The Filipino people’s continuing struggle for genuine national freedom

Communist Party of the Philippines

June 12, 2023

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and all revolutionary forces join the Filipino people in marking today 125 years of false independence under US colonialism and neocolonial rule. Let us mark this day by looking back on the history of the Filipino people’s struggle for genuine freedom and democracy and reaffirm our commitment to persevere along this path in the future.

Riding on the victories of the armed revolution led by the Katipunan since 1896 and waged by the peasants and burgeoning working class against the 300-year Spanish colonial regime, the representatives of the illustrado landlord class led by Emilio Aguinaldo proclaimed Philippine independence on June 12, 1898 “under the protection of Powerful and Humanitarian Nation, the United States of America.”

Not soon after, the naval armed forces of Spain and the United States staged the mock battle at Manila Bay with a secret agreement to transfer colonial power to the latter while helping each other suppress and prevent the revolutionary forces from gaining advantage. The transfer of colonial rule would be formalized on December 10 that year, when the Treaty of Paris was signed in which the Philippines was sold by Spain for $20 million to the United States.

Hundreds of thousands of American troops were deployed to carry out the armed suppression and colonization of the Philippines. The US colonizers carried out a brutal war against Filipino revolutionary forces–denigrated as bandits–who persisted in armed resistance for more than a decade. At least 200,000 Filipino civilians were killed by US colonial forces, while more than a million (out of a population of less than seven million) died in the course of the war.

Employing its armed might, the US colonial forces rampaged throughout the country, plundered the country’s wealth, felling trees for lumber, and taking away vast tracks of land from peasants and indigenous peoples and turning them into commercial plantations for sugar, pineapple and other crops, as well as mines for export to the United States. It carried out a drive to colonize the Filipino people’s minds by establishing an educational system that sought to erase the country’s history and portrayed US colonialism as “benevolent assimilation.” The US pampered a breed of bureaucrat capitalists who were trained in “US democracy” who represented the interests of the US and the new class of big bourgeois compradors who melded interests with the old landlord class.

Instead of being suppressed, the Filipino people’s spirit of patriotism would be further inflamed as workers and toiling people organized and waged mass struggles over the next few decades demanding “death to US imperialism!” The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP-Philippine Islands) was established in 1930 and since then played a critical role in leading the struggle for national freedom from US colonial rule.

In the course of inter-imperialist conflict between the US allies and its rivals, the US military forces abandoned the Philippines when it was invaded by imperialist Japan. An anti-Japanese guerrilla war was waged by Filipino revolutionary forces led by the CPP-PI in pursuit of the people’s aspiration for national freedom. Across the Philippines, as in other countries, Japanese forces were defeated in guerrilla warfare. Anticipating the defeat of the Japanese, the US forces returned to the Philippines by dropping bombs in Manila causing unnecessary devastation and forcing the country to its knees. Together with its puppet forces, the US subsequently carried out a campaign of armed suppression against Filipino guerrilla forces.

To placate the Filipino people, the US granted nominal independence to the Philippines, turning over the reins of political administration of the client-state to the representatives of the ruling classes and their parties. For close to 80 years now, the country has been under neocolonial or semicolonial rule where the Philippines remains under US political, economic, military and cultural dominance.

Under US semicolonial rule, the Philippines has been robbed of trillions of dollars worth of natural resources in unequal trade and economic relations reinforced through treaties giving the US parity rights. Wages have been kept low to allow US corporations to make maximum profit. Economic policy of the Philippine government is shaped by US planners through the International Monetary Fund and World Bank and other US-controlled financial and economic institutions.

The US has maintained cultural dominance through control of the educational system, domination of the mass media and other agencies for propagating the American mindset and worldview.

The US has maintained armed dominance through military treaties foremost of which are the Mutual Defense Treaty and the now expired Military Bases Agreement, which has been replaced by such treaties as the Visiting Forces Agreement and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), to allow US military forces to remain in the country and use the Philippines as springboard for its wars of intervention and aggression. The Armed Forces of the Philippines, together with the entire defense establishment is the main pillar of US rule. From the very outset and to this day, the US employs and directs the AFP to carry out counterinsurgency against the revolutionary forces who continue to wage a people’s war and all forms of resistance for national and social liberation.

The past several decades of US-imposed neocolonial policies have ravaged the Philippine economy and caused widespread suffering of workers, peasants, other toiling sectors and middle classes. Large segments of local productive forces, including agricultural land and manufacturing capacity, have been destroyed by investment and import liberalization, deregulation and privatization. The ruling classes of big bourgeois compradors and big landlords, and foreign capitalists have enjoyed all-out freedom under the neoliberal policy regime to plunder and accumulate profit and wealth. The Filipino people are now experiencing the grave consequence of neoliberalism in the form of massive unemployment, dirt-cheap wages, loss of income, spiralling prices, rural dislocation, and environmental destruction. The country is in the grips of a financial crisis marked by rising public debt, loss of state revenue due corporate tax exemptions and holidays, and rising expenses for a bloated military and police force.

We are currently in the advent of a new phase in the history of the struggle against US imperialism, amid rising inter-imperialist conflicts and threats of open war, and the US push to reinforce its neocolonial stranglehold of the Philippines and its military, economic and political dominance in the Philippines in the context of its geopolitical aims and saber-rattling against China. The rush of the US to construct a number of military bases and facilities in various parts of the country under the EDCA, especially in the northern areas which are closest to Taiwan and China, has once again highlighted the country’s lack of sovereignty and underscores how it is being used by the US as a pawn in its game of strategy to protect and expand its areas of investment and influence in the Asia-Pacific region.

Amid deepening capitalist crisis, the US and other imperialist powers are increasingly resorting to wars and war preparations as means to jolt their economies and expand their markets, sources of raw materials and spheres of influence. As a consequence, semicolonial and semifeudal countries such as the Philippines are being subjected to worsening state of national oppression as the imperialist powers seek to consolidate their hegemony over countries and entire global regions. The absence of Philippine sovereignty is starker than ever before.

Since it was reestablished in 1968, the Communist Party of the Philippines has been at the forefront of the Filipino people’s struggle for genuine national freedom. The Party took up the cudgels left by the Katipunan, as well as by previous generations of revolutionary fighters. It has been waging a people’s war since 1969, and will continue to do so as long as it takes to free the country from the clutches of US imperialism.

Today let us set our sights on waging even greater resistance in order to free the country from the clutches of the US imperialist ogre, and attain the Filipino people’s aspirations for national freedom and democracy. Let us commit ourselves to the struggle, however difficult and arduous, as this is the only path towards a bright and prosperous future.