Alternative Parties in the Philippines: Partido Komunista

The period traversing the years 1907 to 1941 featured our first experience of nationwide politics, with the country having 13 elections in all. Although conducted under auspices of American administration, it is without doubt that this period began forming the Filipino statesmen (or politicians for that matter) whose valuable service our nation still remembers until today. However, with the many political parties these people brought forth during the period, only the Nacionalista Party dominated the scene. Also, only the Nacionalista Party survived from this era and is continuing to operate until today. What were almost neglected in the mainstream political history of our country during this period were the political parties formed in opposition to the gargantuan Nacionalista, but failed to survive to see America grant independence to her only colony in Asia. With this in the fore, introducing these parties, their formation, their members, platforms, successes, failures and their eventual dissolutions are being aimed in this series.


See the fourth part of the Alternative parties series by clicking here.


Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas (1930-present) 

   The KAP convention on August 26, 1930 at the Templo del Trabajo (lit. Temple of Labor) formed the Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas (PKP), or the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). Crisanto Evangelista was elected General Secretary and Antonino Ora was elected Chairman. Its establishment was officially proclaimed to the public at Tondo, Manila on November 7, 1930. However, resulting from the separation of the Maoist wing headed by Jose Ma. Sison in 1968, the party had adopted the name PKP-1930 to distinguish itself from Sison’s CPP-NPA-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front). The PKP, in their First Congress in 1931, aimed for immediate realization the following points:
1) To direct the movement for immediate and complete independence

2) To fight and overthrow US imperialism

3) To fight against the exploitation of the masses and to defend their rights and liberties

4) To establish Communism (a Soviet-type government) under the authority and direction of the masses

5) To fight and overthrow capitalism

6) To use the Dictatorship of Labor to expedite the move for early independence and for the redemption of the masses (farmer and laborers) and for the practice and adoption of communism
   These demands were later laid down in detail. These included the eight-hour work day, equal pay for equal work, protection of “women and children laborers,” assistance to the unemployed, social insurance, health and safety measure, the abolition of feudalism and usury, confiscation of the religious estates and other large landholdings without compensation and their redistribution to farmers, cheap housing for workers, the abolition of the cedula, complete independence, the establishment of a national language, the removal of all U.S. armed forces, racial equality, abolition of the Philippine legislature and the creation of a unicameral body, election of all members of the judiciary, votes for both sexes, complete freedom of the press and freedom of assembly, the revocation of anti-labor laws, teaching of socialism in schools, withdrawal of U.S. control of schools, free education for workers’ and peasants’ families, and the sending of students to the Soviet Union. One of the more problematic aims among the aforementioned was the “complete freedom of the press and freedom of assembly.” While the PKP model, the Soviet Union, did provide for such provision, it is actually different from practice. The Soviet government had censored the press and limited assemblage. Since the PKP aimed for the establishment of a Soviet form of government, it is likely that this provision shall not be put into actual practice.

   Considered as seditious, the party was outlawed in 1931. Just as the First Congress finished the proceedings, it was raided by secret service agents of the American colonial government. 317 of the 400 delegates were caught. Evangelista along with some 40 PKP leaders were charged of sedition and sentenced for one year imprisonment and a fine of 1,000 pesos. A mere four months before this raid, the party had established a national office and released its own newspaper called Titis (Spark). Two months before the raid, a provincial PKP convention was launched in Nueva Ecija. Although the First Congress of the PKP met a violent response from the colonial government, and the Secretary of the Interior Honorio Ventura threatening not to allow winning candidates of the PKP to assume office, the party, now having some 2,000 members at this time, fielded candidates in the June 1931 elections. Confusion reigned on the PKP’s legality as a political party, but still it garnered 50,000 votes.

Gregorio Aglipay, Nabong's running mate
(Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)
   Eventually, the government became more firm in their stand to ban the PKP. This caused the party to go underground, and resulted to falling number of members. By 1932, the PKP only had an estimated 500 to 600 members. Their newspaper, Titis, had stopped publication and circulation. By March of 1933, PKP membership had slightly risen to 845, despite being an underground party. Five months later, a recruitment drive aimed to gain 600 workers and 200 peasants, of which 300 must be female. PKP decline was circumvented by this, although only three of the 14 remaining original members of the party Central Committee had been active at this time: Felix Caguin, Norberto Nabong and Andres Fabian. Emilio Maclang, a 23-year old just returning from the Soviet Union, was made acting general secretary. Maclang is not part of the original Central Committee. Evangelista, who Maclang succeeded, had already been exiled, and Ora was dead even before the First Congress was held.

   Still in underground situation, the PKP convened its Second Congress in March of 1934. Maclang was elected general secretary. One year later, the party was reduced once more. It only had 301 members at this time, partly attributed to expulsion of members deemed unacceptable to PKP standard. Membership was scattered in Central and Southern Luzon areas.

   Rufino Tumanda replaced Maclang as general secretary in the second quarter of 1935. It was also by this time that the PKP had formed a coalition with the Republican Party, the Socialist Party, the Sakdalista Party, the National Socialist Party, and the Toilers’ League in preparation of the 1935 presidential election. Essentially an anti-Quezon coalition, it came to be known as the “Coalition of the Oppressed Masses.” With the Sakdalistas scattered after their failed revolt in May of 1935, and Aguinaldo’s leave to launch his own bid, the coalition settled for supporting Gregorio Aglipay of the Republican Party as president. The PKP had their candidate, Nabong, as vice president. Nabong polled around 5.5% out of more than 1.2 million votes in a race that saw Osmena win each and every province except Cavite with his 87% of the vote. Former Iloilo Governor Raymundo Melliza won the province of Cavite and garnered some 7.5% of the vote nationwide. Nabong, only one among the councilors of Manila at the time, was hardly known in the national scale before his vice presidential bid. Taking also into consideration the size of the PKP, and the colonial government’s campaign against communism, Nabong’s share of the vote may be seen as an achievement.

File:Crisanto evangelista.jpg
Crisanto Evangelista
Photo courtesy of Wikipilipinas

 Tumanda was replaced as general secretary at the Third Congress of PKP, which was held from October 29-31, 1938. Replacing him was Guillermo Capadocia. Pedro Abad Santos, who revived the Socialist Party in 1933, agreed to merge with the PKP. He was elected Vice Chairman. Evangelista, returning from exile in 1937, was elected Chairman. The PKP was able to preserve and digitize documents from its First and Third Congresses, but none of them contained a list of the delegates. The final Congress convened by the PKP before the war was the Fourth Congress, which was held from November 7-10, 1940. The three top PKP leaders were re-elected in their respective positions. They were captured by the Japanese on January 24, 1942. New leaders were elected on February 6 of the same year.


Alternative Parties in the Philippines: Partido Komunista Alternative Parties in the Philippines: Partido Komunista Reviewed by Al Raposas on Monday, November 10, 2014 Rating: 5

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