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Post Philippines and Yamashita's Gold
Created by John Eipper on 08/01/14 2:00 AM

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Philippines and Yamashita's Gold (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy, 08/01/14 2:00 am)

I was fascinated by the posts from Bienvenido Macario (30 and 31 July) and David Duggan (31 July). Unfortunately, in spite of all my efforts, I remain mostly Western-centric with my information, which is problematic.

Therefore I have a couple of questions for each of them.

To Bienvenido Macario, I would like to ask why he seems to be against the independentist Filipinos collaborating with the Japanese Army to defeat the occupying American colonial forces.

Generally I assume that for the Filipinos, as for any other nation, it was much better to be independent even if within the structure of the "Asiatic Cooperation," rather than be dominated by a far-away Western country.

To David Duggan, I would like to ask if when preparing the lawsuit claiming war crimes by the Japanese, he ever had the thought that if it was correct to punish the war crimes of the losing "Yellow Monkeys" (remember the movies of good old Marine John Wayne and the democratic war propaganda?), shouldn't it also be appropriate to punish the (numerous) war crimes of the winners?

JE comments: Eugenio Battaglia often forces me to challenge my historic assumptions. I know that the Filipinos were better off under US domination than as part of the brutal "Co-Prosperity Sphere," but should I be so certain?  Those who Bienvenido Macario calls "loyalists" to the US could also be labeled as "collaborators."

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  • Philippines and Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere (Francisco Ramirez, USA 08/02/14 12:14 AM)
    The historical reality is that Filipinos rejected the Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere project. This is not about what ought to be the case, but what in fact was the case. Despite Eugenio Battaglia's assumption (1 August), geographical proximity did not breed solidarity.

    To this day there is more anti-Japanese than anti-American sentiment in the Philippines. This is true despite the fact that much of the destruction of Manila was due to less-than-precise American bombing.

    Before Pearl Harbor there was a Commonwealth in the Philippines and a degree of self-government that included elections of both the legislative and executive branches. There was an agreement that the Philippines would become independent by 1945. One can argue that it was not in the best interests of the Philippines to become independent. But there were no mass demonstrations in favor of remaining a colony or becoming a USA territory. That is why I have never accepted the abandonment thesis of my kababayan, Bienvenido Macario. I do agree with him that rule by oligarchy has severely damaged "La Perla del Oriente, Nuestro Perdido Edén" (from José Rizal's "Mi Último Adiós").

    Regarding collaboration, the standard defense for someone like Jose Laurel (president during the Japanese occupation era) is that his collaboration prevented Japan from drafting Filipinos into the Japanese army, as many Koreans were. After World War II, Laurel was elected to the Senate repeatedly. These elections are national, not provincial. So, either most people did not know how bad his government was or did not share the negative judgment of its critics. My guess is that people distinguish between collaborators who personally gained from the collaboration and those who did not. Of course, people could be dead wrong in making this assessment of motive.

    JE comments:  Except for a Quisling or two who benefited directly from Japanese rule, I don't know of anywhere in Asia where "Co-Prosperity" was received with enthusiasm.  A parallel question about the Philippines in WWII:  were there significant numbers of Filipino "volunteers" who fought for Japan?

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