The Philippine Revolution and the National Question

63 mins read
Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chairman
International Network for Philippine Studies
February 15, 1996

May I convey warmest greetings of solidarity to all the participants in the International Seminar on the Nationality Question.  I am deeply pleased and honored to be invited as one of the lecturers. And I am thankful to the All India People’s Resistance Forum for the invitation.

I regret that for an unavoidable reason I cannot attend the seminar. However, I am contributing a paper about the Philippine revolution and the nationality question.

The nationality question can be dealt with only in historical terms.  It involves correctly relating the political, socioeconomic and cultural aspects of nationality as well as the whole national formation, its parts and the world.  In its origination and development, Philippine or Filipino nationality is first of all a political concept that has arisen and developed from the necessity of uniting and activating the entire people of various social conditions and cultural traits in the anticolonial and then the anti-imperialist struggles for national independence and democracy.

To this day, the Marxist-Leninist teachings on the nationality question are our best guide.  There is yet no experience more advanced than that of Lenin, Stalin and Mao in successfully dealing with the nationality question in the course of overthrowing the counterrevolutionary state and establishing and building socialism. It is to the credit of all the great Marxist-Leninist builders of socialism that it took the modern revisionists a considerable period of time and effort both in the social-imperialist center and in its neocolonies to completely destroy the national formations under proletarian class dictatorship and to cast away the bonds of proletarian internationalism.

1.  The Philippine Revolution of 1896 and Filipino Nationality

The Philippine revolution of 1896, whose centennial the Filipino people are celebrating this year, had the distinction of being the first bourgeois democratic revolution to overthrow a Western colonial power in Asia. It was guided by the bourgeois liberal ideology.  It was for national liberation against Spanish colonial domination and racial oppression.  It was for democracy not only in terms of civil and political liberties for individuals, associations and the people but also in terms of being opposed to the feudal oppression inflicted on the people, chiefly by  the Spanish religious corporations, the biggest landlords in the country then.

As a concept and historical force, Filipino nationality was originally the product of the revolutionary movement of the people led by the revolutionary organization Katipunan. Previously, the Spanish colonialists referred to their colonial native subjects as indios or indigenes and to the Philippine-born Spaniards as Filipinos.  It was in a manifesto that the revolutionaries categorically appropriated the term Filipino to refer to the entire colonized people of various ethnolinguistic communities in the struggle for national liberation.  Previously, the Katipunan leaders and common people often referred to themselves as Tagalog, Malay, or lahing kayumanggi (brown race) and the reformists in the propaganda movement in Spain as indios bravos (noble indios).

Filipino nationality was first of all a political-revolutionary term and at the same time it all-roundedly carried political, socioeconomic and cultural significance and content.  It denoted the revolutionary will and movement of the people to establish the first nation-state encompassing the entire archipelago.  It was essentially in the manifestoes and decrees of the Katipunan and the Philippine revolutionary government, in the proclamation of Philippine independence on June 12, 1898 and in the Philippine Constitution of 1899.

The Philippine Revolution of 1896, which lofted the concept of Filipino nationality, was the product of a long series of armed uprisings of the people in various localities through more than 300 years of Spanish colonial rule.  More than 200 uprisings had taken place, at first sporadically and then increasing in scale, intensity and duration.  The Spanish colonialists could continue their colonial rule for as long as there was yet no national consciousness and no nationwide revolutionary mass movement to wage the anticolonial resistance.  It was in the 19th century, especially within its last three decades,  that Filipino national consciousness spread throughout the archipelago.

National consciousness arose in response to the intensification of colonial, feudal and racial oppression.  The people started to realize that they must rise up as a new nation in armed revolution in order to liberate themselves from the foreign oppressors. National sentiment and aspirations became defined in terms of achieving national independence from Spanish colonialism and establishing a modern nation-state.  This was in repudiation of the reformist demand in the Propaganda Movement for the Philippines to become a regular province of Spain in order to enable the native people in the archipelago to acquire rights and duties under the 1812 liberal Cadiz Constitution of Spain.

In the course of the revolutionary struggle against Spanish colonialism from 1896 to 1898 and then against US imperialism from 1899 onward, the Filipinos of the Malay race, the mestizos (with Chinese and Spanish blood) and non-Malay ethnic communities united and participated in the struggle for national liberation and democracy. They were bound by socioeconomic relations, by a lingua franca and growing mutual respect for each other in every region and by a long-running resentment over and resistance to colonial impositions.

 Upon the coming of Spanish colonialism, the Malay people, who according to anthropologists, had been in the Philippines around 500 BC with an iron age culture, comprised more than 85 percent of the one million population and inhabited the seacoasts and banks of big rivers.  Generally, they had small scale communities of the patriarchal slave form of society.  They belonged to more than 100 ethnolinguistic communities but the overwhelming majority of them belonged to the biggest eight ethnolinguistic communities: Ilocano, Pangasinan, Kapampangan, Tagalog, Bisaya, Ilonggo, Waray and Maguindanao.

It was possible for the Spanish colonialists to conquer by armed force and convert some communities into Christianity and then conscript troops from one locality in order to further carry out the conquest and conversion of another locality from the late 16th century onward because the native people were characteristically divided into so many independent small societies and scores of ethnolinguistic communities.

The highest sociopolitical formation attained in the archipelago before the coming of the Spaniards were the Islamic sultanates in southwestern Mindanao whose population then comprised around 4 percent of the population of the entire Philippine archipelago. These sultanates had been established since at least the 15th century.  They carried the elements of slave and feudal societies and were the most conscious and best organized to engage in prolonged armed resistance against the Spanish conquest.  The Spaniards derisively called them Moros in recollection of the Catholic reconquista against the Moors in the Spanish peninsula and for a long time systematically roused the Christianized population against them.

The Spaniards also had great difficulties in extending their rule to the upland hill tribes which comprised some 10 percent of the population. They were in the main descendants of pre-Malay inhabitants (the so-called Austronesians with a neolithic culture) who had started to be in the  archipelago since at least 5000 BC.  Like the Moros of southwestern Mindanao, the Igorot tribes (currently presumed to have been in the archipelago since the first Christian millennium) continuously resisted attempts of the Spaniards to occupy the Cordilleras in Northern Luzon and to open gold mines there until the last quarter of the 19th century.

Also, the Spaniards simply did not have enough troops and priests to go into the areas of the Lumads in Mindanao and found no necessity to conquer and proselytize among the nomadic forest-based and food-gathering aborigines, the Negritos, who comprised less than one percent of the population.  The Negritoes or Aetas are the most probable earliest people in the Philippines.  Archaeological evidence shows that the islands were inhabited by people since 22,500 BC. But human fossils and associated artifacts of the Tabon cave man do not indicate the racial stock.

Long before the coming of Spanish colonialism, the people in the Philippine archipelago had commercial and cultural connections with the rest of the Malay people, who were earlier and more heavily influenced by Hindu and Arab culture, and with the Arab, Indochinese and Chinese traders. Islamic proselytization had been extended from southwestern Mindanao to the Visayas and Luzon only a few decades before the coming of the Spanish colonialists. Trade with the Chinese became so brisk that a few of them stayed on as permanent residents, very often intermarrying with the native women.

The Spanish colonialists encouraged the residence of Chinese traders and artisans.  They were most interested in the trade of goods between Mexico and China via the galleon trade via the Manila-Acapulco route long before the opening of the Suez Canal in 1815.  But almost every 30 years on the average they roused the native population to engage in racial pogroms against the Chinese in the environs of the walled city of Manila.

To achieve their oppressive and exploitative purposes, the Spanish colonialists imposed a centralized system of administration on the colonized people and laid out a network of Spanish lay administrators and priests to control them.  In more than 300 years of colonial rule, Spain developed a colonial and feudal society in the Philippines. The owners of the best and biggest estates were the religious corporations and the colonial bureaucrats, the religious corporations and the foreign merchant companies dominated commerce, especially foreign trade.

At the end of Spanish colonial rule, the social structure of the native population was as follows:  the top class were the landlords who concentrated on the production of staple crops; the intermediate strata, which included the small entrepreneurs, master craftsmen, merchants and the few professionals; and the basic exploited classes, which included a huge peasant class comprising more than 90 percent and a working class comprising no more than 5 percent and consisting of workers in transport, printing, wood, tobacco, food processing and the like.

2. Filipino Nationality under US Imperialism

The bourgeois-democratic revolution of the old type led by the liberal bourgeoisie in alliance with the native landlords against the Spanish colonialists and religious landlords was eventually frustrated by US imperialism.  The US prevailed in the Filipino-American war from 1899 to 1902 by using its military superiority, directly and indirectly causing the death of 10 percent of the seven million Filipino people, and by issuing the proclamation of “benevolent assimilation” which promised autonomy and liberal reforms in order to coopt the dominant bourgeois liberal ideas in the revolutionary leadership and to split the revolutionary movement.

The main forces of the Philippine revolutionary army were broken in 1902.  But armed resistance continued or reemerged in substantial parts of Luzon and the Visayas until 1910.  When this dwindled, the US military forces increasingly paid attention to the Moro provinces.  The Moro people fought heroically but were completely defeated in 1916 and brought under US colonial administration.

The US imposed its own colonial rule on the Philippines, banned all expressions of Filipino patriotism and promoted a blatantly counterrevolutionary political party of native puppets that espoused assimilation into the U.S. federal state.  Due to the people’s irrepressible resistance and demands for national independence, however, the US colonial regime would subsequently allow the formation of a political party among another set of puppet politicians who grabbed the slogan of “absolute, immediate and complete independence” but who in fact pushed the reformist line of begging for the grant of national independence by the colonial master in order to avert armed revolution.

The revolutionary concept of national independence along the bourgeois liberal line in 1896 was at first suppressed, then reinterpreted and divorced from the requisite of armed revolution and ultimately became subordinated to a pro-imperialist kind of bourgeois liberalism, masking the power of US monopoly capitalism.  The prevailing framework was for the US to teach “democracy” to the Filipino people and train them in self-rule before nominal independence was to be granted to the US-trained puppet politicians, bureaucrats and professionals. The US cleverly used the public school system and the Catholic and Protestant missionaries to bring the people in the remotest areas under US colonial administration and counter the influence of the Philippine revolution.

A pro-imperialist bourgeois-liberal concept of Filipino nationality prevailed under US colonialism as the US developed a semifeudal type of society.  The US promoted the more efficient production of certain agricultural crops for export, opened mines and introduced US companies in the manufacture of certain products for domestic consumption.  It improved the system of transport and communications. It expanded and encouraged the public and private educational system in correspondence with the expanded requirements of the bureaucracy and business under modern imperialism.  Unlike old-type colonialism, which engaged in sheer plunder to serve the primitive accumulation of capital in the West, foreign monopoly capitalism delivered surplus goods and capital from abroad in order to extract maximum profit from the colony.

The social structure among the people changed.  The comprador big bourgeoisie among the natives and permanent residents, including the Spanish and Chinese descendants of the colonial ruling class, arose as the most wealthy and powerful basic exploiting class and acted as the principal financial and commercial agent of the foreign monopoly capitalists.  At the same time, the landlord class was retained and remained as the more widespread basic exploiting class.  The intermediate social strata expanded and included the national bourgeoisie limited to light manufacturing of goods for domestic consumption and the urban petty bourgeoisie.  Among the basic exploited classes, the working class expanded but the peasantry remained as the most numerous exploited class.

Inspired by the national consciousness as Filipinos, the people of various ethnolinguistic communities, religions and races, persevered in various forms of struggle for national independence.  The struggle for national independence against imperialism favored and forged a revolutionary sense of national unity.  From decade to decade under US colonial rule, the most progressive of the workers and peasant organizations carried the political demand for national independence in combination with their social and economic class demands.  They launched strikes and other forms of mass actions. There were outbreaks of armed resistance in every decade.

When organized for the first time under the guidance of Marxism-Leninism in 1930, the Communist Party of the Philippines made the call for national independence but simplistically focused on the contradiction between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie.  It neither stressed sufficiently the need to gain genuine national independence nor succeeded in making a profound analysis of Philippine society and revolution.  Nonetheless, in a few months’ time, it was suppressed. When it was legalized in 1937 and it merged with the Socialist Party in 1938, it accepted the US-approved Philippine Constitution of 1935 and the Commonwealth government as the transition form of government towards the US grant of independence in 1946, as provided for by the US Tydings-McDuffie Law of 1935.

Among the Filipino communists, there was yet no complete clarity about all the basic requirements of the new-democratic revolution both in theory and in practice.  However, in opposition to the Japanese invasion and occupation of the Philippines in World War II, the merger party of communists and socialists were able to take the political lead against imperialist Japan in the Central Luzon region, waged armed struggle and carried out land reform. As a result of the armed struggle against the Japanese invaders, the revolutionary forces became strong enough to be considered by US imperialism and the local reactionaries as the principal threat to them.  And yet the merger party never withdrew its reformist support for the US grant of independence and readily adopted the slogan of “peace and democracy” after World War II.

In the course of the patriotic armed resistance during World War II, the Filipinos of various ethnolinguistic communities, including the aboriginal Aeta clans and hill tribes of the Itnegs, Igorots, Mangyans, Lumads and the like, participated actively and fiercely in the guerrilla warfare against the Japanese collaborators. The Japanese grant of nominal independence to the Philippines ahead of the US version failed to deceive the people and only incited them to fiercer national resistance.

As soon as the US imperialists returned to the Philippines within the last year of World War II in the Pacific, they carried out a policy of using their troops and their puppets to suppress the armed revolutionary movement, reconcile the pro-US and pro-Japanese reactionaries, dismantle the provisional provincial and municipal governments proclaimed in Central Luzon by the revolutionary movement and undo the land reform carried out there by the revolutionaries during the war.  As if blind to the determination of the US and local reactionaries to wipe out the revolutionary movement, the old merger party of communists and socialists decided to convert the People’s Army against Japan (Hukbalahap) into a veterans’ association and a legal peasantassociation to engage solely or mainly in parliamentary struggle.

In the aftermath of the 3-year Japanese occupation of the Philippines in World War II, the US granted nominal independence to the Philippines on July 4, 1946 and thereby shifted from direct colonial to indirect semicolonial rule over the Philippines.  Responsibility for administration was turned over to the representatives of the local exploiting classes of big compradors and landlords.  At that time, the Philippine population had risen to 17 million, despite the loss of one million Filipino lives in World War II.

The US had no choice but to grant nominal independence in 1946 not only because it was bound by the Tydings-McDuffie Law and the long historical train of popular demand for national independence but also because it wanted to head off the armed revolutionary movement for national liberation.  This became more assertive and militant after the  imperialists and local reactionaries frustrated the  reformist and revisionist line. They expelled from Congress the elected communist and progressive noncommunist representatives who had run for office under the banner of the Democratic Alliance in 1946.  A patriotic war for national liberation and democracy, led by the merger party of communists and socialists,  ensued until the main revolutionary forces were defeated in the early ’50s.

In granting sham national independence, the US retained its all-round economic, political, military and cultural power over the Philippines. It preserved and expanded the property rights of US corporations and citizens in the Philippines; it kept its military bases; it made the armed forces of the neocolonial state dependent on the Pentagon; it continued to manipulate the reactionary parties and advise and direct the bureaucracy; and in so many ways it superimposed cultural imperialism on the Philippines.  The US kept the Philippines in neocolonial subordination not only in the framework of bilateral relations but  also in the framework of regional and global relations under the hegemony of US imperialism.

Among the colonies in Asia, the Philippines was the first to be granted nominal independence by a Western colonial power after World War II.  For 25 years the US touted the Philippines as the show window of democracy until 1972 when martial rule was imposed on the Filipino people upon the instigation of the US. Nonetheless, the Philippines continued to be the model of neocolonial subservience to foreign monopoly capitalism.

3.  The New-Democratic Revolution and Filipino Nationality

Since the ’60s, the proletarian revolutionaries responsible for reestablishing the CPP on the theoretical foundation of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought have clarified as never before the character of Philippine society as semicolonial and semifeudal, the character of the Philippine revolution as national-democratic of the new type, the motive forces of the revolution such as the proletariat, the peasantry and other patriotic and progressive strata of Philippine society, the targets of the revolution such as the comprador big bourgeoisie and the landlord class, the national-democratic and socialist stages of the revolution, the current national-democratic tasks and the socialist perspective of the Philippine revolution.

The ongoing national-democratic revolution in the Philippines is a resumption of the old democratic revolution in the sense that it struggles for national liberation and democracy in the entire Philippines.   But the struggle is at a new and higher level. The class leadership no longer belongs to the bourgeoisie or any of its stratum but to the working class whose advanced detachment, the Communist Party of the Philippines, follows the ideological line of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and pursues the general line of new-democratic revolution through protracted people’s war.  In the era of modern imperialism and proletarian revolution, it is only under the class leadership of the proletariat that the struggle for national liberation can be completed and that the struggle for land reform can be realized as the main substance of democracy.

At this time, the class proportions in the structure in Philippine semicolonial and semifeudal society have become as follows:  the basic exploiting classes of big compradors and landlords are a mere fraction of one percent, the intermediate stratum of the national bourgeoisie is some one percent and that the urban petty-bourgeoisie is 6 to 8 percent and the basic exploited classes of workers and peasants are 14 percent and 76 percent, respectively.  This class structure has basically persisted from 1968 when the Philippine population was still 36 million to the present when the population is already 71 million, especially because of the deterioration of the socioeconomic conditions during the Marcos and post-Marcos regimes.

The CPP adheres to the line that the big comprador-landlord state must be overthrown through armed revolution and replaced by a people’s democratic state.  Accordingly, the character of Filipino nationality must change politically, socially and culturally. The CPP criticizes and repudiates the counterrevolutionary line of the imperialists and the local exploiting classes that the bourgeois concepts of nation-state and Filipino nationality are unchanging and irreplaceable, that these permanently transcend, gloss over or reconcile exploiting and exploited classes and that these are expressible only in abstract terms such as individuals, associations and the state, with constitutional rights and duties unrelated to imperialism and the exploiting classes.

The CPP and the revolutionary movement of the Filipino people are fighting for the overthrow of the existing counterrevolutionary state which is the joint class dictatorship of the comprador big bourgeoisie and landlord class and for the establishment of a people’s democratic state under the leadership of the working class.  The character and concrete content of Filipino nationality under the people’s democratic state are radically different from those under the big comprador-landlord state.

It is of crucial importance to know the differences because there are reformists and revisionists who masquerade as Marxist-Leninists and who cannot think of nationality beyond the confines of the big comprador-landlord state because in the first place they do not wish to overthrow such a state and do not recognize at all the need to establish the people’s democratic state.  Every time there is resistance to the existing counterrevolutionary state, they denounce this automatically as an attack on national unity which is in fact the social system ruled by the exploiting classes.

The CPP’s Program for a People’s Democratic Revolution clearly defines what constitutes the Filipino nation and the Filipino people, as including all the patriotic and progressive classes and strata and excluding the comprador big bourgeoisie and landlord class whose loyalty is to foreign monopoly capitalism and to themselves.

In waging the national-democratic revolution through a protracted people’s war, the CPP is building  the people’s army as the main component of democratic state power and is building the local organs of democratic political power among the people.  It is building a new state even while the big comprador-landlord state is still well-entrenched in the cities.  Since 1972, the building of revolutionary state power has been guided by the Rules for Establishing the People’s Democratic Government.

There are now thousands of local organs of political power, especially at the village and municipal levels.  At levels higher than those at which organs of political power have not yet been organized, the CPP Central Committee is responsible for governmental leadership. The National Democratic Front has the task  of assisting in the formation of the organs of political power and has also been authorized to engage in diplomatic and other international relations.

The CPP considers the political revolution as the most important prerequisite to the making of the people’s democratic state and the new Filipino nationality.  In connection with the political revolution, which involves the overthrow of the old counterrevolutionary state and the establishment of the new revolutionary state, the socioeconomic and cultural revolutions are carried out.  The political, socioeconomic and cultural aspects of the people’s democratic revolution result in the further revolutionary development of the character and content of Filipino nationality.

In the social revolution, the relations of production are so arranged that foreign monopoly capitalism and the local exploiting classes are overthrown and cease to exploit the working people and that the forces of production are liberated. The land problem is solved and national industrialization is carried out.  The nationalization of the industrial means of production, sources of raw materials and major lines of distribution, land reform and cooperativization of agriculture and the temporary concessions to small and medium producers are done to facilitate and not to obstruct and delay the socialist transformation of the economy and society.

In the cultural revolution, a national, scientific and mass culture is promoted under the guidance of Marxism-Leninism. The national cultural heritage must be cherished to serve the present.  The scientific outlook and education must be propagated to let the nation learn and benefit from the outside and advance materially and spiritually with the rest of the world and must combat imperialism, chauvinism, religious obscurantism, bourgeois decadence and racism. Culture must serve the people, especially the working people.

The national language, which is Manila-based Tagalog, and the literature in this language must be vigorously promoted to replace English as the principal domestic language in the Philippines and  the local languages and literature must be respected, cherished and promoted and not to be the target of any chauvinist discrimination. However, English may still remain as the No.1 foreign language of the country for international intercourse.

So far, the reactionaries have used the English language, rather than the officially designated national language, as the principal medium in bureaucratic communications, legislation, judicial proceedings, education, public information and all other fields and as an instrument for the exploiting classes to browbeat and discriminate against the exploited classes.

The revolutionaries have promoted the use of the national language to facilitate nationwide revolutionary communication and understanding in opposition to the absurd primacy of English over the national language  within the country.  They have demonstrated that the national language is a beautiful language in literature and is a precise language in any kind of discourse.

At the same time, they use and promote whatever is the language of any locality because the point is to arouse, organize and mobilize the people immediately for the new-democratic revolution.  So far, in recent times, the imperialists and the local exploiting classes have failed to generate any widescale communal conflicts from ethnolinguistic, racial, religious or other cultural differences by way of dividing and ruling the people.  The people have a high sense of Filipino nationality as a consequence of the old-democratic revolution, the continuing opposition to foreign domination be it old colonial or modern imperialist and, of course, the new-democratic revolution.

Discrimination due to ethnolinguistic differences is subdued by the development of social, political, economic and cultural relations and by the now widespread acceptance of the national language in addition to the much earlier acceptance of a lingua franca on a regional or provincial scale.

Malay chauvinism, usually against Negritos and the Chinese is subdued by a number of factors.  The Negritoes stand up for their rights and participate in the revolutionary movement against the oppressors and exploiters.  Some Chinese have adopted Filipino nationality in an all-round sense, whether or not they retain their distinctive cultural traits.  Other Chinese have legally opted for citizenship in the People’s Republic of China since the latter half of the ’70s.  The Chinese have their own cultural and commercial associations and tend to cluster in residential and commercial areas in various cities.

Christian chauvinism is usually directed against the Muslims and the animists who are derided as heathens.  But it is counteracted by the forces of the national-democratic revolution movement and by the people of various religious beliefs who uphold the freedom of belief.   They have so far frustrated every major attempt of the reactionaries to rouse Christian chauvinism against the Moros. But the imperialists and their local agents persist in trying to build political parties and movements based on religion and directed against the new-democratic revolution.

In principle, policy and concrete practice, the CPP has exerted the utmost effort to put into full play in the new-democratic revolution the unity and militant participation of the Filipino people with diverse customs, race, languages, religious affiliation and other cultural traits.  In more than 27 years of revolutionary struggle since its reestablishment on December 26, 1968, the CPP has surpassed all previous revolutionary and patriotic movements in going to the remotest areas and going deep among the native inhabitants and the poor settlers there.

The reasons are obvious.  The people there are the most oppressed, exploited and neglected by the counterrevolutionary state and are exceedingly interested in the new democratic revolution. Even as they are being rapidly dispossessed of land and other natural resources by the foreign monopoly capitalists and the local exploiting classes, they still inhabit an extensive and rough terrain suitable for guerrilla warfare in the protracted people’s war.  They have valiantly fought against the enemy and withstood the most brutal campaigns of suppression and genocide, including bombardments, arson and forced mass evacuations.

The CPP and the revolutionary movement unite the native inhabitants and the poor settlers against the foreign and domestic agrocorporations, the bureaucratic and military landgrabbers and speculators, the logging firms, the big ranchers, the mining firms and other types of “development” aggressors who grab the land and despoil the environment.  The right of the native inhabitants to their ancestral land is upheld and defended.  At the same time, the poor settlers who have come to the hinterland and stayed for generations are accommodated.

4.  The Right to Self-Determination Among the Minorities

The CPP and the revolutionary movement recognize the right to self-determination of the national minorities, including the right to secede from an oppressive state and the right to autonomy under a nonoppressive state.  The principle of self-determination is an inalienable right.  The right is always there to be invoked and exercised whenever there is the need to struggle against oppression, to promote the legitimate interest of a community and to demand and undertake affirmative action.

But the right cannot be justly invoked nor exercised in order to deliver a community to the imperialists and the counter-revolutionaries or to serve micro-chauvinism, ethnocentrism, racism, counterrevolutionary localism, cultural nationalism, religious and other cultural prejudice against the common interest of the Filipino nation. The forces of the national-democratic revolution criticize and repudiate those imperialist and reactionary forces that superimpose cultural nationalism on political and social questions in order to slander and attack the revolutionary movement and prevent the people with various cultural traits to participate in the national-democratic revolution.

In opposition to the revolutionary political concept of Filipino nationality as encompassing all the people in the Philippine archipelago of whatever ethnolinguistic, religious, racial or other cultural affiliation, some ideologues and propagandists of the imperialists and reactionaries try to drum up the notions that only those who have been Christianized, Hispanized or Westernized are Filipinos and that, according to their counterrevolutionary definition, Filipinos are intrinsically chauvinist or colonialist (relative to the upland people and the Moro people) even when promoting the national revolutionary consciousness and unity of the entire Filipino people against the imperialists and their local lackeys.

The objective of the enemies of the national-democratic revolution, in whipping up Filipino chauvinism or some micro-chauvinism against the revolutionary concept and reality of Filipino nationality is to divide the entire people of the Philippines now and in the future and undermine the Philippine revolution.  The enemies of the Philippine revolution seek  to manipulate the differences in the cultural traits of the people and to disrupt the course of the political, socioeconomic and cultural revolution.

Historically and currently, the imperialists and the local reactionaries have directed and funded the ideologues, publicists and so-called NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) who push the line that ethnicity is beyond the range of communists and the anti-imperialist and class struggles.  At the moment, the imperialist-dominated UN is pretending to be concerned about indigenous people.  In fact, the imperialists and their agents have been responsible for the most dastardly forms of oppression and exploitation as well dispossession and destruction of the environment at the expense of the indigenous peoples.

The forces of the national-democratic revolution have consistently championed the right to self-determination of all the peoples in various ethnolinguistic communities against the chauvinism and national oppression and exploitation perpetrated by the counterrevolutionary state, the foreign monopolies, the local exploiters, the Catholic church and other dominant institutions.  The principle of the revolutionary movement is to rely on the masses everywhere in the Philippines, to respect their cultural characteristics and to put into full play their all-round initiative.

While the necessary number of outside cadres are utilized in order to open any new area of revolutionary work, the unwavering purpose of the CPP and the revolutionary movement is always to let the local masses assume responsibilities in the revolutionary struggle for their own social benefit and to develop revolutionary cadres and organizations among them.  In the building of organs of political power of whatever scale, there is always a special regard for the particular characteristics and interests of minorities and for local autonomy and proportionate representation whenever there is a mixture of people with different ethnic characteristics.

In doing revolutionary work among the hill tribes and other upland people, the cadres and forces of the national-democratic revolution do rigorous social investigation, integrate themselves with the local people and their way of life.  They show respect for the local customs and beliefs and avoid bureaucratism and roughness in dealing with these. Even in combating superstition, they use the most persuasive means of education and the good results of appropriate scientific alternatives to put forward the new ideas and practices.

They have respected traditional but benign forms of local leadership, like the council of elders, and have acted as facilitators and guarantors of unity and peace in intertribal relations even as the new mass organizations and organs of political power are established. They have also recruited, trained and transformed the local warriors as people’s militia auxiliary to the New People’s Army.

There are scores of ethnolinguistic communities or national minorities in the upland.  They comprise around 10 percent of the Philippine population (excluding the Moros).  They include such communities as those under the generic names of Aetas, Itnegs, Igorots, Mangyans, Lumads and the like.

Revolutionary organizations have arisen among the national minorities, such as the Cordillera People’s Democratic Front (CPDF), the Revolutionary Organization of the Lumads, Moro Revolutionary Organization (MORO) and are allied organizations within the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.  At the same time, there are legal progressive organizations of national minorities, such as the Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA), the Federation of Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines (KAMP), the Central Luzon Aeta Association (CLAA), the Subanen Union of Lumad Organizations (SULO) and the Tribal Association of Mangyans in Mindoro.

The various ethnolinguistic communities are not known to easily invoke the right to secede for obvious reasons.  Their respective population and social economies are small scale.  They are interconnected with the existing social system in the country. They have repeatedly joined up with the lowlanders in patriotic armed struggles against foreign oppressors.  Their way out of oppression and exploitation is bound up with the new-democratic revolution of the rest of the Filipino people.

So far, only one significant force  has arisen from among the ethnolinguistic communities or national minorities to invoke the right to secede.  This is the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). It had its historic distinction of adopting the political concept of Moro nation to encompass some 13 small ethnolinguistic communities in southwestern Mindanao, with the current population of some 3 million and with Islam as the common dominant cultural characteristic. Originally, the MNLF was a petty-bourgeois radical organization trying to combine Moro nationalism, Islam and Marxism.  From 1972 to 1976, it waged an armed struggle strong enough at its peak to absorb 30 percent of the combat effectives of the reactionary armed forces and was objectively helpful to the new-democratic revolution when the NPA was still germinal in most parts of the Philippines.

The forces of the national-democratic revolution have always supported and encouraged the MNLF and other Moro organizations to act according to the Moro people’s right to self-determination, including the right to secede, as a weapon against the counterrevolutionary state,  national oppression and Christian chauvinism.  It is in the common interest of the Filipino people, including the Moros, that the Moro organizations wage armed struggle, for self-determination.

The CPP and the revolutionary movement have therefore repeatedly offered revolutionary alliance, cooperation and coordination with the MNLF and other Moro organizations and have held in prospect regional autonomy under a nonoppressive unitary or federal state of the future.  At the same time, they have taken definite steps to organize the Moro masses and develop cadres among them wherever the MNLF and other Moro organizations are not doing revolutionary work.

The Christians for National Liberation (CNL), which is a major allied organization in the NDF, have been active since the early ’70s in counteracting and frustrating every scheme and attempt of the counterrevolutionary state to rouse Christian chauvinism among the Filipino people in general against the Moro nation in particular.  Contrary to the view of Moro micro-chauvinists, the Filipino people in general and the Moro people in particular need each other in the common struggle against foreign monopoly capitalism, domestic feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism.

Moro chauvinism, which denounces even Filipino revolutionaries as colonialists, needs the puncturing of its arrogance.  It circulates the myth that the Moros have never been conquered by any foreign power and are different from and superior to the rest of the Filipino people.  While it is true that the Moros have retained Islam as the dominant religion among them, it is not true that they have never been conquered.

The heroic prolonged resistance of Sultan Kudarat was subdued in the 17th century by the Spanish colonialists.   Equipped with iron-side gunboats, the Spaniards forced the sultanate of Sulu to agree to the deployment of Spanish garrisons in the Sulu archipelago in the middle of the 19th century.  The US imperialists subjugated all the Islamic sultanates by force of arms after the defeat of the forces of the old democratic revolution in Luzon and Visayas. Thus, the Moro people were put under US colonial rule and subsequently under the existing counterrevolutionary state.

From the viewpoint of the national-democratic revolution, the MNLF has contradictory characteristics.  Even if led by petty-bourgeois radicals who use nationalism and Islam as their rallying points, it is progressive in fighting for self-determination against a counterrevolutionary state.  But it is also reactionary because it has a negative attitude towards the new-democratic revolution of the entire Filipino people and does not have any clear democratic program for the benefit of the Moro people.  It has nothing to say against the Moro big bureaucrats, big compradors and landlords conniving with the existing  counterrevolutionary state.

The MNLF leadership has verbally attacked the forces of the national-democratic revolution as those of what it defines as Filipino colonialism. And yet it has repeatedly gone into accommodations with the counterrevolutionary Philippine state. In 1976, it signed with the Marcos regime the Tripoli Agreement, whose first provision requires the MNLF to submit itself to the principle that the Moro problem be solved within the framework of Philippine “sovereignty and territorial integrity”.  It chose to capitulate in principle to the Marcos fascist regime at a time that the Filipino people, including the Moro people were under extreme oppression by that regime.

The MNLF leadership has also gone into accommodations with the succeeding Aquino and Ramos regimes.  It entered into a truce agreement with the Aquino regime and renewed this with the Ramos regime.  It has solicited from both the privilege of ruling the whole of Mindanao in utter contempt of demographic facts.  The 1990 population of the Moro nation is 2.6 million, only 4.3 percent of the total Philippine population of 71 million and only about 19 percent of the entire Mindanao population of 13.9 million.

Even as it has gone into peace negotiations and agreements with the counterrevolutionary state, the top leadership of the MNLF has repeatedly refused to negotiate and enter into alliance, cooperation and coordination with the forces of the national-democratic revolution. On several occasions, it has even issued hostile statements to the effect that the forces of the national-democratic revolution are even worse as an enemy than the counterrevolutionary state.

The forces of the national-democratic revolution have avoided making any hostile statement towards the MNLF.  They have consistently supported the Moro people’s struggle for self-determination, have repeatedly urged the MNLF and other Moro organizations to wage revolutionary armed struggle against the oppressive state and have exerted efforts to cooperate with the MNLF at any level. However, they are aware of the anticommunist influence exercised on the MNLF by its supporters among the oil-producing Islamic countries.

When the new-democratic revolution wins in the Philippines, it is highly probable that the imperialists and the reactionaries abroad will utilize the pro-imperialist and reactionary forces all over Mindanao and in particular in the Moro areas against the people’s democratic state.  It is therefore absolutely necessary for the forces of the national-democratic revolution to arouse, organize and mobilize the Moro people in concert with the rest of the Filipino people and develop truly revolutionary forces and cadres among the Moro people.

5.Concluding Remarks

After the basic completion of the new-democratic revolution through the nationwide armed overthrow of the big comprador-landlord state, it becomes necessary and possible to proclaim the people’s democratic state and begin the socialist revolution even as bourgeois-democratic reforms are still undertaken in the transition.

Under these conditions, the people of various nationalities, ethnolinguistic communities, religious affiliation and other cultural traits, will become united in a revolutionary modern nation-state of a higher type than the one envisioned and struggled for in the Revolution of 1896.  Filipino nationality or citizenship in the people’s democratic state means national liberation from imperialism, freedom from class exploitation and the enjoyment of individual and collective rights in the political, social, economic and cultural spheres.

The socialist revolution will strengthen the national cohesion and integration of the entire Filipino people.  The unity of the international proletariat and the cooperation of socialist countries under the principle of proletarian internationalism will also strengthen the entire nation against chauvinism at any level in the country and against imperialism from without.

The defeat of the imperialists and the local exploiting classes will certainly drive these evil forces to multiply their resistance to the revolution, in ways more clever than before, when the opportunities for a violent return to power are not immediately available. They will use sugarcoated bullets.  As already demonstrated by the experience in socialist countries, where capitalism has been restored through a gradual process of peaceful evolution, revisionism can arise and prevail if unchecked by proletarian revolutionary vigilance and militancy despite all socialist achievements.

The most clever counterrevolutionaries will attempt to undermine the proletarian ruling party, the state, economy and the whole of society by misrepresenting revisionist ideas as proletarian, spreading cynicism against socialism and the masses and ultimately claiming that the working class has accomplished its historic mission or that the class struggle is dying out and all that needs to be done is to develop the forces of production. The revision of the fundamental principles of Marxism-Leninism is carried out and the policies are adopted to dissolve socialism.

When socialism and proletarian internationalism are lost in a country, the most reactionary centrifugal forces reemerge in society. The imperialists and their agents now misrepresent the preceding period of revisionism and capitalist restoration as a period of socialism and blame socialism for the reemergence of unbridled bourgeois nationalism, ethnocentrism, racism and religious obscurantism. But they cannot really conceal the culpability of the bureaucrat monopoly capitalists as well as their own culpability for the ever worsening national disorder and disintegration in the former revisionist-ruled countries.

The crisis of overproduction in the world capitalist system is accelerated by the competitive use of high technology and the most abusive methods of finance capitalism. It is wreaking unprecedented havoc in the industrial capitalist countries and more so in the neocolonial client-states.  It is generating social turmoil and armed warfare and is pushing the exploiting classes to use nationalism, ethnocentrism, religious fundamentalism and fascism as their tools of political rivalry and mass deception.  Nevertheless, economic crisis and war create the conditions favorable to the revolution.

A new round of revolutionary struggle is bound to develop under the initiative and leadership of the proletariat against imperialism and the local reactionaries.  When the forces of national liberation and socialism resurge, they shall be led by the revolutionary parties of the proletariat that are guided by Marxism-Leninism-Maoism because these are at a vantage point to comprehend the previous experience of socialism, the betrayal of modern revisionism and the current world disorder and are in the best position to further develop in theory and practice, under the new global conditions, the requirements for national and social liberation at a new and higher level. # 

Latest from Education series