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Political collaboration – May 31, 2004 is my column for today.
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June 2, 2004 at 12:15 am (UTC 8)
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Dear Mr. Quezon:
Thank you for your kind remarks regarding my book “Kulaboretor!” I wrote the manuscript back in 1996. The topic of what happened to the Filipinos who remained in the country during the war always facinated me. My aim in writing the book is to write about the voices by participants, both big and small about the collaboration issue. Collaboration is one of the responses to the Japanese invasion, the other one is resistance and the response could be a combination of both.
Regarding the shortcomings you pointed out in the book, I would have written more extensively about the breakdown of peace and order in Manila after its declaration as an Open City by the Americans, but my main concern was to portray the developing dilemma of Filipino leaders whether to cooperate with the Japanese and how much cooperation should be rendered to the invaders. MacArthur gave a stern warning for them “to do anything except take the oath of allegiance to the Japanese.” Those words appeared to be hammered in the minds of Laurel, Aquino and Vargas.
Regarding the attempts of Filipino officials in exile as well those left in the Philippines to maintain national solidarity, I made quotations from Laurel’s wartime diary and even from your grandfather, President Quezon which indicated that the prime concern of the Filipino officials should be national survival in the face of enemy occupation. As I said, my concern in the book was to portray the dilemma of the leaders. Some of them collaborated to protect the people. Otherwise the Japanese would have governed directly or appointed Filipino Japanophiles who might be even worse than the invaders.
The return of former collaborators to positions in the government after 1946 showed what kind of people are the Filipinos. They are either a forgetful or forgiving people. Manuel Roxas who was described as a No. 1 collaborator was elected President; Osias who urged the Filipinos to adopt the fascist salute became a Senator and a town in Albay was named after Pio Duran who was one of the co-founders of the Makapili. Applying that to the present situation, some individuals who had to flee because of EDSA I and even EDSA II are now in positions of power. It is the lack of historic consciousness which makes history repeat itself because the Filipinos never learn from history.
Another thing that should be pointed out is the policy of the Americans to appoint somebody who would satisfy their objectives. Former collaborators were needed back in the Philippine government because of their experience and were willing to back US objectives. In the postwar era they were needed to stem the tide of world communism. Without the class of political collaborators they would leave a void in Philippine society which would be filled up by the leftist groups like the Huks and the socialists. This situation is being repeated in Iraq when the Americans allowed the appointment former Baath party members and Iraqi army officials in the new government. Otherwise it would leave Iraq with an incompetent government or worse leave the country in the hands of the likes of Muqtada El Sadr and his Al Mahdi army and anti-American groups.
I hope the book would be a wake-up call in the examination of the people’s values.
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