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

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Partido Obrero (1922-1930) 

Crisanto Evangelista
Photo courtesy of Wikipilipinas
   The Partido Obrero, or the Labor Party (incidentally, there would be various parties the world over taking up the Labor name), was founded in 1922 by Antonino D. Ora, a member of the Congreso Obrero de Filipinas (COF). The party had a 30-plank platform which included the eight-hour work day, legislation against landlord abuse, and cheap and decent housing for workers. Little was known of this party until its revival in 1924 by Crisanto Evangelista, Jacinto Manahan, Domingo Ponce and Cirilo Bognot. They fielded candidates for the 1925 elections after failing to be nominated as candidates of the Nacionalista Party.

Although they did not win any seat, the party polled 19% of the vote. Their manifesto, released on November 30, 1925, described the party as:

A party of those who work and produce for the upliftment of mankind… it urges the workers – those who work with brawn and brain – to take economic and political powers away from the capitalist class and abolish all class divisions and class rule. 

   During the period 1926-1928, the Partido Obrero, now more known as the Lapiang Manggagawa (LM, not to be confused with the later Lapiang Malaya), aimed to have the COF and the Kalipunang Pambansa ng mga Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KPMP) under its fold. It was by this time that the party had some 500 members. By 1928, after Evangelista and Manahan’s visit to the Soviet Union to attend the Sixth Comintern (Communist International) Congress, the KPMP had been integrated into the LM. Soon after this, a publication called Anak-Pawis was launched. It was about this time when Quezon and the Nacionalistas tried to draft COF leaders away from Evangelista. Among those who cooperated with Quezon in exchange of Nacionalista support were Ponce, Francisco Varona, Ruperto Cristobal, and Isabelo Tejada.

   The May 1929 convention saw an unexpected number of delegates. Notable was that of Tejada and his Union de Tabaqueros de Filipinas (UTF, not to be confused with Union del Trabajo de Filipinas), who had 188 delegates. They were entitled only 54. Witnessing this, Evangelista, with 150 delegates, left the convention. Soon after, Evangelista established the Katipunan ng mga Anak Pawis sa Pilipinas (KAP), composed of 21 organizations claiming 33,000 members. The COF was left with 26 organizations claiming 63,000 members. The following year, May 1930, the KAP announced the creation of a “mass political party of the Workers and Peasants.” Sixty delegates were elected from the affiliated organizations of KAP, and shall convene on August 26 of the same year. This very convention transformed the LM into the Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas (PKP).

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