Philippine socialists unite in new party
By Reihana Mohideen
MANILA — November 30, the birth date of Andres Bonifacio, a left-wing leader of the 1898 Philippine revolution against Spanish colonial domination, is marked as National Heroes Day by the Philippine left. This year, amidst separate activities held by a number of left-wing groups, reflecting the divisions that have beleaguered the progressive movement, an announcement was made of the fusion of two socialist organisations, the Liga Sosyalista (LS) and the Rebolusyonaryo ng Partido ng Proletaryo (RPP), and the setting up of a new party — Sosyalistang Partido ng Paggawa or the Socialist Party of Labour (SPP).
A joint statement said: "May this be the start of ending three decades of division in our ranks ... The unity of the revolutionary ranks is the only way to win, to continuously advance the struggle for revolutionary democracy and socialism in our country."
The LS and the RPP come from two different traditions. The RPP comes from the formerly Moscow-aligned Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas (PKP), formed in 1930, which led the heroic Huk war of rebellion against Japanese occupation during World War II.
The LS comes from the Komiteng Rebolusyonaryo ng Manila-Rizal (KRMR), which was previously under the pro-Maoist Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
The statement reads, "We are composed of the previous generation of revolutionary communists who have advanced different forms of struggle, armed and unarmed, from the 1930s to the 1960s; of the generation of the 1970s which fought the military dictatorship of Marcos; and the activists of the 1980s and 1990s".
The PKP discredited itself during the period of the Marcos dictatorship by agreeing to a "political settlement" to lay down its arms in exchange for release of leaders who were imprisoned by the regime.
The CPP split from the PKP in 1968 over the political errors committed by the party and as part of the Sino-Soviet split in the international communist movement.
While the PKP participated in the subsequent anti-dictatorship movement it was never able to recover fully. In particular, the activists of the youth radicalisation of the '70s and '80s joined the CPP.
The RPP forces split from the PKP in 1993. The split was led by the youth leaders (such as Rodolfo Javellana Jnr, a leader of the RPP) of the PKP, who joined the party in the 1980s and formed its Communist Youth League.
The 1993 split revolved around the lack of democracy in the party, the PKP's class collaborationist politics and its sectarianism.
The RPP won over the rural workers mass organisation of the PKP — Aniban ng Manggagawang Agrikultural, or Federation of Agricultural Workers — the oldest poor peasants' organisation in the Philippines, which today claims a national membership base of 10,000 rural poor.
The LS split from the KRMR this year (a move initiated by a leading member of the KRMR and founder of the LS, Sonny Melencio) over the refusal of the leadership to call a party congress (which has not been convened in five years), the right-wing political trajectory of the organisation and the clique method of leadership of Popoy Lagman, who completely dominates the group.
The LS has a base in the student movement through the political affiliation of the Young Socialist League (LSK). It has recruited the leaders of two large urban poor communities in the north and south of Manila and is rapidly building its base in these areas.
The statement outlined the basis of unity of the two organisations:
"In the merger, we reaffirm the following revolutionary principles:
"... Marxism-Leninism as the theoretical foundation of our party.
"... democratic centralism ... which fuses the democratic method in order to attain a high level of unity within the organisation.
"The broadest and closest links with the toiling masses which today means the need to establish an open revolutionary socialist party ... which directly intervenes in the political arena in order to arouse, mobilise and organise the masses in an uninterrupted struggle.
"The principle of uninterrupted revolution, from national-democratic to socialism. A revolution which has no wall but the ability of the working class to advance the struggle towards the seizure of political power ... the revolutionary character of the struggle for socialism and the leading role of the working class in the struggle ... where the first step will be the establishment of a revolutionary state of the workers together with their allies.
"The building of a vanguard party ... whose vanguard role is not imposed, but proven through the broad support of the toiling masses. A party which recognizes the importance of the mass organisations as pillars of the socialist society.
"The principle of internationalism and fraternity of the working class worldwide. The Philippine revolution is part of the international movement of the workers towards socialism. It is the task of Filipino socialists to assist the struggle of the toiling masses in many parts of the world. It is also our task to defend nations and governments, like Cuba and Vietnam, which advance socialism but are continuously harassed and violated by imperialist nations ..."
The leadership bodies of the two organisations have been dissolved and a provisional leadership body has been set up. The new leadership body decided on SPP as the name for the new party, leading to a founding congress in May.
An internal party paper called Manifesto will be launched as a pre-congress discussion bulletin. An oral pre-congress discussion period will begin next year. A party school will be launched this month.
Branch formations will be fast-tracked, with branch assemblies scheduled for December. Sectoral departments will be set up to coordinate work in different areas.
A series of conferences have been scheduled leading up to the party congress. These include the youth, urban poor, women, trade union and peasant sectors.
A draft program, based on the draft program of the LS, will be circulated for discussion along with a draft constitution.
The leaders of the SPP view the fusion as the beginning of a regroupment towards the formation of a new socialist party. Hence the statement puts out the following call:
"We call on our forces to more tightly forge the unity of our ranks ... [and to] establish the merger of our forces in all areas and at all levels. We call on other revolutionary organisations to join the march of the united revolutionary ranks. We call on the revolutionary socialist ranks worldwide, to welcome this unity by opening up links.
"Finally, we call on the Filipino workers to line up with the revolutionary party and join the struggle that advances socialism. For our liberation, for the liberation of humanity!
"Workers of the world, unite!"