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Corporate Personhood, Islam, and the Philippines Occupation
September 29, 2010
by William P. Meyers

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The Philippine Islands are numerous and cover a large area. Before the Spanish conquistadors arrived in 1521 the islands were not united under a single government. People on the various islands belonged to a number of ethnic groups and spoke a variety of languages.

The Spanish forced their Roman Catholic religion on the conquered, but of course many held to their pagan beliefs. In some of the southern islands Islam had already taken hold. Only a few centuries earlier Spain itself had been mainly Islamic, so getting rid of Islam was a priority. But despite centuries of effort the Catholics were not able to drive the "Moro" (Moors) out of the southern Philippine Islands.

In the 1800's nationalism took hold in the Philippines. Just as a weakened Spain lost its colonies in the Americas, the towards the end of the century Filipinos defeated their Spanish occupiers. Only their timing was bad. U.S. sugar growers wanted the Philippines. Theodore Roosevelt saw to it that a U.S. Fleet attacked the few surviving Spanish armed forces in the Philippines when the Spanish American war began. The Spanish Army in Manila preferred to surrender to white Americans than to the Filipino nationalist army that had them surrounded. In the peace negotiations after the war was over the Filipinos were not invited. Spain sold what she did not own to the United States.

Having an army, the Filipinos set up their own government in opposition to the U.S. By now Theodore Roosevelt was President, and showed himself to be a genocidal maniac [See U.S. Conquest of the Philippines]. The war never really ended, even when the U.S. granted the Philippines nominal independence in 1946. (The Japanese, having kicked the U.S. out, had granted independence on October 14, 1943 [John Toland, The Rising Sun, page 573]).

According to Eliza Griswold in The Tenth Parallel, today's Islamic insurgency in the Philippines is rooted in U.S. conquistador policy. The U.S. failed, for the most part, to convert Catholic Filipinos to Protestantism. But they "employed a policy of shipping Filipino Christians from the Catholic north to the Muslim south." [p. 254]

In a classic example of granting personhood rights to corporations, while denying them to people (especially people who were not wealthy white male protestants), "To further break the Moro ancestral land rights, the United States pushed forward laws stipulating that only individuals and corporations—such as Dole, B. F. Goodrich, Del Monte, Weyerhaeuser, and Goodyear—could own land, not Moro tribes or clans." [Griswold p. 254]

This is a policy that went back to George Washington and his gang of "investors" with claims in the Ohio country. Tribes don't own lands, even if it does take a bit of militia muscle to ensure that corporations can turn those lands into their private property.

The rights of corporate persons is a big deal right now, with the recent ruling in Citizens United v. FEC and a number of new corporate personhood cases on the upcoming United States Supreme Court docket.

It is also another example of the Gruel of Law. Caviar law for the corporate elite, eat bullet lead law for the indigenous people.

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