Between the years 1899 and 1913 the United States of America wrote the darkest pages of its history. The invasion of the Philippines__ for no other reason than acquiring imperial possessions, prompted a fierce reaction of the Filipino people. 126000 American soldiers were brought in to quell the resistence. As a result, 400000 Filipino "insurrectos" died under the American fire and one million Filipino civilians died because of the hardship, mass killings and scorched earth tactics carried out by the Americans. In total the American war against a peaceful people who fairly ignored the existence of the Americans until their arrival wiped out 1/6 of the population of the country. One hundred years have passed. Isn't it high time that the USA army, Congress and Government apologised for the horrendous crimes and monstruous sufferings that inflicted upon the peoples of Filipinas?
It was American policy at the turn of the century to kill as many Filipinos as possible. The rationale was straightforward: "With a very few exceptions, practically the entire population has been hostile to us at heart," wrote Brigadier General J. Franklin Bell, a propos our seizure of the Philippines. "In order to combat such a population, it is necessary to make the state of war as insupportable as possible, and there is no more efficacious way of accomplishing this than by keeping the minds of the people in such a state of anxiety and apprehension that living under such conditions will soon become intolerable."
The comparison of this highly successful operation with our less successful adventure in Vietnam was made by, among others, Bernard Fall, who referred to our conquest of the Philippines as "the bloodiest colonial war (in proportion to population) ever fought by a white power in Asia; it cost the lives of 3,000,000 Filipinos." (cf. E. Ahmed's "The Theory and Fallacies of Counter-Insurgency," The Nation, August 2, 1971.) General Bell himself, the old sweetheart, estimated that we killed one-sixth of the population of the main island of Luzon—some 600,000 people.
Now a Mr. Creamer quotes a Mr. Hill ("who grew up in Manila," presumably counting skulls) who suggests that the bodycount for all the islands is 300,000 men, women, and children—or half what General Bell admitted to.
I am amused to learn that I have wandered "so far from easily verified fact." There are no easily verified facts when it comes to this particular experiment in genocide. At the time when I first made reference to the 3,000,000 (NYR, October 18, 1973), a Filipino wrote me to say she was writing her master's thesis on the subject. She was inclined to accept Fall's figures but she said that since few records were kept and entire villages were totally destroyed, there was no way to discover, exactly, those "facts" historians like to "verify." In any case, none of this is supposed to have happened and so, as far as those history books that we use to indoctrinate the young go, it did not happen."
"EXCEPT during the sixties when the Filipino-American War of 1899-1902 was referred to as “the first Vietnam,” the death of 1.4 million Filipinos has been usually accounted for as either collateral damage or victims of insurrection against the imperial authority of the United States. The first Filipino scholar to make a thorough documentation of the carnage is the late Luzviminda Francisco in her contribution to The Philippines: The End of An Illusion (London, 1973).
This fact is not even mentioned in the tiny paragraph or so in most U.S. history textbooks. Stanley Karnow’s In Our Image (1989), the acclaimed history of this intervention, quotes the figure of 200,000 Filipinos killed in outright fighting. Among historians, only Howard Zinn and Gabriel Kolko have dwelt on the “genocidal” character of the catastrophe. Kolko, in his magisterial Main Currents in Modern American History (1976), reflects on the context of the mass murder: “Violence reached a crescendo against the Indian after the Civil War and found a yet bloodier manifestation during the protracted conquest of the Philippines from 1898 until well into the next decade, when anywhere from 200,000 to 600,000 Filipinos were killed in an orgy of racist slaughter that evoked much congratulation and approval....” Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States (1980) cites 300,000 Filipinos killed in Bat@ngas alone, while William Pomeroy’s American Neo-Colonialism (1970) cites 600,000 Filipinos dead in Luzon alone by 1902. The actual figure of 1.4 million covers the period from 1899 to 1905 when resistance by the Filipino revolutionary forces mutated from outright combat in battle to guerilla skirmishes; it doesn’t include the thousands of Moros (Filipino Muslims) killed in the first two decades of U.S. colonial domination."
E. San Juan, Jr.
In A People’s History of the United States Howard Zinn writes of American sadism during the Philippine-American war:
"In November 1901, the Manila correspondent of The Philadelphia Ledger reported:
“The present war is no bloodless, opera bouffe engagement; our men have been relentless, have killed to exterminate men, women, children, prisoners and captives, active insurgents and suspected people from lads of ten up, the idea prevailing that the Filipino as such was little better than a dog...
“Our soldiers have pumped salt water into men to make them talk, and have taken prisoners people who held up their hands and peacefully surrendered, and an hour later, without an atom of evidence to show that they were even insurrectos, stood them on a bridge and shot them down one by one, to drop into the water below and float down, as examples to those who found their bullet-loaded corpses.”
In Manila, a U.S. Marine named Littletown Waller, a major, was accused of shooting eleven defenseless Filipinos, without trial, on the island of Samar. Other marine officers described his testimony:
"The major said that General Smith instructed him to kill and burn, and said that the more he killed and burned the better pleased he would be; that it was no time to take prisoners, and that he was to make Samar a howling wilderness. Major Waller asked General Smith to define the age limit for killing, and he replied “everything over ten.”
In the province of Bat@ngas, the secretary of the province estimated that of the population of 300,000, one third had been killed by combat, famine, or disease.
American firepower was overwhelmingly superior to anything the Filipino rebels could put together. In the very first battle, Admiral Dewey steamed up the Pasig River and fired 500-pound shells into the Filipino trenches. Dead Filipinos were piled so high that the Americans used their bodies for breastworks.
A British witness said:
“this is not war; it is simply massacre and murderous butchery.”
Mark Twain said further of the brutal American genocide:
“...I have seen that we do not intend to free, but to subjugate the people of the philippines. we have gone to conquer, not to redeem... and so i am an anti-imperialist. i am opposed to having the [american] eagle put its talons on any other land.”
October 15, 1900
the new york herald
“We have pacified some thousands of the islanders and buried them; destroyed their fields; burned their villages, and turned their widows and orphans out-of-doors; furnished heartbreak by exile to some dozens of disagreeable patriots; subjugated the remaining ten millions by Benevolent Assimilation, which is the pious new name of the musket; we have acquired property in the three hundred concubines and other slaves of our business partner, the Sultan of Sulu, and hoisted our protecting flag over that swag.
“And so, by these providences of god — and the phrase is the government’s, not mine — we are a World Power.”
— Mark Twain