Then and now: US economic intervention in the Philippines

Features Philippines Jun 8, 2018 at 4:00 pm

During the swearing-in of the new United States (US) ambassador to the Philippines in early November, US Secretary of State John Kerry stressed that the “logic” of the “indelible” US-Philippine alliance is “as compelling today as [it has] ever been”. Newly sworn-in US ambassador Sung Kim in turn highlighted the “ironclad” Mutual Defense Treaty, the US being “among the Philippines’ top trading partners and its largest foreign investor”, and how USAID and the Millennium Challenge Corporation “promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth”.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of formal US-Philippines relations on top of almost 50 years of direct US occupation. The Philippines seems to have gained so much from its relations with the US, to hear top US diplomats speak. Much of this is in response to Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s recent statements asserting an independent foreign policy including a drift away from the US.

Yet US intervention in Philippine economic policy-making for instance has always been to serve its own economic interests and not to develop the country. Then and now, this has been about ensuring that US corporations benefit from cheap Filipino labor, the country’s natural resources, and selling goods and services that the local economy is stifled from producing for itself.

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