Alternative Parties in the Philippines: Sakdalista Party

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.


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Benigno Ramos in 1942
(Photo courtesy of
Sakdalista Party (1930-1942)

    The Sakdalista Party was founded in 1930 by Benigno Ramos, a former Senate employee. The party name was derived from Sakdal, which meant “to accuse.” Sakdal is also the name of the party publication. What the Sakdalistas accuse of was the inefficiency and low quality of service provided by public officials, of which most were of the Nacionalista Party. The party appeared first in the 1931 elections with the following platform:
1) Attainment of complete, absolute and immediate independence

2) Reduction of salaries of highly paid officials

3) Increase in the pay of teachers, police, labourers, constabulary soldiers

4) Adoption of the American system of voting by the use of machines so as to do away with the numerous election frauds
   The Sakdalistas did not win any seat in the House of Representatives nor in the Senate in 1931. It was in the 1934 elections where Sakdalista strength had been witnessed. Although no Sakdalista won a seat in the Senate, three Sakdalistas garnered seats in the Lower House. Considering the sheer electoral dominance of the Nacionalistas since 1907, as well as the absence of a real opposition party after the dissolution of the Democratas, the Sakdalistas made good the demonstration of their potential political power. In line for the 1935 presidential election, the party had formed a coalition with the Republican Party, the Socialist Party, the Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas, the National Socialist Party, and the Toilers’ League in preparation of the 1935 presidential election. It came to be known as the “Coalition of the Oppressed Masses.” However, Sakdalista strength would be smashed due to a revolt they launched in the first week of May, 1935. The radical wing of the party, supported by Benigno Ramos himself, planned and launched a full-blown clandestine popular uprising in at least fourteen towns on May 2, 1935, now known as the Sakdalista Uprising. The uprising only lasted for 1 day, leaving 59 dead and 36 wounded among the Sakdalistas. Ramos fled into exile in Japan. He was later arrested in Tokyo.

   Despite the exile of their founder and being unable to lend actual support to the Coalition of the Oppressed Masses, the Sakdals remained an opposition party after the 1935 elections. The party released a manifesto entitled The People of the Philippine Islands for Immediate and Complete Independence through the Sakdalista Party on November 13, 1935, which was two days before the inauguration of the Philippine Commonwealth. The manifesto left aside the vague economic provisions of the Tydings-McDuffie Act (authored by Senator Millard Tydings and Representative John McDuffie) and focused its points in the independence provisions. The provisions questioned by the manifesto were the following:
Section 10. (A). On the fourth of July immediately following the expiration of ten years from the inauguration of the new government under the Constitution provided in this act the President of the United States shall, by proclamation, withdraw and surrender all rights of possession, etc.
Senator Millard Tydings (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)
In this provision, the Sakdalistas questioned the assurances of the U.S. President to actually proclaim Philippine independence. It is also pointed out that the U.S. Congress might pass another law at the end of the ten-year transition period to render the independence law useless.
Section 11. The President is requested at the earliest possible date to enter into negotiations with foreign powers with a view to the conclusion of a treaty for the perpetual neutralization of the Philippines, if and when Philippine independence shall have been achieved.
In this provision, the Sakdalistas questioned the “if and when” clause. The Philippines might have been assured of independence after ten years, and so the clause was pointed out as contradictory. It is also pointed out that no nation, especially Japan, will respect the neutrality of the Philippines so as long as America retains military bases in the archipelago.
Section 16. If any provision of this law is declared unconstitutional or the applicability thereof to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the validity of the remainder of the Act and the applicability of such provisions to other person and circumstances shall not be affected thereby.
The point raised by the Sakdalistas in Section 10 (A) was mentioned again to question this provision. It also points out that the plebiscite done in May of 1935 was not a true plebiscite since the people were not given a chance to have thorough knowledge of the Commonwealth and its laws. At the end of the manifesto, the Sakdalistas described the independence that they push for. That is, immediate and complete independence. The manifesto also had its list of the names of its campaigners, and the following were the major campaigners:

Celerino Tiongcco (President of the Assembly)

Felicisimo Lauson (Acting General President of the Party)

Elpidio M. Santos (Vice President of the Assembly)

Simon d’Sena (Secretary of the Assembly)

Gregorio Tobias (National Treasurer of the Party)

Gaudencio V. Bautista (Acting Secretary General of the Party)

Marcelino Tenorio (Auditor General of the Party )

Marcos P. Ramos (Member of the National Directory)

Salud Algabre (Member of the National Assembly)

    Another manifesto entitled Manifesto to the People was released on September 12, 1938. It was both in English and Tagalog. Essentially, the manifesto announced the name change from Sakdalista Party into Partido Ganap de Filipinas. The manifesto also outlined the aims of the new party. By this time, Ramos was back from his self-imposed exile and was the new party’s Press and Propaganda Chairman. The manifesto also had the list of names of its campaigners, wherein the following would be the major campaigners:

Gregorio Tobias (President)

Paulo V. Capa (Secretary)

Ruperto S. Santiago (First Vice President)

Dr. Quintin S. De Dios (Second Vice President)

Marcelino Tenorio (Treasurer)

Benigno R. Ramos (Press and Propaganda Chairman)

Antonino De Los Reyes (Legal Counsel)

It is notable that the number of campaigners of Partido Ganap was less than the number of campaigners of its predecessor, the Sakdalista Party. Partido Ganap (lit. Complete Party) is also known as the Integral Party of the Philippines. A pro-Japanese party, Partido Ganap, and in particular Ramos, offered the party to be the national political party that shall be used for the planned Republic during the Japanese occupation. However, it was instead integrated into the Kapisanan sa Paglilingkod sa Bagong Pilipinas (KALIBAPI) when the latter was created in December of 1942.


Alternative Parties in the Philippines: Sakdalista Party Alternative Parties in the Philippines: Sakdalista Party Reviewed by Al Raposas on Friday, November 14, 2014 Rating: 5

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