Coron, Palawan | Photo by John Hernandez via Unsplash
Part VII of the “ReVOTElution of H.O.P.E.” Series
Philippine President Rodrigo R. Duterte allegedly said in a speech during one of his visits to the People’s Republic of China that “the Philippines would end up becoming a province of China.” Later, the Office of the Press Secretary said that President Duterte was delivering a joke when he uttered his now-infamous alleged exercise of humor.
Actually, this columnist was ahead of President Duterte by almost 21 years in making almost a similar prediction — but in my case, I did it with a more visionary approach that was doable and tinted with more wit and humor. This was how it happened.
I was appointed on March 10, 2000, an “Ambassador of Goodwill” (shortened to “AmbaG”) by the then Hon. Mike Huckabee, the 44th governor of the Great State of Arkansas. On April 1, 2000, I met with the top officials of the “Statehood Movement of the Philippines” (SMP) in Los Angeles, CA, as an Arkansas “Ambag.” By the way, I made the certificate of appointment as an “Arkansas AmbaG,” the cover photo of my Facebook Time.
In that meeting, I told the SMP officials that to make the Philippines the 51st state of the American Union was not feasible. Why? It would need the US Congress to approve the proposal and the US President to sign the bill approved by both houses. The method would entail getting the support of the required majority in both the US Senate and the House of Representatives. It would be impossible to garner the necessary number of votes because no American politician would welcome the Philippines to become an “American State” with a population more than three times bigger than the inhabitants of California. No American state would permit Filipinos (if they become US citizens) to have the biggest number of votes in the US Electoral College.
“… I told the SMP officials that to make the Philippines the 51st state of the American Union was not feasible. Why? It would need the US Congress to approve the proposal and the US President to sign the bill approved by both houses.”
Instead, this journalist proposed that the SMP simply back up my visionary idea, and it would all boil down to the same result. All willing Filipinos would become American citizens by operation of law. Here is how the vision of a proposal to the Filipino American Statehood leaders could happen.
I told the SMP leaders that the best way was to make Philippine provinces like Sorsogon a mere county of a US state. Yes, a county of a small state like Arkansas. It would certainly be more doable, and it would take less labor and logistics. So I presented the basic facts. The Great State of Arkansas has an estimated population in 2021 (as updated) of three million. It ranks as the 33rd populous state in the United States. Its area is 53,180 sq. miles (137,733 sq. km.) and ranks 29th largest in the United States.
On the other hand, Sorsogon Province has only 2,119 square kilometers (818.15 sq. mi.) and a population of only a million or so individuals. The leaders of Arkansas know that if Sorsogon becomes one of their counties, they would also control the 200-mile economic zone (EZ) of Sorsogon in the Pacific Ocean and a shorter EZ in the China Sea (half of the San Bernardino Strait it shares with Northern Samar). Ergo, the leaders of Arkansas and their constituents — from ex-Governor Huckabee to former President Bill Clinton — would welcome the addition of Sorsoganons as Arkansans (and automatic American citizens). Because the Sorsoganon voters (as American citizens) would still be in the minority ranks, they would not be the dominant block of voters.
I also raised some problems that my proposal would encounter. There are more Philippine provinces (to date at 81 provinces plus sub-provinces) than the 50 American states. I offered practicable solutions. Ask Canada and Mexico to bid for the other provinces and sub-provinces not taken by the 50 American states. And therefore, the Philippine provinces (as US or Canadian, or Mexican counties) would become parts and parcels of North America and take advantage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Since very few Filipinos really like their country to become a Mainland-Chinese province, my April 1, 2000, proposal could get a solid approval of perhaps 95 percent of the population of the Philippines in a referendum or a presidential election. Even now.
And the People’s Republic of China would not want to face the North American countries even in a military showdown or a bidding process. Both the United States and Canada are members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). And Mexico can count on the support of the Hispanic and Latino nations, the combined inhabitants of which equal 1/6th of the world’s population.
“So far, they have not found a way to raise at least US $100-million to bankroll an election campaign for the Philippine presidency — as I suggested as a condition precedent to my filing a Certificate of Candidacy.”
I told them that if we could raise the “Countyhood” issue in the 2004 presidential election, it could be the equivalent of a national referendum. But one of them asked if this columnist could run as the presidential candidate of the SMP. I was pressured to agree.
But I found out later that 80 percent of the SMP leaders were equally divided between then-incumbent President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and actor Fernando Poe, Jr. (who became the opposition party’s candidate). But know what — now? An overwhelming majority of the SMP wants me to consider running in the 2022 presidential candidate on the same “Countyhood” platform. So far, they have not found a way to raise at least US $100-million to bankroll an election campaign for the Philippine presidency — as I suggested as a condition precedent to my filing a Certificate of Candidacy.