A Short History of the PARTIDO KOMUNISTA NG PILIPINAS
The PARTIDO KOMUNISTA NG PILIPINAS (PKP-1930, the Philippine Communist Party) was organized at a 2-day convention which culminated on August 26, 1930, the 34th anniversary of the launching of the national revolutionary armed struggle against Spanish colonialism (the 1896 Revolution, which was led by national hero Andres Bonifacio). The founding convention was held at the Templo del Trabajo in the working class district of Tondo in Manila, with 60 delegates who were leaders of labor federations, trade unions and peasant associations affiliated to the Katipunan ng mga Anak-Pawis ng Pilipinas (KAP, or the Proletarian Labor Congress of the Philippines).
The party was formally launched at a public rally on November 7, 1930, the 13th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution in Russia which ushered in the epoch of the world socialist revolution. Held at Plaza Moriones in the center of Tondo, Manila, the open-air public launching of the party was attended by almost 6,000 workers and peasants, with over half of them turning in membership applications on that occasion after the party’s program and constitution were explained.
The party’s founding general secretary was Crisanto A. Evangelista, the long-time leader of the federation of workers in the printing and graphical industry. He and the other founding leaders decided to form the PKP due to the need for a party of the workers and peasants to lead the anti-imperialist struggle for national independence, which struggle had been betrayed by the Filipino bourgeois parties which collaborated with the US imperialist occupiers. The party founders were however aware that the struggle for national liberation was only one aspect of the role of the party, and was only one phase of the broad class struggle with the objective of achieving economic and social emancipation --- of national democracy and eventually socialism --- for the Filipino people.
The party came into being in 1930, the year of the severe crisis of the capitalist system, and signaled the determination of the Filipino working people to struggle for the attainment of a better social system --- socialism --- that would be free of the anarchy and crises of capitalism. The party grew wholly out of the working classes, and was set up by working class leaders who were intellectualized workers and proletarianized intellectuals.
The party was built on a worker-peasant alliance that had already been functioning for a decade, an alliance that had become aware of the international significance of the Great October Socialist Revolution. A few of its founding leaders have earlier attended meetings in China and in the Soviet Union of the PROFINTERN (the Red International of Labor Unions) and of the KRESTINTERN (the Peasants’ International), to which progressive Filipino federations of trade unions and peasant associations have affiliated by the late 1920s.
From its founding, the party embodied the unity and intertwining of the concepts of patriotism and proletarian internationalism. The leaders of the Filipino workers and peasants who organized the party believed in patriotism as a force that would help mobilize the Filipino people in a unified struggle for national liberation from US imperialist occupation and domination. They also believed in proletarian internationalism as the force that united the working class of all countries in the common struggle against imperialism and the capitalist ruling classes in all countries --- for class liberation through the establishment of scientific socialism worldwide.
The founding of the PKP was the first real political challenge to US colonial rule, the first organized movement for independence since the US invasion which saw the bloody suppression of the 1898 Philippine Republic and the annihilation of at least 600,000 Filipinos in the US war of conquest and colonization of 1898-1902.
The propaganda offensive by the newly-formed PKP, which saw almost daily public meetings in Manila and surrounding provinces from November 1930 to February 1931, alarmed the US colonial authorities, the Filipino bourgeois and landlord groupings, and the reactionary Catholic church hierarchy. Repressive steps were quickly initiated by the US colonial government. The attempt by the party to bring its program to the people as a legal organization in wholly legal ways was stopped by the US colonial government which aimed at illegalizing the party. Starting in January 1931, city and town mayors began arresting PKP leaders for “sedition”.
The most serious of the early acts of repression came on May 30, 1931, when secret service agents led by an American officer raided the building where the party’s First Congress was being held. The raiders were able to arrest 317 of the 400 delegates, and many of the party leaders were jailed and/or exiled for “illegal association”.
Despite the illegal status to which it was driven, the underground organs of the party continued to lead the militant activity of mass organizations (trade unions, peasant associations, organizations of tenants, leagues of the unemployed, etc.), whose struggles were always linked with demands for immediate and complete national independence. Campaigns for the release of the imprisoned party leaders were launched, which were highlighted by solidarity campaigns launched in the USA by the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) and its mass organizations. Despite illegality, the party was also able to send delegates to the 7th World Congress of the Communist International (COMINTERN) in Moscow in 1935.
The central call of the 7th World Congress of the COMINTERN was for the building of a worldwide anti-fascist united front. Its practical translation in the Philippines was the PKP’s readiness to find common ground with reformist sections of the working and middle classes, and also with some bourgeois sectors, which display a tendency to oppose fascism. The struggle against fascism was viewed as a powerful force to extend democracy, to organize the masses around progressive aims, and to strengthen the working class movement.
That period saw the reformist “New Deal” program of Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt in the USA. This found reflection in the “Social Justice” program of the Philippine Commonwealth government organized in 1935 and headed by Manuel Quezon, who came to recognize that the basic demands of the people must be heeded in the overall national interest.
A number of the demands of the PKP and its mass organizations --- the setting of a minimum wage, an 8-hour work day, a fixed sharing of the rice produced by farm tenants, expropriation of friar lands, women’s right to vote, free and compulsory primary education, expansion of public higher education, the development of an official national language instead of English --- were formally won during that period, and opened the way for new struggles for the realization and broadening of the gains made. In response to numerous petitions, President Quezon granted parole/clemency and conditional pardon to several batches of imprisoned and exiled PKP leaders at the start of 1937, as a step to strengthen the people’s unity against the impending fascist threat.
With the release of its founding leaders, the PKP intensified its activities and launched new organizations and movements on broad anti-fascist themes. The “Friends of China” gathered support for China’s resistance to the Japanese invasion. The “Philippine Friends of the Soviet Union” popularized the achievements of socialism in the USSR, and exposed the nature of fascism as the most reactionary and war-mongering section of world imperialism. The “League for the Defense of Democracy”, the “Congress for Democracy and Collective Security”, and the “Civil Liberties Union”, propagated solidarity with the Spanish Republic which was under siege by Gen. Francisco Franco’s falangist (fascist) forces aided by Hitler and Mussolini. These organizations also condemned Hirohito’s vicious drive for an Asian “co-prosperity sphere” under zaibatsu-militarist rule.
In the USA, several Filipinos joined the Lincoln Brigade organized by the CPUSA to fight in Spain in defense of the Spanish Republic, and one survivor was able to return to the Philippines to become active in the PKP’s preparations for an armed response to a Japanese invasion. The PKP and its mass organizations also launched a boycott of Japanese goods and a campaign to expose the Filipino political leaders who were cooperating with the zaibatsus.
Upon taking Manila at the end of December 1941, the Japanese invaders immediately launched a manhunt for PKP leaders ; among those captured was party Chairman Crisanto Evangelista, who was tortured and eventually executed. Undaunted, the party organized and led the Hukbo ng Bayan Laban sa Hapon (HUKBALAHAP, or the People’s Army Against Japan) which grew to become the country’s main guerrilla army which fought the Japanese occupation forces.
HUKBALAHAP squadrons fought 1,200 engagements with Japanese and puppet forces from March 1942 up to 1945, and killed around 5,000 Japanese troopers and around 20,000 local puppets. By war’s end, the HUKBALAHAP had a strength of 20,000 armed regulars and 50,000 reservists, supported by a mass base of around a million people in the Northern, Central and Southern Luzon towns and provinces where village defense corps were formed, where former feudal estates have been redistributed, and where provisional revolutionary local governments have been set up.
However, the US forces which re-colonized the Philippines in 1945 turned over the overt reins of power to the pre-war Commonwealth government, many of whose officials collaborated with the Japanese occupiers. The war-time pro-Japanese collaborators then collaborated with the returning US colonialists to eliminate the PKP-led guerrilla army and to regain their feudal estates and political clout. Forced to fight back for survival, many HUKBALAHAP forces were decimated by the US-armed reactionary forces which gathered around the USA’s new puppet president, Manuel Roxas (who had been the “food czar” during the Japanese occupation).
Party leaders and supporters who were elected to the new legislature of a nominally-independent Philippine republic in 1946 were not allowed to take their positions, in order to assure the approval of US-dictated treaties which allowed the maintenance of US military bases, and the right of US citizens and corporations to exploit natural resources and to engage in all areas of business in the Philippines. The kidnapping and assassination of some leaders of the party and its mass organizations led to sporadic armed encounters between HUKBALAHAP veterans and the forces of the state.
Deteriorating events under the neocolonial conditions in 1949 led to an erroneous assessment of a “revolutionary situation” by the Jose Lava leadership of the party at that time, which proceeded to organize the Hukbong Mapagpalaya ng Bayan (HMB, or the People’s Liberation Army), and to launch an armed bid for power. The armed uprising was crushed by the mid-1950s, at a loss of around 10,000 fighters, mostly HUKBALAHAP veterans.
By the early 1960s, the PKP had to be rebuilt, and had to shift from the underground armed struggle to an open political path of struggle. Party rebuilding was done alongside the rebuilding of mass organizations --- the Lapiang Manggagawa (Workers’ Party), the Malayang Samahang Magsasaka (MASAKA, or the Free Association of Peasants), the Congress of Trade Unions of the Philippines (CTUP), the National Association of Trade Unions (NATU), the Kabataang Makabayan (Patriotic Youth), and the multi-sectoral Movement for the Advancement of Nationalism (MAN).
However, the rebuilding of the party and its mass organizations was hampered by the rise of maoism in 1966. Under the influence of the so-called “great proletarian cultural revolution” in China, a youth-based maoist group was nurtured within the PKP by Jose Maria Sison, then a member of the party’s political bureau. Sison wanted to continue with an adventurist armed struggle on the basis of Mao’s “world revolutionary situation” thesis, while the veterans who comprised the majority of the party leaders were convinced that there was no revolutionary situation in the country, and that the armed struggle was then already a futile road to gaining political power in the Philippines. Sison and his maoist cohorts were expelled from the party in April 1967.
On Mao’s birthday (December 26) in 1968, Sison and 10 of his followers held a “congress” in Alaminos, Pangasinan, to form the maoist “Communist Party of the Philippines” (CPP). The formation of the CPP, and later of its “New People’s Army” (NPA), had the covert material support not only of maoist China, but also of then-Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino and media magnate Don Chino Roces, both known agents of the US Central Intelligence Agency.
Among the major actions of the CPP-NPA to “accelerate” the supposed “revolutionary situation” was the terrorist bombing of the electoral campaign rally in Manila of the bourgeois oppositionist Liberal Party in August 1971. That bombing was used by the Ferdinand Marcos regime to justify the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus. Other terrorist actions by the CPP-NPA, plus their bungled shipment of a boatload of US-made arms from maoist China, became the convenient pretext for Marcos’ declaration of martial law in September 1972. The CPP-NPA’s boast of a widespread “people’s war”, supposedly in response to a declaration of martial law, came to naught.
While martial law saw the grave curtailment of civil and political rights, this period also featured some positive developments and trends which were to later be of serious concern to imperialism --- the take-over of the major companies of the old oligarchic blocs closely related to US businesses ; the building up of the state sector in vital areas of the economy, particularly in industry ; the institution of foreign trade and other business regulations ; the opening of diplomatic, trade and other relations with the USSR and other socialist countries ; and closer Philippine identification with the Non-Aligned Movement. Under this atmosphere, the party cautiously entered into negotiations initiated by Marcos for a political settlement to allow the party to legally exist and continue its communist advocacy.
In November 1974, as a result of the negotiations, the PKP entered into a political settlement under which it renounced the armed struggle, dissolved the HMB and surrendered HMB weapons. The government in turn recognized the legal existence of the party, extended amnesty to party and HMB members, released party and HMB political prisoners, gave recognition to HUKBALAHAP veterans, and expanded agrarian reform in party-influenced areas. Aside from formalizing its renunciation of the armed struggle (which the party, even a decade earlier, had already deemed futile as a way of gaining political power), the political settlement of 1974 did not prevent or stop the party from criticizing the pro-imperialist positions of the Marcos regime.
The political settlement left the PKP free to organize among the masses, and by 1975, new sectoral mass organizations were formed to take the place of those declared illegal with the imposition of martial law. Throughout the Marcos period, among the main demands consistently raised by the party were the removal of US military bases and the realization of a nuclear-weapon-free Philippines ; respect for civil liberties and human rights ; alleviation of labor and social conditions ; control of transnational corporations ; opposition to the dictates of the World Bank and the IMF ; nationalist industrialization and economic protectionism ; and closer cooperation with socialist countries and the non-aligned movement for better terms of international trade, for safeguarding world peace, for the ending of racist regimes, and for the independence of all remaining colonies.
These were the same demands raised by the party with the end of the Marcos regime. However, aside from lifting the Marcos curbs on some civil rights, the Cory Aquino and other succeeding regimes proved to be just as pliant to imperialist dictates, and just as opposed to workers’ and peasant rights and interests. In the economic field, the Cory Aquino and succeeding regimes even served as more willing tools of imperialism by privatizing the state sector of the economy (even returning many areas of business to the pre-martial-law oligarchy) ; by removing many forms of business regulation ; and by liberalizing foreign trade. (Note : Today’s growing poverty among our people is a direct result of the privatization, deregulation and liberalization policies of successive regimes which gave the electricity, water, petroleum, tollways, railway, telecommunication and other vital areas of the economy to the control of the exploitative business oligarchy and their foreign partners.)
In the international field, the party consistently denounced maoism and other variants of ultra-left adventurism as special tools of imperialism to divide the international communist movement, the international working class movement and the national liberation movements. At the same time, the party criticized the rightist trends within some “Euro-communist” parties which made anti-Sovietism and the denunciation of the dictatorship of the proletariat as their main platforms in the 1980s. The PKP strongly supported Vietnam’s internationalist assistance for the liberation of Cambodia, even while maoist China and the local maoists joined the imperialists in supporting the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime.
(Note : Since the late 1980s, the PKP has been appending the year “1930” to its initials, i.e., PKP-1930, to distinguish it from the maoist CPP which split from the PKP in 1968. This was particularly necessary due to the rise of maoist terrorist activities during that period --- the bombing of bridges and sabotage of railway lines in Southern Luzon, the burning of transport and communication facilities in several parts of the country, the kidnapping of Japanese and other businessmen for ransom, the extortion of so-called “revolutionary taxes” and periodic “election campaign permit fees”, attacks on religious congregations in the Davao provinces, the torture and massacre of internal dissenters within the CPP-NPA [code-named “Oplan Missing Link” and “Kampanyang Ahos”], and the assassination of those who led the different splits from the CPP/NPA --- which atrocities were presented in the media as “communist” activities, in order to denigrate the true essence of communist advocacy.)
(Note : Within the maoist CPP in the late 1980s and in the 1990s, questions about the validity of a “continuing revolutionary situation”, about the need to continue with the armed struggle, and about the need to hold a party congress to change the CPP’s maoist documents of 1968, led to bloody purges. A series of splits from the maoist CPP saw the formation of several “rejectionist” parties and grouping, with outlooks ranging from social-democratic to trotskyist, and with 2 of those break-away parties maintaining their own armed groups in opposition to the CPP’s NPA. In effect, the maoist CPP and its break-away groups are still fighting over the same strategic issues that have long been resolved within the PKP in the 1960s. The maoist CPP’s drive to “surround the cities from the countryside” and win a “people’s war” has only led to thousands of deaths from armed operations, encounters, and bloody internal purges and splits over the past 46 years. And yet the latest thesis or dream of the maoist leaders who are based in the Netherlands, a royal ally of the USA, is for its NPA to “advance” from the stage of “strategic defensive” to a stage of “strategic parity or stalemate” within the next five years !)
As the PKP-1930 marks its 85th anniversary this year (2015), it continues to be proud of its working class roots, its history of struggle, and its loyalty to the ideology of Marxism-Leninism. Given the neocolonial situation of the Philippines and the under-development of the productive forces (primarily the country’s industrial base) the PKP-1930 will continue to pursue the struggle for national democracy as the transitional stage to socialism.
The PKP-1930 continues to pay homage to the great sacrifices of the Soviet people in the struggle to defeat fascism, in the formation and strengthening of the socialist community, and in attaining strategic parity with imperialism. The PKP-1930 considers as tragic the dissolution of the USSR and the socialist community in 1990-91, even while the local maoists joined the imperialist camp in hailing those events. The PKP-1930 is convinced that the setbacks to socialism in 1990-91 were mainly due to the acts of the special agents of imperialism who were able to worm their way to the top echelons of the ruling communist parties in the USSR and some other socialist countries. The PKP-1930 moreover believes that those reverses are only temporary, and that the class interests of the working peoples of Eastern Europe and the former USSR, who have now experienced the capitalist yoke under US-EU domination, will lead them to again establish socialism and on firmer foundations.
The PKP-1930 views the present international projection of social-democratic positions (as the supposed “unifying platform” for all progressive and left forces), as part of the ideological maneuvers of imperialism in order to sow illusions about the possibility of “reforming” capitalism. The PKP-1930 stands for the international projection of the need to overthrow (and not to “reform”) capitalism, as the unifying platform for all progressive and left forces ; and for the projection of the class nature of the international struggle against imperialism and reaction, on the basis of the principles of Marxism-Leninism. It is the view of the PKP-1930 that working class interests remain the basis for unity in the anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist struggles in all parts of the world.
The PKP-1930 retains the view that the main currents of the world revolutionary process are the socialist countries, the international working class movement, the remaining national liberation movements, and the broad movement of developing countries struggling against neo-liberal globalization. While the balance of forces has become less favorable than during the period of the strong existence of the USSR and the international socialist community, the forces and schemes of imperialism and reaction are not insurmountable.
The whole capitalist system is constantly in crisis, and the multifarious struggles of the peoples (whether it is the working class struggles in Greece, Portugal, Spain, Ireland and other EU countries ; the national-liberation struggle of the Palestinian people against the US-supported zionist occupation ; the struggle against the joint imperialist-jihadist intervention in Syria and the Lebanon ; the anti-occupation struggles in Afghanistan and Iraq ; or the struggle in defense of socialist and progressive governments in Cuba, Venezuela, Vietnam, Laos, Nepal, China, South Africa, Belarus and elsewhere), are chipping away at the strength of imperialism, and frustrating the insatiable desire of imperialism for more resources and profits. The bold examples of Cuba, Venezuela and other ALBA countries in resisting imperialism are proving to be a beacon for many peoples and governments.
The PKP-1930 will always stand in solidarity with other communist and workers’ parties which likewise remain loyal to Marxism-Leninism. The PKP-1930 will exert every effort in its modest capacity to help forge the unity of the International Communist Movement, conscious that communist and workers’ parties worldwide are similar and need to be united, because the social forces and processes in various countries where they arose are basically similar, and because the historical process of change from capitalism to socialism is similarly occurring on a world scale.
Since its 6th Congress in 1973, congresses of the PKP-1930 have been held every 5 years, with the most recent (the 14th National Congress) having been held in Sta. Maria town, Bulacan Province (just north of Manila), on November 7, 2013. The 14th Congress, attended by 423 delegates and guests, summed up the party’s views on international and national developments in the previous 5 years, approved the Report of the 13th Central Committee, made slight amendments to the party’s Constitution and By-Laws, updated its Program for an Independent and Democratic Philippines, and elected the 14th Central Committee which is presently leading the party.
As a result of the national elections held last May 2013, some party members have again been elected to municipal, city and provincial government positions. The PKP-1930 will continue every effort to win positions in the national legislature in succeeding elections, as part of its pursuance of the peaceful and parliamentary path of struggle for national democracy and socialism.
(NOTE : For further information on the party’s Program, Political Resolution and Constitution as approved by its 14th Congress, please visit the party’s website, www.pkp1930.org. Issues of “Sulong!” [“Forward!”, the party’s monthly organ], documents of previous party congresses, party educational materials on different subjects of Marxism-Leninism, as well as important statements and publications of the party since 1930, are also posted at this website.)