Revolutionary Upsurge

Crisis and revolution in Philippine society

In the 1960s, mass discontent was breaking out and the national democratic movement was again on the upsurge as a result of the grave crisis of the ruling system. Also, the propaganda and organizing work of new proletarian revolutionaries and some veteran cadres of the old merger party was beginning to bear fruit.

The progressive mass movement also drew inspiration from world-wide protests against the US war of aggression in Vietnam, the rise of student radicalism in the West and Japan, the Chinese cultural revolution, and the revolutionary upheavals and advance of national liberation movements in Third World countries. In the capital and other urban centers, the nationalist movement was being rekindled among students and intellectuals over such issues as parity rights, US bases, nationalization of the retail trade and Philippine involvement in the US war of aggression in Vietnam.

The workers’ movement was resurgent. The end of the 60s witnessed the massive outbreak of workers’ strikes supported by student activists. After nearly two decades of dominance of yellow trade unionism, the workers’ movement gained new vigor from the reintegration of revolutionary ideas into trade union struggles. In the countryside, mass struggles for land rights and against landlord abuses were spreading. National democratic slogans and propaganda were reaching a growing number of the peasantry. These increasingly radicalized the peasantry, as manifested in spasms of violent peasant actions.

Remnants of the old people’s army fell under the control of the Taruc-Sumulong gangster clique. However, the good commanders and fighters were encouraged by the propaganda movement in the cities to link up with the urban-based revolutionary youth organizations. Armed actions of lumads also erupted in Agusan, Bukidnon, Surigao and other Mindanao provinces against rampant logging by foreign and local capitalist concessionaires and against the abuses of their armed guards.

The Communist Party of the Philippines was reestablished as the advanced detachment of the Philippine working class in 1968. It set forth the general line of new democratic revolution of the people under working class leadership and with a socialist perspective. Under the absolute leadership of the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army was founded in 1969.

The Party and the people’s army raised the banner of protracted people’s war for the overthrow of the bankrupt ruling system, and immediately began laying the foundation of the revolutionary armed struggle in the countryside and the revolutionary mass movement and underground in the cities.

A series of protest actions led by militant youth and student organizations erupted in Manila from January to March 1970. Known as the First Quarter Storm of 1970, this powerful political and cultural movement placed the key issues of US imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism on the national agenda, propagated the call for a national democratic revolution on an unprecedented scale, and ushered in a new high tide of revolutionary struggle and militancy of the Filipino people. Moro intellectuals and a number of traditional leaders called for struggle against national oppression and the assertion of their right to self-determination. They started organizing, launched militant actions and prepared for armed struggle.