Urgent Problems Facing the Philippines Republic
Politics and society cannot be separated from each other. However, the only difference between them is the use of politics as a tool to foster the development and prosperity of society. Some see politics as a means to advance their agenda disregarding the interests of people. Just like many countries around the world, the Philippines has been a victim of such leaders who come with significant pledges on how they intend to make the country a better place full of development and better living standards, but all these promises remain to be just unfulfilled promises. Ferdinand Marcos came with the promise of making the Philippines great again, but his promise ended just like all other pledges in the past. In this light, this essay seeks to discuss the problems encountered by the post-war Philippines republic, the ways in which the republic responded to these issues, long term effects of the responses found, and how these problems had paved the way for Marcos regime.
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The post-war Philippines experienced threatening problems that needed attention if the country was to be revived. Firstly, the war had left a devastating physical, economic, and social effect (Lecture 8 1). Devastation in the city of Manila was evident since late 1944 when forces led by General MacArthur's had rapidly advanced towards Manila from their landing base in the central Philippines. It was a month-long battle that saw 80% of the city go into ruins. It became the second most destroyed city after Warsaw (Abinales and Amoroso 163). The economy also experienced overwhelming disruption of activities. Therefore, citizens could not carry out their day-to-day operations while the war took all state resources. Secondly, it was hard to deal with the issue of collaborators as bringing them to justice was quite challenging. Thus, Osmena came back to the Philippines to bring the officials, who had collaborated with the Japanese, to book. He experienced the problem of overcoming the influence of MacArthur who had already vowed to protect collaborators, as they were his business associates and friends.
Even as the post-war trials took place, MacArthur ensured that no leading political personalities faced a significant sentence. Thirdly, there was rampant social unrest in the country as the elites, who were aligned to the communists, mobilized peasants and the urban workers and tried to show them that they had a right to enjoy their freedom. According to Abinales and Amoroso, this uprising was met by harassment from the government; on the contrary, this intensified resentment, with the violence escalating between the Philippines’ supported private armies and the Hukbalahap units (174). Therefore, these problems expose the difficulties that the leaders faced in the administration of the country.
How the Republic Responded to the Problem
The republic responded to these problems in various ways, with the most evident being American assistance, in which they risked compromising their sovereignty in a large extent (Lecture 08 1). The new government was to sign treaties, which seemed to escalate the problems instead of solving them. In the free trade agreement, the American mechanized agriculture was favored at the expense of the agrarian agriculture that was dominant in the Philippines.
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In the Bell Trade Act of 1946, Americans were favored regarding business activities, the exploitation of natural resources, and land ownership (Abinales and Amoroso 170). Both of these treaties worked against the rights of the people of the Philippines as it was tantamount to infringement of their rights since Americans ended up controlling even the monetary and exchange policy (Abinales and Amoroso 171). They also signed a Military Base Agreement that allowed the United States to maintain a military base for 99 years, and American military advisers would have a role in the Philippines’ military development. In return, $620 million was released for the rehabilitation of the country; thus, property damage compensation was awarded $400 million, road construction allocated $120 million, and $100 million was channeled to the military (Abinales and Amoroso 173). The United States further gave the loans worth $250 million to help in the critical areas of the economy as the way of countering the uprising among the disgruntled groups (Abinales and Amoroso 173). As Abinales and Amoroso stated, most of the policies worked to benefit the elites while oppressing the general population (83). Therefore, the above-mentioned facts show that the leaders adopted treaties as a primary approach to the problems.
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The Long Term Effects of the Problem
One of the long-term economic impacts felt in the republic was the rampant corruption that involved depletion of the government confers. For instance, the finance cooperation for rehabilitation was required to sell 200 million peso worth of the material, but the agency could only account for 28 million pesos, while the rest fell into illegal use (Abinales and Amoroso 178). Cronyism also ensured the distribution of war funds to those close to the regime in a fraudulent manner to those who had not denounced their USAFFE affiliation. The balance of trade was not beneficial to the Philippines as it ended up benefiting the American economy as it exploited the raw material from the Philippines at low cost and resold the same finished products to the Philippines at a higher price (Abinales and Amoroso 178). Socially, there was a massive migration of the population from the Bohol and Cebu provinces in Central Visayas and a few in Pampangos to Southern Mindanao (Abinales and Amoroso 175). During the Quirino period, there was massive favoritism towards the elites and the rampant privatization of the public land, thus denying the masses the privilege of using these resources for the greater good of society.
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There was also the loss of the historically rich culture, in which traditional artifacts and other cultural materials ended up in ruins during the invasion in Manila as these artifacts could not be reconstructed or recovered through monetary support. The advancement of the agricultural mechanization led to the erosion of the agrarian tradition that was popular among the locals (Abinales and Amoroso 170). Politically, the signing of the treaties gave most of the governance power to Americans, and this led to the loss of sovereignty among the Philippines since most of the major decisions fell under American control. For instance, the signing of the treaty to allow Americans to have a military base in the country besides giving them the right to have a say in the army was seen as a way of government giving the powers bestowed upon it by the people to a foreign country. As established in Lecture 8, the treaty that permitted the free trade only worked to benefit Americans while oppressing the Philippines since the local economy remained in a deplorable state (3). The Philippines sourced most of the reconstruction material from the United States and exported the primary raw materials to America. Thus, the treaties seemed to benefit America more than the Philippines.
How the Problems Paved Way for the Rise of the Marcos Regime
The rise of the Marcos regime was the result of most of the challenges that needed solutions that the third republic had failed to provide. A recurring political and social crisis was one of the major contributing factors to the rise of the Marcos regime (Lecture 9 1). For the two decades in the post-war republic, no leader had managed to be reelected, and this was caused by the uneven development and ineffectiveness of the policies by the presidents. The corrupted government officials had misappropriated public; thus, the rural infrastructures were underdeveloped as the unemployment rate skyrocketed mostly due to the encouragement of the capital intensive rather than labor-intensive production (Abinales and Amoroso 193). It should be noted that Marcos based his campaign on these challenges by promising the masses that he was determined to make a nation great again by eradicating all those previous atrocities committed in the past regimes that ranged from corruption to underdevelopment.
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To cement his leadership, he took advantage of the more educated urban middle class who he appointed to the critical position and gave them the power to implement major programs. According to Abinales and Amoroso, the consolidation of Ilocano allies in northern Luzon bailiwick formed a formidable alliance with the Lopez dynasty to put him in the authority (194). Thus, it can be seen that these discussed issues were a true blessing to Marcos in his pursuit of power.
Conclusively, it is evident that the Philippines was profoundly affected by World War Two as Manila became the second most destroyed city in the world during the war. The post-war republic tried to work towards the reconstruction of the nation, but the overwhelming nature of the situation forced the leadership to seek assistance from the United States who offered support in return for various treaties. These agreements involved permission of the free trade that led to the further decline of the Philippines economy, the establishment of the military bases in the Philippines, infringing on their sovereignty, as well as the Bell Trade Act that allowed American entrepreneurs to have rights in owning and carrying out business activities. The money was misappropriated and it did not deliver the anticipated mandate. Social, economic, and political dissatisfaction persisted, and it was on these challenges that Marcos had based his campaign by promising the masses that he would make the nation great again.