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TIMELINE: Efforts to make the Philippines a US state

Vanessa Cabacungan, Loren Bustos

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TIMELINE: Efforts to make the Philippines a US state
None of the attempts to make the Philippines a US state have been successful, or taken seriously, so far

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – Did you know that there have been attempts to make the Philippines a state of the United States of America?

Since the Philippines came under US rule in 1898, some ilustrados (upper class Filipinos) advocated the annexation of the Philippines to the US, but didn’t succeed.

Pro-US statehood movements persisted even after the US granted independence to the Philippines in 1946. 

Several organizations have lobbied for US annexation, and even made it a campaign platform. None of these efforts succeeded or were ever taken seriously.

Let’s trace some of the movements that pushed for the Philippines’ US statehood. These accounts are based on news clippings from local and foreign publications.

September 19, 1971 – Former congressman Rufino Antonio launches via a newspaper advertisement the Philippine Statehood USA movement, which claims 1.25 million supporters. Its target is to reach 10 million members by 1973 to enable a plebiscite that will vote on the country’s statehood. The annexation to the US is believed to save the Philippines from “disasters” such as graft and corruption.

May 8, 1972 – Congressman Joaquin Roces moves for a congressional investigation on the movement, which most legislators dismiss as a joke.

May 14, 1972 – The Statehood Philippines Movement registers as an official political party. This move is said to be a step toward fulfiling a claim that the group will field candidates in the next elections if the planned 1973 plebiscite does not materialize. (No plebiscite or elections are held because of the imposition of Martial law in September 1972.)

1981 – Banking on a campaign platform of US annexation of the Philippines, the Federalist Party’s Bartolome Cabangbang runs for president against then reelectionist Ferdinand Marcos. He obtains 4% of total votes; Marcos gets 88%.

August 30, 1986 – The first International Statehood Conference is held in Arizona, USA, where Philippine and Puerto Rican delegates push for 51st and 52nd statehood. The conference aims to develop a process that will expedite both country’s statehood dreams.

January 30, 1988 – The New Philippine Movement for US Statehood (or Statehood Movement), composed of Filipino-American members, formally petitions the US Congress to declare the Philippines as the 51st Federal State. The group informs the US Congress of its plan to submit a petition with 15 million signatures.

July 4, 1988 – Statehood Movement supporters meet in an international convention in New York City to formalize the link up of all groups supporting the annexation of the Philippines as a US state.

October 18, 2003 – Members of United Supporters of America (USA), a group that seeks to make all Filipinos US citizens, march to the US Embassy in Manila in support of US President George W Bush who is in the country for a state visit. The group is blocked by the police.

December 5, 2003 – USA leader Elly Pamatong declares his intention to run for president in the 2004 elections, and promises to make the Philippines a part of the US if he wins. He is declared a nuisance candidate.

March 2004 – The Third Option Proponents (TOP) Party, another organization that advocates the Philippines’ US statehood, is founded.

January 17, 2007 – TOP chairman Brigido Asuncion Buenafe files his candidacy for the 2007 senatorial elections using the nickname “Mr RP-statehood-USA.” Like Pamatong in 2003, he is declared a nuisance candidate. 

November 27, 2009 – Pamatong again files his candidacy for the 2010 presidential elections using the same platform. He is again declared a nuisance candidate.

November 25, 2013 – Philippine Statehood USA publishes an online petition calling for supporters of the country’s US statehood. The petition runs until December 1, 2016. –

Loren Bustos and Vanessa Cabacungan are Rappler interns.

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