Josh Davies looks at the history of the Philippines, from its domination by the Spanish to its present day Maoist insurgency The modern history of the Philippines has been defined by the domination of outside powers and resistance to them. The Philippines was a formal colony of Spain until 1899 and then de facto a colony of the US until the Second World War. Thereafter it suffered under semi-colonial domination - formally independent but with regimes that did the every bidding of the US. Nevertheless resistance to imperialism and its Filipino agents has been a prevalent feature of life. Sometimes this has taken the form of an armed struggle against military occupation, at other times as a mass movement against governments and regimes complicit in the domination of the Philippines. It is the question of how these resistance movements fight and for what aims that has shaped the course of events in the 20th century and will shape them in the years to come. From Colonialism to Imperialism
The United States has exercised political and economic domination over the Philippines since the defeat of Spanish colonialism in 1899. Twice it has posed as the liberator of the Philippines from imperialist powers, first from Spain then from Japanese occupation in the Second World War, and both times it followed the same pattern: side with Filipinos who want to fight for independence, after victory take control of the country and then, when US economic domination been established and a pliable political tool has been found, gradually give back formal independence. After posing as allies with Filipinos against Spain the US fought against the independence of the Philippines. In 1901 it captured General Emilio Aguinaldo who had been a leader in the struggle for independence and had declared independence from Spain. Resistance against the American occupation was widespread though gradually it got pushed back and by the middle of the 1910s was defeated. After the consolidation of American power in the Philippines there followed a period where the US gradually gave power to local institutions, although even after 1935 and the setting up of the Filipino Commonwealth (who's constitution was drafted and approved by the US government) the US maintained naval bases in the area as well as complete control over Filipino foreign policy. This was a shift from colony to semi-colony, the US had stopped ruling through governor-generals but had enshrined a political system in the Philippines that would continue to allow it economic dominance and allow it to use the Philippines as a military base against its rivals in Asia in pursuit of its imperial ambitions. The US's actions during and after the Japanese occupation further demonstrated its use of the country as a pawn for use against other powers (the USSR and China) and its determination to establish a semi-colonial relationship and political system to carry it out. After the Japanese invasion in 1941, and during the fight between US and Japanese imperialism over the islands, the Communist Party of the Philippines (PKP) set up a military organisation called the Hukbalahap which boasted tens of thousands of guerrilla fighters and was key to the defeat of the Japanese in central Luzon (the biggest and most economically and politically important island in the Philippines). After the war the US granted independence to the country. This independence however was purely formal: the US got a 99 year lease on naval and military bases in the country, a trade agreement to facilitate US exploitation was the precondition for receiving aid for post-war reconstruction and in 1951 the Philippines and the US signed a "Mutual Defence Treaty" obliging it to support the US in war. The subservient relationship to the US was so total that the US High Commissioner Paul McNutt commented that the country was more dependent on US markets than any of the US states. Immediately after the war the PKP formed a Democratic Alliance...
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