“It was not just a matter of political interference and the power to make or break Philippine presidents with endorsement and strategic financial support. In a visceral sense, the nation was always being watched and judged by its democratic “teacher”.
Adelle Webb, a researcher of the University fo Sydney who claims to have studied Philippine-American history, said that while President Rodrigo Duterte was wrong in his manner of speaking libelous remarks against former US President Barack Obama, has actually opened eyes to the neglected history of American cruelty in the country.
After the Treaty of Paris was ratified, and the Americans came to colonize the country for three years, there were massacres and tortures done towards Filipinos, many of which were hidden from the American newspapers, but were evident in some literary works, such as that of famous writer Mark Twain.
Duterte at a press conference at Davao international Airport last year, while awaiting the leaders for the ASEAN Summit, uttered what many called defamatory words to Obama.
“The extent to which the violence of US relations with the Philippines has been made invisible by a history written predominantly by Americans themselves cannot be overstated,” Webb said.
She said one need not be a conspiracy theory to know that atrocities occurred before.
“Before his (now regretted) distasteful remark, Duterte had much to say in response to the question about being confronted over human rights in an upcoming meeting with Obama. He was responding to murmurs from critics that, if he wouldn’t listen to anyone else about the extrajudicial killings in the Philippines, just wait until he meets the US president,” she said.
“Why is the Philippines president so angry about the prospect of the US president confronting him about human rights abuses? History. As Duterte said himself on Monday, violent acts of the past don’t stay in the past. They get passed on from generation to generation, especially when the injustice goes unacknowledged and unaddressed,” she added.
Webb said that while Duterte’s style is not easy to stomach, it is difficult to look past the issues raised by his administration.
“Let’s be honest, if Duterte didn’t curse and swear and offend our sensibilities, would we be paying so much attention to the Philippines? For once, I heard a Philippine president holding the US to account for all its doublespeak and hypocrisy in US-Philippine relations. And I couldn’t help but appreciate that,” she said.
After Obama’s successor, President Donald Trump sat in power, the dispute between the Philippines and the United States has died down in media.