chapter  9
17 Pages

Bush and the Philippines after September 11: Hegemony, mutual opportunism and democratic retreat


The “collaboration” between the Philippines and the United States has a long and relatively unique history in Southeast Asia. Colonisation by the United States in 1898 prevented the victory of a plebeian and revolutionary republican movement that had largely defeated Spanish colonial forces. After independence in 1946, the United States military retained a strong presence in the Philippines until 1992. The Philippines, of course, has since the 1960s been one of the most politically unstable countries in Southeast Asia, with both long-term Maoist and secessionist insurgencies representing important challenges to the state. The latter conflict revolves around assertions for independent self-government by the predominantly Muslim Bangsamoro national minority in Western Mindanao. United

States’ military support played an important role in providing security for the Philippine state and elite against these threats. Even more so, perhaps, there has been a pattern of recurrent mass politicisation and social mobilisation over the last quarter century, symbolised by the (now three) “EDSA” revolts of 1986 and 2001.1 A significant outcome of the first EDSA revolt was the continuing social mobilisation and political debate that culminated in the Philippine Senate voting not to renew the treaty enabling permanent United States military bases in 1991. A long association developed in the 1970s and 1980s between demands for democratisation and ending the United States military presence.