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Letters to Jose Maria Sison




3 February 1999

By Jose Maria Sison
Chairman, International Network for Philippine Studies

Sponsored by the Congress of Teachers and Educators
For Nationalism and Democracy (CONTEND)

In the spirit of anti-imperialist solidarity, I convey warmest greetings to all the participants in the International Conference on 100 Years of Struggle Against US Imperialism.

We recall the outbreak of the Philippine-American War on February 4, 1899 and we celebrate the people’s revolutionary struggle against US imperialism. We draw inspiration from our revolutionary forebears, honor our people who persevere in the struggle, learn lessons from the past and current circumstances and define the tasks for completing the struggle for national liberation and democracy.

In celebrating the 30th anniversary of its reestablishment, the Communist Party of the Philippines has expressed the resolve to continue the national-democratic revolution through protracted people’s war against US imperialism and the local reactionaries even if this revolution should take another hundred years.

For as long as the Filipino people remain under US imperialist domination, we do not cease to wage all forms of revolutionary struggle for national liberation and democracy. As the enemy never gets tired of oppressing and exploiting them, the people can never get tired of resisting oppression and exploitation and fighting for national and social liberation.

The absence of genuine national independence and the reign of greed and terror in our country are the bitter consequence of the successful US war of aggression. The US destroyed the Philippine republic that issued from the armed revolution against Spanish colonialism. The US imposed its own colonial rule on the people and granted them nominal independence only after making sure that it could continue to profit from semicolonial rule through the local exploiting classes of big compradors and landlords.

I commend CONTEND for celebrating the Filipino people’s armed resistance against the US war of aggression and the continuing US imperialist domination. This celebration comes into sharp contrast with that of the big comprador-landlord state which has spent a lot of tax money in order to gloss over the people’s revolutionary struggle and the need to continue it.

The US war of aggression

Since the beginning of its alliance with the Aguinaldo-led revolutionary movement against Spain, the US had been driven by its monopoly capitalist interests to deceive and betray the Filipino leaders, wage a war of aggression against the Filipino people and take over the Philippines as its own colony. It coveted the Philippines as a strategic post for turning the Pacific Ocean into an American lake and for allowing US monopolies to take a slice of the Chinese melon.

The historians present in your conference can tell you all the facts about the double-faced dealings of US agents in Singapore and Hongkong, the arrogant and clever military maneuvers of the US forces in Manila, the pre-arranged surrender of the Spanish authorities and the mock battle for Intramuros, the Proclamation of Benevolent Assimilation, the US-Spanish Treaty of Paris on December 10, 1898 ceding the Philippines to the US for USD20 million, and the US provocation at San Juan bridge on February 4, 1899.

To impose themselves on the Filipino people, the US aggressors arrested, tortured and killed hundreds of thousands of Filipinos. Millions of our people suffered forced relocations and food blockades. The genocidal methods previously used against the American Indians were used in the conquest of the Philippines and would be used again and again in the ‘40s and ‘50s and from 1969 to the present. The same methods were also used against the Vietnamese people during the ‘60s and ‘70s.

The estimate of Filipino casualties from the US war of aggression ranges from 250,000 to one million or more than 10 percent of the entire population. General Bell testified before the US Congress that at least 600,000 Filipinos were killed in Luzon alone. Until now, there has been neither the full satisfaction of the people’s demand for revolutionary justice nor official apology from the US government over its dastardly crimes against the Filipino people and entire humanity.

Moved by the spirit of patriotism and by democratic aspirations, the Filipino people fought heroically against the US imperialists. The Philippine-American war lasted from 1899 to 1902 when the main forces of the revolutionary army were destroyed or their leaders capitulated. But the armed resistance, including that of the Moro people, continued in many regions up to 1916.

At great cost to Filipino lives and property, the US imperialists were able to conquer and impose direct colonial rule on the Philippines. This persisted until the Japanese imperialists invaded and occupied the country in 1942. The interimperialist war was a big opportunity for the people to build their own independent revolutionary armed strength. But the subjective forces of the revolution could develop strength only in Central Luzon, Manila and Southern Tagalog.

Continuing US domination

The US reconquered the Philippines in 1945. In advance of the grant of bogus independence to the country, it made sure that US military bases and US property rights and privileges would persist. And yet it tried vainly to postpone the shift to semicolonial rule. However, confronted by an armed revolutionary movement, it relented and gave way to such a rule in 1946, with national administration conceded to the politicians and bureaucrats of the big compradors and landlords in subordination to US imperialism.

The key factors for continued US control over the Philippine neocolonial state are the following: the conversion of the economy into a semifeudal one since the beginning of the century, dependence of the coercive apparatuses of the state on US indoctrination and military supplies, the pro-imperialist training of puppet political, business and cultural personnel and the merger of imperialist and feudal culture.

In the semicolonial political system, the people have suffered a series of puppet regimes. The US is the most responsible for the prolonged the oppressive and exploitative policies of all these puppet regimes, from Roxas to Estrada, and for the prolonged Marcos fascist dictatorship. The US dictates all major policies either bilaterally or through US-controlled multilateral agencies like the IMF, World Bank and WTO. The US remains as the No. 1 imperialist power dominating the Philippines even as it even as it has found it convenient since the ‘60s to take cover behind multilateral arrangements.

The US military bases have been closed down since 1992 because after all US military control is effected through the puppet military and police forces, and US military bases in nearby countries and spy satellites are being used as additional instruments for US control over the Philippine archipelago. In addition, there is the US-Japan security partnership. But the US is always interested in multiplying its military control over the country. Thus, it is pushing the Visiting Forces Agreement, which the people are now vigorously opposing.

So far, US imperialism has succeeded in keeping the Filipino people under its domination, not only because of its superior military force but also because of its capabilities for deception. In the face of US imperialism, the old democratic revolution was not only limited by its inferior arms but was confounded by a foreign power that used bourgeois liberal slogans to advance its monopoly capitalist interests.

To this day, US imperialism misrepresents itself as the teacher and prime example of democracy and its Filipino marionettes in the political, economic and cultural fields echo and ape the misrepresentation. In this regard, we have always taken pains to distinguish the official ideology of pro-imperialist conservative liberalism from the anticolonial and anti-imperialist progressive liberalism that has characterized the best of petty-bourgeois thinking since the old democratic revolution.

US imperialism and the local reactionaries use the subjectivist and opportunist ideology and language of the petty bourgeois to sugarcoat imperialist as well as subservient policies, trample upon the basic national and democratic rights of the toiling masses of workers and peasants and attack the new-democratic revolution. They talk about free enterprise and individual rights in the abstract to obfuscate the reality of imperialist and class exploitation and oppression.

The neoliberal language of so-called globalization is nothing but a recycling of the antiquated bourgeois-liberal catchphrase, "free marketplace of goods and ideas". It is calculated to assail and put aside the Marxist-Leninist critique of modern imperialism, exactly at a time that the rapidly rising social character of the productive forces through the adoption of higher technology by the imperialists in their own countries makes the capitalist relations of production and the relations of the imperialists and the oppressed peoples more untenable than ever before.

In a conspicuously sinking "emerging" market like the Philippines, the mainstream exponents of "free trade" globalization insist on using neoliberal language. But marginal though special ideological and political agents of the ruling system tout globalization as an irresistibly new fact of life, as something that supposedly makes the anti-imperialist and class struggle irrelevant and outdated and as something that can be reformed for making a "civil society".

Since the late ‘70s these pseudoprogressive recruits of imperialism and local reaction from the petty bourgeoisie have claimed that the Philippine social economy is no longer predominantly agrarian and semifeudal but an industrial capitalist one because of the supposed economic development under the big comprador-landlord Marcos regime. Since the coming to power of Ramos in 1992, they have proceeded to claim that the Philippine economy is so tightly integrated into the global economy that the question of national sovereignty and independence has become passe.

The current worsening crisis of the world capitalist system is bringing to the surface the basic contradictions between the imperialist countries and the oppressed peoples, among the imperialist countries themselves, and between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie in the imperialist countries. The illusion of free trade globalization is dissipating. The reality of nation-states and distinct modes of production are more conspicuous than ever before. The whole world is now in social and political turmoil. This is the eve of social revolution on an unprecedented scale.

We are clearly still in the era of modern imperialism and the proletarian revolution and not in a nebulous era of "globalization" or in a utopia of liberalism where everything is for sale and the invisible hand of self-interest peaceably settles everything in the market. In fact, the crisis of overproduction is already driving the imperialists to wrangle over the shrinking market.

Most important development

So far in Philippine history, the most important development by way of continuing the unfinished democratic revolution against the imperialists and the local reactionaries is the reestablishment of the Communist Party of the Philippines under the guidance of the theory of the revolutionary proletariat and its adoption and implementation of the general line of new-democratic revolution through protracted people’s war.

In representation of the revolutionary proletariat, the CPP brings to a new and higher level the revolutionary struggle of the Filipino people for national liberation and democracy. It is armed with the ideological weapon to contend with and defeat the fallacies and lies of imperialism, revisionism and reaction. It has also proven in deed for more than three decades that it has an effective strategy and tactics to preserve and accumulate the revolutionary armed strength of the people.

Without the ongoing new-democratic revolution through protracted people’s war, there is no hope for the Filipino people to liberate themselves from the clutches of foreign and feudal domination. Foreign domination would continue for another 400 years and US domination would continue for another hundred years if all that we did in that course of time were to seek accommodation, reforms and civility from a ruling system that is inherently oppressive and violent against the toiling masses.

For the Filipino people to achieve national liberation and democracy, there must be organized forces, including a revolutionary party, a people’s army, mass organizations and organs of political power to carry on the struggle and defeat the enemy. Fighting the enemy also involves fighting its special ideological and political agents who are used either to penetrate and liquidate from within the revolutionary forces or attack them from the flanks or behind.

The Second Great Rectification Movement within the Communist Party of the Philippines is of great importance not only for the Party itself but also for the broad masses of the people. It is an educational movement to heighten revolutionary resolve against the enemy and to rectify both malicious and honest errors. It is also a practical constructive movement to further strengthen the revolutionary forces and the people in their struggle.

In the new-democratic revolution, there is always the need for an echelon of alliances: the basic alliance of the workers and peasants, the progressive alliance of the toiling masses and the urban petty bourgeoisie, the patriotic alliance of the progressive forces and the middle bourgeoisie and, whenever possible and necessary, the unstable temporary alliance with sections of the reactionaries—all for the purpose of isolating and destroying the power of the enemy, the most reactionary puppet of the imperialists.

Front runner in the anti-imperialist struggle

By staying on the road of new-democratic revolution through protracted people’s war, the CPP builds the strength of the people to win victory and march further on to socialism. In the whole world today, the Filipino people are among front runners in the revolutionary struggle of the oppressed peoples for national liberation and democracy against imperialism and the local reactionaries.

In the past, the Filipino people had the distinction of being the first nation in Asia to wage and win the old democratic revolution against a colonial power. Again, they have the distinction of being among the most persevering and most successful in waging the new-democratic revolution through protracted people’s war. They serve as a torch bearer of international significance in the transition from the 20th to the 21st century.

This transition is one from a century of great victories of socialist and national liberation movements, temporarily defeated due to revisionist betrayal, to a century of greater struggles and greater victories of the world proletariat and oppressed peoples. It is pure nonsense to think that history ends with monopoly capitalism and bourgeois liberalism.

The scientific basis for our revolutionary optimism is the chronic and ever worsening crisis of the world capitalist system and the irrepressible efforts of the revolutionary forces to learn from history, to resist oppression and exploitation and to carry the revolutionary struggle forward. #


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