December 10, 2020 in Analysis

The Debate Over the Philippines


This writing features the debate about annexation of Philippines Island by the US. First is Emilio Aguinaldos Case against the United States, 1899. It is a review by an anonymous representative of Arguinaldo and edited by N. A. R. The document ridicules the US government for double standards in its administration of domestic affairs in comparison to its administration in the Philippines Islands. The second document features the interview between the Christian Advocate and President William McKinley, 1903, by Arthur J. Lacy who reveals the agenda that the US President, had concerning annexation of the Philippines Islands and the considerations for that. Thirdly are the speeches made by Senator Hoar and Platt on 9th January, 1899 during the senate proceedings, by Walter McDougall who revealed the duo as being anti-annexation of the Philippines Island instead suggested the approaches that would rather uplift humanity than benefit US. The anti-annexation protests by Colored citizens of Boston was a post of July 18, 1899. They encouraged the US to focus more on internal issues that demanded much attention rather than seizing other territories. The fifth document is the speech of Senator AlfredBeveridge, in Congress, January 9, 1900, by journalists. Beveridge is for the attempts of annexation terming it of great benefit to US for its economic and political relevance. The final document is the Judge Magazine, Filipinos First Bath by Kathleen Maltzahn, revealed on the 2004 International Women’s Day on 4th March in Canberra. She ridicules the US efforts to forcibly civilize the Filipinos against their will. This essay critically examines these documents by looking at the pros and cons of what transpired from the annexation debates, the arguments for and against the proposed annexation and the analysis of the political cartoon that was inset.

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Description of the Debate, Pros and Cons

The proposal by the United States to annex Philippines state triggered a confounding debate among the concerned parties drawn from both sides of the political divide. Whereas some argued in favor of the proposed invasion, the majority were totally repugnant to the idea. The debates that took center stage in the US Republicans verses Democrats politics were conducted between 1899 to 1903; the period within which the US government was grappling with its economic rivals in finding a voice over territories that had not been put under colonial influence (Emilio).

The annexation of Philippines would be very beneficial to United States, as it would expand its potential market for its surplus. Furthermore given that Philippines lie adjacent to China; its natural customer, US would use Philippines as its strategic base to China. Furthermore, leaving Philippines to themselves would be translated as a cowardly act by the US perennial rivals who would definitely take advantage and seize the territory to their own advantage (Beveridge).

On the other hand, annexation would be a good idea to the Filipinos only if the US would initiate humanitarian mission to uplift their standards in terms of education, Christianize them as way of initiating a conventional religion in them and the giving them the capacity to govern themselves through civilization, lest they dwell in perpetual tribulations. Other than these reasons, annexation of Philippines was unnecessary and inhumane mission especially if it would only favor unilateral benefits; to the US.

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Arguments Are Offered Between Those Who Favor Annexation and Those Opposed

Those who supported the annexation agenda such as President McKinley and Senator Alfred Beveridge based their arguments on the fact that Philippines proximity to the Republic of China gave United States a grand opportunity for intensification of their economic ties with china; the natural customer for their surplus. They further expressed fears that following the vulnerability of Philippines, retreating would be viewed by their perennial rivals such as Spain, France and Germany as a cowardly act hence prompting them to seize it with much ease. They reiterated that leaving Philippines to themselves would mean no sense since the territory did not have any formal structures for governance, leave alone their feeble cognizance in education, civilization and Christianity (Beveridge).

However the majority of those who protested against the annexation agenda such as Senator Platt in the second document and the colored citizens of Boston in document five, dismissed their opponents sentiments and advocated for adoption of humanitarian approach to salvage Philippines from its economic and social bondage. They suggested the means of uplifting the lives of Filipinos through civilization, Christianizing them, intensifying education system and enabling them draft a fair constitution for themselves.

They made clear the conventional belief of equality of men and their entitlement to inalienable rights endowed by their Creator; from which governments should derive their just powers to rule over mankind. They advocated the means of civilization that the US adopted in spreading civilization across its own continent to be applicable even to the territories which they intended to have control over. While solemnly protesting against the unjustified invasion by the US to the Philippines Island, colored people of Boston ridiculed the step taken by the Republican government to attempt to forcibly civilize aliens by recurrent extrajudicial lynching, while evading their constitutional mandate of resolving their severe domestic mistakes.

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Interpretation of the Message in the Visual (Political Cartoon)

The annexation of the Philippines Island by the US Republican government is likened to the analogy of The Filipinos first bath illustrated in the cartoon. The US pay a mysterious visit to the island and finds the natives peacefully enjoying their environment as they fend for themselves by use of rudimentary implements. After examining their simple lifestyles the US decides to subject the Filipinos to civilization, their first bath. This is done in a ruthless way without the consent and the will of Filipinos themselves, who were comfortably going about their errands. The implement (brush) used to sanitize them is quite abrasive causing more harm than good to their general wellbeing. Unfortunately, the few possessions that they have are taken away by aliens while they are still undergoing a painful transformation in their body hygiene.

Philosophically, the cartoon denotes the iniquitous means by which the US adopted to put the Filipinos under their ruler-ship. Though they looked like they had a good agenda of bringing civilization to the region, the means they used were so cruel and unwelcome by the natives. The most disgusting thing is that the US motive behind annexation was to enrich itself by exploring and exploiting the meager resources available in the island to the detriment of the Filipinos.

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Attempts by colonial powers to control developing territories were not received in good faith by the natives of those territories as well as the human rights activities of the colonial powers themselves. Although the civilization was necessary to the whole world, the approaches used to instigate it were too cruel to be welcome by natives.

Although no colonialism is literally taking place today, the dominance of some countries over others economically and politically is a sign of mild perpetuation of colonialism. This has subjected some countries to permanent dependency over others as they grapple with socio-economic challenges on a daily basis. It is evident that the motive behind the efforts of civilization was ill, intended to enrich the colonial powers themselves at the detriment of colonies. It is time the colonial powers demonstrated remorse for the harms cause during their colonial rule and jump start processes to reimburse the victims of colonialism.

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