The Filipino, who yields to no man in his love of freedom, last week yielded to the U.S. two bits of sovereignty. For the Filipino also loves freedom from want and freedom from fear.
To exorcise an inferiority complex, the Filipinos had put into their Constitution (in 1935) a provision that 60% of each corporate business must be owned by Filipinos. But in 1946 the U.S. Congress passed two bills, the Philippine Trade Act (Bell Act) and the Philippine Rehabilitation Act (Tydings War Damage Act). The first offered the Philippines concessions that the islands had to have, including free trade with the U.S. for eight years from 1946, 20 years of declining preferences. The second provided full payment of more than $620,000,000 in rehabilitation funds. In return, the Filipinos would have to grant U.S. citizens equal rights in "exploitation."
In spite of the untactful use of the word "exploitation," the Philippines voted in a plebiscite last week (March 11) to amend the Constitution as Washington wanted. The vote was light (about 1,000,000 out of a registered vote of 3,000,000). With returns still limping in from outlying islands, the vote was about 5-to-1 in favor of the amendment. Even in Manila, center of Philippine economic nationalism, the amendment carried nearly 3-to-1. The only excitement occurred when Philippine President Manuel Roxas got a close shave from a Manila barber, one Julio Guillén y Cuerpo. Barber Guillén pulled a hand grenade from a bag of peanuts, missed Roxas but killed a bystander. Roxas had just finished a speech favoring U.S. parity in corporate control.
Parity extends to 1974. To nail down freedom from fear, the Philippines three days later signed an agreement giving the U.S. military and naval bases until 2046 (see NATIONAL AFFAIRS).