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C. Charles

Why Philippine Masses Have Not
Been Rallied to Support of War

(14 March 1942)

From The Militant, Vol. VI No. 11, 14 March 1942, p. 5.
Transcribed & marked up by
Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Could the Philippine Islands have been successfully defended against the Japanese? The military experts say no; President Roosevelt in his radio speech of Feb. 23 said no. All that could be expected, according to them, was a delaying action.

This is not true. Nothing else could have happened as long as the masses ot the Philippine people were not rallied to the fight. But if the masses had been rallied, the picture in the Philippines, would be entirely different today from what it is.

The news dispatches attempt to give the impression that great numbers of Filipinos are aiding the United States forces in the Philippine Islands. This is a deliberate misrepresentation. Only a very small part of the population of the islands is supporting General MacArthur.

Just as the hated British exploiters could not get any support from the Malayan people in the struggle between Great Britain and Japan, so, for the most part the United States has been unable to get real support from the great masses of the Filipinos. The reason is that they know the truth about American imperialism.

Under U.S. Rule

Long before the outbreak of the war between Spain and the United States in 1$98, the Filipinos were in armed revolt against Spain for their national independence. The United States, upon declaring war, offered a united front to the Filipino insurrectionaries against Spain, which was accepted.

When the Spaniards surrendered, the Filipinos demanded their independence, this time from the United States. In reply, the American troops turned their rifles against their former allies. After a bloody war against the Filipinos, the domination of the United States was established.

More than 40 years have passed. What have been the results of American rule?

Fifty per cent of the people cannot read or write. The death rate on the Islands is twice as high as that in the United States. One cannot walk through the terrible slums of Manila without hearing tubercular coughing on all sides. Tuberculosis, a disease of malnutrition, is rife in Manila.

The wages of the industrial urban workers, the “aristocracy” of labor, are 50 cents a day.

In the Tural areas the sharecropper is lucky if $1 a week passes through his hands. They do not get enough food to nourish themselves adequately.

Conditions of the Peasants

The average tao (peasant) suffers from roundworms and hookworms that drain his strength. But these are not the only parasites he supports. He lives under a cacique (landlord) system. Half the crop goes to the cacique. The feudal status on the land has been unchanged from the days of Spanish rule.

The tao is perpetually in debt. He has to borrow from the landlord at usurious rates often running to 100% in order to exist until the harvest. He then sells the crop at low harvest prices in order to pay his debts. Soon he must inevitably go into debt again.

The landless rural worker, employed in the sugar, rice, copra, tobacco and hemp fields, earns from 15 cents to 30 cents a day. His hours are from sunrise to sunset.

The workers and peasants are in constant revolt against these conditions. Militant strikes have taken place. Workers’ and peasants’ organizations have spread throughout the country.

To keep down the labor and peasant movement, all the internationally known tricks, are tried, from company unions to company-controlled towns where union leaders and organizers are slugged – if a worse fate does not overtake them.

The governor of the rice and sugar raising province of Pampanga, organized a fascist society. This province was the center of the peasant and rural worker movement, which was strongly dominated by socialist ideas. The hirelings of the governor, working in close collaboration with the constabulary, were unable to make the workers and taos desert their organization.

Profits for Capitalists

Under these economic conditions it is easy to understand how huge fortunes have been built by American investors, and to a lesser extent, the Spaniards. For example, American and Spanish capital, invested in the sugar interests has been consistently earning 20 per cent profit per year.

The Philippines imported $100,000,000 in goods from the United States in 1939. In that year the Islands were the fifth most important customer of the United States.

As is usually the case in the colonies and semi-colonies, the foreign exploiters have developed racial ideas akin to Hitler’s.

The great masses of the Filipinos are considered racial inferiors by the wealthy Americans and Spaniards; even the upper classes of the Filipinos are not permitted in certain clubs reserved for whites.

Imperialism means hunger, disease and insult for the Philippine masses but for the American investors and Wall Street it means super-profits. Is it any wonder these investors oppose independence for the Philippines?

The movement for Philippine independence, now more than 50 years old, met the stubborn resistance of the American government up to 1934 when independence was finally promised for 1946. Even so, certain reservations were to be maintained, such as continuing military forces on the islands.

Independence was promised only because certain interests in competition with the products of the Philippines – such as the American and Cuban sugar interests – wanted the Philippine products subject to tariffs.

So it was not the democratic right of every nation to govern itself, but the argument of dollars which won the promise of freedom for the Phillipines.

In the face of such a record and such hypocrisy, is it not understandable why the Philippine masses are apathetic to the war between the United States and Japan, why they feel it is not their war?

That which a capitalist government could not and cannot do, only a Workers and Farmers Government in the United States would do. Such a government would not be interested in exploiting other peoples but in raising the standards of living not only of their own people but of all nations. Such a government would establish a fraternal alliance with the masses of the present colonies and semi-colonies against imperialism and fascism.

Such a Workers and Farmers Government would be the only guarantee for the independence for the Philippine nation, which under imperialism is destined only to subjugation by one or the other of the large imperialist powers.

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