NDTV journalist Ravish Kumar has been awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award for the year 2019. Five persons have been selected for the prize this year, which is known as Asia’s Nobel Prize. The Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation describes Ravish Kumar as one of India’s most influential TV journalists. While this award has been celebrated by the left-liberal chatterati, they are ignoring a very important aspect of this award, which is established by two American organisations with deep links with CIA, and it was established in the name of a former Philippines president who was actively supported by CIA in winning the election.
While most people know about the background of the Nobel prize, the background of the Ramon Magsaysay Award is not very well known. The award is named after Ramon Magsaysay, who was the president of Philippines from 1953 to his death in 1957. Ramon Magsaysay was described as an “America’s boy” by CIA, a person who was groomed by the CIA to protect the interests of the United States of America in Asia.
Manila has been the headquarters of CIA for Southeast Asia, and it has been influencing the politics in the Philippines for a long time. The USA has several military bases in the country, and it was a vital base for the USA during the cold year.
In the 1940s and 1950s, Philippines was witnessing the Hukbalahap, a communist guerrilla movement of peasant farmers against rich landowners. The movement was gaining popularity, which was suspected to have links with communists, and the USA feared that if the movement becomes successful, the country will go to the hands of Communists, which will result in the closure of American operations in the country. Therefore, suppressing the movement of Huks was very important to maintain American presence and interest in the Philippines, and the CIA had used Magsaysay to achieve that.
In 1950, then President Elpidio Quirino had appointed Ramon Magsaysay as the Secretary of National Defense, at the urging of the head of the Joint US Military Assistance Group (JUSMAG) and the US Ambassador. Days later, CIA officer Edward Lansdale, had set up his office in Magsaysay’s office. Landsdale was officially an advisor of JUSMAG, but actually, he headed the CIA’s Office of Policy Coordination in the Philippines. Lansdale was a pioneer in clandestine operations and psychological warfare, and he had developed and used many such techniques in the Philippines. He worked as an advisor of Magsaysay, teaching him how to combat the Huk movement using psychological warfare.
Magsaysay was important for the CIA in its long-term plans in the country, and it had set up and funded the National Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) for this purpose. CIA’s plan was to make him president of the Philippines, as it was felt that Quirino was not successful in controlling growing communist influence in the country.
Landsdale has said in his memoir that his order from the US government was to stop the Communist-led Huks in gaining power in the Philippines and forming the government. His job was to groom Ramon to achieve this.
CIA’s plan was very detailed and robust, which included even losing an election to build up a clean image of Magsaysay. They persuaded him to ensure that the Senate election in 1951 was clean and fair, which had resulted in Magsaysay’s party losing all nine seats. But it was a huge PR move for him, as he was now seen as the cleanest leader in a country known for electoral malpractices by ruling parties. He was hailed as the man of the year, a national hero by media, and declared the next President by Time magazine which carried him on its cover, all thanks to American efforts.
American funded media campaign in support of Ramon Magsaysay continued until the elections, creating a very popular image for him. CIA had also persuaded him to bring reforms in the military, and take a tough position against corruption. Of course, these were good moves for the country, but the CIA wanted these steps to effectively defeat the Huks, and create a good image for him to ensure victory in the election.
Foreigners were banned from contributing to election funding in the Philippines, but American companies had donated considerable amounts of money to Magsaysay’s party Nacionalista which was facing fund shortages at that time. CIA also worked towards ensuring that Magsaysay becomes the next president, not incumbent Quirino from the same party. And this included many ‘dirty tricks’ of CIA, not just otherwise good moves like free election and combating corruption. According to CIA Manila station chief General Ralph B. Lovett, once President Quirino was drugged before a speech by the agency “so that he would appear incoherent”. CIA had also managed to tarnish his image over a trivial corruption issue.
Close to the elections, a Magsaysay-for-president campaign was founded by the agency, running a massive domestic and international publicity campaign bosting Magsaysay’s image. Landsdale himself has revealed that the CIA chief has offered him $5 million to arrange the election, but he said that $1 million was enough, which was delivered to him in a suitcase.
All these efforts of the CIA were successful when Roman Magsaysay won the elections in 1953 and became the president. He was one of the most popular presidents of the country, due to his clean image, his anti-corruption efforts, and the reforms he brought to the governance. He had also successfully eliminated the Hukbalahap, with the active help of American forces. He retained a close relationship with the CIA and USA during his term.
President Magsaysay died in a plane crash in 1957, and the Ramon Magsaysay Award was established in his memory. It may be noted that the award was constituted by New York-based Rockefeller Brothers Fund. In 2000, Ramon Magsaysay Emergent Leadership Award was established by Ford Foundation, another American organisation. Both these organisations are known for working for American interests in foreign countries, and have a history of closely working with the CIA. In fact, the Ford Foundation is alleged to be a philanthropic facade of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Rockefeller Brothers Fund played a crucial role in CIA’s cultural cold war, working on promoting modern art, helping CIA’s efforts to popularise modern abstract art across the world. It is now a known fact that the CIA had used modern art as a ‘weapon’ in its ‘cultural war’ against communism, and American non-government organisations were crucial players in this war. Rockefeller Brothers Fund’s trustee Nelson Rockefeller was the president of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, which had helped in moving around and exhibiting abstract art. The museum was established by Rockefeller’s mother. Several top-ranked CIA officials were in the board of the museum, confirming the close link between the agency and the organisation.
Therefore, the Magsaysay award, which is celebrated by left-liberals, has a direct link with the CIA and the United States America, the two entities that the left-liberals hate the most.