Neocolonial Rule

Crisis and revolution in Philippine society

The grant of bogus independence in 1946 represented a major shift in US imperialist strategy towards neocolonial rule, as a result of the relentless clamor of the people for national independence and the upsurge of national liberation movements throughout the world. State power was entrusted to a succession of puppets to cover up continuing US imperialist domination and control.

Taking advantage of the country’s prostrate condition after the war, the US forced unequal treaties on the fledgling neocolonial republic. These treaties allowed the US to freely exploit the country’s economic resources, control the reactionary armed forces, to keep large military bases on Philippine soil and exercise political hegemony. Under the canopy of seemingly democratic institutions, political dynasties and power blocs representing landlord- comprador interests and operating through a two-party system held sway throughout the country. They dictated the reactionary course of Philippine politics, blocking the avenues for representation in government and preventing much needed social change.

The revolutionary forces had no choice but to rise up in arms once again in 1950 in order to push forward the people’s national and democratic demands. A large-scale and bloody counter – revolutionary campaign directed by the Pentagon and the US Central Intelligence Agency crushed the resurgent armed struggle waged by the Hukbong Mapagpalaya ng Bayan (HMB) in the early fifties. Militant trade unions, peasant associations and other people’s organizations were brutally suppressed. The counterrevolutionary campaign of the US and the local reactionary classes succeeded because the revolutionary forces were weakened by the unrectified disorientation and “left” and right opportunist errors of the Lava leadership of the old merger party.

The entire decade of the fifties was a period of intense repression. Strident anticommunism and unbridled worship of things American pervailed. But patriots and progressives led by Claro Mayo Recto and elements from the national bourgeoisie conducted anti-imperialist propaganda and agitation from the late 50s to the early 60s. US imperialism and the local ruling classes of big compradors and landlords collaborated in seeking to pacify the people through electoral circuses that foisted illusions of democracy and through such token reforms as the fake land reform programs of the Magsaysay and Macapagal administrations. The Philippines became embroiled in US wars of aggression against national liberation movements in the region. US bases in the Philippines were used as launching pads for the deployment of US military forces to the Korean peninsula in the 50s and Indochina in the 60s and 70s. Puppet governments even sent Filipino soldiers to fight and die alongside US troops—to make the world safe for US big business.

But within the neocolonial order, a crisis was brewing. The economy was stagnating and poverty was on the rise. The policy of import-substitution in the 50s, which was heavily dependent on foreign sources of raw materials and machinery, only managed to bring about a very superficial import-dependent kind of manufacturing and a worsening of the trade imbalance.

The US and the IMF took advantage of this situation to impose a policy of decontrol and devaluation at the start of the 60s. Nascent Filipino industries stagnated or collapsed. The colonial pattern of trade became even more firmly entrenched. Foreign capital made greater inroads into the Philippine economy and sapped it through heavy capital repatriation. Ever increasing balance-of-payments deficits led to growing dependence on foreign loans. Inflation reared its ugly head. In the late sixties, the land frontier was exhausted. Settlers were rapidly being overtaken by traditional and new landlords. In the absence of industrial development, the excess population had nowhere to go but to compete for odd jobs in both rural and urban areas. The Philippine crisis deepened as successive puppet regimes adopted the development strategies and programs imposed by US imperialism through the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.