Philippine Independence

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Philippine independence refers to the struggles of the Filipinos for independence from colonial rule —first by Spain, and then by the United States.

The Philippine-American War, with its devastating use of military force, was a prime example of American might at the turn of the 20th Century. The Japanese then occupied the Philippines during WWII, after which the U.S. again liberated the islands.


Spanish colonialism

Further information: History of the Philippines (1521-1898) , Philippine Revolution

American invasion

The Spanish-American War ended in December 1898, ending the Spanish hold on Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines, and reducing the Spanish Empire. Spain sold the Philippines to the United States at the Treaty of Paris for 20 million USD.

An estimated 200,000 to 1,000,000 Filipino civilians were killed, with 16,000 Filipino killed in action. By contrast, only 4,200 American soldiers were killed.

"The Philippines are ours forever. We will not repudiate our duty in the archipelago. We will not abandon our duty in the Orient. We will not renounce our part in the mission of our race, trustee under God, of the civilization of the world." —Alfred J. Beveridge, US Senator, Indiana

American recognition of independence

The Philippines celebrates its Independence Day on June 12, although its independence was only recognized on July 4, 1946 by the United States. From 1946 to 1961, Independence Day was observed on July 4, but in the name of nationalism, President Diosdado Macapagal, upon the advice of historians, reverted to the June 12 date, which up to that time had been observed as Flag Day.

Filipino historians point out that independence in 1946 came with numerous strings attached. The U.S. retained dozens of military bases, and independence was linked to legislation passed by the U.S. Congress which was designed to ensure that the Philippines would remain an economic ward of the U.S.

The Bell Trade Act prohibited the Philippines from manufacturing or selling any products that might "come into substantial competition" with U.S.-made goods and required that the Philippine constitution be revised to grant U.S. citizens and corporations equal access to Philippine minerals, forests and other natural resources. One U.S. State Department official described the law as "clearly inconsistent with the basic foreign economic policy of this country" and a betrayal of "our promise to grant the Philippines genuine independence."

But the Philippines had little choice but to accept the terms for independence. The United States Congress was threatening to withhold post World War 2 rebuilding funds unless the Bell Act was ratified. The Philippine Congress obliged on July 2, 1946.

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