Five years ago, on September 21, 1972, President Marcos with the full backing of the US government and big business declared martial law in the Philippines. Since then, martial law has failed to crush the struggle of the Filipino people for genuine independence and democracy. Instead of suppressing the revolutionary movement, martial law created the conditions for the further advancement and deepening of revolutionary resistance.
The present struggle is in a way a continuation and resumption of the Philippine revolution of 1896 against Spain and the Filipino-American war of 1898-1902, both of which ended in failure under the leadership of the national bourgeoisie.
The basic difference between the present national democratic struggle and the one that suffered defeat at the hands of US imperialism at the turn of the century lies in the fact that the objective conditions for the national democratic revolution of the old type have ceased.
Since the first World War the anti-imperialist struggles in colonies and semi-colonies have become part of the world proletarian revolution. The world bourgeois revolution has ceased to provide the correct orientation for the national democratic revolution. The effective class leadership in the Philippine revolution today is in the hands of the proletariat and no longer in the hands of the bourgeoisie.
The Philippine national democratic revolution has been defined by Amado Guerrero, chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines in his book Philippine Society and Revolution (1970):
it is a national revolution principally because it seeks to assert national sovereignty against U.S. imperialism and its local running dogs. It is a democratic revolution principally because it seeks to fulfill the peasant struggle for land against domestic feudalism and furthermore it seeks to uphold the democratic rights of the broad masses of the people against fascism. The basic contradictions in Philippine society are those between the Filipino nation and imperialism, and those between the great masses of the people and fascism. The fascism that is now on the rise is basically the military suppression of the people by the present counter-revolutionary State in behalf of its imperialist and feudal masters.
Though the leadership of the national democratic revolution is proletarian, it is not yet a proletarian socialist revolution. As Guerrero pointed out, only after the people’s democratic revolution can the proletarian revolutionary leadership carry out the socialist revolution.
The principal enemies at this stage of the Philippine revolution are U.S. imperialism, domestic feudalism, and bureaucrat capitalism.
US imperialism has been historically and remains today the principal imperialist force in the Philippines. Japanese monopoly capital is second in the order of imperialist forces operating in the country. With the support given to the Marcos regime by the old revisionist party, the Soviet Union also begins to loom as an imperialist force in Philippine affairs.
On the whole, U.S. imperialist penetration has systematically prevented nationalist industrialization keeping the Philippines semi-colonial and semi-feudal. US imperialism has retained feudal conditions in the countryside to manipulate the local backwardness and assure cheap labour and cheap raw materials. In this the US imperialists have found a trustworthy ally in the feudal landlord class.
US imperialism also relies on the comprador bourgeoisie. The wealth of this class is derived principally from the export of local raw materials and the import of finished products from abroad. This class has also big landlord interests because its original economic base is feudal ownership of land and its persistent interest lies in the production of raw materials, the great bulk of which is agricultural. The Marcos regime supports and/or makes use of the 50 or so big comprador-landlord families in the Philippines, except the Lopezes and other oligarchic families that dared to oppose Marcos in the power struggles.
US imperialism also rules indirectly through puppets in the Philippine State apparatus. This class known as bureaucrat capitalists has grown by using their political and government positions and faithful service to imperialism as a means to amass wealth. They also provide armed security to comprador rule in the cities and landlord rule in the countryside. The number one bureaucrat capitalist is Marcos who has manipulated political power to enrich himself, he is reported to be one of the ten richest men in Asia by Fortune magazine.
At a time when his interests and those of his US masters were being challenged openly by the broad masses of the people, he willingly carried out the orders of his US masters to impose fascist rule.
On the other hand, the leading force of the national democratic struggle is the Filipino proletariat. The working class has significantly grown in size and political experience in the past 70 years. At present, this class forms about 15% of the total manpower.
To the industrial proletariat must be added the rural proletariat who are found on commercial plantations employing both year-round and seasonal agricultural workers.
The Filipino working class in cities, on plantations, in mining and logging areas, bears the full brunt of direct imperialist exploitation, suffering extremely low wages and subhuman levels of working and living conditions.
This class has proven to be the most resolute and thoroughgoing force for the national democratic struggle. Though still unconscious of their revolutionary ideology, the workers led by Andres Bonifacio initiated and participated vigorously in the 1896 revolution. Soon after the defeat of the Aguunaldo government by US imperialism, they fearlessly established the first trade unions.
The US imperialists moved to crush the growing labour movement by imprisoning its leaders and forming “yellow” labour unions, but despite these tactics, the labour movement grew by leaps and bounds. Its relatively small size is offset by its strong political consciousness.
The peasantry, which constitutes 75% of the population, is the main force of the Philippine revolution, the natural and most reliable ally of the proletariat. The national democratic revolution has as one of its fundamental goals, the solution of the land question in favour of the peasantry. For the peasants, particularly the poor and middle strata, are oppressed by landlords through the exaction of rent (up to 75% of the harvest) and usury.
The people’s democratic revolution is essentially a peasant war because its main political force is the peasantry, its main problem is the land problem, and its main source of armed contingents is the peasantry.
Another ally of the working class is the petty-bourgeoisie whose very limited and usually fixed income is subject to the pressure of galloping inflation and economic stagnation. They are being won over to the side of the national democratic revolution because they too suffer the State abuse of their livelihood and democratic rights.
The national (or middle) bourgeoisie are the mainstay of the capitalist relations of production in the Philippines. However under imperialist domination, this class is to a great extent oppressed by foreign competitition and government collaboration. At the same time it is linked to imperialism in varying degrees through contracts involving credit, sales, and supplies. Due to its dual character, this class has an inconsistent attitude to the national democratic revolution.
The main force, then of the Philippine revolution is the peasantry, the largest mass force in a semi-colonial and semi-feudal country. It is only by acting upon the main problem of the peasants that the proletariat and its Party can arouse and mobilize the peasant masses.
As Chairman Guerero pointed out, there is no solution to the peasant problem but to wage armed struggle, conduct agrarian revolution, and build revolutionary bases. The armed fighters of the Philippine revolution are raised through waging a peasant war. The vast majority of the New People’s Army come from the peasantry.
To complement the armed struggle, a national united front has been established, consolidated and expanded in both cities and countryside. The united front includes all the popular anti-imperialist classes and sectors in Philippine society and is based on the worker-peasant alliance. The united front encompasses oppressed minorities as well as religious groups.
Forged in the course of revolutionary struggle, the National Democratic Front forms the core for the eventual formation of a coalition government after the victory of the national democratic revolution.
To lay the foundations for the National Democratic Front, a Preparatory Commission was formed in April 1973. The commission issued a manifesto entitled “Unite to Overthrow the US-Marcos dictatorship”. The NDF put forward the three-fold task of the Filipino people: (1) unite to oppose and overthrow the US-Marcos dictatorship, (2) liberate the nation from imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism, and (3) establish a coalition government based on a truly democratic system of representation.
In its 10-points program, the NDF seeks to unite with all peoples fighting imperialism and seek their support for the Philippine revolutionary struggle. The Philippine revolution thus seeks the support of the progressive forces in Canada, particularly the support of the Canadian working class.
LONG LIVE THE NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION! LONG LIVE THE SOLIDARITY BETWEEN THE CANADIAN WORKING CLASS AND THE FILIPINO PEOPLE!