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The Militant, 24 August 1946

Dave Dreiser

New Philippine Government
Uses Mailed Fist on Huks

(16 August 1946)

From The Militant, Vol. X No. 34, 24 August 1946, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


LOS ANGELES, Aug. 16 – What “independence” has brought for the peasants in the Philippines is well illustrated by a report received from an American soldier in Manila. Here is his report:

“Yesterday I went to see a Dr. Lava who is associated with the Hukbalahaps. This man before the war was a professor of chemistry at the University of the Philippines and when the invasion came he went to the hills and for three years, lived there as a guerrilla leader with a price on his head. The rigors of the life broke his health so that now he must stay in bed all the time. I’ll tell you what he had to say.

“There is a large peasants’ union which tries to ameliorate the serf-like status of the farmers, who before the war received on the average 80 pesos ($40) a year and now probably less. Half the land is owned by something like 4 or 5 per cent of the population and in the province of Papanga where most of the trouble is, 2 per cent of the people own 98 per cent of the land.

“One of the systems which keeps the farmers in poverty is that a large landowner will lease his land to one or more leasees, asking half the crop in payment. The leasees in turn take half of what’s left, leaving the peasants with one fourth of their crop. The peasants even have to furnish their own plow and carabao.

“The more militant elements in the peasants’ union are in the Hukbalahaps which started out as a people’s army to resist the Japanese invasion.

“Most of the congressmen are land-owners and the new President, Roxas, supports their interests, and is using the mailed fist policy toward the Huks. The government forces are constantly raiding the villages and terrorizing the inhabitants with the result that more and more people are joining the Huks. Meanwhile President Roxas makes grandiloquent speeches to the effect that if the Huks will only lay down their arms and submit to government authority their grievances will get ‘a just hearing.’ Perhaps it would be more honest to say ‘just a hearing.’

“Some idea of the size of the movement may be gained by the fact that there are at least 10,000 of the Huks, some of whom are apparently fighting as guerrillas. They often fire on trucks bringing produce from the provinces to Manila. The 86th Division seems to be training 2 to 3 thousand Filipinos for duty against the Huks. Of course the American government supports Roxas. The Manila police are beginning to stop and search people for weapons, probably in hopes of catching Huks.”

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