‘First Congress of the Communist Party of Philippines’ by S. Carpio (Manila) from The Communist. Vol. 10. No. 8. August, 1931.

Early 1930s protest in Manila.

Extensive report on the First Congress of the Communist Party of the Philippine Islands, founded the previous year, held at the El Retoño Building in San Miguel, Manila in May, 1931 shortly after the death of central figure Antonio Ora. Led by an American officer of the U.S. colonial government, secret police raided the Congress near its end. 317 of the 400 participants were arrested with forty delegates charged with illegal association and sedition, including its General Secretary Christano Evangelista.

‘First Congress of the Communist Party of Philippines’ by S. Carpio (Manila) from The Communist. Vol. 10. No. 8. August, 1931.


Daily Worker, June 3, 1931.

On May 9-10 there took place in Manila, P.I., the First Congress of the Communist Party of the Philippines. There were present 40 delegates from 13 different provinces. The Congress lasted two days, and had to be held secretly. As a result the Communist Party of Philippine Islands is definitely and formally constituted and launched as the only revolutionary Party of the workers and peasants of the Philippines.

One of the resolutions adopted by this First Congress reads:

“The First Congress of the C.P.P.I. fully and unconditionally accepts and approves the Program and Statutes of the Communist International (as adopted by the VI World Congress of the C.I.) and herewith makes application to the C.I. for admission as a regular Section of the Communist International. The C.P.P.I. expresses its hope and desire that the C.I. will help the young C.P.P.I. with advice and guidance based on the rich experiences of the world revolutionary movement led by the Communist International—the General Staff of the World Revolution.”

Daily Worker, January 27, 1931.

After honoring the memory of Comrade Ora, recently deceased member of the Provisional C.C. of the Party, a presidium was elected into which the following were elected as honorary members: Joseph Stalin (U.S.S.R.), Ernst Thaelmann (C.P. Germany), Hsiang-Chun-Fa (C.P. China), and William Z. Foster (C.P.U.S.A.).

The main reports on the agenda were: (1) Report on the Present Situation and the Tasks of the C.P.P.I.; (2) Report on the Trade Union Movement and Tasks of the C.P. in the Trade Union movement; (3) Report on the Peasants’ Movement and Tasks of the C.P. in the Peasants’ Movement; (4) Report on the Youth Movement and the Tasks of the Y.C.L.

The first and politically most important document adopted by the Congress was a Manifesto addressed by the Congress to all workers, peasants and toilers of the Philippine Islands. There were also adopted four comprehensive resolutions on the four main reports. Special resolutions were adopted on the following questions: In Defense of Soviet Russia; Declaration of Solidarity with the Revolutionary Movements in China, India, and other Colonial and semi-Colonial Countries; Resolution of Greetings and Solidarity with American Proletariat; Resolution on Admission as a Section into the Communist International; Resolution on the Draft Program of the C.P.P.I.; Resolution on the White Terror in the P.I.; Special Resolution on Membership of Communists in Secret Societies and Masonic Lodges; Resolution on the Policy of C.P.P.I. in the Coming General Elections.

Telegrams of greetings were received and read from the Communist Parties of U.S.A., China, and Germany. A special telegram of greeting was adopted by the Congress addressed to the C.P. of the U.S.S.R., “…the organizer and leader of the Russian Revolution, the model Bolshevik Section in the C.I., the most consistent and uncompromising fighter for Marxist-Leninist theory and practice, the unvanquishable vanguard of the victorious Russian proletariat in the building of socialism and in the defense of the U.S.S.R.—the only Fatherland of the international proletariat and of all oppressed peoples, against capitalism and imperialism…”

The First Congress of the C.P.P.I. is the consummation of a comparatively short period of preparation for the launching of the Party. It was on November 7 last, on the anniversary of the Russian Revolution, that the formation of the C.P. of P.I. was acclaimed publicly at a huge mass meeting and demonstration on one of the squares of Manila. A Draft Platform of the C.P.P.I. drawn up by the Provisional C.C. of the Party was then circulated, read publicly, and carried by acclamation.

But these were only the first steps. ‘The months that followed were not only months of feverish activity and preparation, but were rich in struggles of the worker and peasant masses and in events of great political significance. This explains the great popularity of the young C.P. among the masses and the considerable progress made by the Communist movement in the P.I. in such a short period. Unmistakable signs of the popularity of the Communist Party in the P.I. are such facts as the mass circulation of 10,000 copies of the central organ of the CP., which is less than three months old, and which is eagerly sought and read, not only in Manila, but throughout the Islands. Another indication of the mobilizing capacity of the young C. P. was the huge demonstration of 30,000 in Manila with red flags (despite police ban) and slogans calling for soviets of workers and peasants. This was organized and led by the C.P. on the occasion of Comrade Ora’s funeral.

“The Tayug Colorums,” Philippine Magazine, February, 1931.

The outstanding event of this period in the P.I. was the armed peasant uprising in Tayug (Pangasinan) early this year. This so-called Colorum uprising (“Colorum” refers to the religious sect to which the rebellious peasants are supposed to belong) was simply an armed revolt of frightfully oppressed and exploited poor peasants and tenants against the landlords, usurers, and especially against the land grabbers. This peasant uprising was not an isolated case. During the past year or two there have been sporadic outbreaks and armed peasant revolts in the provinces of Rizal, Bulakan, Tarloe, and elsewhere. These peasant uprisings give the clue to the agrarian problem in the P.I. The agrarian revolution is the most decisive factor in the present stage of the revolutionary movement in the P.I.

Daily Worker. May 10, 1930.

The Tayug peasant uprising in January, coupled with serious struggles of the workers in Negros and Iloilo, and to some extent in Manila, and coinciding with the very active recruiting campaign of the C.P., which was then only in the process of formation, naturally roused the native landlords, bourgeoisie, and the American imperialists to a pitch of fury and undisguised fear. The class vengeance of the bourgeoisie was quick and direct. The peasant uprising which lacked a definite and clearly defined revolutionary program and leadership, and which was completely isolated and out of touch with the revolutionary movement of the proletariat (a fact and serious fault for which the First Party Congress criticized both the Party and the Peasants’ Confederation), was crushed in blood by the imperialist and native military and police forces. The trial and summary conviction of 64 of the most active peasants of this armed revolt were rushed through quickly. Several life-term sentences, and an aggregate of several hundred years of imprisonment, including the conviction of children under 16 who participated in the uprising—this was the answer of the class enemy.

But that was not all. The imperialists and the bourgeoisie, aided by the reactionary trade union bureaucrats, were and are determined to crush the young Communist movement and the revolutionary trade unions under the Proletarian Labor Congress (affiliated with the Pan-Pacific Trade Union Secretariat). Similarly their energies of suppression were centered on crushing the revolutionary Peasants’ Confederation. The whole machinery of “American Democracy” was set into motion. All meetings and demonstrations were banned, not only those called by the Communist Party, but even those called by the trade unions or the Peasants Confederation—reformist organizations of course excepted. The use of the Red Flag, of the sickle and hammer and such revolutionary slogans as had scared the bourgeoisie and imperialists in that unprecedented demonstration of 30,000 workers and peasants in Manila, were declared taboo, and strict instructions issued to the constabulary and police throughout the provinces. In Manila, there were issued and distributed, together with these instructions, tear gas bombs and riot guns. Over twenty leading and most active comrades were arrested and charged with sedition.

Daily Worker, May 22, 1929.

The registration of Communist candidates for the coming general election was hindered and sabotaged and in some instances refused. (This is the first time the workers and peasants have put up their own class candidates in the Philippine Islands on a Communist ticket). Then the authorities announced that no matter whether registered or not, no Communist candidate, even though elected, would be allowed to take up his post. Then came the breaking up of the May First demonstration, and the arrest and prosecution of many comrades, including about a dozen Chinese workers who are members of the Chinese Labor Federation of the Philippine Islands, a revolutionary body affiliated with our Proletarian Labor Congress. ‘There followed the announcement and threat from the highest authorities (Governor-General Davis at the head) to the effect that over 400 Chinese workers would be deported for their “communist sympathies and seditious activities.”

Such were the general circumstances under which the First Congress of the C.P.P.I. took place, and that is why it was held illegally.

Now a few words on the general economic and political situation in Philippine Islands. ‘The Philippines have in the course of the past three decades been reduced to a typical colonial possession. They are the military and naval outposts of American imperialism in the Pacific. The U.S.A. held in 1930 no less than 72% of the total trade of the Islands, amounting in 1930 to 512,529,000 pesos. The U. S. A. supplied 64% of all the imports into the Philippines in 1930. Exports of Philippine products to the U.S.A. last year accounted for 79% of the total Philippine export trade. The financial, economic and credit policies of American imperialism involve the stifling of every effort to industrialize the Philippine Islands, and the expanding and intensifying of the agricultural character of Philippine economic life. Such was the message that Governor-General Davis brought back from the extensive and expensive “good-will” tour which he recently made with a retinue of Filipino officials and agents who have nothing to add except “Amen.” Oh yes, the Governor-General brought back another significant message: “The workers and peasants of the Philippines are the best off in the whole orient,” and, “more work and greater production are needed.”

Daily Worker, March 8, 1929.

At the same time there are at least 50,000 unemployed workers in the various industries; a general lowering of working and living standards during the past year or two; the most brutal and ruthless exploitation of the millions of poor peasants by the landlords, the Friar Estates, the usurers and the landgrabbers; while the most elementary rights and gains of the workers are being restricted and abolished. The right to organize, and “freedom” of speech, press and assembly are rapidly approaching the Chiang-Kai-Shek standard; and the riot-gun, the tear gas bomb, and the Iron Heel are rapidly coming into their own.

And politically? For all these decades, and until the birth of the Communist Party, the workers and peasants of the Philippine Islands have had absolutely no class political organization of their own, no political expression as a class. For decades they have been in the tow of the political parties of the landlords and native exploiters and blood-suckers. This despite the fact that it was the mass of workers and poor peasants who paid with their blood for the war of liberation fought against the Spanish oppressors which was sold by our “national heroes” and generals for several hundred thousand pesos to Primo de Rivera; and the further fact that it was the same workers and poor peasants who paid with their blood for the three-year war that followed against American imperialism.

Daily Worker, May 29, 1929.

There are three political parties of the bourgeoisie and landlords which, in one combination or another, have dominated the field all this time, misleading and fooling the workers and peasant masses, and preventing them from independent class political action—the Nacionalista, Democrata, and Radical parties. The most important and most characteristic fact about these parties and about the “‘national” bourgeoisie in the Philippine Islands today is the fact that not one of the bourgeois parties, not one of the bourgeois-landlord- nationalist groups actually demands or fights for the immediate, complete and unconditional independence of the Philippines. The bourgeois-nationalist politicians have even stopped using these phrases except perhaps in election campaigns. Speaker Roxas who last year brought into existence the so-called “Ang Bagong Katipunan” (“neo-Nationalism”’) inspired and dictated by electioneering interests of the Nacionalista Party, has nothing more important to offer than the demand for “a better diet,” “more sports and physical culture,” in order to become “deserving of independence.” In the present election campaign, all the bourgeois parties have nothing more radical to offer for the emancipation of the Philippine Islands than “wider streets,” or “better mail systems,” “development of agriculture,” etc. And—to give a truly Homeric example—at the so-called “First Independence Congress” held in Manila in February, 1930, where the cream of Philippine Nationalism was gathered, the Honorable Rafael Alunan, Secretary of Agriculture and National Resources, delivered an address which is nothing less than an anti- nationalist, anti-independence, pro-imperialist document. He declared and warned:

“The danger is to be feared on account of the insistence of the general run of our people to consider Independence as an exclusively Philippine problem. But Independence is a Philippine-American problem, whether it suits us or not, and only that solution of the problem has a chance to prosper which is satisfactory to both Filipinos and Americans…We are bound to the U.S. by two ties: political and economic. The political tie is defined in the Jones Law, and the economic tie is established by the Customs Tariff Act through which we have free trade with the United States…If the free trade which we now have were to be suddenly abolished one of these days, the economic life of our country would suffer a disturbance and impairment that would make itself felt in all phases of our collective and individual life. The standard of living in the Philippine Islands would go back to what it was in the first years of the American occupation. In case of independence —our per capita income would decrease considerably (!!!) … Filipinos as well as Americans—are entitled to protect their interests and the interests of our country in general against the deplorable consequences of improvidence and precipitate action. If the Philippine Islands are to be independent…we must strive to have them independent with honor, glory and benefit (read: Profits S.C.) for all!…

Now, how is that for classical bourgeois nationalism, as expressed in one of the main addresses of an “Independence” Congress?

But if the experience of the international revolutionary movement in the various bourgeois-nationalist and anti-imperialist movements have perhaps made us blase against this Philippine brand of bourgeois-nationalism, which after all runs true to type, then it will surely be of interest to know and hear what the national-reformists in the Labor Camp think of the struggle for independence. On May First of this year, while the police and constabulary were breaking up our demonstration of thousands of workers and peasants in Manila and in the provinces, the reactionary trade union bureaucrats of the so-called C.O.F., (Congress Obrero Filipinas—which split the trade union movement because of the decision by the over-whelming majority in 1928 to join the Pan-Pacific T.U. Secretariat), at their annual luncheon which they call the Convention of the C.O.F. formally and solemnly announced the formation of “Union Socialista,” a sort of Social-Democratic Party, the openly and officially announced aim of this organization is “to prevent here the propagation of subversive communist ideas.” And the official platform of this new little political bastard reads: “Keep faith in God and in the independence of the people of the P.I. which sooner or later can be obtained through proper development of her natural resources.” It is really difficult to imagine a more perfect echo and reflection of outright imperialist and capitalist-landlord colonial propaganda parading under the cloak of “Socialism” and intended to fool and blind the workers and peasants of the P.I. and to “save them from Communism.”

Daily Worker. June 2, 1931.

It is against this colorful background that we have to judge the First Congress of the C.P.P.I. and examine more closely some of its important decisions and resolutions. The following brief excerpts from the Manifesto and from the main resolutions reveal that the young but energetic Communist movement in the P.I. has grasped fairly well the fundamental elements of Communism and that with the help of the C.I. it should be able to apply these concretely to the situation and the problems and tasks in the P.I.

In the Manifesto:

“with the birth of the C.P., the workers and peasants of the P.I. enter a new and higher phase of political development and activity…The guiding principle of the C.P. is Class Struggle, uncompromising, unyielding and unceasing class war, as opposed to all reformist and national reformist and social-democratic policies of class collaboration, class peace, industrial peace and the like…The C.P.P.I. is the only political party of the working class, of the exploited masses of workers and peasants…The C.P. is not bound or restricted in scope or character by any chauvinistic, nationalistic, racial or any other boundaries or prejudices. The C.P. is an organic, integral part of the only international, world-wide proletarian revolutionary Party — the Communist International, which is the General Staff of the World Revolution. The C.P. accepts unconditionally and carries out the program and policies of the C.I. The C.P. knows only one discipline, and that is the discipline of the international proletariat (and not of “its own” national bourgeoisie or “Fatherland.” The organization of a C.P. in the P.I. is long overdue. While hardly a capitalist, colonial or semi- colonial country on this earth is without a C.P.; while in India, Indo-China, Indonesia, Malaya, Korea, Formosa, etc., the C.P. has led and is leading heroic struggles of the toiling masses against imperialism, capitalism and feudalism; and while in China, under the leadership of the C.P. and C.I. the major portions of some of the most important provinces in Central and South China with over 20 million population are already constituted as Soviet governments,—the workers and peasants of the P.I. have until now had no political party of their own, laboring under the double yoke of foreign imperialism on the one hand, and native landlordism and capitalism on the other, the workers and peasants of the P.I. have on the political field been exploited, fooled and betrayed for many decades by the agents and henchmen of the imperialists and of the native exploiters and bloodsuckers…The workers and peasants of the P.I. have had enough of delusion and political charlatanerie and outright treachery….We have had enough of cacique politicos and demagogue political clowns who have fooled and sold the toiling masses, paralyzing their self-expression as a class for so many decades. We have had enough of the puppets and traveling salesmen of American imperialism and Filipino capitalism and landlordism—of the Roxas, Quezon, Osmena type, who have sold out the movement and struggle for immediate complete and unconditional independence for a larger share in the profits derived from more intense and joint exploitation of our workers and peasants!” …

1921 map.

The Manifesto points out that the central ultimate aim of the C.P. is “the Dictatorship of the Proletariat and Social Revolution— which alone is capable and historically destined to crush, uproot and finally exterminate the capitalist-landlord system and to free the masses of workers and peasants from exploitation and to do away with classes in society.”…It further points out that “in the present bourgeois-democratic stage of the Philippine revolution our im- mediate central aims are: (1) complete liberation and independence of P.I. from imperialist domination and control and (2) carrying out the agrarian revolution, and (3) radical improvement of working and living conditions of the proletarian masses.” In the central platform contained in the Manifesto, are the following main points: Overthrow of the rule of American imperialism, of the native capitalists and exploiters and landlords and usurers and landgrabbers; the establishment of a Workers and Peasants Government in P.I., based on the Soviets, which are the workers’ and peasants’ own organs of government; the immediate, complete and unconditional independence (removal of all military and naval forces of the imperialists); repudiation (annulment) of all state debts; nationalization of the large enterprises owned by the imperialists (industrial, transport, banking, plantation, etc.); confiscation — without compensation—of the landlords’ estates and of all church and monastic lands and the distribution of the land equally among the poor peasants and agricultural laborers; the establishment of the 7-hour day, abolition of child labor, etc. There follow special demands for Social Insurance, agricultural laborers, poor peasants and tenants, etc.

U.S. troops in 1910.

‘…The Party bases its activities and struggles for these aims on well-prepared and organized mass actions of the workers and peasants, and not opportunism…The Party has its roots and its strength in the places and enterprises where the masses of workers and peasants are: in the shops, factories, mines, mills, plantations and villages…The Party strives to win over under its influence the majority of its own class—including women and youth.”

In the Resolution on Defense of the U.S.S.R.:

“The first word, the first thought of the First Congress of C.P. P.I. goes to the defense of the U.S.S.R. . . . In case of imperialist war or imperialist intervention against the U.S.S.R., the C.P.P.I. shall be guided by the only policy worthy of Communists: trans- form the imperialist war into a war of class against class.”…

Speaking of the recent anti-Soviet campaign and referring to the trials of the Industrial Party and menshevik counter-revolutionaries, the resolution points out:

“…no better than we, the exploited masses of the colonial and semi-colonial countries, show better the true significance and reality of forced labor and slavery under imperialism and capitalism! (It then proceeds to cite the concrete examples of the forced labor in the Philippines, in French Indo-China, under French Socialists, in Indonesia—under Dutch Socialists, in Hongkong and Malaya and Africa—under British “Socialists.”

Labor Defender, September, 1929.

In the resolution of solidarity with the Chinese and Indian revolutions, we read:

“The existence and growth and development of Soviet China, the heroic achievements of the workers and peasants’ Red Army in China—serve as a mighty inspiration to the tens of millions of exploited toilers in all colonial and semi-colonial countries. Your experience and example, together with the experience of the victorious Russian Revolution, are the best living proofs that no white terror, no suppressions, no persecutions and no executions by the imperialists and native exploiters and reaction can stay the forward march of the Revolution—if only it is well prepared and led by the C.P. the vanguard of the proletariat, on the basis of the C.I. and only if it is rooted deeply in the masses of workers and peasants …”

Speaking of Ghandism in the Indian Revolution, this Resolution says:

“…Ghandism, in all its ugly and rotten nakedness, stands ex- posed before the Indian workers and peasants and before the toiling masses of the whole world—as an expression of national-reformist treachery. Ghandism and Chiang-Kai-Shekism are on a par!”

In the resolution of greetings to the American proletariat the need for a united revolutionary front in the struggle against American Imperialism is emphasized.

A very important decision of the Congress was the one dealing with Secret Societies, a problem of political importance in the Philippines, because of the prevalence of many secret societies controlled and financed by the landlords and cacique-politicos, and which by means of demagogic phrases and by exploiting the misery of the poor peasantry and workers often succeed in wielding considerable political influence among certain sections of the workers and peasants. Hence the necessity of a special resolution, in which the First C.P. Congress makes it clear that— “membership or activities or organizational connections with or in any secret society, Masonic lodge, or any other political party or political or quasi-political organization is absolutely incompatible with membership in the C.P.P.I.” …The Congress instructed the C.C.—

“to explain to the workers and peasants and members of the Party the detrimental role of all secret-societies and Masonic organizations in relation to our movement, and exposing them for what they are—the tools and weapons of our class enemies for disorganizing and disarming and misleading the workers and peasants from the path of revolutionary class action.”

In the resolution against the White Terror, the Congress declares:

“…No force, no power, no imperialist-capitalist combination can or will stop the activities of the C.P.P.I—the only party of the working class! For every comrade condemned by the bourgeois court—let 1,000 of the best and most class-conscious, the bravest and most loyal revolutionary workers and peasants join the C.P.! For every arrested or prosecuted revolutionary trade union or peasant leader—let 10,000 workers and peasants join the revolutionary trade unions and peasants’ confederation…”

In the resolution dealing with the role and tasks of the C.P. in the parliamentary elections (we are in the midst of our first parliamentary experience as a C.P. right now), the fundamental differences between bourgeois parliamentarianism and electioneering on the one hand, and our participation in elections and in the bourgeois parliaments is pointed out. This is very important at this moment in our country, because in the P.I. we have a rotten tradition of imported American-Tammany politics which has had as paralyzing and destructive an influence among large sections of the working class as in the United States proper; also because this is the first parliamentary experience for all of us in the P.I. as Communists. In this Resolution, it is emphasized that only a Soviet Government of the workers and peasants themselves will be able to solve our fundamental class problems; at the same time it is explained why the revolutionary C.P. participates and takes advantage of elections and bourgeois parliaments. Space does not permit us to review the four main and fairly comprehensive Resolutions dealing with the tasks in the Trade Unions, Peasant Movement, Youth and of the Party. We shall mention, however, that these resolutions deal very concretely and in a spirit of self-criticism with the weaknesses and mistakes found in the Party, the Proletarian Labor Congress and our Peasants’ Confederation.

One of the most important points emphasized in the Political Resolution dealing with the Party is that warning against the danger of legalism and right opportunism, as the greatest danger at this time. This warning is based on and supported by concrete facts and incidents already gathered during the brief childhood of the C.P. of P.I.

In conclusion, just one point. The objective situation in the P.I., which makes for the rapid development of the C.P. and revolutionary movement in this country, and the circumstances that our Party is extremely young and inexperienced— coupled with the ruthlessness of the iron heel of American Imperialism and native reaction, makes it imperative that the Communist International and the Communist Party of the U.S.A. devote especial attention and give tangible and practical guidance to this sector of the international revolutionary front.

There are a number of journals with this name in the history of the movement. This Communist was the main theoretical journal of the Communist Party from 1927 until 1944. Its origins lie with the folding of The Liberator, Soviet Russia Pictorial, and Labor Herald together into Workers Monthly as the new unified Communist Party’s official cultural and discussion magazine in November, 1924. Workers Monthly became The Communist in March,1927 and was also published monthly. The Communist contains the most thorough archive of the Communist Party’s positions and thinking during its run. The New Masses became the main cultural vehicle for the CP and the Communist, though it began with with more vibrancy and discussion, became increasingly an organ of Comintern and CP program. Over its run the tagline went from “A Theoretical Magazine for the Discussion of Revolutionary Problems” to “A Magazine of the Theory and Practice of Marxism-Leninism” to “A Marxist Magazine Devoted to Advancement of Democratic Thought and Action.” The aesthetic of the journal also changed dramatically over its years. Editors included Earl Browder, Alex Bittelman, Max Bedacht, and Bertram D. Wolfe.

PDF of full issue: https://www.marxists.org/history/usa/pubs/communist/v10n08-aug-1931-communist.pdf

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