The Arroyo government likes to say that Vice President Teofisto Guingona resigned as Foreign Secretary due to “policy differences” with the President. This simply means that Guingona could not stomach the Arroyo government’s lapdog attitude towards the United Sates. We laud Vice President Guingona’s consistent and principled stance against US military intervention in the country. He has sounded the alarm against increased US military presence since late last year, revealing American violations of the Visiting Forces Agreement, opposing Balikatan as well as he could. He said he would resign if his conscience could no longer bear it and he has.

President Arroyo, on the other hand, constantly reminds us that she has no palabra de honor and has no nationalist bone in her body whatsoever. With Balikatan set to end on July 31, she is all set to pitch the approval of the Mutual Logistical Support Agreement (MLSA) which will allow the US to put up storage facilities in the country—another clear violation of the Constitution. Her government has already accepted the “downpayment” in the form of the recently released $10 million military assistance package.

On top of this blatant disregard for the Constitution and our national sovereignty, she is now wooing Sen. Blas Ople to head the Dept. of Foreign Affairs (DFA). What kind of statecraft is that? Shouldn’t the Foreign Secretary have the same vision as the President? If Guingona, her party-mate, could not abide by her decisions, what more Ople?

If we look at it from another angle (apart from her desire to break the senate impasse), we can better understand this seemingly strange choice. Perhaps GMA is looking for allies and/or scapegoats for when the MLSA matter comes to a head. With Sen. Ople in the DFA, she can then claim that she has the support of the opposition in allowing greater US military intervention. If the opposition bucks (or Ople bucks), she can cast them as killjoys. Sadly for us, GMA understands her fellow-politicians very well: on most political and economic issues, they will quarrel to the death according to their personal and partisan agenda. But when it comes to the US, they will be indivisible. Unlike Guingona, who is a survivor of the anti-Marcos struggle, the anti-bases struggle and indeed the initiator of the impeachment process against Erap, GMA has no affinity for nationalist struggles and probably thinks them worthless unless they can help her achieve her personal ambitions (as Guingona’s quixotic crusade against Erap apparently did).

We miss the days of the great nationalist senators and statesmen—Sen. Lorenzo Tanada, Sen. Jose W. Diokno. Even the most vocal anti-bases critics have softened in their stance against the US in the light of September 11 and the barbarity of the Abu Sayyaf. But while the world has changed greatly since their time, we want to ask what has changed, really, in terms of protecting our national interests? It remains true that a government’s priority should be to defend its territorial integrity and sovereignty over the agenda of a foreign power. It remains true that American military presence in the country will exacerbate prevailing conflicts rooted in the social order. It remains true that without a coherent foreign policy, this country will be buffeted by the capricious winds of American geo-politics. Nationalism only means that we should look out for ourselves first—this ethic makes sense and will not change until the day when national boundaries and sovereign states themselves go out of fashion.

04 July 02



AKBAYAN Citizens’ Action Party