The Communist Party of the Philippines’ Second Congress was a congress of unity. Lessons and decisions forged at the Congress have profound and historical significance for the continued advance of the Philippine revolution (Read the Communique in Ang Bayan, March 29, 2017.) At the same time, the process of the activity itself has distinct details. In a guerrilla base, one battalion of the people’s army, almost a hundred leading Party cadres and members, and members of the people’s militias were able to assemble in one camp despite on-going enemy operations.
Ensuring democracy for stronger unity
The congress is the forum for the highest form of democracy within the Party. Thus, participation of the delegates, especially those from different regions, was ensured by having the facilitator go around the hall and by having cadres help translate into the local languages of those who had difficulty speaking in Filipino, the congress’ official language. During heavy rains, wireless microphones were passed around and connected to two big amplifiers. English and Filipino versions of the documents under discussion were projected simultaneously on two separate screens, as members of the presidium kept track through their computers from their places on the podium.
Although the facilitators found it hard to reign in discussions that poured out from decades of accumulated experience, there was a relaxed atmosphere of reciprocity among participants who all aimed for unity. A member of the documentation team shared that “I couldn’t participate much in the discussions because I had to get all the ideas into the minutes, but when I really had something to say, I was also given the chance. The discussions were really lively. And I’m happy because I was able to see my comrades from my previous collectives whom I haven’t heard from for decades.”
In approving proposed amendments or resolutions, three members were assigned to count the number of hands raised, and those who abstained were given time to register their opinion and explain if they had reservations. Elections for the new set of leaders were done through secret ballots, and counting at the plenary session where every name was called out by the canvassers and confirmed by three watchers from different regions was simultaneously recorded on the blackboard, the projector, and on paper.