On Philippines Solidarity Month: Pass the Philippines Human Rights Act!

U.S. out of the Philippines! Victory to the People’s Democratic Revolution!

Black History Month happens to share February with Philippines Solidarity Month, though through no fault of either. Forget that February is already the shortest month. It is more a function of what imperialism and white supremacy will tolerate from oppressed nationalities. 

John Parker, socialist candidate for California’s 37th Congressional District, explains: “For the rich and powerful, the less time the colonized, occupied, and exploited spend thinking about their histories and what connects them, the better. The less time we spend discovering our common enemy, the better.”

So, of course, we honor Philippines Solidarity Month. We salute not only the revolutionary legacy of the Filipino people, we hold in the highest regard their living revolution – their People’s Democratic Revolution. 

“The role of the U.S. in the Philippines, much like its role in Palestine and in so many other countries,” said John Parker, “is both deeply buried and deeply repugnant.” 

In the late 1800s, the Filipino people, under the working-class leadership of Andrés Bonifacio’s Katipunan movement, organized a nationwide armed struggle to free themselves of Spain, their 300-year colonizers. 

The U.S. seized the opportunity to strike a deal with Spain, buying the Philippine islands for a clearance rate of $20 million U.S. Adjusted for the current value of the U.S. dollar, the U.S. made off with an entire country for under $800,000. 

To quell the people’s movement and establish its imperial domination, the U.S. invaded as an occupying force. The first waves of military occupation in 1898 and 1899 wiped out a sixth of the Filipino population. 

By 1905, the end of the hot war, the U.S. had murdered 1.4 million Filipinos. After the first two decades of military occupation, 3 million Filipinos were dead at the hands of the United States.

How U.S. maintains control

Though the Philippines gained nominal independence in 1934, the U.S. ruling class stayed in control through its various puppet governors and, thus, the entirety of the Philippines’ political and economic life. This system gave the U.S. ruling class free rein to maintain its military occupation and rule through sheer force of violence – all without paying a cent on overhead.

”President” Ferdinand Marcos Sr., for example, in September of 1972, implemented a martial law so brutal, it left in its wake thousands of known extrajudicial killings and “disappearances” and tens of thousands of documented tortures and political incarcerations. 

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (the “IDF” of the Philippines) and the Philippines National Police adopted a tactic called “salvaging,” in which they would leave the tortured and mutilated bodies of suspected activists in places to be discovered by the public. For these, the United States footed the bill. The top brass of these operations were trained by the CIA. All of these details are eerily reminiscent of the coup against Chile’s Salvador Allende. 

The U.S. and its puppet ruling class in the Philippines, however, were right to be so desperately afraid of the Philippine masses. 

“A genuine People Power Revolution ousted Marcos Sr.,” John remarks. “And another one ousted ‘President’ Joseph Estrada, another U.S. stooge, who was about to get impeached anyway.”

Bonifacio’s revolution was never truly defeated. The armed struggle, like any struggle, waxed and waned through the decades, but nonetheless survives and remains a vital, necessary, and influential tool for the people’s revolutionary struggle. The New People’s Army, in fact, has only grown stronger under the leadership of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

The story of the Philippines must never remain buried. It must be one more tool wielded by people’s movements everywhere. 

“This is our solidarity message,” said John Parker. “On Philippine Solidarity Month, this campaign commits to never let the true story of the Philippines be buried. We commit to expose the imperialist United States for what it is – vicious, hideous, repugnant.” 

“If I am elected, I will support the passage of the Philippines Human Rights Act as introduced by Representative Susan Wild. If it fails, I will reintroduce it to every session of Congress thereafter if I have to. Just as I will demand an end to funding genocide in occupied Palestine, I demand an end to funding the political and military occupation of the Philippines.” 

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