POINTS OF PASSION
- Philippine history
Elpidio V. Peria
11 September 2001
Twenty Years After September 11, 2001 - A Philippine Remembrance
Today is the twentieth year since that infamous date from an American perspective - September 11, 2001. This is the date where everyone may be asked where were they when an event marking this day happened and while each of us will go through that kind of remembrance, we will attempt to recall what the Philippine government did since that day and how would they look now with the benefit of hindsight borne out of the passage of time and past actions.
According to an archive of US Congressional Research Service analyses and reporting, then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo voiced strong support for the United States in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack.
The Philippines, she said, is prepared to "go every step of the way" with the United States. President Arroyo allowed U.S. military forces to use Filipino ports and airfields to support military operations in Afghanistan. She cited morality and Philippine national interests as reasons for her pro-U.S. stand. She defined the national interest as linking a struggle against international terrorism with the struggle against terrorism within the Philippines
She supported the U.S. war against Iraq in March 2003, offering the U.S. military air space and refueling facilities and sent about 100 Filipino military personnel to Iraq for postwar assistance.5 However, in 2004, she withdraw the Filipino contingent from Iraq after Iraqi insurgents kidnaped a Filipino contract worker, Angelo dela Cruz, and threatened to kill him.
According to Mely Caballero-Antony however, of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University of Singapore in 2002, there were several reasons why this open support for the US intervention in Iraq was opposed, among which are :
The tremendous impact the war would have on the 1.4 million documented overseas Filipino workers employed in the Middle East. Repatriating overseas contract workers, in case of a full-scale war breaking out between the U.S. and Iraq, would cost the Philippine government an estimated P8.6 billion (U.S.$ 162 million).
The impact on the Philippines’ oil supply. The country imports most of its oil supplies for manufacturing and other major industries.
The possible spill-over effects of the Iraqi attack on the country’s own local Muslim population. These could further endanger the government’s on-going peace talks with the two Muslim secessionist groups: the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
These reasons eventually were proven to be just that, speculative fears, since all these items, from OFW remittances, oil supply and impact on the peace talks, got resolved within its own context and did not pose much of a problem to the country in these past 20 years.
Take for example the OFW remittances. Looking closely at 1 key Middle East country, Saudi Arabia for example, the remittances there are in a continued declining trend, with US$2.84billion in 2014 and now, in 2020, amounting only to US$1.81billion. But this is due to the changes happening in the country causing Filipinos to look for other Middle East countries.
Over-all, as reported by Rappler, despite mass layoffs worldwide, repatriations, and lockdowns, remittances of overseas Filipinos (OFs) fell by only 0.8% in 2020, reaching $33.2 billion in 2020, as workers found ways to send home much-needed funds to help support struggling loved ones in the Philippines.
According to the US Energy Information Administration, in 2019, imports of crude oil and petroleum products by the Philippines decreased 37% to 143,100 b/d.
Refineries experienced disruptions because of earthquakes, which probably reduced crude oil imports and increased product imports. One-third of the country’s crude oil imports originated in Saudi Arabia. Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates together accounted for almost half of the Philippines’ total crude oil imports.
As to the item on impacts on the Muslim insurgency, with the establishment of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Georgi Engelbrecht of the International Crisis Group points to several areas where good regional cooperation among Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia could send positive ripple effects across the wider region thus lessening the threats of militant groups in the Philippines and its neighbors:
The 2016 Trilateral Cooperation Agreement (TCA),between Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines, has contributed to reducing the number of kidnappings in the area;
stronger law enforcement cooperation and intelligence-sharing and the development of BARMM’s maritime capabilities can play a role in supporting these measures by implementing such policies at the municipal level. The autonomous government in Cotabato City should also keep a close eye on the Sulu Archipelago, and could work with provincial elites to encourage law enforcement cooperation among those coastal municipalities.
Innovative approaches such as facilitating more sub-regional trade through increased port connectivity in the triboundary area, and allowing a barter trade mechanism to operate freely could be beneficial for BARMM, the Philippines, and Malaysia’s Sabah region.
With the establishment of BARMM, the threat of Islamic militants does not have much traction in this kind of context. Perhaps US President Joe Biden is right, our bigger challenge today as a world community is climate change, and if you want to check this interactive site by the Global Forest Watch, this is where we have not done much effort in these twenty years, what with the following depressing figure:
From 2001 to 2020, Philippines lost 1.29Mha of tree cover, equivalent to a 6.9% decrease in tree cover since 2000, and 753Mt of CO₂e emissions.
It seems that all those hoopla through the years about Green Philippine Highways and National Greening Program of the DENR has not impacted much our over-all forest cover. Oh, and it seems they want to showcase that dubious Dolomite Beach in Manila Bay as a showcase of their environmental protection efforts.