Philippines Revolution: Struggling Out of an Impasse

After launching their armed struggle in the late 1960s, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) has scored many successes, including the development of significant "guerrilla fronts" across  this archipelago.

However, for many years, this revolutionary movement has been unable to break through to a higher level of confrontation with the brutal government -- and has not been able to advance toward the seizure of power in significant regions or countrywide.

This kind of frustrating impasse is a situation faced by diverse revolutionary forces in other parts of the world (including in India over many decades, Ireland during the days of "troubles," Sri Lanka during the Tamil secessionist revolt, Palestine and Colombia.) Meanwhile, obviously, in far too many countries, the most revolutionary forces have not even been able to consolidate themselves into a serious political party, develop significant initial mass bases, and start to confront the kinds of problems that are presented in the Philippines.

In the following statement, the CPP leadership lays out an ambitious plan to overcome their movement's long-standing problem: To move from the strategic defensive to the strategic balance with the government forces (a moment Maoists call "strategic stalemate") within five years. Their plan involves a systematic strengthening of their party and baseareas: with the goals of  increasing the number of New Peoples Army (NPA) guerrilla fronts from 120 to 180, greatly expanding  party membership, and strengthening its leadership structures in planned and concrete ways.

For revolutionaries in the U.S. grappling with strategic questions there are many things of interest in this document.

Among them, for example, it is worth noting that they intend to build on previous advances step by step in a materialist way, and that they take serious measure of the kinds of apparatus needed to contest for power. In other words, this is not a method that promotes fantasy thinking about "telescoping" or "vaulting" their way suddenly (or magically) to power:

"We must have a comprehensive political plan for expanding and consolidating the revolutionary mass movement in both urban and rural areas. For this purpose, we have tens of thousands of Party cadres and members to lead mass work. Their duty is to arouse, organize and mobilize the toiling masses of workers and peasants and the rest of the people along the line of the new democratic revolution through protracted people's war. We have a wide and deep-going mass base running in the millions of the people nationwide... We must have an organizational plan for increasing the number of Party cadres and members for the purpose of achieving the great advance from the strategic defensive to the strategic stalemate. We need at least 200,000 Party members for this."

And, at the same time, their plans raise inevitable questions: Is the problem of impasse one that can simply be overcome through the mobilization of conscious communist forces and new policies? Is it tied to conjunctural questions (the economic dynamics, the lack of intense imperialist rivalry etc.)? Are the conditions overall in the world simply favorable now (because of economic crisis etc) for radical advance?


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Strive to Make a Great Advance in the People's War for New Democracy

Communist Party of the Philippines, Central Committee, December 26, 2009


We celebrate today with utmost joy the 41st anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of the Philippines as the revolutionary advanced detachment of the Filipino proletariat under the theoretical guidance of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism.

We are deeply gratified by the long-accumulated as well as recent victories won by the Filipino proletariat and people under the leadership of the Party in the course of the new democratic revolution through protracted people's war. We salute and congratulate all our cadres and members and we pay the highest respects to our revolutionary martyrs and heroes for making our victories possible.

We have long proven that, by pursuing the strategic line of protracted people's war, we can build in stages the strength of the revolutionary forces of the people and overcome the brutal campaigns of suppression unleashed by US imperialism and the local exploiting classes of big compradors and landlords. In the process, we have so far built the largest and strongest revolutionary movement of the Filipino people in the entire history of the Philippines since the revolution of 1896.

We have grown in strength and advanced precisely through resolute and fierce revolutionary armed struggle against every regime of counterrevolutionary violence directed and supported by US imperialism. We have prevailed over the 14-year Marcos fascist dictatorship and all the succeeding regimes that have pretended to be liberal democratic but have been so brutally antinational and anti-democratic.

The current Arroyo regime is going down in history in complete ignominy for its grave crimes against the people. It has utterly failed to realize its pipe dream of destroying or reducing the armed revolutionary movement of the people to inconsequentiality. Not only have we prevailed and preserved our forces against the enemy campaigns of suppression, we have also gained strength and scored resounding victories.

After more than 40 years of successful people's war, we consider it of highest importance today to declare our determination to strive within the next five years to make the great advance from the stage of the strategic defensive to the strategic stalemate, fulfilling all the requirements and without skipping any necessary phase. We can look forward to still greater revolutionary possibilities within the next ten years if we carry out successfully the tasks and plans for the next five years.

Our revolutionary optimism is based on three factors. First is the ever worsening crisis of the world capitalist system, which is now in the throes of its worst crisis since the Great Depression. Second is the accelerated worsening crisis and rotting of the semicolonial and semifeudal ruling system. Third is the revolutionary forces of the people led by the Party that have far more strength now than at the start of our people's war in 1969 and have the sufficient strength and critical mass to carry out the tasks and plans for advancing from the strategic defensive to the strategic stalemate of the people's war within the next five years.

World capitalist system in the throes of depression

The world capitalist system is in a state of economic depression. The economic and financial crisis has spread throughout the world like a plague from the imperialist countries. The most devastated economically and socially are the underdeveloped countries. But the imperialist powers and their followers keep on euphemistically calling the situation a mere recession and keep on referring to any spike in the financial market as a sign of recovery.

The crisis of overproduction runs unabated and continues to be aggravated by the financial crisis. Factories continue to scale down production or to close down. The toiling masses of workers and peasants and even the middle social strata continue to suffer the loss of jobs and homes, the reduction of income, the soaring prices of basic commodities and social services and the deterioration of the social infrastructure. The level of exploitation and oppression is escalating on a global scale.

The US and other imperialist states are using public money in the trillions of dollars to bail out the big banks and corporations in the military-industrial complex and in the service sector. New and bigger financial bubbles are being generated with the use of state funds for lending and subsidy to the monopoly bourgeoisie, especially the financial oligarchy. The money is being used merely to raise profits in the balance sheets of big financial and industrial corporations and has not resulted in real economic recovery in terms of generating employment and increasing production and consumption.

The current economic and financial crisis of the world capitalist system has been the outcome of the recurrent, accelerated and cumulative crises since the monopoly bourgeoisie and its economic policymakers were confronted by the phenomenon of concurrent stagnation and inflation as a result of the reconstruction of the imperialist countries ruined by World War II, intensified inter-imperialist competition, rising costs of the cold war and wars of aggression and the growing severity of the crisis of overproduction in the world capitalist system.

Since then, the imperialist states headed by the US have blamed the working people for having caused the stagflation due to what they have termed as wage inflation and excessive social spending by government. At the same time, they have obscured the costs of the Cold War, especially those of military production, overseas deployment of military forces and wars of aggression.

In the succeeding decades, they adopted and implemented the policy of freezing wages, reducing social spending, privatizing public assets, liberalizing investments and trade, doing away with regulations and denationalizing the economies of underdeveloped countries. They let loose the unbridled greed of the imperialist banks and firms to prey on the people of the world. Thus, they undercut and constrict the global market far beyond what debt financing can cover and conceal.

Having run for several decades, the policy of "neoliberal" or "free" market globalization is deepgoing and has caused widespread social ruin on a global scale. It continues to dominate the thinking of policymakers of the imperialist states. It serves first of all the big banks and corporations against the demand of the people for economic recovery, employment, social relief and rehabilitation. Thus, the current grave crisis of the world capitalist system continues to worsen and is bound to persist for a long while.

The monopoly bourgeoisie seeks to pass on the burden of the crisis to the working people in the homegrounds of imperialism but much more to those in the underdeveloped countries. The imperialist powers and their puppets continue to extract further superprofits from those already laid low by the crisis. We therefore witness today the initial manifestations of the peoples' resistance in both the imperialist and the underdeveloped countries.

In the imperialist countries, the monopoly bourgeoisie wages a ferocious class struggle against the proletariat and is pushing the proletariat to fight back by waging the just side of the class struggle. It seeks ever more to divide and confuse the working people by whipping up anti-terrorist hysteria, chauvinism, racism, fascism and religious bigotry and pitting the host people against the migrants. However, revolutionary parties and movements are arising to expose the roots of the crisis in monopoly capitalism and rouse the working people to wage class struggle.

The peoples subjected to ever rising levels of exploitation and oppression are waging various forms of resistance against the imperialist powers and their local puppets. Those who are victimized by imperialist aggression are waging armed resistance for national liberation, as in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine and Lebanon. National liberation movements led by Maoist and other revolutionary parties are gaining strength and are advancing as in India, the Philippines, Nepal, Turkey, Peru and Colombia.

Some governments as those of North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia have taken anti-imperialist positions and invoked national independence in response to the clamor of the people for resistance to imperialism and its worst reactionary agents. Such governments as those of China and Russia try to collaborate with the US-led alliance of imperialist powers while at same time cooperate with Iran and other governments that are subjected to sanctions and embargoes by the US and its imperialist allies.

The imperialist powers are still united in oppressing peoples and nations of the world and in passing on the burden of crisis to them. But they are also driven by imperialist greed and by the crisis to compete and contend with each other in a struggle to redivide the world for sources of raw materials and cheap labor, markets, fields of investment, spheres of influence and strategic points of control.

The complete restoration of capitalism in countries previously ruled by revisionist regimes has added Russia and China to the ranks of big capitalist powers and has made the world ever more cramped for inter-imperialist competition. The US has pushed the NATO to expand to the borders of Russia and threaten and seek control of this huge source of oil, gas and other strategic raw materials. Although China is acknowledged as the biggest partner of the US under the policy of "free market" globalization, contradictions between them over major issues are growing.

The betrayal of socialism brought about by the rise of modern revisionism and the full restoration of capitalism in the former revisionist-ruled countries have contributed in a big way to intensifying inter-imperialist contradictions and generating the conditions for wars of aggression and the use of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. The threats posed by imperialism to the very existence of humankind seems unstoppable. But they can be effectively countered by the people's revolutionary mass movement, revolutionary civil wars and people's wars for national liberation.

The US and the NATO are so aggressive that China and Russia consider themselves threatened and are thus developing the Shanghai Cooperation Organization into a potent security bloc. Almost all global regions, such as the Middle East, Central Asia, South Asia, East Asia, the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Latin America and Africa are fraught with the danger of war.

The intensification of inter-imperialist contradictions has already resulted in wars of aggression and military intervention, such as those in the Balkans, Africa, Central and South Asia and the Middle East. These have been carried out under the initiative of the US, its NATO allies and its major partners in the UN Security Council. The insatiable drive of the US and its closest NATO allies to monopolize the sources of oil and other raw materials and to subordinate Russia and China is upsetting the balance of forces among the imperialist powers.

The imperialist powers are frenziedly engaged in wars of aggression and plunder of natural resources, causing both social and environmental disasters. The wars of aggression have resulted in heavy casualties among the people, in the destruction of the social infrastructure and pollution of the environment from the use, among others, of radioactive and toxic weapons of mass destruction. The wanton plunder of natural resources by the profit-driven monopolies has been a major factor in ecological destruction that has caused ever more destructive typhoons, floods, droughts and other disasters.

The imperialist powers are the biggest destroyers and polluters of the environment as they wantonly plunder and misuse the world's natural resources. They pretend to be concerned about environmental destruction and the problem of global warming in order to deflect attention from the problems of social exploitation, manufacture of weapons of mass destruction and wars of aggression. They manipulate the issue of environment and global warming in order to justify further imperialist control and exploitation of the world's resources.

Greater social turmoil and political disorder in all continents and in nearly all countries are in the offing. From year to year, the US will continue to be afflicted by economic crisis and will be sucked into new quagmires of military aggression and intervention. These are conditions favorable to the revolutionary forces of the Filipino people in advancing the people's war for new democracy from the stage of strategic defensive to that of strategic stalemate.

Accelerated rotting of the domestic ruling system

Under the weight of the crisis of the world capitalist system and due to its own internal weaknesses, the rotting of the semicolonial and semifeudal ruling system is accelerated in economic, social, political and cultural terms. The rotten unjust ruling system in chronic crisis is overripe for overthrow and replacement by the people's democratic system.

The imperialist policy of "free market" globalization has grossly distorted and made the Philippine economy more lopsided than ever. The economy is mainly agrarian and semifeudal and yet does not produce sufficient food for the people. This is the result of the dumping of agricultural surpluses by the imperialist countries and some neighboring countries. It is compelled to reduce food production to make way for the production of certain commercial crops for export and to serve the purposes of imperialist control.

The agricultural, mineral, forest and marine resources of our country are being exploited for export at a rapid pace and at lower prices. There is no economic development through national industrialization and land reform. The unequal exchange of raw material exports and manufactured imports persists. The natural resources of the country are plundered even as the imperialists and the local reactionaries shed crocodile tears over the lack of development and the destruction of the environment.

Incomes from the reexport of low-value added semi-manufactures and the export of cheap labor have not been enough to cover the growing balance of payments deficits. Thus, the foreign debt continues to mount. The reduced demand for raw materials, semi-manufactures and overseas contract workers is inflicting economic ruin and social devastation on the Philippines.

The toiling masses of workers and peasants and even the middle social strata are suffering from a rising rate of unemployment, drastic fall of incomes and the soaring prices of basic commodities and social services. The tax burden is mounting, even as the economy is depressed and the social infrastructure and social services are deteriorating. Debt service (interest payments and amortization of the principal) and military expenditures gobble up most of the government budget. Social misery and discontent are fueling legal mass protests and the people's war against exploitation and oppression.

The US-directed Arroyo regime has followed the US policy of global war of terror and carried out Oplan Bantay Laya since 2001 in order to intimidate and attack the broad masses of the people, especially the legal opposition forces and the revolutionary forces. It has perpetrated gross and systematic human rights violations, victimizing workers and peasants as well as social activists from the ranks of the women and youth, the professionals and religious. As a consequence, the regime is isolated domestically and globally by its own crimes and by the outrage and resistance of the people.

US-supported state terrorism has been unleashed with a combination of the military, paramilitary and police agencies and the private armies and security agencies in order to bust labor unions and strikes and to displace millions of peasants and national minorities from their homes and farms. The Ampatuan massacre of 58 persons in less than an hour is emblematic of the crimes committed with impunity on a large scale by the combination of military, police and paramilitary forces in the service of the violent and corrupt regime and is indicative of the growing violence of political rivalries among reactionary politicians at the national and local levels.

The broad masses of the people and a broad united front of opposition forces are ranged against the Arroyo regime. The outcry for the ouster of the Arroyo ruling clique has been going on for years against its puppetry, corruption, brutality and mendacity. But the clique has increasingly used the coercive apparatuses of the state to suppress its critics and the people's resistance. Many of its opponents can only hope to obtain justice after the clique is removed from power.

However, in trying to preempt prosecution for its grievous crimes against the people, the Arroyo clique is desperately using the resources of the state to engage in electoral fraud and terrorism. Fears are widespread that it intends to declare martial law nationwide or in a number of key regions by claiming a failure of elections and thereby perpetuate itself in power. It can only inflame the people's resistance by treading the Marcos path of fascist dictatorship.

At any rate, the political crisis of the ruling system is worsening as a consequence of the economic and social crisis. The contradictions among the reactionaries are becoming ever more bitter and violent. Whichever reactionary clique gains power would tend to monopolize the bureaucratic loot and use the instruments of state violence in suppressing the intrasystemic opposition and the revolutionary movement of the people.

The major political parties and coalitions vying for offices in the 2010 elections, except Makabayan, avoid or even oppose the people's demand for national indpendence and genuine democracy and do not criticize and repudiate "free market" globalization and the US-instigated policy of terror against the people. The Lakas-Kampi party of the ruling clique clings to its discredited antinational and antidemocratic policies. The major opposition parties, like the Liberal Party and the Partido ng Masang Pilipino concentrate on pretending to be for good governance to dissociate themselves from the scandalous corruption of the Arroyo regime.

Whichever reactionary clique takes power through the electoral process is predisposed to follow the same path being trod by the Arroyo regime. It will keep power under the dictates of the US and the local exploiting classes and will use its power to enrich itself and deploy the coercive apparatuses of the state to suppress opposition.

Among the four major presidential candidates, former Senate president Villar seems to be the most patriotic and progressive insofar as he advocates the interests of Filipino businessmen, expresses sympathy for the workers and peasants and condemns human rights violations. However, it remains to be seen whether he can win and prove himself any better than his major political rivals who have bloodstained records of opposing the demands of the workers and peasants, like Aquino of Hacienda Luisita notoriety, Teodoro of being the mad dog defense secretary of Arroyo and Estrada of having a bellicose record during his failed presidency.

So far, in the history of the semicolonial and semifeudal ruling system, every president has kowtowed to the power of US imperialism and has sought to amass wealth and power for self-aggrandizement against the rights and interests of the people. No president ever has had the political will to undertake significant reforms that respond to the people's demand for national independence and genuine democracy nor has used peace negotiations in order to forge agreements with the revolutionary movement on social, economic and political reforms as basis for a just peace.

We can anticipate that whichever new reactionary ruling clique arises from the 2010 elections, it would continue to apply draconian measures by legally misrepresenting revolutionary acts as common crimes, as acts of terrorism or as rebellion punishable by reclusion perpetua and therefore nonbailable. It would carry out campaigns of military suppression against the revolutionary forces of the Filipino people including those of the Bangsamoro. It would merely pretend at being for peace negotiations and try to use these not to arrive at agreements on basic reforms with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines but merely to deceive and confuse the people and destroy the revolutionary movement.

A new ruling clique is bound to continue allowing the US to deploy military troops in the Philippines under the US-RP Mutual Defense Pact and the Visiting Forces Agreement and under various pretexts, including so-called anti-terrorism, anti-drugs, humanitarian intervention, civic action, disaster relief, medical mission and the like. The ground is being laid for ever increasing military intervention and outright aggression, mainly under the pretext of combating terrorism as they label the Filipino and Bangsamoro revolutionaries as "terrorists."

The worsening crisis of the ruling system would compel the prospective ruling clique either to escalate counterrevolutionary violence or to seek truce and alliance with the revolutionary forces against the US and the worst of the local reactionaries if in the first place the armed revolutionary movement grows in strength, delivers lethal blows on the weak points of the ruling system and advances to a new and higher stage of development.

We can take full advantage of the socio-economic and political crisis of the ruling system in order to strengthen ourselves, wage all forms of revolutionary struggle and make great advances in our people's war. We can hope for national and social liberation only if the people gain the power for its realization. The people's power can arise only through revolutionary struggle against US imperialism and the local exploitating classes.

Current basis and tasks for the great advance

At its founding in 1968, the Communist Party of the Philippines had only a few score cadres and members and a few thousands of activists in various types of mass organizations. But since then we, as a Party, have been able to lead the revolutionary mass movement and make it grow in stages from small and weak to big and strong because we have availed of the favorable objective conditions for making revolution and have adopted and implemented the correct line in ideology, politics and organization.

We have pursued the ideological line of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, the political line of new democratic revolution through protracted people's war and the organizational line of democratic centralism. We have accumulated rich experience and reliable knowledge, gained ideological, political and organizational strength and won great victories in the course of waging all forms of revolutionary struggle.

Our current all-round strength as a Party is our basis for carrying out our tasks and plans for advancing the new democratic revolution and the people's war from the stage of strategic defensive to that of strategic stalemate within the next five years.

We have thousands of Party cadres and members with the capability to do work in theoretical and political education. They can propagate the theory of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and our works on Philippine history and current circumstances. They can run the basic, intermediate and advanced levels of Party education everywhere possible in the urban and the rural areas. They can ensure that our Party members grasp the Marxist-Leninist stand, viewpoint and method. They can develop cadres to lead work at various levels of our Party organization and in various fields of our work.

We must put forward and carry out an educational plan to produce sufficient Party cadres and members who can lead the work from grassroots level and upwards and who have the determination to establish and develop the Party and the mass organizations where these do not yet exist. The multiplication of our Party cadres and members who are schooled and steeped in Marxism-Leninism-Maoism makes our Party ever indestructible and victorious.

We must have a comprehensive political plan for expanding and consolidating the revolutionary mass movement in both urban and rural areas. For this purpose, we have tens of thousands of Party cadres and members to lead mass work. Their duty is to arouse, organize and mobilize the toiling masses of workers and peasants and the rest of the people along the line of the new democratic revolution through protracted people's war. We have a wide and deepgoing mass base running in the millions of the people nationwide.

We can advance wave upon wave from our existing mass base. The local branches and leading committees of the Party lead the mass organizations. These can be built much ahead of the expansion of the NPA. They prepare the way for the NPA and the establishment of the temporary and then the regular organs of political power. At any rate, the Party within the NPA can deploy teams of Red fighters for mass work.

Our Party has the New People's Army as its main organization for fighting the enemy, building the mass movement in the countryside, establishing the organs of political power and strengthening the basic alliance of the working class and the peasantry. We have thousands of Red commanders and fighters capable of achieving immensely far more than could the original 60 Red fighters we had in 1969.

Our Party is at the head and the core of the NPA. It grows with the expansion of the NPA and ensures the consolidation of the NPA. We draw our Party recruits from the ranks of the Red fighters and from the mass activists. We must intensify the recruitment and the politico-military training of the Red fighters under the leadership of our Party.

We must have a plan to increase the number of Red commanders and fighters, units of the NPA and guerrilla fronts from around 120 to 180 in order to cover the rural congressional districts and gain the ability to deploy armed city partisan units in the urban congressional districts. The increase in guerrilla fronts can be made in a manner and at a pace at which the seed units of the NPA (be these teams, squads or platoons) can draw strength from the mass base in the areas of expansion.

The process of expanding towards the goal of 180 guerrilla fronts will result in strengthening the Party and the NPA command at the levels of the guerrilla front (district), province and region. Relatively stable base areas will arise on varying territorial scales, depending on the growth of the Party, the NPA, the mass base and the organs of political power and of course on the actual destruction and disintegration of enemy political power in the localities.

We must continue to carry out extensive and intensive guerrilla warfare on the basis of an ever widening and deepening mass base. We must intensify our tactical offensives as we widen and deepen our mass base. As a matter of course, the enemy forces will react to our offensives by concentrating on those guerrilla fronts where we are estimated as being strong and by unleashing vicious campaigns of suppression. But as the enemy forces are extremely limited on the national and regional scale, we can maintain our initiative by employing flexible tactics of concentration to go on an offensive, shifting to evade a superior enemy force and dispersal to conduct mass work.

The Military Commission of the Central Committee is responsible for deciding and issuing the most strategic guidelines and plans. Every level of operational command must provide the necessary information and recommendations as well as feedbacks to their respective higher organs. Within their respective territorial scopes, they can formulate and issue specific guidelines and operational plans for tactical offensives aimed at attacking the weakest points of the enemy and seizing weapons in the process.

The weapons for arming new units of the NPA at the levels of the district, province and region must be obtained mainly from the enemy through ambuscades, raids and other operations. The seizure of weapons from the enemy would accelerate upon the increase of initiative, coordination and cooperation of NPA units at the provincial and regional levels.

To enable the NPA to engage in offensive campaigns with short rest periods from battles, there must be an ever expanding mass base in which the mass organizations and local organs of political power can engage in campaigns and specific activities to improve the people's social, economic, health and cultural concerns.

The campaign for land reform must be carried out well in order to win the steadfast support of the poor peasants, farm workers and lower middle peasants. The minimum land reform program can be raised higher towards the level of the maximum, depending on the strength of the NPA and the peasant movement. The campaign of mass organizing, public education, raising production, health care, defense, cultural work and settling disputes among the people must be pursued well.

The people's militia must perform police duties and the mass organizations must train units in charge of self-defense. The NPA can strengthen itself only by having a far bigger number of people in the militia and self-defense units that can serve as auxiliaries and as reserve forces. The front, provincial and regional units of the NPA, which serve as centers of gravity and/or as strike forces, can move faster and become more effective with the assistance of the organs of political power, the mass organizations and the local guerrilla units, the people's militias and the self-defense units within their respective areas of responsibility.

As well exposed in the implementation of Oplan Bantay Laya and previous national operational plans of the enemy, the number of enemy forces available for campaigns of suppression against the NPA in the countryside is limited relative to the population and the entire country. It cannot cover more than 10% of the terrain at every given time. Conversely, the NPA can move freely in more than 90% of Philippine territory. The number of enemy combat effectives can be further limited by the growing militancy of the urban mass movement and by the internecine fighting among the reactionaries in the form of coup and counter-coup threats against each other.

The NPA can take the initiative of developing armed city partisan warfare and launching special operations against enemy facilities and antipeople enterprises in order to force the enemy forces to go on guard duty and put more of its troops on the defensive. The movement of enemy units can be hampered by sapper operations, mine warfare, sniping and other small team operations. These appear to be mere pinpricks but have far reaching demoralizing effects on enemy troops.

The NPA must target for arrest and trial violators of human rights and international humanitarian law and the penal code of the people's democratic government. It must move to dismantle extremely exploitative plantations, logging-for-export enterprises, mining and other operations that grab land from the people and destroy the environment. The dismantling can be accomplished by disabling equipment, discouraging management personnel and launching tactical offensives against the armed guards. More land must be made available for land reform and food production.

In our first decade of Party expansion from 1968 to 1977, our Central Committee created and used the regional Party committees as the key instrument for organizing the Party, the NPA and the armed revolutionary mass movement nationwide. The current regional Party committees must strengthen themselves and the provincial committees directly under them. In turn, the district committees must strengthen the municipal or section committees directly under them. We must keep in mind that when a higher level of Party leadership works hard to strengthen the next lower level, the base of the Party is ultimately strengthened.

We must have an organizational plan for increasing the number of Party cadres and members for the purpose of achieving the great advance from the strategic defensive to the strategic stalemate. We need at least 200,000 Party members for this.

We need to be at the core of the people's army and to lead the work in the localities from the barrio level upwards and in the mass organizations, economic enterprises and cultural institutions. The organizational strength that we wish to develop for the great advance in the next five years will be the foundation for still greater advances in the next five years after.

We have a wide range of sources for our Party recruits. This includes the people's army and the mass organizations. From these sources, our Party must put emphasis on recruiting the advanced mass activists of the working class, peasantry and urban petty bourgeoisie. In wave upon wave of advances, we must ensure that we have the mass strength and various types of cadre capabilities necessary for winning the revolution.

We must remould and temper all our Party cadres and members through revolutionary education, hard work and arduous struggle in both rural and urban areas. We must encourage the workers and the educated youth to serve in the people's army and in the countryside. We need the most conscious and competent proletarian revolutionaries in the countryside in order to advance the people's war and at the same time prepare for the ultimate seizure of political power.

We are confident of fulfilling the ideological, political and organizational requirements for our Party to achieve the great advance from the strategic defensive to the strategic stalemate in the next five years. We must seize every minute, every day and every week for carrying out plans and the tasks assigned to us.

The crisis of the world capitalist system and the domestic ruling system, and the people's suffering and outcry for advancing the new democratic revolution in the direction of socialism and communism are urging us to do our best and achieve our utmost at every phase and stage of the struggle.

People in this conversation

  • Guest - kapirasongkritika

    Hello Mike! I'm a fan of your blog.

    I'm just wondering whether what's happening with the revolutionary movement in the Philippine can correctly be called an impasse.

    First, you failed to mention that the Philippine revolutionary movement reached a peak in the mid-80s before it weakened because of serious weaknesses and errors.

    Second, the revolutionary movement has slowly but surely gained strength in the past years, despite the severe repression under the present Arroyo regime.

    I think that the statement is pushing for greater advances, which does not mean the movement is in an impasse.

    The movement has always believed that the Philippines, along with other semicolonial, semifeudal countries, has been in a chronic crisis. The global financial and economic crisis is aggravating this crisis in a big way.

    I'm glad your blog always features news and commentaries on revolutionary movements in the world.

  • Guest - entdinglichung

    but what about this:

    "“Among the four major presidential candidates, former Senate president Villar seems to be the most patriotic and progressive insofar as he advocates the interests of Filipino businessmen, expresses sympathy for the workers and peasants and condemns human rights violations. However, it remains to be seen whether he can win and prove himself any better than his major political rivals who have bloodstained records of opposing the demands of the workers and peasants, like Aquino of Hacienda Luisita notoriety, Teodoro of being the mad dog defense secretary of Arroyo and Estrada of having a bellicose record during his failed presidency.”"


  • indeed. Pull that thread, and see what it reveals. One of the problems of the CPP approach (imho) has been an endless fixation with maneuver between the various poles of reactionary politics (as if they are constantly atoning for their traumatic irrelevance during the fall of Marcos and the rise of Aquino). Anyone have more developed thoughts on this?

  • Guest - Alex

    It is not only the undergound CPP who praises Villar - the candidates of Bayan Muna and Gabriela Womens Party (Satur Ocampo and Liza Maza) - two party-lists that are part of the legal national-democratic movement - are both senatorial candidates for Villar's Nacionalista Party. The irony is that this means they share a platform with Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr, the son of the late dictator, who also joined the NP camp. Imho, this shows a certain short-sightedness of the national-democratic. The goal is to join the camp that is most likely to win - there seems to be little other considerations. Villar is not an exception to the rule with his talk about helping the poor - all the candidates do this and as far as I can see there's no reason to assume Villar - one of the richest men in the country - is more sincere than the other opportunists. In fact, BM and GWP tried to join the campaign of Noynoy Aquino who is by far the favourite in the upcoming elections. Noynoy's campaign is based for a large part on the legacy of his mother who is still very popular (right or wrong) and his slogans and demands are part of a discours of 'human rights' and 'democracy'. If one would to take the election platforms seriously, Noynoy is at least as 'progressive' as Villar. Alas, Noynoy kept the door closed for the nat-dem candidates who, instead of running as indepedants, now joined the NP's camp. Whatever one's judgement on the use of running in elections in the Philippines, this kind of manouvering by both the CPP and the legal nat-dems makesv them lose credibility. It undermines the long-term project of spreading progressive ideas in the population and most of all, it makers it harder to politicize people around a left-wing pole. Instead, efforts are made to rally people around a bourgeois elite candidate, a move that fosters illusions in the same electoral system the CPP rejects. I'm not argiung for or against participating in elections - that is another discussion - but this approach gives the impression the nat-dem movement doesn't run in elections on its own program or to spreas progressive ideas- two things that are seriously hampered by its coalitions/support of what is called in the Philippines 'trapos' - traditional politicians. The only motive seems to be winnnig seats and the resources that accompony those. I don't blame them for trying to get resources but what kind of movement is being build with such manouvering and manipulation of people's illusions? It's not a consciously progressive and democratic movement. I think the CPP has a somewhat militaristic view of the state, as something that exists only to be smashed (which it must of imo) But the state is also a vehicle for propagating ruling class ideologies and channel dissent into safer cannels. The CPP doesn't seem to engage with this ideological side of the state and this is what, again imo, makes them choose such strange bedfellows. I don't think the CPP is trying to atone for its mistakes in the final days of the Marcos regime and thereafter.'Traumatic irrelevance' is a fitting description but Sison tries to minimize the mistakes made by the CPP in this period. Just read the interview with him in 'At home in the world' where he maintans the nat-dem movement was engaged in the mass upsurge that toppled Marcos and lasted into the first period of Aquino's presidency. So it doesn't seem that he at least has drawn many lessons from this. The CPP's maneuver between different poles of reactionary politics is not new and it didn't start after the fall of Marcos.

  • Guest - Leon

    First off, Satur Ocampo and Lisa Maza ran only as guest candidates under Villar's Nacionalista Party -- it doesn't make them in direct collusion with the son of the former dictator. They ran under the premise that the Nacionalista adopt the platforms of the Makabayan party (the coalition of the different militant partylists including Ocampo's Bayan Muna and Maza's GWP) and likewise.

    For the legal national democrats, the objectives of engaging in the elections are: 1.) to politicize the masses by engaging them in the campaign bearing the banner of progressive politics, 2.) to ensure the removal of the current state tyrant Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, and 3.) to score victories for progressive candidates such as Ocampo and Maza.

    The first reason answers the question of how national democratic forces seek engage the ideological character of the state. The election campaign is an effective vehicle for the arousing, organizing and mobilizing of the masses. Which is probably the reason why the partylist systems under the Makabayan coalition (a political formation of progressive and national democratic parties which includes Ocampo's Bayan Muna and Maza's GWP) experience heavy militarization during the elections: the state sees this as no different to the efforts of revolutionary organizations such as the CPP-NPA.

    The second reason is why the legal left seeked to form tactical alliances with the popular traditional candidates, but still based on an uncompromising platform (this is aside from the other options for power extension that Arroyo has which the people must be wary of. Why Villar? The simple answer is that Noynoy as mentioned above closed doors to the militant left. This is apparently because of anti-ND social democrats within the core of Noynoy's liberal party.

    Of course, there is still the the realistic need for resources in the electoral campaign if the third objective is to be achieved, and ensuring the victory of progressives from the national to the local government level is still of tactical importance to the legal democratic struggle.

    I gather this is why the CPP-NPA has taken interest in the 2010 elections, in the spirit of a broad, united front against the largest and most common enemy of the people: the Arroyo regime.

  • Guest - Kalovski

    Joining reactionary elections is not the end game. It is not even a fixation. This is part of the overall strategy to tactically position the revolutionary forces to further effect integrative organizing. While the armed revolutionary movement in the rural areas is gaining strength, deepening and widening their leadership and influence, building fronts and bases where undoubtedly comprador and biglandlord influence is at its weakest point, it is of utmost importance to develop an overall balance by developing a broadened legal mass movement in the cities and primary and secondary nerve centers (urban areas)among winning over strategic and tactical allies namely the national as well as petty bourgeoisies. The legal progressive mass movement do alliances based on platforms and common agenda -- issues. See the NP and Makabayan platform. The revolutionary movement still maintains lingkages with other parties specially in the local levels where the political configuration is different.

  • Guest - Kalovski

    Please read a summing up "Our Urgent Task" in the 80's and we can further discuss strategies and tactics. -K.I.;page=01

  • Guest - Alex

    Let's look at the chronology; the ND's started to negotiate with the Villar camp before Noynoy became the absolute favourite. They were already in the final stages of reaching an agreement with the NP when they broke off the cooperation with them because of the alliance of the NP with Marcos' KBL and his senatorial candidacy. The ND's stated this would compromise their stand on the recovery of Marcos' ill-gotten wealth and on the compensation of victims of human rights violations during his rule. The ND candidates were then rejected by Noynoy's campaign and officialy announced they would run as independants under the Makabayan banner. Marcos then formally left the KBL - nothing more than a empty shell anyway - and stayed in the NP campaign. Then,the ND democrates came back to the NP camp. The only thing the ND's extracted from the NP in return is that it will make work of the compensation of victims of human rights violations during the Marcos regime.

    If the reason the ND candidates where rejected from the Noynoy campaign because of the influence of anti-ND social democrats then why pretend the difference between Noynoy and Villar is that between a reactionary and the 'campaign bearing the banner of progressive politics'? Surely, you don't believe a president Villar would implement progressive policies? Like the CPP statement says, 'The major political parties and coalitions vying for offices in the 2010 elections, except Makabayan, avoid or even oppose the people’s demand for national indpendence and genuine democracy and do not criticize and repudiate “free market” globalization and the US-instigated policy of terror against the people.' So how can Villar's campaign be one to politicize people around a progressive agenda? How much room do Ocampo and Maza have to put forward a consistenly progressive agenda during the campaign while all the time relying on the campaign machinery of a fraction of the reactionary elite? The second point, the objective of the removal of Arroyo is not exactly a monopoly of Villar. Except from Teodoro, who is far behind in the polls, all major candidates run against Arroyo. Noynoy probaly the most. So this can not be reason to join the NP campaign.

    I see a contradiction between the CPP statement that any outcome of the elections will be another reactionary clique and the support of one fraction of the ruling elite against the other. The political differences that so far made or threatened to break the Villar-ND alliance are minimal. So it seems the decisive question is scoring victories for progressive candidates like Ocampo and Maza. Of course, it's possible to see this as 'just' a matter of tactics, a trade: Makabayan's substantial voter base for Villar in return for the established NP campaign machinery for BM and GWP. But if this is the case, then how does this contribute to politiczing the people around progressive demands? Even if elected, the ND candidates will remain dependent on the election machineries of fractions of the ruling classes for re-election - how much room to manouver will they have even after election?
    One problem is the role the ND's now play in fueling illusions in the NP and Villar, who skillfully uses his own personal background of poverty as proof of him being somehow 'different', and closer to the people.
    There's also the approach towards base-building this kind mavouvering between fractions of the ruling elite shows. The mass-base of Makabayan is used as a bargaining chip, the people are not involved in a consciously progressive, anti-elite campaign, they are held passive, expected to be 'just' voters. I would say there are two levels on which the ND's can vbe critized; first, instead of drawing a line between the reactionary elit and its state and the movement, the two are mixed up. And towards the movement, instead of confronting the base with the full range of political problems that have to be overcome and with to full nature of the rottenness of the system - which means that to just win a seat an alliance with representatives of the ruling elite is almost a requirement - the mass base is instrumentalized in the competion between various elite fractions.

  • Guest - Leon

    You are seeing the electoral campaign as merely one to deliver victory to Villar. The campaign involves educating the masses on the nature of elections and the importance of the partylist system and the politics of change, not one that simply promotes Villar. This then can be a formidable platform to raise the level of education to revolutionary proportions.

    It was made clear to NP that Makabayan and its candidates will not be beholden to them. Makabayan has made it clear that it only answers to the masses. The campaigns of progressives as they currently stand have not deviated from the classic formula of arousing, organizing and mobilizing. It remains to be seen how the national democrats' efforts will work out, but I have confidence what with their experience in the partylist.

  • Guest - Patrick

    Thanks for debating about this here. I want to learn more about Philippines politics but often find it quite confusing.

  • Guest - kapirasongkritika

    Alex, what faction of the Philippine Left do you hail from? I bet it's not that big, because you seem to pose a lot of abstract questions the resolution of which can be seen in practice.

    Your chronology of events is wrong. You even ommitted the fact that the NP-KBL alliance was disbanded -- and it's reasonable to think that a huge factor is getting the NDs into Villar's slate -- before the NDs joined Villar's slate.

    The Left, FYI, really exerted effort to talk to Noynoy from the moment he seemed interested to run. And who are you to say when the deal with Villar was nearing completion at that point?

    It is simply false that "The only thing the ND’s extracted from the NP in return is that it will make work of the compensation of victims of human rights violations during the Marcos regime." There are many aspects of Villar's platform that bear similarity to that of the NDs.

    Villar may renege on his promises later on, but his endorsement of a platform that is agreeable to the NDs is a good thing. Maza and Ocampo can do a lot in the campaign to promote a progressive agenda. You seem to have no experience with uniting with factions of the ruling class.

    Where was Noynoy when people were ousting Gloria? He was nowhere in sight. His mother was courageous, but Noynoy didn't play even a modest part in the campaign. Villar, at least, was part of united front discussions in the campaign against Gloria.

    The alliance with Villar holds only during the elections. If Villar gets elected, the Left will be critical of him. This is not an abstract question. If Ocampo and Maza are elected, they will push for the progressive agenda in Senate -- a sphere no Leftist of the ND kind has ever entered before. You are making problems from out of the blue. The Left allied with traditional politicians before, when they were running for Congress. But did they ever compromise?

    Excuse me. The ND is not "fuelling" illusions about Villar. It is the soc-dems and the pseudo-progressive grouplets who are creating and supporting illusions about Aquino. It is clear that only revolution will end poverty in the country.

    Who are you to say that people, that those in the "mass base" were not involved? That is simply not true. The mass base, instrumentalized? The ND mass base has the sharpest political consciousness among mass bases of political forces in the country. They simply cannot be used that way.

    Ask even ordinary members of the ND movement, and you'll be surprised at how they can defend the legal Left's endorsement of Villar.

  • Guest - Alex

    Why does it matter what faction of the Philippine left I hail from, if any? Let's just talk about facts and arguments.

    If my chronology is wrong, please point out what exactly is wrong.
    >You even ommitted the fact that the NP-KBL alliance was disbanded — and it’s reasonable to think that a huge >factor is getting the NDs into Villar’s slate — before the NDs joined Villar’s slate.
    How did I omit this? The NP-KBL alliance took shape through Marcos' involvement with the NP campaign, the KBL is an empty shell and Marcos leaving it means nothing much. Like I said, Marcos left the KBL before the ND's finally joined the NP campaign.

    >The Left, FYI, really exerted effort to talk to Noynoy from the moment he seemed interested to run.
    I know the ND's tried their best to get in Noynoy's campaign. But if its the influence of some social-democrats that prevented the ND's participation in his campaign, not his platfrom or the social forces which he represents, then why pretend there are major political differences between him and Villar?

    >And who are you to say when the deal with Villar was nearing completion at that point?
    I based myself on a press statement from Bayan Muna announcing Ocampo and Maza's (temporary) decision to run as independants that described the talks with Villar as nearing completion: "Last week, we were in the final phase of talks with Nacionalista Party standard bearer Manny Villar on the possibility of being guest candidates in the NP sentorial ticket." See Its also on the GWP site, among others.

    >It is simply false that “The only thing the ND’s extracted from the NP in return is that it will make work of the >compensation of victims of human rights violations during the Marcos regime.” There are many aspects of Villar’s >platform that bear similarity to that of the NDs.
    I said that the promise to make of work of compensation was what they got in return for joining the NP campaign after breaking off talks with Villar because of the whole Marcos/KBL thing. Granted, another concession they got was that Marcos left his KBL – a party described by Ocampo as 'moribund' anyway, so why make a big deal out of this?
    The similarities between Villar's platform and that of the ND only reinforce my point that the ND's do not make use of the campaign to politicize people around a progressive agenda. Simply stating that Villar's endorsement of a platform that is agreeable to the NDs is a good thing doesn't change this. Neither does Noynoy's non-involvement in the protests against Arroyo matter, the last thing I would suggest is that Noynoy is somehow preferable to Villar.

    Btw, the ND's also stated that the common understanding they have with Villar not only makes possible their participation in his campaign but also 'further cooperation after the elections'. So where did they say their alliance with them will only last for the election period?

    I'm aware the left made alliances with traditional politicians before. It's one thing to make a tactical alliance with a certain politician and another thing to endorse whole chunks of his programme. The legal ND's state that Villar will pursue 'meaningful reforms' and that he shares their concerns about the pursuit of a self reliant economy, acting against the killings of activists, a comprehensive and effective land distribution program, combatting corruption and numerous other issues. See the BM website:
    This position contradicts the CPP statement that started out this discussion where its predicted that any faction that takes power through the elections will carry out the same repressive and pro-imperialist policies, does it not? Either the legal ND's are sincere in this judgement of Villar or they are not. In a way, that's not even so important important because it both options amount to the same thing; spreading the notion that a president Villar will act on these issues and implement the meaningful reforms the ND's speak of. How is this not spreading illusions in Villar? The only other option is that the ND's candidates are not sincere when they say that Villar shares all these concerns, in which case they are telling lies to the masses. It may well be that only revolution will end poverty – I agree - but in the meantime they state that a candidate from the elite, backed by social forces from the ruling class and gaining power through mutual alliances with the ruling class will implement meaningful reforms. I think the chance of this happening is currently non-existent.

    >The ND mass base has the sharpest political consciousness among mass bases of political forces in
    >the country. They simply cannot be used that way.
    The mass base of the ND's will be mobilized for the campaign for Villar, who is an representative from the ruling class and will not implement meaningful reforms, with false promises. What else can you call this than instrumentalization? It's not in the interest of the masses that Villar is elected - he, Aquino, its mostly the same. The one concrete thing the ND's stand to gain from their alliance with Villar is a few seats. That's not nothing, but is it worth spreading the notion that Villar is a reformer? This tactic sacrifices the long-term goal of the builfding of a left movement for the short goal of winnig a few seats. You say I make up problems form out of the blue, but if the left doesn't engage in elections as in independant force, then how can the left ever build a movement than can also win electoral victories independant of the elite? As long as such a movement is lacking, the left canidates, wether they already have a seat or not, will depend on deals with the ruling class to succeed in elections, this is a perfectly predictable outcome of the choices made.

    Let's try and put this in a wider framework. The protests against Arroyo were substantial but could not compare to the wide-spread disapproval of her regime. Many people choose not to go the protests and the rallies never became anything like an uprising to topple the Arroyo government. The Philippine left is faced with a problem; why can so many people so strongly disapprove of Arroyo and yet the left doesn't have the capacity to actualy mobilize these people? A part of the explanation for this relative apathy is the repeated disappoinment with supporting, on the bidding of the legal left, one reactionary against the other. Why march in the streets for a left that offers no prospect than yet another traditional politician? Remember, it was Arroyo herself that was supported by the ND's during the protest against Estrada – the experience of supporting her, then experiencing her regime only to be called upon to support yet again another reactionary has clearly had demoralizing effects. Maybe you are right that the ND massbase can not simply be instrumentalized – I should expres myself more precisly: the ND leadership tries to instrumentalize its base, wether it will always succeed in this is an open question – and a large part of the base is footing with its feet by not participating in these protests.

  • Guest - Leon

    Villar differs from Aquino in that he was more open in forging an electoral alliance to achieve a broad united front against the GMA regime's attempt to hi-jack yet again the elections. To put it simply, the pronouncements of meaingful reform now can only be achieved if the people keep guard of the presidentiables' promises. While the ND movement probably shares your pragmatic view of VIllar, it does not close itself to the possibility of achieving tactical reforms. And the task of the Filipino people to continue in guarding the victor throughout his/her term still stands, so what's the problem here?

    You are also belittling the masses too much, assuming that their participation in the electoral campaign will be nothing but a machinery for Villar. Have you participated in the partylist and multi-sectoral campaigns before? The ND movement has had a fruitful experience in campaigning within a broad array of Anti-Arroyo forces, the electoral campaign would be no different in terms of flexibly meeting the commitments with tactical allies, but still sticking to the main purpose of the electoral campaign, which is to AOM (Arouse, Organize and Mobilize).

    "If the left doesn’t engage in elections as in independant force, then how can the left ever build a movement than can also win electoral victories independant of the elite?" -- The legal ND movement knows its limitations resource-wise. If it knows it can venture in reactionary NATIONAL politics (which is a infinitely harder to win as compared to partylist elections) independently, it will. But you have to wake up to the reality that an Obama is impossible in the Philippines.

    At the end of the day, the cards have been dealt and it all boils down to how the progressives will handle its campaign. If the partylists, which were once perceived by many of its supporters to be submitting to reactionary politics, was able to consolidate its mass base and campaign for an overwhelming support on the national scale, the ND campaigners will still be able to explain and AOM to its base and the masses in general. Another important idea to grasp here is that AOM doesn't end with the elections: it continues beyond as we take close watch of how the new regime perpetuates itself and as we raise the level of awareness of the masses. Remember that the Left campaigns with this idea in mind.

    As an aside, much of your cynicism seems to stem from the fact that you aren't immersed yourself in the left movement here in the Philippines. It is easy to jump to the conclusion that the Left here have deviated into a compromising opportunist, with the coming elections in context. But so long as the Left maintains itself, both in theory and in practice, as completely independent from reactionaries, and so long as the revolutionaries in the countryside continue to grow and struggle, I do not see a problem here.

  • Guest - Alex

    I don't want to this discussion to spiral into a pointless game of yes or no. I stated why I think it's incorrect to pretend that Villar's campaign presents something different and something 'progressive'. So far, there have been two arguments for this assesment of him; 1. that he was active in the anti-Arroyo movement and 2. that he was more open for making electoral alliances. Neither of these are particulary unique for Villar and neither has something to do with the positive prospects the legal ND's now sketch for his candidacy. The presidential elections and the ongoing political struggles are the ruling class' method for channeling the intra-elite competition over the spoils, hardly an unique Philippine situation of course. But, unlike many other countries, large parts of the Philippine elite are used to taking the extra-parlementary route from time to time. That is why also rightwing forces supported ousting Estrada and now large parts of the elite support calls to oust Arroyo. Villar's participation in this campaign does not make him anything like a progressive. Neither does his openess for making deals, both with the extreme right and the left.

    It's one thing to support the legal ND's involvement with him on the basis of pragmatic reasoning like the limitations of the legal ND's machinery and the fact that he, at least, was willing to make a deal with them. But what all of this amounts to is that the legal ND's made an alliance with a reactionary like any other, apparantly based on the question: 'What alliance has the most chance of winning seats?'. The argument that the election campaign is being used for the purpose of raising awareness is not convincing as long as part of the same campaign is painting Villar and his candidacy as steps to meaningful reforms and pretending this kind of reforms is even possible through a traditional campaign. This is the main point of my criticism and so far it has not been engaged. Is there any reason to believe Villar is really all the positive things the legal ND's say he is?

    The keyquestion of any arousing or organizing 'the masses' (btw, I find it problematic when leftists talk about the masses as if this is a homogenous group that somehow stands apart from them) is 'to what end?'. I'll be blunt; it's impossible to raise awareness of the structural necessity of revolution in the Philippines if the same people who argue this also say Villar will make reforms toward a self-sufficient economy, ending the repression et cetera et cetera and that a traditional politician could do all of this. You can not say 'A' one day and 'B' the next.

    I'm not 'belittling the masses' or being cynical here. People dó realize the ND movement is making contradictory statements - and the contradiction between the CPP statement on the elections and the legal ND's praise for Villar is especially glaring. This is why I raised the disappointing size of the recent anti-Arroyo protests, a disappointment caused in part I think by the ND's approach to trapos in the past. The left should not just ignore developments like that, a succes in the electoral arena doesn't erase failures in the streets...
    It's possible that the representation of the legal ND's in the electoral field will grow. They are in many ways still the best option avalaible for the people. But we need to take a longer view than just the elections. The elected representatives have very little real power as soon as they go against the interests of the ruling class - that is easy to see in any parlementary bourgois democracy and it's probably even more true for the Philippines which is not a fully functioning parlementary democracy like the Scandinivian countries.

    It's striking how the same arguments that the social-democrats from Akbayan use to participate in the Aquino campaign are used to defend the ND involvement in Villar's campaign; 'engage in the campaign and after the election, the people have to keep guard that the candidate remains true to his promises.' But how will the people do this? Doesn't recent history show the people exactly lack this capacity to keep the president in check? Are there really no lessons learned from supporting Arroyo?

    I find it belittling and cynical to make alliances based an pragmatic considerations and a a goal of winning seats and then pretending the NP campaign is something its not. I think what Amilcar Cabral once wrote stands true; "Hide nothing from the masses of our people. Tell no lies. Expose lies whenever they are told. Mask no difficulties, mistakes, failures. Claim no easy victories."

  • Guest - Leon

    To your main point of criticism:

    It's obvious that if ever Villar ascends to presidency, he will still be shackled by Imperialism, even as he currently advances the interests of the national bourgeoisie with progressive tendencies as demonstrated in the NP's mutual acceptance of platforms with Makabayan. Remember that the national bourgeoisie also vacillates from being tactical allies to class enemies when put in a position of power, but for Villar to renege even from the minimum reforms expected of him would be political suicide. But as of now, his openness remains indicative of his progressive leaning.

    Historically, there have also been achievements in forging tactical alliances with segments of the reactionary ruling elite, such as the two People Power revolutions, or more contemporarily, the Senate's hand in shooting down attempts at Charter Change, the sustained questioning of the Visiting Forces Agreement, pushing for tougher regulations in the telecommunications industry, the environment, and various other popular issues and concerns. Under any reactionary administration, this is possible, but as mentioned time and again, Villar has been the most responsive in seeing that these platforms be addressed. Despite this, the CPP suggests, "it remains to be seen whether he can win and prove himself any better than his major political rivals..."

    There is no reason to remain completely cynical of what changes we can achieve, given that we understand these to be tactical i.e. minimal. Aren't minimal gains meaningful? It is meaningful as it alleviates the situation of the people in the short term, and tactical changes are not wasted so long as the means of achieving strategic change continues to be pursued by revolutionary forces in the countryside.


    You continue to assert that the ND movement supported Arroyo. That is a fallacy, and as such is not the reason to what is perceived to be "lukewarm" support from the middle class insofar as ouster campaigns are concerned. Surely, there are shortcomings in not being able to advance the ouster campaign despite popular disapproval of the current regime, but that's a completely different story.

    You say "it’s impossible to raise awareness of the structural necessity of revolution in the Philippines if the same people who argue this also say Villar will make reforms toward a self-sufficient economy, ending the repression et cetera et cetera and that a traditional politician could do all of this."

    Going back to Ocampo and Maza's joint statement, the unities between the Makabayan and NP are mutual agreements to pursue meaningful change in the issues mentioned. Nowhere in there can you find a promise that the full achievement of the reforms asked for is already set in stone. I would gather that someone more open in talks would also be more open in achieving some of the reforms they have promised in their campaign. Otherwise, again, it would be political suicide.

    It is commendable that you are concerned of the chance that progressives be hijacked by Villar into nothing but an apparatus in his machinery, but I do believe the legal ND movement has had enough experience in traversing broad, united movements. It all boils down to how Makabayan will be able to explain the particularities of their support to Villar as the campaign goes.

  • Guest - Alex

    A last comment I think. It's of course possible to put your trust in the ND's choices, to check your brains at the door as it were. But that's not a productive approach to politics, saying the consequences of choices made now are all still up in the air and depend on the ND's handling of them won't contribute to solving the impasse the Philippine left is in or help prepare for future dilemmas.
    Nor is the setting up of false dichotomies very helpful - I'm making the assessment that Villar is not going to deliver reforms, that is not the same as disparaging the possibility of reforms all together. I'm making this assessment on the basis of Villar's background and most of all the social base of his party and the most influential parts of his supporters; the ruling class that is in full cahoots with imperialism anyway. To point at just his promises, as if this somehow opens the door to other possibilities, is a form is idealism.

    Regarding the ND's support for Arroyo: during the protests against Estrada the ND's joined the movement to topple him that had Arroyo as its alternative. Forces that made the correct assesment that she would be no different were violenty critized for 'dividing the movement'. The ND's were in a 'broad, united front' with one part of the elite against the other part. In Ang Bayan the alliance of the ND's with parts of the elite, including Arryo, was called a 'tactical alliance between the patriotic and democratic forces and reactionaries who are not in power'. We all know had that ended: Estrada ousted by the same movement that brought Arroyo to power. No progress for the people of the Philippines was made and the optimistic prediction that Arroyo would never dare to be as repressive as Estrada, after seeing how he could be ousted, was proven completely wrong.
    It's true that the predictions that Arroyo could just be another reactionary accompanied these statements. In this sense, it was a more realistic of assessment her than is now being made of Villar who is being lauded already as a progressive, as if he has done anything to prove this. Reading old issues from the CPP's Ang Bayan I came across this quote; "It is a huge reformist illusion to say that “genuine change in the political system” can be achieved outside the framework of the revolutionary overthrow of the reactionary ruling system." So long as the praxis and statements of the whole ND movement, whether legal or underground, are this contradictory there's little hope that the rev. left will come out of its impasse.

  • Guest - Leon

    So what faction of the Philippine left do you hail from again? Pinpoint your ideology so we can understand why you can't seem to grasp the concept of the broadest unity of the masses to remove the top kernels of the ruling class.

    Also, you'd do well to read this blog from one of the partylist representatives under the Makabayan. It answers all your misgivings about the left's tactical engagements: Cheers.

  • Guest - sue wael

    Palatino's piece merely states that we should view the alliance with Villar in this manner: that at least he was willing to ally himself with the ND Left.

    That's starting from the point of view of a bureaucrat capitalist -- to use the NDs own terminology.

    It is one thing for the legal ND organizations to endorse Villar; it is another for the CPP to do it. This distinction has always existed in the Philippine movement; alas, no more. The CPP has reduced its entire organization into an election machinery for a bureaucrat capitalist, a CLASS ENEMY, in sham reactionary elections which are basically a contest between wings of the ruling class.

    Ironically, in the same 41st anniversary statement, the CPP called for punishment of corrupt government officials, of bureaucrat capitalists, etc., etc., then turns around and endorses one such. Villar's rags-to-riches biography is narrative of corruption, landgrabbing and demolitions of the houses of the poor. He's not better than any other politician of the reactionary state. He is worse, showing himself to be without any shred of honesty -- turning around within 24 hours to ally himself with the Marcoses, as soon as Bayan Muna's Satur Ocampo pronounced him to be "free of exploitative labor practices."


    The revolutionary movement of the Philippines managed to survive this long because it was, to a large extent, unwavering in its commitment to principles; that changed in 2001, with Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. It's gotten worse with Villar.

  • Guest - Katha

    Well, I do believe the debate will go nowhere if one faction sticks to the realities of Philippine society and the other views it in such a moralistic manner. I just can't understand why we're so engrossed with the uncomfortable (at least to some) way the revolutionary movement traverses through the factionalisms of the ruling class when the NPA have been achieving one Tactical Offensive across the nation after the other.

    Never mind that it has been taking high-powered rifles and emerging victorious with TO's in places where the AFP pronounces that the NPA have been completely cleared off. Never mind that the legal left's engagement with mainstream bourgeois parties such as Villar's NP has resulted in making them accountable for stress issues in the Left's platforms like land reform and labor rights.

    Seriously though. There is no debate possible here. One side believes the rev movement has deviated from revolutionary principles. The other believes its dual tactics are on the right track. Check out the NPA's 41st anniversary statement and see if the revolutionary movement is indeed on the wrong track insofar as their mass base and membership's growth is concerned. Who knows, the theoretical/conceptual musings of some of our "left" friends here just might be lacking in concrete analysis of conditions.

  • Guest - Gary

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