About 130 years ago, a fierce dispute erupted in the United States over the country’s political future. The question was: Should the Americans conquer colonies or be content with their own great country? “We must obey our blood and take possession of new markets and, if necessary, New Territories.“This was proclaimed by proponents of colonial policy, while the opponents pleaded for foreign policy restraint. Among them was Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known to us as Mark Twain, author of such bestsellers as “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and “Tom Sawyer’s adventures.“When journalists wanted to know from the 65-year-old writer whether he was actually anti-imperialist, he replied:
“You ask me what imperialism means. I do not enjoy the advantage of knowing exactly whether our people want to spread across the entire globe. If it aspired to that, I would be very sorry. I, on the other hand, think that it is neither wise nor a necessary development to show a flag in China or in other countries in which we have no business and which do not belong to us.”
By the end of the 19th century, American settlers had reached the West Coast. Since about 1890 it became noisy around the silent ocean. The vastness of this largest ocean inspired far – flung, increasingly heated debates: should the Americans turn this sea – with reference to the Lord-into the American Sea? This issue divided the United States into so-called “isolationists” and “interventionists” or “imperialists.” The former thought that the US was sufficient for itself and that its territory represented a sufficiently large internal market. The advocates of imperialism were people of very different provenance – clergymen, politicians, businessmen and intellectuals – who did not want to be left out of the competition with the European colonial powers.
In the Fifties and sixties of the last century, the American historian Richard Hofstadter analyzed politics and thought in the United States at the beginning of the twentieth century and showed how much American politics was determined by an unshakable sense of mission. Hofstadter, a professor at Columbia University in New York, described the deep psychological crisis that had gripped the country since 1890, when the Expansion of the internal borders was complete. In those days, politicians, intellectuals, and businessmen alike were driven by the fear that they had now literally reached their own limits.
The push into the “Wild West” was based on the impetuous economic development on the east coast of the United States. Industrialization accelerated the concentration and Expansion of capital, which was now seeking lucrative investment opportunities and new – if necessary foreign – markets. Representing the imperialists, Theodore Roosevelt, before becoming president in 1901, had openly declared: “a just war is better for the soul of man than peace in the greatest prosperity.”
The only serious competitor of the emerging United States was Spain, which had established itself as a colonial power in South America, the Caribbean and the Philippines since the 16th century. By 1900, however, Spain’s Empire had already shrunk considerably, and former colonies such as Mexico and Argentina had long been independent. Only Puerto Rico, Cuba, the islands of Guam and the Philippines in the Pacific Ocean were still in Spanish possession. But even in these regions, anti-colonial revolts weakened the conquistadors who were once accustomed to victory. The rule of brutal militaries and rapacious monastic orders wavered, and the Spanish fleet was hopelessly out of date. So it came as no surprise that the confrontation with the Iberian rival – the Spanish-American war – sought by the US, so to speak, on its doorstep lasted less than four months.
On February 15, 1898, a monstrous event in the waters off the Cuban capital Havana heated up the minds of the United States. The American warship USS Maine literally blew up. For American military officers and politicians, there was no question that the Spaniards had committed an act of sabotage. In any case, the fate of the Maine provided the pretext to finally strike against the Spanish colonial power. “Remember the Maine!"- “Remember the Maine!"- became the common battle cry of the interventionists. Within a few weeks, U.S. Naval and ground forces gained supremacy over Cuba and invaded Puerto Rico. At the same time, they annexed the previously independent Hawaii and the island of Guam in the Pacific, while the Pacific Squadron under the command of Admiral George Dewey launched the Spanish fleet in the Bay of Manila. The hopes of the anti-Spanish revolutionaries that the powerful USA would support them in their struggle for freedom and independence were not fulfilled. On the contrary, the United States itself became a colonial power.
Ardent imperialists such as Senator Beveridge did not care that the Philippine General and then revolutionary Emilio Aguinaldo had already proclaimed the First Republic of Asia on June 12, 1898. (Later, the same Aguinaldo took the oath of allegiance to the Star Banner and paid homage to the USA as the “powerful guardian” of his homeland, the start of a series of fatal collaborations.) Bad luck for the Filipinos; this Independence was short-lived because it fell into a political power vacuum. The Far East fleet of the U.S. Navy had indeed some weeks before within a few hours of the 1. On May 22, 1898, the ailing Spanish warships in the Manila Bay were put out of action. But it was only at the end of June that American GIs entered Philippine soil – effectively an independent country. At the peace conference in Paris in December 1898, it was agreed that Washington would pay the Spaniards 20 million dollars as a consolation prize for the loss of the Philippines. A few weeks earlier, in an address to a group of Protestant clergy, then American President William McKinley had explained why the United States had seized the Philippine Islands:
“In truth, I didn’t want the Philippines, and when we got it as a gift from the gods, I didn’t know what to do with them. I walked around the White House evening after evening until midnight; and I am not ashamed to confess that I knelt down and approached the Almighty more than once for light and guidance. And one evening late it dawned on me:
First, that we could not return them to Spain-that would be cowardly and dishonorable;
Secondly, that we could not leave them to France or Germany – our trade rivals in the East; that would be bad business style and discrediting;
Third, that we could not simply leave them to themselves; they were not ripe for self-government, they would soon have had anarchy and a worse mismanagement there than the Spanish one was;
Fourth, that we had nothing left but to educate the Filipinos, to raise them up, to civilize and Christianize them, and with God’s grace to do the best for them as well as for our fellow men, for whom Christ died likewise.
Then I went to bed and fell asleep and had a healthy sleep. The next morning I summoned the chief engineer of the War Department, our cartographer, and ordered him to put the Philippines on the map of the United States, and there they are, and there they will remain as long as I am president.”
With this revelation – a mixture of capitalist sense of mission, racism and delusion of superiority – the president simply denied the almost 350-year colonial rule of Christian Spain. Their own imperialist interests were also denied and henceforth masqueraded as benevolent assimilation. This “benevolent assimilation” also included the fact that the new occupiers in the Philippines enforced American English as the official language in the educational, business and administrative fields and enabled willing Filipinos to study in the USA. In addition, the US military built the largest bases outside the United States and created a Philippine Army under the command of the American General Arthur MacArthur. However, they had to content themselves with providing auxiliary services for the US Army in the country as scouts, porters or informants.
The American military entered an independent country in the summer of 1898, the first free Republic of Asia. The population also offered fierce resistance to the new colonial rulers. To break this, American troops began the so-called” pacification " of the islands: the result was the American-Philippine war. It began in early February 1899 and ended three and a half years later, according to official historiography. In the south of the Philippines, in the Sulu Sea and on the island of Mindanao, whose population was predominantly Muslim and which the Spaniards had disparagingly called “Moros”, the American “pacification” lasted until 1916.
“It will be necessary, “said the 1903 annual report of the U.S. division commander, Major General George W. Davis,” to eradicate almost all the customs that have characterized the lives of the Moros so far. As long as Mohammedanism prevails, the path to Anglo-Saxon civilization can only be paved with difficulty.”
In the largest colonial massacre in Southeast Asia to date, the population of the Philippines, which at that time numbered just over six million people, was literally decimated. Some estimates even speak of over a Million slaughtered Filipinos. It was the first guerrilla war in Asia. At its peak, he tied the lion’s share of the total U.S. forces on the islands, about 126,000 GIs, of which 4,200 were killed and over 2,000 wounded. In the particularly” troubled south “of the archipelago, generals such as Leonard Wood and John Joseph Pershing went down in the annals as” butchers of the Moros”. They were responsible for massacres that mainly killed the civilian population on the island of Jolo. (Obviously, the later NATO strategists knew about the penetrating power of Pershing; at the end of the 1970s, the General served as the namesake of those missiles which, together with Cruise Missiles, were deployed for “retrofitting” in western Europe.)
During the American-Philippine war, the new colonial power tested all methods of” counterinsurgency “that were” refined “in later wars in Korea, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia – from food blockades to” strategic hamletting”, the establishment of"strategic hamlets”. This should limit or closely monitor the external contacts of people in a certain Region. For this purpose, the area was strictly patrolled, fenced in with barbed wire, and the population was instructed to remove a side wall of their houses – mostly made of bamboo or Nipa – in order to make them “transparent”. The aim was to separate the civilian population from potential “rebels” and “bandits”. Later this was called “digging the guerrilla’s water”. To deter and break the resistance of the Filipinos, the colonial administration enacted special laws to also prevent the hoisting of the former national flag and the singing of patriotic songs. Violations were severely punished.
In the mother country itself, this kind of foreign policy was by no means undisputed. In the summer of 1899, the journalist George Ade published his Stories of Benevolent Assimilation in the weekly Chicago Record. In it he satirized his mission-conscious and war-loving countrymen. He mocked the fact that American compatriots were eager to teach Filipinos how to eat with a spoon and fork, to delight them with chunky, ridiculous-looking pieces of furniture, and to teach them the absurdity of wearing corsets in the tropical heat. Sharp political protests against the war in the Philippines also hailed from the stirring anti-Imperialist League. From 1901 until his death in 1910, the vice president was the now famous writer Samuel Langhorne Clemens alias Mark Twain. He justified his attitude with the words:
“A year ago I was not an anti-imperialist. I thought it was a great thing to give the Filipinos a big piece of freedom. Today, however, I think it is better that the Filipinos take care of oneself.”
Initially, Mark Twain had explicitly welcomed the Spanish-American War. From him he promised himself help for the Cuban revolutionaries in their struggle against the hated Spaniards. Later, however, American warfare in the Philippines found a relentless adversary in Twain. With caustic criticism he attacked this arms race, which outside the USA destroyed the values that were considered inviolable in the states themselves. In the New York Herald, Mark Twain wrote about the peace treaty of Paris, through whose colonial Schacher the Philippines had passed into American “ownership” as a former Spanish colony:
“Very carefully I read the Treaty of Paris and I realized that we do not intend to liberate the Philippines, but to subjugate its people. We went there to conquer, not to redeem. As I see it, it should be our joy and our duty to liberate the people and let them solve their own problems in their own way. I am against the Eagle putting its claws on another country.”
Reports of the carnage in the Philippines also made headlines in the US press. Above all, it was commanders like Jacob H. Smith who caused outrage. This commander, nicknamed “Bloody Jake” – “bloody Jacob” - had issued the order of the day on the central Philippine island of Samar: “plunder, murder and burn down you shall. The more you do this, the Greater my pleasure will be.“Industrialist Andrew Carnegie, like Twain another prominent member of the Anti-Imperialist League, sarcastically recalled President McKinley’s promise to civilize and Christianize the Filipinos: “over 8,000 of them have already been fully civilized and sent to heaven.“It was the historical merit of the league to have fully informed its own population about the events in America’s young colony in Asia. In particular, its vice president Mark Twain was considered the most influential anti-imperialist in the last decade of his life. Not only in newspaper articles, but also in his autobiography, The Writer harshly went to court with the imperialists among his countrymen:
“The motto of our country is “in God we trust” and every time we read this beautiful word on a dollar coin, it seems as if it trembled and whined with emotion. This is our public Motto. Our private is obvious: “if the Anglo-Saxon wants something, he simply takes it.””
The fact that the author of “Huckleberry Finn” so vehemently opposed the political leadership of his country was a thorn in the side of his – ultimately more powerful – opponents. After the death of the quarrelsome publicist, they did their utmost to erase the last decade of his work from the memory of his broad readership and admirers. Most biographies about Mark Twain simply omit his active time in the league. If he still lived today, as a self-declared anti-imperialist, he would have very bad cards.
Postponed independence despite vassal loyalty
Initially administered by a U.S. military government, Washington later moved to appoint a governor at the head of the executive branch on the islands. The Legislative Assembly, with limited powers, was filled with Filipinos who had been educated in the spirit of colonial power and whose ideals were more than committed to the social demands of their own countrymen for Land and rice. These leaders of the Philippine Elite included Manuel L. Quezon and Sergio Osmeña of the nationalist party. During World War I, 6,000 Filipinos served in the U.S. Navy, and another 4,000 Filipinos living in Hawaii joined the U.S. Army. The Philippines offered the US not only soldiers but also a submarine and a destroyer. Filipinos also subscribed to the war bond Liberty Bonds of approximately 40 million pesos. They donated one million pesos to the American Red Cross.
The political Elite of the colonized demonstratively carried out Kotaus, while the colonial power saw itself confirmed in having found in this part of Asia a permanent, although not yet independent ally. The Tydings-McDuffie act of 1934 laid the foundation for the creation of a Commonwealth government that would eventually lead the country to independence after a transitional period of ten years. Manuel L. Quezon became the first president of the Commonwealth of the Philippines, which was created one year later, and his deputy was Sergio Osmeña. The Philippines thus enjoyed largely internal autonomy, but the laws passed in Manila still had to be approved by the White House and the US Senate. Even with the beginning of the Commonwealth era, the United States retained control over all major industries on the islands. Especially the trade in such export products as sugar, hemp and copra remained firmly in their hands. Meanwhile, the American high commissioner was in charge of Finance, Defence and international relations.
A major social Problem before and during the Commonwealth era was the extremely unequal land and ownership conditions in the country and the resulting poverty of the predominantly peasant population. The large estates, which had formerly belonged to close confidants of the Spanish crown and monastic orders, were either bought up by the Americans or transferred to new owners without compensation. Representatives of the Philippine upper class, who also had land at their disposal before the arrival of the new colonial rulers, were able to enrich themselves among them again. For for the first time Cadastral offices were created, where primarily the well-off and those knowledgeable of reading and writing could officially register their actual or/and also fictitious land titles for a fee, thus legally binding as owners in the land register. The mass of Filipinos, small farmers and tenants, remained poor as ever. For they meant change at the political top of the country’s petty Power castlings. Had not the president of the first, short-lived republic, General and Supremo Emilio Aguinaldo, a little later abandoned his revolutionary ideals and come to terms with the new masters of the country?
What burned under the nails of the peasants and oppressed them were rent rates, which in some regions of the country provided for levies of up to 75 percent of their average crop yields. Although the Commonwealth government under President Quezon recognized the political urgency of these unresolved problems and announced a comprehensive social reform at the end of the 1930s, there were no real reforms. As a result, resistance and Protest against the government became radicalized. At the end of 1938, the Communist Party, banned since its founding in 1930, merged with the Socialist Party, founded in 1932 under the leadership of Pedro Abad Santos, to form the Communist Party of the Philippines (Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas; PKP). It combined the social demand for land and agrarian reform with the political appeal to strengthen national defense in order to be prepared against a potential Japanese attack. For the PKP leader Crisanto Evangelista and the party leadership, the developments in China were decisive, where the Japanese troops continued their advance against other Chinese cities and expanded their Aggression against the country after the Nanking massacre at the turn of the year 1937/38.
Appeasement, psychological warfare, armed resistance …
Like the British in Singapore, the US general staff in the Philippines under the command of Douglas MacArthur (son of Arthur MacArthur, the father-in-law of the Philippine Armed Forces) considered themselves invincible. If the British assumed that their “fortress Singapore” at the southern tip of continental South-East Asia was impregnable and that with this regional trading centre and military base they controlled the Malacca Strait, which was strategically important as an oil tanker Route, the leadership of the United States Armed Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) in the Philippines believed itself firmly in the saddle. MacArthur had also repeatedly praised the island of Corregidor, located in the Bay of Manila, as an “invincible fortress”. Both sides were wrong in a fatal way; both supposedly impregnable fortresses were not only – a debacle for the British and US General Staff-taken by Japanese troops. All in all, the defense lines publicly described as stable several times before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor proved to be extremely porous.
In a pincer movement, troops of the Imperial Japanese Army landed on Mindanao and Northern Luzon just one day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, on December 8, 1941. Shortly afterwards, the first bombs fell on the capital Manila, which was already taken on 2 January 1942. From here, the Japanese forces launched their Offensive against the last two bastions of the USAFFE – the fortress island of Corregidor in Manila Bay and the mountain jungle on the Bataan Peninsula. On Corregidor and Bataan the USAFFE suffered heavy losses, while President Quezon and General MacArthur had meanwhile fled to Australia. The surrender of the Philippine-American troops on April 9, 1942, the so-called” Fall of Bataan”, was followed by the death march of 76,000 prisoners of war, including about 10,000 US soldiers, from Mariveles on Bataan to Camp O’donell, more than 100 kilometers away, and other Japanese concentration camps in and around Capas in the province of Tarlac. During this ten-day March alone, about 10,000 prisoners of war were killed. They either died of exhaustion or were killed by their guards in case of refusal of orders or attempts to escape. Shortly afterwards, on 6 May, the approximately 13,000 survivors on Corregidor, where the provisional headquarters of the Commonwealth government had been located since December 1941, surrendered to the superior Japanese troops.
Also in the center of the island of Luzon, the traditional rice Chamber of the country, and not far from Capas, almost at the same time as the “fall of Bataan”, on March 29, 1942, an armed Formation had formed, which made a name for itself both during the war and in the first post – war decade-the anti-Japanese people’s Army (Hukbo ng Bayan Laban sa Hapon, short: Hukbalahap or Huk), founded on the Initiative of the Communist Party (PKP). Their objectives: armed resistance against the Japanese occupiers; Fight for the independence of the country and the upheaval of unequal land and property relations. The latter included a comprehensive agrarian reform, in the process of which the Land was to be handed over to those who cultivated it – that is, to the small farmers and tenants in the regions of Luzon characterized by large-scale feudal land ownership. This was a challenge to three opponents at the same time: the Japanese, who wanted to integrate the islands into their “Greater East Asian common sphere of prosperity” in the long term because of their rich mineral resources and rice; the de jure still dominant colonial power USA and finally to the native upper class, which had served the American Big Business as compradors and at the same time had extensive land holdings nationwide.
One of the first measures of the Hukbalahap was to arm the population in its operational areas. Thus, at the local level, the United Barrio United Defense Corps (BUDC) emerged as organizations of collective defense against Japanese incursions. Since many landowners had left their land due to the turmoil of the war and had fled to larger cities, preferably to Manila, the Huks managed in many places relatively smoothly to leave these lands to tenant farmers or to manage them jointly. Where this was not possible, armed Huk associations at least advocated the reduction of exorbitant rent taxes. This policy found great support among the population and enabled the partisans to provide themselves with sufficient food and military supplies. Another step taken by the guerrillas was to gradually transform the political and administrative structures in the countryside. In the provinces of Pampanga, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Bulacan, Rizal and Laguna, which encompassed the metropolis of Manila in the North, East and South, the Huks were able to occupy the government apparatus with their own people or sympathizers, from small administrative employees in post offices to the provincial governor.
The people in the Huks-controlled areas welcomed this development and saw their interests legitimately represented by the newly occupied political and administrative apparatus. The Huks were also able to guarantee public order and to prevent looting and black market transactions, which were commonplace in other regions. An estimated 5,000 Japanese were killed in combat with Huk units. A far greater number of their own countrymen turned off the Huks because they considered them collaborators, traitors or ideological enemies. Within the Huk associations there existed with the “Wa Chi” unit also a squad formed from Chinese or Chinese Filipinos, which operated mainly in the provinces of Bulacan and Laguna. Internationally, Hukbalahap maintained relations with the Office of the Communist International (Comintern) in Moscow and with units of the Chinese people’s Liberation Army.
Before and during the Invasion, Japanese Propaganda had evoked the racial and cultural unity of the peoples of Asia and had also promised the Filipinos liberation from American colonial rule. Particularly popular and widespread in the context of this targeted psychological warfare was the dropping of propaganda material from aircraft. In many cases, these were multicolored postcards, which conveyed two main messages: on the one hand, hatred and resistance against “white” or “Western imperialism” were to be fueled within the population, and on the other hand, the morale of the US troops in the country was to be softened. In 1942, the Japanese government had published a Pamphlet entitled “The Greater East Asian war and US”, in which idyllic pictures outlined the new relationship between Japan and its neighbors and conjured up the image of a common extended family. According to the Tenor of the book, The closer political and economic cooperation between all “family members” is, the greater the chances of achieving prosperity, peace and independence quickly and comprehensively in the Societies of East and Southeast Asia. This message has been repeated over and over again. The foreign troops had to be harassed and maimed with post-card messages thrown out of the air, they served false Masters, for that purpose in a foreign country. So-called"Striptease” series were also intended to make these soldiers think that they were fighting for an ultimately meaningless cause and risking their lives while other men were enjoying themselves at home with their wives and girlfriends. On such postcards, the image of a woman was first depicted. On the next card, a woman appeared in a lascivious Pose. A third card showed a scantily clad woman covered only in a scarf, while a final card showing a sexual act concluded the series.
This Propaganda did not catch on in the Huks-controlled areas of Central Luzon, nor in the south of the islands, where the Moros fought the Japanese as fiercely as they had revolted against the Spanish and American colonialists. Only in the larger cities of the country, but above all in the capital Manila, were there forces that readily came to terms with the new masters, even if only so as not to forfeit power and benefices. At first, the Japanese military administration was concerned with appeasing and securing the support of crucial Commonwealth government figures who remained in the country. They promised to leave the existing government structures intact and gradually lead the country to independence. The war, so the calculation of the since the 3. General Homma Masaharu, acting commander-in-chief of the Imperial Japanese forces in the Philippines on January 20, 1942, was to be essentially portrayed as a confrontation between the United States and Japan that hardly affected the lives of ordinary Filipinos. Homma himself signed Security passports and surrender documents that allowed Filipinos willing to cooperate to travel freely or called on people to actively cooperate with the Japanese authorities in the interest of the propagated policy “the Philippines for the Filipinos”.
This strategy of appeasement fell among the members of the urban upper class and the political Elite, but not in the Hinterland. There, various guerrilla groups operated, violent attacks by Japanese units increased, and the security and economic situation remained extremely precarious. This situation effectively lasted until the end of Japanese rule and also thwarted Tokyo’s original plans to seize mineral resources such as copper, iron, Gold, chromium and manganese within the framework of a military-controlled or military-commissioned economic consortium. Constant attacks by guerrilla groups, difficulties in recruiting workers, insufficient transport capacity and a shortage of oil led to the failure of the ambitious goals of combining lucrative Business with the regulated supply of the motherland.
Cotton production suffered the same fate. In order to compensate for discontinued cotton imports from the United States and India, it was planned to enter large-scale cotton production in the Philippines and other countries of Southeast Asia, thus undermining the anglo-american Embargo and securing the entire Japanese demand for this raw material. The southern Philippine island of Mindanao should play the key role. Since the 1920s, more and more Japanese citizens had settled here (popularly referred to as a “Japan-kuo”, “Little Japan”), of which businessman Ohta Kyozaburo succeeded in establishing the Ohta Development Company in Davao. There, the company initially focused on growing abaca (Manila hemp) and expanded its product range (including citrus fruits) with the establishment of other companies – such as the Mintal Plantation Company, Riverside Plantation Company and Talomo River Plantation Company.
In addition to economic considerations, Mindanao was also interesting as a significant hub of Japanese intelligence and espionage, as it was also home to an offshoot of the Kokuryu - kai, the “Black Dragon”Society, which, together with the Genyosha (“dark ocean"society or “Black Ocean"Society) of the Japanese army and government, provided espionage services and were actively involved in acts of sabotage-especially in China. The fact that the Mindanao Connection could not be used more intensively and effectively regionally from the point of view of the Japanese general staff was due to the fact that the Japanese colony in and around Davao was composed mainly of residents originally from Okinawa. These were considered uneducated, “inferior” and, since they had married Filipinos or Filipinas in the meantime, also as insecure Cantonists. This did not rule out that some of these residents compensated for such resentment by serving and fighting alongside the Japanese forces as particularly ardent admirers of their homeland.
… and forced “independence” with Tokyo’s blessing
There were also forces in society that were strictly anti – American, but at the same time emphatically pro – Japanese, whose leaders-such as general Artemio Ricarte and Benigno Ramos-had earlier fought the Americans as insurgent officers or as members of socialist-revolutionary movements. They were joined by pro-Japanese, paramilitary volunteer organizations such as the” peace Army”, Makapili (abbreviation for” pro Philippines”) and Bisig-Bakal ng Tagala (iron arm of the Tagals). After the war, the survivors and sympathizers of these organizations were cursed and thrown into prison as socially ostracized collaborators, while collaborators from the ranks of the political and Christian Elite were treated with glacé gloves and almost without exception amnestied.
Since the Japanese had occupied a predominantly Catholic country with the Philippines – A special feature in the Region – they initially had to resort to corresponding persons from their own environment with regard to the Catholic Church hierarchy and the mood within the population. Thus, the Japanese general staff specifically created a religious department, which was formed by Christian churchmen and laymen from Japan. They visited churches throughout the country and celebrated Mass there. With Bishop Taguchi from Osaka, the Japanese military administration won a man who sought the approval of the Catholic Bishops ' Conference in the country, the development of new curricula in the schools and a concordat with the Vatican. In the schools Japanese and learning Japanese culture became a compulsory subject.
In early December 1942, the Japanese military authorities created the Kapisanan sa Paglilingkod sa Bagong Pilipinas (Kalibapi for short), the society in service to the new Philippines, in place of the political parties that had existed before. Jorge B. Vargas, who had previously been appointed chairman of the executive Commission by General Homma, was appointed its leader. Major General Mayasi Yoshide became the first director of the Japanese military administration. The national government was renamed the Central Administrative Organization, which in turn was assisted by an established Council of State. The old Commonwealth government officially moved its headquarters to Washington in mid-May 1942. The Kalibapi and other newly created political organizations and structures were under the direct control of the Japanese military administration and were used by it to finally release the Philippines into “independence”.
In June 1943, the Kalibapi, which remained essentially confined to Manila, announced the establishment of the Preparatory Commission for Philippine Independence with Dr. José P. Laurel as president. This commission drew up a new constitution, which was then ratified at the beginning of September by a National Assembly, whose general assembly at the end of the same month elected José P. Laurel as president of the New Republic of the Philippines and Benigno S. Aquino as speaker. Officially, Laurel remained president of Japan’s clemency from October 14, 1943 to April 15, 1945. He died on August 31, 1945, when he declared the Japanese occupation over from his Japanese exile. Apart from the Axis powers, this so-called second Philippine Republic was only recognized by Spain and the Vatican. Laurel, a descendant of a distinguished family from Batangas province, south of Manila, was a lawyer by birth. After graduating from the State University of the Philippines and Yale University, he was elected to the Philippine Senate in 1925 and appointed deputy judge of the Supreme Court of the country in 1936.
Like no other political Clan on the islands, Laurel and his family prototypically embodied unconditional pact with the respective powers. Among the Spaniards, the Laurels had been honored, the Americans courted them as unabashedly as the new Japanese colonial masters, and then again let their hearts beat in time with the Transpacific victors. Even in post - war politics, the Laurels were always involved in prominent positions and, weighty pillars of the nationalist party, repeatedly acted as king or President – maker by – as in the case of Ferdinand E. Marcos (1965-86) - politicians of the opposition Liberal Party deftly bugged into their Camp, who then made the race victorious on their political platform. As spoils of war, so to speak, the Philippine president of Tokyo had his grace brought to Japan by the defeated troops of General Yamashita Tomoyuki. However, the winners showed mercy. General MacArthur had Laurel arrested for his collaboration with Japan and temporarily locked up in Sugano prison near Tokyo. But despite Laurel’s accusations of high treason and related charges in more than 130 cases, the politician was not a hair’s breadth away. He did not have to answer to a court, got the benefit of a general amnesty, in order to re-enter the Senate of the now also by the USA (formally) independent republic of the Philippines in 1951.
José P. Laurel saw his policy after the flight of the Commonwealth government and General Douglas MacArthur as a sacrificial effort in the service of the people, to whom he wanted to spare greater bloodshed. But as president of a vassal regime, he controlled only a quarter of the country – mostly the larger cities including their outskirts. However, in this area of rule he campaigned uncompromisingly and primarily for the interests of the Japanese occupation regime. One of President Laurel’s first acts in office was to instruct all rice and corn producers to immediately deliver their crops and supplies to government agencies so that they could meet their obligations to supply the Japanese troops with food. Laurel had the second anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor celebrated by a presidential announcement in early 1943 in unison with the war drummers in Tokyo as “the day of liberation of Greater East Asia”, on which Japan was preparing to “liberate the Oriental peoples from Western domination.“On December 7, 1943, President Laurel issued a statement explaining the” double meaning” of the new holiday. This feast day “not only dealt the death blow to Western imperialism in the Far East,” but also “paved the way for the present outstanding unity of all East Asian peoples.” In the almost simultaneous broadcast speech of Japanese Prime Minister Tojo Hideki, the message read as follows: “Anglo-Americans have no other desire than to dominate the other races of the Earth in order to live in comfort and luxury – in stark contrast to the aspirations of the East Asians.”
Such and similar statements, Statements and orders were published in the English-language daily newspaper “The Tribune”, which was printed in Manila. The editor of the paper on 10. December 1943 was written in a particularly martial tone: “the harsh fact that the Greater East Asian war is not only a war of extermination but also a total war is underlined by the fact that the enemy has to accept enormous losses inflicted on him by the Japanese army and Navy.“To suggest international support for the unstoppable, victorious advance of Imperial Japanese troops, sporadic reports of meetings in the Japanese capital, where the inseparable friendship of the larger East Asian family was celebrated at conferences, also appeared in the media controlled by the Japanese military administration in Manila. Such meetings were chaired by Admiral Shimada Shigetaro, Minister of the Navy, Aoki Kazuo, Minister of Greater East Asia, and foreign minister Shigemitsu Mamoru. In addition to Laurel, the vassals from China, Manchukuo, Thailand and Burma Ba Maw also included Subhas Chandra Bose from India.
As quickly as the Japanese troops succeeded in occupying the Philippines militarily and installing a regime that was compliant with them, their chances of gaining the “brains and hearts” of the population and establishing themselves permanently on the islands remained low from the outset. Due to nationwide rejection, protests and armed resistance, the new rulers, along with their new government, were not even able to produce enough rice, let alone keep prices reasonably stable. The longer the war lasted, the more brutal the methods of collecting Rice became. What did not get into the hands of the Japanese Army ended up on the black market. So tense and desolate was the situation that the country only reached the pre-war level of rice production again at the beginning of the 1950s.
When General Douglas MacArthur made good on his earlier promise “I will return” and went ashore near the city of Tacloban on the island of Leyte on October 20, 1944, after major Japanese losses in the Pacific and in the eastern part of the Philippines, accompanied by Sergio Osmeña, the successor of President Manuel Quezon, who died in August 1944 in US exile, he entered a largely devastated country. A few days later, MacArthur transferred civilian control of the USAFFE-controlled territories to the Commonwealth President. The Dilemma: there was still a president of Tokyo’s grace in Manila, while the American protégé Osmeña himself, according to experts at the U.S. Army War College in Pennsylvania, was considered a weak, ineffective politician who, in contrast to his predecessor, was also lacking in Charisma.
Destruction of Manila-disarming the guerrillas
“Of all war Capitals, only Warsaw suffered greater damage than Manila”.
Around the turn of the Year 1944/45, the war moved ever closer to the capital. It took almost the whole of February 1945 until, after extremely losing street battles, in which literally every row of houses was fought, the decisive battle was fought near the old Spanish city center Intramuros. What was later praised as the “liberation” of Manila was a slaughter, in the course of which about 100,000 civilians lost their lives within a few days. When Japan was forced to surrender six months later, the number of Filipinos killed during the war was over a Million, most of them in the bitter end of the war. In addition, over 60,000 Americans and an estimated 300,000 Japanese were killed during this period.
During the war, according to later research, no less than 260,000 Filipinos were active in various guerrilla organizations, while an even larger part of the population had secretly been involved in the anti-Japanese underground. This explained why the Japanese troops were never able to effectively control more than 12 of the then 48 provinces of the country. By far the largest and most important guerrilla organization was the Hukbalahap, under the military leadership of Luis Taruc. About 30,000 Huk fighters controlled most of the island of Luzon at the height of the fighting. If the Huks had been able to establish themselves nationwide, this would have been a serious “security problem” for both the Japanese during the war and the Americans after the war. At the end of the war, all these guerrilla organizations, especially the socialist-oriented Hukbalahap, assumed that they would at least be appreciated, if not compensated, as a formidable force in the resistance against the Japanese occupiers. With good reason, they were able to point to the promises of high-ranking US politicians and military leaders who had even promised them equal treatment with the GIs.
All the Greater was the astonishment that one of the first orders of the Usaffe chief MacArthur, after the loss-making capture of Manila and even before the surrender of Japan, was addressed to the Huks to immediately stretch their weapons and hand them over to the Usaffe units or US commanders. Only occasionally and selectively did Huk fighters receive recognition and compensation for their services and the Chance to integrate into the regular Philippine Armed Forces. USAFFE veterans, on the other hand, were offered jobs in the Philippine military police, the very segment of the Philippine security forces that had been used by the Japanese to control the hinterland. In the vernacular, especially in the areas controlled by the Huks, the USAFFE were soon called “Tulisaffe” — “tulisan” in Tagalog means “thief”, “robber”, “highwayman”.
If Huk fighters refused to surrender their weapons at assigned handover points or Checkpoints, they were branded “lawless” and “bandits” and treated accordingly. In Pampanga province, US soldiers surrounded Huks positions and forcibly disarmed them. The latter arose only because they had been threatened with legal execution. The military police received orders to disarm and arrest high-ranking Huk cadres as “insurgents.” Luis Taruc himself was briefly captured and imprisoned. But mass protests and the fear of US forces that the security situation in Central Luzon could deteriorate dramatically led to his immediate release. Another Problem was the counter – structures in politics and administration created by the Huks during the war – and, above all, functioning. The Barrio United Defense Corps (BUDC) was effective and popular, but illegal from the point of view of the Commonwealth government and the United States. Although the alternatives used by the latter were legal, these people generally proved to be completely inexperienced, corrupt and intent on personal gain. A permanent conflict between the old-new rulers and the guerrillas was programmed. Consequently, at the end of the 1940s, the Hukbalahap changed its name to the people’s Liberation Army (Hukbong Mapagpalaya ng Bayan; short: HMB), which was now fighting the government and US forces on the islands. It was not until the mid – 1950s-after years of fierce fighting, political co – optation and promised land allotments for Ex-combatants on the southern island of Mindanao-that Manila would succeed in breaking the backbone of the organization.
Political Comeback of the elites
Originally, the US military leadership on the islands had thought that the Huks would lay down their arms after the war and willingly return to civilian life. However, their own actions led to the Hukbalahap and the Communist Party (PKP) being criminalized, effectively banned and forced underground. Even the six elected members of the Democratic Alliance, a Popular-Front alliance formed in the summer of 1945, which included militant peasant organizations and trade unions, were prevented from taking their seats in Congress a year later. Of course, this led to great bitterness among those who had spearheaded the anti-Japanese resistance. This bitterness was compounded by anger that the wealthy and members of the ruling Elite were treated lightly, even courted, even though they were either shamelessly enriched by black market transactions or deeply involved in collaboration and corruption. These social forces were simply denied the integrity and moral authority to present themselves as legitimate leaders in the post-war order.
But US policy relied on this same old Elite to not only restore the old Commonwealth government, but also to lead the country into an independence that upheld the fundamental political, economic and military prerogatives of Washington. In order to achieve this, the “American Caesar” MacArthur, as William Manchester called the General in the title of his 1978 MacArthur biography, relied on previously local pro-Japanese elements from politics and the police apparatus, on flown-in “Counterinsurgency"strategists, i.e. experts in counterinsurgency and psychological warfare, and finally on an American-Philippine law that was to give all this a Democratic touch. The inclusion of even pro-Japanese personalities in the design of the post-war order had the advantage that these politicians were extortionate, but at least highly manipulable. This explains, For example, the political career of Senor Manuel Roxas, the last Commonwealth president and first president of the Republic of the Philippines, which became independent on 4 July 1946.
Manuel Roxas, a politician and former brigadier general in the Army before the war, was a high-ranking member of the puppet regime during the Japanese occupation. Among other things, he had the sensitive task of supplying the Japanese troops with rice supplies. After the war, Roxas was initially captured by the US military along with about 5,000 other collaborators, but was soon released on the orders of President Osmeña and General MacArthur. Roxas was something like the Darling MacArthur, who considered him more capable than Osmeña and actively promoted the political Comeback of the pupil in the nationalist party. Roxas had thus immediately become a serious competitor to Osmeñas, whom he eventually ousted in the first post-war election. Roxas was born in Tokyo, Japan, the son of a Japanese father and a Japanese mother. Roxas was born in Tokyo, Japan, the son of a Japanese father and a Japanese mother.
The “pacification” of the Huks by military means was thus accompanied by a targeted political co-optation of formerly pro-Japanese forces into the post-war government. This in turn created the basis for preparing the “independence” of the Philippines economically and militarily and for maintaining its close ties to the USA. A serious Problem was to revive the completely shattered economy and create jobs. Since the internal resources were not sufficient for this, the government in Manila was dependent on US aid deliveries for its prosperity and prosperity. In January 1946, Paul V. McNutt, the U.S. High Commissioner to the Philippines, had written a situation report and sent it to President Harry S. “The situation is critical,” McNutt wrote to the president, “at this moment, in the face of the devastation and demoralization wrought by the most cruel and devastating war of all time, it seems hardly possible for the Filipino people, since the country is also deeply divided into loyalists, enemy collaborators and several well-armed groups, to reconcile the immense economic rehabilitation measures with the demands of political independence.”
Sold and sold economically
“I solemnly swear to give the United States of America full confidence and allegiance (…) that I will serve them honorably and faithfully against all their enemies (…) the commands (…) of the president of the United States and officers superior to me (…) and conduct myself in accordance with the guidelines and conventions of martial law.”
Such and similar oaths of Allegiance had been made by about a quarter of a Million Filipinos before and after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, thus linking their fate to that of the US forces. In exchange for this loyalty, to which US President Franklin D. Roosevelt had urged the Filipinos, the government in Washington promised the Filipino soldiers after the war the same treatment as that of their American companions in arms. This should concern compensation as well as adequate health insurance and Pensions. General Omar Bradley, then head of the Veterans Administration, had reaffirmed this principle of equality in October 1945 and assured all concerned.
But already in February 1946, a law, the rescue Act, had been passed in the US Congress and signed by President Truman, which contained exactly the opposite. It now stated that the (war)service provided by Filipinos " is not regarded as one that (…) in the military or national forces of the United States or any other of their units.” Accordingly, there would also be no entitlement to treatment under US law, and therefore no possibility to benefit from any special treatment or compensation. This was an Affront to the Filipino war veterans, who bore the brunt of the war and persevered in the fight against an overwhelming enemy, after the US high command had long since left the Philippine Commonwealth and taken up quarters in Australia.
Not only the war veterans were deceived and stamped second-class citizens. The same happened on the macro level. The promise made by US President Roosevelt in August 1943 that the Philippines would receive full compensation for the war damage caused was not kept. Instead, there was a protracted political-diplomatic scramble in Washington and Manila over the amount of war reparations to be made and the manner in which they were to be disbursed and the mode by which they were to be disbursed. Two Americans played a key role here – Senator Millard E. Tydings of Maryland and Missouri congressman C. Jasper Bell.
Tydings, co-author of the Tydings-McDuffie Act, which had promised independence to the Philippines within a decade in 1934, campaigned in the United States Senate in the fall of 1945 for an emergency supply of US $ 620 million, which was immediately reduced by $ 100 million. In addition, Tydings had made the payment of such services dependent on the fulfilment of certain conditions by Manilas. These included the establishment of a war Damage Assessment Authority, the U.S.-Philippine war Damage Corporation, and the establishment of equality clauses requiring Americans in the Philippines to enjoy the same rights as Filipinos in the United States. So sluggish and ineffective was this authority that first payments to Manila were not made until the end of 1946 and individual claims from the Philippine side were not taken into account until April 1947. By the time war Damage Corporation ceased operations in 1950, it had paid out only $ 388 million to over one million private applicants. Originally, at least 1.25 billion dollars in reparation payments had been expected. In any case, only those who enjoyed the proximity to the centre of power or had entered the selection process in the first place thanks to bribes were eligible for these payments.
The Philippine Trade Act, named after U.S. congressman Bell, or the bell trade Act of 1946, had not only adopted Senator Tydings ' recommendations. This law went far beyond that. It accepted the “parity rights”, that is, the equal rights clauses for Americans in the Philippines, guaranteed free trade with the USA for a period of eight years and tied the Philippine Peso to the Dollar with the additional requirement that the exchange rate could only be changed with US approval. In addition, the extension of Duty-Free Trade for certain products was set for a further 28 years. The economic hegemony of the USA over the politically “independent” Neocolony of the Philippines remained – mainly because of the blackmail of the government in Manila, especially its boss and former travel collector among the Japanese, President Manuel Roxas. During his tenure, he also decided to allow the United States to maintain and expand military bases and to provide them with sufficient Land on the basis of a 99-year lease. This” treaty regulating general relations " was officially signed on 14 March 1947.
When, ten months after the surrender of Japan, the Star-Spangled Banner was raised in the Philippines and the country was preparing for final independence on July 4, 1946, old politicians sat in new saddles and set the tone again in administration, economy and politics for large landowners and wealthy businessmen. Encouraged and actively supported by a US post-war policy, which was based on pre - war and war policy – true to the motto: No matter how much changes, everything remains the same. A Status quo that was so much to the liking of the rulers in Washington, Manila and Tokyo.