SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez today said that it is only during the term of President Rodrigo Duterte that the Philippines became a truly independent nation, citing the major shift in the foreign policy of the Duterte administration.
Alvarez made the statement in his message as the guest of honor in the celebration of the country’s 120th Independence Day in Tagum City in his home province of Davao del Norte.
He said that from July 4, 1946 when the Americans gave Filipinos independence up until the term of the previous administration, the Philippines was still controlled by America.
“Our politics was controlled by Americans, our economy was controlled by the Americans. Were we truly independent? No,” Alvarez said. For a nation to be truly independent, Alvarez said it must not be under the control of any other country.
“Previously America was our only friend. When Pres. Duterte came into power he became friends with everyone. He befriended China, he befriended Russia, he befriended Korea, he befriended other nations in the world,” Alvarez pointed out.
Alvarez believes many of the criticisms against the foreign policy of Pres. Duterte are coming from Americans and their allies who are not comfortable with the fact that US has lost its grip on the Philippines.
But Alvarez assured his constituents that in adopting a foreign policy shift, Duterte’s sole motivation is the welfare of the Filipino people.
“Our President’s only wish is for the peace and development of our country,” Alvarez said as he expressed support for the administration’s foreign policy.
“And we can say we are truly an independent nation because we now have the power to chart our own destiny,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez said that when Aguinaldo proclaimed independence the country was still under Spanish colonial rule. Spain subsequently ceded the Philippines to the United States under the Treaty of Paris.
On the other hand, he pointed out that previous date for Independence Day celebration of June 4 was meant to mark the day US granted independence to the Philippines.
“The question [is] when did we really become an independent country?” Alvarez said.
Meanwhile, Alvarez lamented our history’s lack of information on the role Mindanao played in securing our independence, even in textbooks used in the country’s public schools.
He said that as far as his reading of history indicates, the territory Spain ceded to the US did not include Mindanao because of the on-going rebellion at that time.
The Speaker said that the revolutionary forces in Zamboanga led by Gen. Vicente Alvarez defeated on May 18, 1899 the Spanish forces under the Diego Delos Rios, last Gov. General in the Philippines who surrendered the Spanish flag.
Alvarez said a Zamboanga Republic actually existed, with Gen. Alvarez as the last and first President. However, the Speaker said the republic was short lived and fell apart when Gen. Alvarez was arrested by US forces.
He said he stumbled upon this information during the time he was going around to press for independence of Mindanao. Alvarez said this information was contained in an unpublished manuscript, entitled “The Life and Times of Gen. Alvarez”, which was written by a historian and kept in the library of Ateneo de Zamboanga.
“I’m just puzzled why in our history books you can read about Luzon and Visayas but very little on Mindanao,” Alvarez said.