose administration was supported by the United States and the CIA, according to many historians. Tuazon characterizes Arroyo as "the new spokesperson who will, a la Marcos, agitate for renewed U.S. aggression in Southeast Asia."
Ramos' former foreign secretary Roberto Romulo is the Philippines' "senior international advisor on international competitiveness" under Arroyo. Romulo, a vociferous corporate globalization advocate, heads the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC), an executive lobbying body that promotes "free trade."
Former President Fidel V. Ramos is Arroyo's "special envoy for international opportunities." Despite his denials about the importance of his role, Ramos functions essentially as the country's co-president.
He is also a direct agent of the Bush oligarchy.
Ramos is a senior advisor of the Carlyle Group and the head of Carlyle's Asian advisory board. Its directors include former US president George Herbert Walker Bush, former US secretary of state James Baker, current US secretary of state Colin Powell, former SEC chairman Arthur Levitt, former UK Prime Minister John Major, and former South Korean Prime Minister Park Tae-Joon.
Carlyle's client list has included the likes of the bin Laden family and George Soros (a major player involved in the so-called Asian economic crisis of the late 1990s). Saudi prince Alwaleed Bin Talal has been one of Carlyle's major investors. Its chairman is former Reagan administration defense secretary Frank Carlucci. Carlyle has major stakes in Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, Japan and China, which was recently admitted into the World Trade Organization.
During his presidency, Ramos was Washington's best friend. As Daniel Shirmer described in Fidel Ramos: In the Footsteps of Marcos": "Ramos follows the lead of Ferdinand Marcos in willingness to open the Philippines to foreign capital, with minimal restraint. He follows the lead of Marcos in solicitous attention to the claims of the U.S. military, covered over when politically expedient by gestures of nationalist intent."
"President Ramos's commitment to the reign of the free market in the Philippines and Asia is well known, especially since he played host to the 1996 APEC conference in Manila. Less known in the United States, perhaps, are the efforts he and his administration have made on behalf of the U.S. military in the Philippines. Since the Philippine Senate defeated the bases treaty in September 1991, the Pentagon has been trying to re-establish its military presence in the Philippines in order to be able to use that country again as a springboard for U.S. power projection. President Ramos and his administration have been the Pentagon's main allies in this effort."
"Ramos' adherence to both free market ideology and US military dominance is evident in his support for the Pentagon's policy of 'rest and recreation' in the Philippines (widely understood as the US military's use of Philippine women as prostitutes). He apparently accepts as normal and legitimate the exploitation of cheap Philippine labor—in this case sexual labor—by the armed forces of the superpower."
"As a high military official of the Marcos dictatorship Ramos supported the U.S. bases; as President Aquino's Minister of Defense he continued this support. In November 1994 the Pentagon, with Ramos's support, proposed to broaden the limited access agreement of 1992 with an Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA) giving the U.S. military rights in the Philippines, and the use of Philippine territory as a launching pad for possible U.S. intervention."
Much of Philippine economic policy is shaped, or at least influenced, by foreigners and multinational corporate oligarchs. As revealed by Tuazon in Bulatlat.com, President Arroyo's highly influential 13-member "International Board of Advisers" is headed by a virtual who's who of elite world finance.
Heading the group is Maurice "Hank" Greenberg, chairman of American International Group (AIG), the world's third largest capital investment pool and a leading member of the World Trade Organization:.
US Army, World War II President of AIG in 1962, CEO in 1967 and Chairman in 1989 Vice chairman, Council on Foreign Relations Member of both Bilderberger Group and Trilateral Commission Member, Heritage Foundation Vice chairman, Center for Strategic and International Studies Chairman, Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies (Council on Foreign Relations) Member, board of directors of New York Stock Exchange Former director of the Federal Reserve Bank Nominated for CIA director in 1995
Greenberg's direct involvement in US-Far East policy is telling. As revealed in a two-part investigation of American International Group by Michael C. Ruppert (A.I.G., From The Wilderness, August 14, 2001), AIG's insurance operations, including the entire period under Greenberg's leadership, have been connected to CIA covert operations.
AIG's predecessor, Asia Life/C.V. Starr Insurance Companies, operated out of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) spy agency during World War II. (AIG was formed in the 1960s as a holding company for Starr. Greenberg was C.V. Starr's handpicked successor.) C.V.Starr enjoyed long and profitable drug/covert operations relationships with the likes of CIA legend Paul Helliwell (head of OSS World War II intelligence in China), and CIA-connected lawyer Tommy Corcoran, and CIA proprietary fronts such as the infamous opium-smuggling airlines Civil Air Transport (which later became Air America) and Sea Supply Inc., and Pacific Corporation. Today, approximately a third of AIG's profits come from its Far East operations.
Directly relevant to the post-9/11 events, current members of AIG's board of directors include former US ambassador and CFR member Richard Holbrooke, a major post-9/11 war advisor to the Bush administration and business partner of George Soros. Also on the board is Frank Wisner, Jr., a director of Enron, and son of one of the prime CIA operatives, Frank Wisner Sr. When Wisner, Jr., was the US Ambassador to the Philippines (1991–92), he helped Enron win contracts to run two Subic Bay power plants (that were the subject of fierce local opposition).
Not coincidentally, the board chairmen of AIG's Philippine affiliate, Phil-Am Life Insurance, is Roberto Romulo himself (see above).
Other members of the IBA, as revealed by Tuazon, are Gerard Corrigan, managing director of Goldman Sachs; Maarten van den Berg, chairman of Lloyds Group; Minoru Makihara, chairman of the Mitsubishi Corporation; Junichiro Miyazu, president of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation; former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating; Victor Fung, chairman of the Hong Kong-based Li and Fung; Anthony Burgmans, chairman of Unilever, and Marce Fuller, chief executive of Mirant Corporation (the first corporation to privatize the Philippines' power industry).
In a display of shameless 9/11 propaganda, Romulo has proposed hiring former New York mayor Rudolph Guiliani to serve as the IBA's "presidential consultant on peace and order."
The coming years should usher in an orgy of corporatization and plunder throughout the Philippines. The US-based Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) has extended a $200 million credit line for US investments in the Philippines. The US Agency for International Development (USAID) is involved in a number of large-scale trade liberalization projects in the Philippines. A $500 million airport railway system is under construction in Mindanao and a $100 million shipyard in Subic Bay. Both projects are being handled by American companies.
A Blast From the Reagan-Bush Past
In an article titled "Lost History: Marcos, Money & Treason," investigative reporter Robert Parry detailed some of the criminal ties between former Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos and members of the Reagan and Bush administrations, including the ex-presidents themselves.
During his Hawaiian exile, Marcos declared that he had given Reagan $4 million in 1980 and $8 million in 1984.
Parry wrote, "The Marcos-Reagan money story is near the core of the corruption that permeated the 1980s. Some witnesses who claim knowledge of alleged Reagan efforts to sabotage Carter's negotiations to free 52 U.S. hostages then held in Iran maintain that Marcos contributed some of the money used by Republicans to bribe key Iranian mullahs."
Vice President George Bush, a longtime friend of Marcos, hailed Marcos for his "adherence to democratic principles," Parry said.
"Documentary evidence about the alleged Marcos-to-Reagan payoffs first surfaced after Marcos was ousted by a revolution in March 1986. As Marcos's fall neared, Reagan arranged for the dictator to be flown to Hawaii. Marcos's opponents then ransacked government files and found a Feb. 17, 1986, letter signed by a senior Marcos aide, Victor Nituda." In the letter, according to Parry, Nituda warned Marcos that Reagan's emissary, Senator Paul Laxalt demanded that "sensitive files, including ones listing the 1980 transactions, be turned over to the US before Marcos could go to Hawaii." Nituda's letter specifically cited accounts set up for Reagan and his 1980 campaign manager (and later CIA Director) William Casey, and that Laxalt demanded "all documents check-listed during his last visit or the deal for a Hawaiian exile is off." Laxalt also demanded files regarding bank loans and donations made to General John Singlaub, who was raising money for the Nicaraguan contra rebels.
"A serious investigation of the Marcos money might shed light, too, on another perplexing mystery from the 1980s: the curious relationship between the American government and the corrupt Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI). In Jan. 22, 1981, two days after Reagan's inauguration, Marcos and his cronies co-founded a Hong Kong bank with New York financier John Shaheen, one of Casey's closest friends dating back to the World War II-era Office of Strategic Services," Parry noted. "In 1983, the bank collapsed with reported losses of more than $100 million. The money was never recovered, but Shaheen associates claimed that prior to the bank failure, substantial amounts were funneled to Marcos, who reportedly was pulling the strings behind the scenes."
According to Republican campaign strategist Ed Rollins, Ronald Reagan's 1984 re-election campaign may have received an illegal $10 million in cash from Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos. (Rollins suggested that the illegal contribution never reached the campaign or the president, but were stashed "in some offshore bank.")
In a new report on the missing Marcos stash, investigative journalist Lucy Komisar reports that Marie-Gabrielle Koller, a former attorney with accounting firm KPMG in Zurich has come forward with evidence that "on March 23, 1986—just a day before a freeze would be placed on Marcos' accounts—KPMG secretly transferred $400 million from Credit Suisse Zurich to a Liechtenstein trust on the ex-dictator's behalf." (www.inthesetimes.com/issue/26/20/feature3.shtml)
The present Bush administration is, by personnel, policies and illegal conduct, a continuation of the prior Bush and Reagan regimes, just as the Arroyo/Ramos administration is an extension of prior Philippines regimes. The same can probably be said about the enduring covert relationship between the two governments themselves.
On November 1, 2001, George W. Bush illegally changed an executive order to declare that in light of the "national emergency" of 9/11, the release of papers from the Reagan and Bush presidencies would remain sealed—even though the release is mandated by the Presidential Records Act of 1978. Evidence of the Marcos-Reagan-Bush transactions, along with damning documentation of systemic criminality, may be contained in these files.
Larry Chin is a freelance journalist and an Online Journal Contributing Editor. .Copyright © Larry Chin 2002. For fair use only
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