To the Discussion Leader
Americans believe they may be directly affected politically, economically, and socially by wartime and postwar developments in the Pacific. Discussion of whether the Philippines can maintain their political and economic independence in the postwar era involves, therefore, a challenging subject of great significance—a subject interesting to every member of the armed forces and to every American civilian concerned with his nation’s future international relations.
Following World War II, will the Philippines be the first formerly dependent nation in the Pacific to take on the responsibilities of complete independence and self-government? Now, before such a development takes place, is the time to discuss all aspects of Philippine independence and to clarify the issues. Only in this way can each interested American think more intelligently for himself about Philippine issues and their relation to the broader problems and perplexities of the changing Pacific.
What form of discussion?
Leaders can present this subject of Philippine independence in any of the usual discussion methods: forum, symposium, panel, or informal group discussion. The size of the group and facilities available for a particular discussion meeting will be primary factors for determining the best method.
No discussion group likes a long-winded speaker; members like to get into the “meat” of the discussion. Yet, it is essential to present certain pertinent factual information and to raise basic questions in order to stimulate members of the group to do their own thinking on the subject.
Each leader can best decide what discussion method will best fit his situation. One leader might be able to call upon a well-informed and qualified Filipino who could present the problem of Philippine independence from the native point of view. Another leader might wish to present important background information by use of a brief symposium.
If the symposium method is used, it is suggested that the leader might select ahead of time three qualified members of his group to assist him. The first could give a brief survey of Philippine backgrounds, answering such questions as: Who are the Filipinos? What was their history before we arrived? (See pages 1–14.) The second speaker could highlight American principles, practices, and problems during the last 40 years, during which time the Filipinos saw the possibilities of self-government. (See pages 14–27.) And the third speaker could discuss the prospects of Philippine independence and the problems that may arise out of it. (See pages 27–42.) The final speaker, in this event, would raise the bulk of the controversial issues, and general group discussion could follow naturally.
A leader could present a panel discussion in a somewhat similar manner. Or he could give a brief resume of major Philippine backgrounds himself along these lines and start the general discussion by raising two or three basic questions.
Questions to stimulate discussion
Numerous questions suitable for group discussion have been raised in various parts of this pamphlet. Discussion leaders are urged to apply their own initiative and originality freely in order to prepare the most beneficial and interesting program for their own particular group.
Discussion of What Lies Ahead for the Philippines? is likely to create great interest and bring forth some widely varied points of view. This is a subject which could easily lead into long discussion of other Far Eastern problems only remotely related to the Philippines. In order to help the leader keep the train of thinking on the track, additional questions are given below. These are designed to develop and clarify important points relating directly to the question of whether the Philippines can perpetuate their independence.
- Will Philippine independence intensify the demands of other peoples in the Far East for self-government? Would independence for the Philippines and other areas in the Far East speed up or retard the political and economic development of the Orient?
- After full independence is granted the Philippines, should the United States maintain naval bases there? Or should we help the Philippines develop a strong navy of their own?
- Since the Filipinos have Oriental origins and their islands are situated in the Orient, will future trade relations be primarily with Oriental nations after the United States moves out?
- Since world developments have been far different from anything that could be foreseen in 1934 when the Philippine Independence Act was passed, will the United States ever regret carrying out its commitment of full independence to the Philippines?
- If the Filipinos should decide after the war that they wish to remain a United States protectorate for security reasons, would such a development be an asset or liability to the United States?
- Would industrialization of the Philippines and adoption of scientific methods of agriculture make the islands economically independent? What policies should the United States follow in helping the Philippines financially until such a time as they may become economically independent?
- When the United States hands over full independence to the Philippines, who should then determine Philippine foreign policy? The Filipinos? The United Nations organization? The United States in an advisory capacity?
- Did the United States decision to grant complete independence to the Philippines encourage the Japanese to start the Pacific phase of World War II?
- Since education in the Philippines is still at a low level, so that only a small percentage of the people can vote intelligently, what is to prevent an undemocratic political party from seizing power after complete independence is granted and from proceeding to set up a government unfriendly to the United States?
- When the grant of complete independence to the Philippines becomes effective, should the United States guarantee to protect that independence? Should the United States maintain strong fortifications in other islands near the Philippines? Should the United Nations take specific steps to safeguard the Philippines from some future foreign aggression? What kind of steps?
- Will American tariffs force the Philippines, after complete independence is granted, to seek the bulk of their markets in other nations? Would such a development encourage antidemocratic groups to seize power? Should the United States take steps to avert such a development? If so what steps?
Handbook on group discussion
Leaders will find further helpful suggestions for organizing and conducting group discussions in War Department Education Manual, EM 1, GI Roundtable: Guide for Discussion Leaders. This Guide can be used in planning discussions of any of the subjects in the GI Roundtable series.
Leaders who may desire to prepare a program for broadcasting discussions of Philippine independence, or any other GI Roundtable series subject, on station or sound systems of the Armed Forces Radio Service will find valuable suggestions on radio discussion techniques in War Department Education Manual, EM 90: GI Radio Roundtable.