Ideology and Religion in the Philippines
By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chairman, International Network for Philippine Studies
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
7 May 2005
(Lecture to Filipino Catholic priests in The Netherlands, Belgium and Austria)
The subject given to me for discussion today is quite general and large. We need to reduce the scope to something more
manageable. I propose that we take up the three ideologies that are historically most influential in the Philippines or have
demonstrably most affected the Filipino people. These are Christianity, bourgeois liberalism and Marxism.
I use the term ideology, to mean the study of ideas or a system of ideas. For the purpose of our study, I shall make some
differentiation of the aforesaid three ideologies at the philosophical level, by referring to their respective basic weltanschauung
(world view) and some basic tenets.
We shall not go deep into philosophical questions, like ontology, epistemology, or even ethics as such from any viewpoint.
But we shall discuss how each of these three ideologies has taken some material, institutional or social force in the Philippines
and how significantly it has influenced and affected the Filipino people.
We may discuss briefly how the ideologies are irreconcilable at the philosophical or theological level and likewise how they are
open to dialogue and cooperation. We can discuss how these ideologies have materialized in the Philippines and have resulted
in friendly or unfriendly relations among their adherents. The ultimate purpose of the study is to prove that dialogue and cooperation
among adherents of different ideologies are possible and desirable, especially at the social level for the common benefit of the people.
Some Christians say that there is a Christian philosophy in several respects but other Christians may say rigorously that Christianity is
essentially not an ideology or philosophy but a set of religious beliefs that the best of philosophy cannot totally explain. For instance,
how can human reason explain completely the Trinitarian mystery of three persons in one God? At any rate, I think that all Christians
hold the view that Christian theology is the rational study of God and related religious questions.
St. Augustine said that it is alright for Christians to avail of philosophy so long as belief in the existence of the Supreme Being is affirmed
a priori. Thus, he made use of Platonic philosophy (as interpreted by Plotinus) in order to assert the existence of God prior to all
creation and shed light on other fundamental doctrines of the church. Later in the Middle Ages, St. Thomas Aquinas in his theological
work made use of Aristotle to deal more elaborately with the relations of the divine and the mundane.
From the point of view of Marxists, it is idealism of the objective type to believe in any supernatural being existing objectively and
independently of and prior to material reality. Christian believers consider material reality as God's creation. At any rate, they stand
for the combination of faith and good works as they follow the first great commandment "to love God above all" and the second
great commandment "to love thy neighbor as thyself."
Christianity came to the Philippines with Spanish colonialism in the 16th century. The early Christian fathers acted in the service of
the church and the Spanish crown. They served as the chaplains of the expeditionary forces and as missionaries to Christianize the
natives and persuade them to accept Spanish colonial rule. In a manner of speaking, it was true that the sword and cross combined
to subjugate the people.
The colonialists used divide-and-rule tactics. They recruited native troops from one part of the country to quell the rebellious natives
elsewhere. But they also made use of the friars to persuade the natives to submit to the colonial authority. They made use of the
catechism, the mass and the confessional box to great effect. They followed the line of reasoning that it was better to colonize and
Christianize the natives than to let them be as pagans or as Muslims.
Spanish colonialism could last for so long in the archipelago because of the network of friars in parishes and convents. These provided
a widespread base for the development of the central administration in Manila and the galleon trade between Manila and Mexico. The
Spanish religious orders gained authority and wealth. A theocracy veritably came to exist.
Within the first century of Spanish colonial rule, the Spanish friars successfully pushed the formal abolition of slavery and the encomienda
system. But the feudal system of land ownership by the religious orders and native landlords had already expanded. Serfdom took the
place of the pre-colonial system of small scale patriarchal slavery. Corvee labor was required for public works.
The religious orders engaged in works of charity. They used these as the reason and the base for playing a major role in the galleon
trade. They made money on the cargo space allocated to them. When agricultural production for export and foreign trade flourished
in the 19th century, the religious orders arbitrarily expanded their landed estates and exacted higher rent from the tenants. Thus, the
people became outraged.
Before the middle of the 19th century, most of the indios and mestizos that reached the university level studied for the priesthood.
But upon the growth of foreign trade, local production and domestic commerce, more students could afford to reach the university to
study not only for the priesthood but also for such other professions as law and medicine.
The increase of secular priests among the indios and mestizos eventually led to the secularization movement led by Fathers Burgos,
Gomez and Zamora who demanded that the religious orders turn over the parishes to the secular priests. These three priests were
garroted in 1872 after having been convicted of the false accusation of masterminding the Cavite mutiny. Their martyrdom ignited an
unprecedented wave of national sentiment against the injustice. The moral authority of the colonial authorities, lay and clerical, came
into question in the minds of the people.
In the 1880s well-to-do families sent their children to study in Europe for several reasons, like getting a better kind of higher education
and avoiding the repressiveness of the state and friar-controlled university. The students who went to Spain started the propaganda
movement for reforms within the colonial framework. Although they were reformists, they served as the conveyor of bourgeois liberal
ideas from Europe to the Philippines.
In the 1890s the revolutionary current surged in the Philippines. The armed revolution led by the Katipunan of Andres Bonifacio broke
out in 1896. It called for separation from Spain. It was inspired by the bourgeois liberal ideas of the French revolution. It stood for
national independence, republicanism, separation of church and state, public educational system and the promotion of industry,
agriculture and trade.
The Catholic Church hierarchy and the religious orders served Spanish colonialism to the end. But the Filipino secular priests in general
were either supportive of or sympathetic to the revolution. Father Gregorio Aglipay joined the Filipino revolutionaries and became the
vicar general of the revolution after Bishop Nozaleda sent him as emissary to them.
In both phases of the Philippine bourgeois-democratic revolution, first against Spanish colonialism and then against US imperialism, Filipino
priests actively participated by rallying the people to the revolutionary cause and by being the most effective collectors of resources for
the revolutionary government and army. After the Malolos constitution was promulgated in 1899, Apolinario Mabini had to propose to
the cabinet the suspension of the provision on the separation of church and state for fear that this would prevent the clergy from
doing logistical work for the revolutionary movement.
After Spanish authorities surrendered Intramuros (the walled city of Manila) to the US military forces in 1898, the United States and
Spain signed the Treaty of Paris under which the US purchased the Philippines from Spain for 20 million US dollars and Spanish
corporations and citizens, including the Spanish religious orders, retained their property rights in the Philippines. This was the big
compromise between the outgoing and incoming colonial powers.
In the course of the Philippine revolution, the Filipino secular priests came in control of the parishes and the convents abandoned by
the friars. After the revolution, the religious orders would recover from their losses by concentrating on their convents and schools and
by taking missionaries from the US and Ireland to suit the circumstances of the US colonial rule. The Society of Jesus was quickest at
taking in a mix of Spanish, American and Irish Jesuits. The Augustinians and Dominicans were slower in recomposing their religious
The US colonial administration expropriated large tracts of land from the religious orders for redistribution at a price to the tenants.
The religious orders sent a part of their cash income to their Rome headquarters and used another part to invest in big comprador
operations run by the rich Spanish families, Roxas, Ayala and Soriano. Thus, the church became a major part of the comprador big
bourgeoisie ruling the semifeudal society. To this day the Bank of the Philippine Islands is a major factor of big comprador collaboration
between the church and the old Spanish super-rich.
As the US colonial government established the public school system and encouraged Protestant missions to enter the Philippines, the
Catholic Church and the religious orders (including new ones from the US) developed their own educational system at various levels.
They used both the churches and the schools to retain their role as the dominant church in the Philippines. Through the Catholic
schools, they combined in the curricula religious instruction with the subjects of bourgeois liberal education and training.
In the social encyclicals since Rerum Novarum, the Popes present the Church as above Marxism and liberalism or above socialism and
capitalism and as being in favor of some idealized medieval guild system. But in Catholic schools in the Philippines, there is in fact a
partiality to capitalism and bourgeois liberal ideas, especially in courses in business, accounting, law, economics, political science and
other social sciences. The Church believes that the encyclicals would help the members of the exploiting classes to have a social
conscience and to cope with the social discontent and mass movements of the working people.
In the second half of the 1930s, the Commonwealth government president Quezon raised the slogan of social justice and offered
cooperation to progressive organizations in order to deal with the social discontent and the threat of fascism. Fascist-minded Spanish
Dominican friars openly provoked President Quezon when they had the school band play a Spanish fascist march when he visited his
Letran alma mater. A fascist-minded American Jesuit also used the Chesterton Guild to make radio broadcasts of anti-Bolshevik
During my years in high school at the Ateneo de Manila in the 1950s, the Jesuits there were quite rabid in pushing Cold War propaganda
and were proud of the Jesuit-educated Senator Joseph McCarthy of witchhunt notoriety. They called then Senator Claro Mayo Recto a
"crazy communist". Jesuit-trained anti-communists like Manuel Manahan and Raul Manglapus were the rah-rah boys of the CIA
handpicked President Magsaysay.
I was deeply pleased when Fr. Hilario Lim rebelled against the Jesuit Order and, together with other priests belonging to other religious
orders, advocated the Filipinization of the Catholic religious orders. I helped him to speak in the University of the Philippines and other
universities. I was very glad to do so because I saw the colleges and universities run by the foreign-controlled religious orders as the
hotbeds of the most reactionary ideas, intolerant of patriotic and progressive ideas.
The influence of Catholic thinking extended into the supposedly nonsectarian and liberal University of the Philippines, when I was a
student and then a young teacher. The Catholic militants among the faculty and students tended to overreach. At one time, I
denounced the authorities in my department for overloading a course on great ideas with the writings of such Catholic thinkers as
Cardinal Newman, G. K. Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the neo-Thomists Jacques Maritain and Etienne Gilson,
and totally ignoring those of Marx and Engels.
Cardinal Santos and other bishops endorsed the martial law proclamation of Marcos in 1972 and called for giving the latter a chance to
undertake "reforms". But I had high hopes that the pro-imperialist and reactionary big comprador-landlord character of the institutional
church could be counteracted from within. The Christians for National Liberation (CNL) was then budding forth.
I expected that the CNL could take more courage and strength by availing of the tradition of the revolutionary clergy in the old
democratic revolution and the progressive provisions in the social encyclicals of Pope John XXIII and Pope Paul VI. The CNL became
a major organization in the National Democratic Front of the Philippines in 1973. By 1974 the progressive clergy was ready to openly
support the La Tondeņa strike and subsequent strikes and to press Cardinal Sin and other bishops to speak up against the human rights
violations being perpetrated by the Marcos fascist regime.
The patriotic and progressive clergy and church people did splendid work in participating in the struggle to expose, oppose, isolate,
weaken and overthrow the Marcos fascist dictatorship. They demonstrated that their faith in God is in harmony with their determination
and passion to serve the people. After all, the teaching of the church requires that faith and good works must go together.
II. BOURGEOIS LIBERALISM
What Marxists may describe as the philosophy of subjectivist idealism, using the perception or cognition of the individual as the starting
point, reached the Philippines mainly in the form of the political philosophy of bourgeois liberalism. This was imbibed by the propagandists
of the 1880s and adopted definitively by Andres Bonifacio and other revolutionary leaders in the 1890s through their reading of books
about the Enlightenment and the French revolution and liberal constitutions from abroad in order to confront the colonial and feudal
situation in the Philippines.
This bourgeois liberalism is more in the tradition of French rational philosophy bannered by Descartes (cogito, ergo sum) than British
empiricism. The Cartesian deduction is that God created the world and left it like a clock to function by itself. Whether it is that of
John Locke or David Hume, British empiricism is preoccupied with the question of appearance and reality and the aspect of perception
in human consciousness. The Lockean type of empiricism presumes a material substratum, while that of the Hume type presumes reality
as nothing but the complex of sense data.
At any rate, bourgeois liberalism as it has come to the Philippines upholds the Declaration of the Rights of Man, the principles of liberty,
equality and fraternity, science and democracy, freedom of thought and belief, enlightenment and education. Our Filipino revolutionary
forefathers drew the ideas of bourgeois liberalism from their original sources in continental Europe. If we look for earlier conveyors of
bourgeois ideology other than the reformist propagandists of the 1880s, we can look at the records of the freemasons in the 19th
In connection with the French revolution, exponents of bourgeois liberalism divided into two, the Jacobins who were determined to
end the ancien regime by armed revolution and the Girondists who wanted to peacefully morph the monarchy into a constitutional one. A similar dichotomy occurred in the Philippines, with Jose Rizal seeking to establish the reformist La Liga de los Compromisarios and Andres Bonifacio the revolutionary Katipunan.
Revolutionary ideology may come from abroad because the revolutionary movement developed there ahead and won power earlier.
But it is not only a matter of subjective borrowing from abroad. The ideas must first of all be applicable to the general level of social
development and motivate the local revolutionary class and the people to wage revolution. In struggling against the colonial and feudal
situation, the nascent bourgeoisie adopted bourgeois liberalism as the guiding ideology rather than Marxism, which then was also
It was fine enough that the Filipino people and revolutionary forces pioneered the bourgeois democratic type of revolution in colonial
Asia. The Philippine revolution won resoundingly against Spanish colonialism. The revolutionary leaders and government produced
political writings and adopted and implemented policies, which reflected the Filipino people's conditions, needs, demands and aspirations
for national independence, democracy, social justice and all-round social progress.
But US imperialism intervened and launched a war of aggression against the Philippine republic. To succeed, it used not only superior
military power and tremendous economic resources but also ideological and political deception. To justify the aggression, it claimed to
bring Christianity and democracy to the Filipino people. It proclaimed a policy of benevolent assimilation. It was monopoly capitalism on
the rampage but used the Jeffersonian slogans of liberal democracy to deceive and co-opt the bourgeois leadership of the revolution.
Bourgeois liberalism bifurcated in the Philippines. One was the progressive kind still held onto by those who sought to pursue the
revolutionary struggle for national independence. The other was the pro-imperialist kind that became increasingly dominant as the
official signboard of the US colonial regime. The false claim to liberalism by the imperialist power had some semblance of truth because
it had the leeway to carry out certain changes that appeared to make the Philippines freer and more progressive than under the
decrepit colonial and feudal system under Spain.
The US colonial regime established the public school system. It expanded the system of transport and communications. It carried
out some amount of land reform, which at first was impressive. It allowed the peasants free movement either to have homesteads
in frontier areas or become farm workers in the expanding export-oriented plantations. It opened the mines. Its corporations
established some manufacturing enterprises. The US was indeed a modern imperialist power that could make direct investments and
impose loans on the Philippines for the purpose of bringing about a semifeudal economy and drawing superprofits from it.
Even after its proclamation of the defeat of the Philippine revolution, the US prohibited the public display of the Philippine flag and
suppressed other manifestations of Filipino patriotism. At the same, because the popular demand for immediate, absolute and complete
independence could not be silenced, the US kept on promising the grant of national independence on the precondition that the Filipino
leaders and people submitted themselves to the new colonial power and fulfilled their training in "democracy".
American teachers came in large numbers to teach in public schools at various levels. The University of the Philippines was proclaimed
as a nonsectarian liberal institution of higher learning. In the Philippine Normal School and the regional teacher training schools John
Dewey's books were used as textbooks. His utilitarian brand of pragmatist philosophy was thus propagated. It asserts that only through
experimentation and practical results can the truth or meaning of a proposition be proven.
The US colonial regime developed the public school system to assure itself of personnel for the expanding bureaucracy and the
professions. It also pushed the pensionado system, which involved the sending of Filipino bureaucrats and academics to the US for
further education in various professions. Thus, in education, government, politics, professions and other spheres, Filipinos with a pro-US
colonial mentality ultimately outnumbered those who held allegiance either to the previous colonial and clerical authorities or to the
By 1946 when it granted nominal independence to the Philippines and turned it into a semicolony, the US was confident that it had
adequately trained puppets to replicate themselves in the political, economic and cultural fields. A bourgeois liberal constitution had
been made since 1935 in the name of a commonwealth government, in preparation for the neocolonial republic. The economy was
securely semifeudal, under US hegemony and run by the big compradors and landlords. Politics and the bureaucracy up to the national
level could be turned over to the politicians of the big compradors and landlords.
The educational system and mass media spread the ideas, information and entertainment that jibe with the US-controlled semicolonial
and semifeudal system. The US uses scholarships and travel grants under US official agencies (e.g. Fulbright, Smith-Mundt, US State
Department, AID, etc.) and US private philanthropic foundations (e.g. Ford, Rockefeller, etc.,) in order to influence and control the
thinking of the politicians, mass media personnel, academics, cultural workers, the intelligentsia in general and the masses. US
commercial films and pop music have a strong impact on the minds of the people.
The "free marketplace of goods and ideas" is the most repeated liberal slogan used by the defenders of the status quo to describe
the system. The glorification of the market is founded on bourgeois liberal philosophy and is sustained by the view of Adam Smith
that the social good is attained through the invisible hand of self-interest in the market. The semicolonial political system controlled
by foreign monopoly capitalism, domestic feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism is called a "liberal democracy". The semifeudal economic
system is variably called "free enterprise", "market economy" and the like.
The US and the Filipino puppets play semantical games to deceive the people. From one puppet regime to another, they describe as
land reform what amounts to an offer of commercial sale of land at a prohibitive price for the landless poor. They describe as
industrialization the establishment of reassembly and repackaging plants to serve domestic consumption as in the 1950s or the export
market in current times.
They scoff at the proposal of national industrialization on the basis of local resources as "backward integration" and putting up
raw-material mills and sweatshops for low-value added semi-manufacturing for export as "forward integration". Since the neoliberal
shift of economic policy stress to "free market' globalization, the puppet regimes have played up the myth of the "free market" to
obscure the need for development through national industrialization and land reform.
In the final analysis, the semicolonial and semifeudal system is a system of violence. This includes the daily violence of exploitation in
factories, farms and service lines and the conspicuous brutal force for assaulting striking workers and protesting people and for
suppressing the people's revolutionary movement. The imperialists and reactionaries justify such violence in various clever ways.
Since the launch of the Cold War after World War II, they have used the spectre of communism as supposedly destructive of freedom
in order to justify the anticommunist hysteria and witchhunts and the violent suppression of the patriotic and progressive mass
movements. Despite the successful bloody suppression of the people's revolutionary movement in the early 1950s, the US imperialists
and reactionaries proceeded to enact the Anti-Subversion Law of 1957 for the purpose of conducting an anticommunist witchhunt.
According to its main proponent, Rep. Joaquin Roces, the real main drafters of the law behind the scenes were an American Jesuit
priest teaching at the Ateneo de Manila and the political secretary of the US embassy.
As earlier pointed out, a socioeconomic, political and legal compromise or alliance exists between the forces of imperialism and reaction
and the institutional church. This partnership provides the widest base for the most effective kind of anticommunist propaganda. In
philosophical and theological terms, a close kinship exists between the church and the secular oppressors and exploiters. Of course,
the relationship of the ideas and their history need to be examined if we hope for a change of situation or direction for the better.
The anti-communist propaganda of the Cold War and the Anti-Subversion Law prepared the climate for the emergence of the Marcos
fascist dictatorship and the persistence of the most reactionary policies against the working people in the post Marcos regimes. Once
more in a big way the US-instigated "permanent war on terror" emboldens pro-US bourgeois governments the world over to adopt
the open rule of terror under the pretext of antiterrorism and drives the US to unleash preemptive strikes and wars of aggression.
Before, during and after the Cold War, the US imperialists and their puppets have used all forms of anticommunist propaganda, ranging
from the crudest military psywar and political rabblerousing to the most sophisticated intellectual and philosophical anticommunist lines
of thinking in universities, seminaries and the like. I have mentioned some basic positions and variants in bourgeois subjectivist
philosophy. It is not necessary to try mentioning all of them here. They are too many. They are churned out daily by the university
presses that publish doctoral dissertations. It is in the nature and method of subjectivist philosophy to be one-sided, fragmentary,
self-indulgent, narrow-minded, too shortsighted sometimes and too farsighted at other times.
Certain bourgeois philosophical trends have influenced academics and professionals in the Philippines. They do not spread right away to
the mass media and to the masses. But they serve to reinforce the more secular kind of bourgeois subjectivism such as liberalism. They
include logical positivism, existentialism, phenomenology, art for art's sake in aesthetics, behaviorism, behavioralism, structuralism, post
structuralism, postmodernism and relativism. So much philosophizing has been done in the service of the Cold War and modern
revisionism by those who present themselves as Marxists, neo-Marxists or quasi-Marxists but who are actually anti-Marxists.
We can discuss any of the major or minor bourgeois subjectivist philosophies if you can raise the point or question pertinent to our
topic today. None of these subjectivist philosophical trends has more influence and effectiveness in Philippine society than the political
philosophy of liberalism.
As a system of ideas established by Marx and Engels, Marxism has three basic components: the philosophy of dialectical materialism,
political economy as critique of the capitalist system and social science revolving around the concepts of class struggle and the class
dictatorship of the proletariat. Each component is supposed to have come from the best sources at the time of Marx and Engels.
To develop dialectical materialism, Marx and Engels studied German philosophy, particularly the works of Hegel and Feuerbach.
Hegelian dialectics was the best of idealist philosophy as it sought to explicate development, even if through the thought process
of thesis-antithesis-synthesis, which is to be realized subsequently in history. The problem with this concept of the self-development
of thought was that it does not originate from material reality and it ends with a "final perfection" in the form of the "transcendental
With the help of the materialist ideas of Feuerbach, Marx turned Hegel upside down to establish the philosophy of dialectical and
historical materialism, which recognizes matter as the starting point and which explains development through the contradictions within
matter as well as contradictions between matter and consciousness. Engels tried to explain the laws of contradiction in terms of the
natural sciences. Marx thoroughly applied the law of contradiction (materialist dialectics) in his works.
To develop Marxist political economy, Marx studied British political economy, particularly Adam Smith and David Ricardo who recognized
labor as the source of value. The labor theory of value is not original with Marx. What is original with him is the penetrating study of
the commodity as the basic cell of the capitalist economy and the definition of the theory of surplus value. The surplus value is the
unpaid labor from which the industrial capitalist gets his profit and pays interest to the bank and rent to the landowner.
To develop the Marxist social science, Marx and Engels studied French social science (particularly the democratic-minded historians and
writers) from which they drew the concept of the class struggle. They developed this further to the level of the concept of the class
dictatorship of the proletariat. They asserted that the class dictatorship of the bourgeoisie (the bourgeois state) must first be
overthrown in order to establish the class dictatorship of the proletariat (the socialist state).
According to a labor historian, the acclaimed founder of the Philippine trade union movement Isabelo de los Reyes came back to the
Philippines at the beginning of the 20th century from his imprisonment in Barcelona, bringing with him the works of Marx and the
anarcho-syndicalists. At that time, Marxism was already the dominant trend in the European trade union movement. But it would
take some decades before Marxism came to be adopted by a definite Philippine organization as the ideological guide to action.
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) was first established by Crisanto Evangelista and other working class leaders in 1930.
It categorically adopted Marxism as the revolutionary guide to action. It was inspired by the Bolshevik revolution and the Third
International. At the same time, it was well founded on the circumstances of the Filipino people and achievements of the Philippine
working class movement. It directed the proletariat and the people to fight for their rights and interests.
Like the early Christians persecuted by imperial Rome, the Filipino communists were persecuted by the colonial regime of US imperialism.
A few months after the founding of the CPP, the colonial authorities disrupted a peaceful mass rally of the workers and urban poor.
Then, they falsely accused the CPP leaders of sedition and had them arrested, imprisoned and convicted for sedition. They banned the
CPP until President Quezon of the Commonwealth government agreed, for the sake of promoting his call for social justice and
supporting the international popular front against fascism, to release the CPP leaders and allowed the CPP to operate legally in 1937.
Even when it was banned, the CPP did everything it could to develop the mass movement of the workers and peasants. It continued
to do so after regaining legality in 1937 and going into a merger in 1938 with the Socialist Party headed by Pedro Abad Santos. When
they occupied Manila in 1942, the Japanese fascists arrested and murdered Evangelista and Abad Santos, respectively chairman and
general secretary of the merger party of the CPP and SPP.
The people's army led by the merger party was patriotic and independent of the other guerrilla forces who had sworn allegiance to
the US within the USAFFE framework and who were ordered by MacArthur to wait for the return of US military forces. It fought the
Japanese occupation fiercely. It carried out land reform. It established democratic organs of political power up to the provincial level
in Central Luzon.
But upon US reconquest of the Philippines, the US puppet troops viciously attacked the revolutionary forces and people, despite the
declared policy of the merger party to welcome the return of the Commonwealth government and participate in the neocolonial
republic to be established. The US imperialists were hell-bent on retaining and expanding economic, political, military and cultural
control over the Philippines under the cover of the nominal grant of independence.
The merger party launched what it called an all-out armed struggle to win power in two year's time. The US-propped puppet
government broke the backbone of the armed revolutionary movement in the first two years of the 1950s. In 1957 it enacted
the Anti-Subversion Law in order to destroy every trace of Marxist ideology, politics and organization by penalizing any vestige,
substitute, extension or successor of the CPP. But conditions in the Philippines continued to deteriorate at the expense of the
working people and broad masses due to the oppression and exploitation perpetrated by foreign monopoly capitalism, domestic
feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism.
The patriotic and progressive mass movement, generated by the forces of the workers, peasants, youth, women, professionals,
religious and others, became resurgent in the 1960s. In 1968 the Communist Party of the Philippines was reestablished under the
guidance of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought and on the basis of opposing modern revisionism, rectifying errors in the history
of the merger party and setting forth the tasks for waging revolution.
The reestablished CPP is of the view that it has benefited from the three basic components of Marxism and from the contributions of
Lenin, Stalin and Mao to develop them. It has learned from the lessons of carrying out socialist revolution and socialism under Lenin,
Stalin and Mao as well as from the negative lessons of revisionist betrayal. It considers as matters of the utmost importance Mao's
penetrating analysis of the law of contradiction, epistemology and social practice and his theory of continuing revolution under
proletarian class dictatorship to consolidate socialism, combat revisionism and prevent the restoration of capitalism. .
However, in terms of the class analysis of Philippine history and current circumstances, the reestablished CPP considers as an advance
on its predecessor CPP and the merger party of the CPP and SPP its explication of the semicolonial and semifeudal conditions, the
need of a new type of national democratic revolution led by the proletariat, the friends of the revolution such as the toiling masses
and the middle social strata, the enemies such as the exploiting classes of big compradors and landlords, the basic tasks of struggling
for national liberation and democracy and the socialist perspective.
The CPP has been able to strengthen itself ideologically by upholding and applying Marxism-Leninism, politically by pursuing the general
line of new democratic revolution through protracted peoples war and organizationally by adhering to the principle of democratic
centralism. It has overcome errors and shortcomings through rectification movements and criticism and self-criticism. It has also
surmounted tremendous odds through hard work, arduous struggle and sacrifices.
It has succeeded in building its own nationwide organization among the toiling masses, the people's army, the democratic organs of
political power, the mass organizations and various types of alliances. It has prevailed over a 14-year fascist dictatorship that aimed
to destroy it as well as over succeeding regimes. It has prevailed over the ideological, political and military attacks unleashed by all
these puppet regimes under US direction.
Sometime ago, the imperialists, their puppets and other camp followers have claimed that the history of humankind has reached its
end in capitalism and liberal democracy and cannot go any further towards socialism. They have obscured the work of the modern
revisionists in undermining and destroying socialism for decades and exaggerated the role of Reagan and the Pope in this regard.
They have gone so far as to claim that the success of neocolonialism in undermining and negating the national independence of the
backward countries has rendered futile the struggle for national independence against imperialism, its neoliberal pretence of "free
market globalization" and its neoconservative drive for wars of aggression in a bid to impose a Pax Americana on the people of the
world in the entire 21st century.
Let me say with scientific certitude and revolutionary optimism that so long as the people are oppressed and exploited they will resist
and fight for a new and better world. They will fight for national liberation, democracy and socialism. Indeed, as oppression and
exploitation are now worsening, the people's resistance is steadily spreading and intensifying throughout the world.
IV. RELATIONS OF MARXISM, CHRISTIANITY AND LIBERALISM
In this concluding part of my presentation, let me discuss how Marxism, Christianity and liberalism can be related to each other in
certain terms. To facilitate my discussion, let me proceed from the viewpoint of Marxism. I think that you expect that from me.
Marxists recognize that Christianity, liberalism and Marxism have appeared on the high road of civilization in that historical sequence in
the world and in the Philippines. Each of these is supposed to offer something radically new and progressive relative to something
old and reactionary in a certain period of history.
Christianity asserts the dignity of the human person, freedom of conscience and love of and service to others. These are principles
that made Christianity radically new and progressive relative to those of the period of slavery. But Christendom and its theocratic
presumptions became suffocating relative to the advance of science and the Enlightenment, the rising aspirations of the bourgeoisie
and the common people who began to demand a new society, the separation of church and state and a comprehensive definition of
rights, including the freedom of thought and belief.
In Philippine history, Christianity has had its positive and negative manifestations. Marxists acclaim the secularization movement and the
Gomburza martyrdom, the partisanship of the Filipino secular priests to the Philippine revolution, the Christians for National Liberation,
the outstanding resistance of the priests, nuns and church people against the Marcos fascist dictatorship and their continuing
participation in the struggle for national liberation and democracy. These are in contrast to the long colonial history of the Catholic
Church and its continuing institutional service and attachment to the secular powers of the semicolonial and semifeudal society.
Marxism appreciates the progressive role of the bourgeoisie against feudalism in world history. It honors the revolutionary bourgeois
liberalism that guided the old democratic revolution. It continues to consider as a basic force of the revolution the urban petty
bourgeoisie, which advocates a patriotic and progressive kind of liberalism. However, it upholds the leading role of the proletariat in
the new democratic revolution. It condemns the pro-imperialist and reactionary kind of liberalism. It criticizes and repudiates bourgeois
rule and the bourgeois concept of freedom.
In bourgeois liberalism, the democratic rights and freedoms are attributed to the individual in the abstract. The difference between
exploited and exploiting classes is glossed over. The difference between the ownership of the means of production and the ownership
of the means of subsistence is obscured by the generalized right to own property as means to pursue happiness. The difference
between oppressor countries, as colonialists and imperialists, and the oppressed peoples and nations, is not at all taken into account
in the bourgeois bill of rights.
What Marxism requires is that aside from guarantees for the rights of the individuals and groups there must be guarantees for the rights
of the exploited class of individuals against the class of exploiters. Further there must be guarantees for the rights of the entire people
or nation against imperialism, neocolonialism and colonialism. Marxists fight for a new state and new constitution that guarantees
freedom from oppression by a class, state and foreign oppressors.
It is already well proven in history that Christians, liberals and Marxists can live together, dialogue and cooperate with others for the
common good of the people. They can enjoy in common the freedom of thought and belief. They can coexist without giving up
their distinctive philosophies and beliefs. In the course of the new democratic revolution, the CPP has been leading the process of
building various revolutionary forces (people's army, organs of political power, mass organizations, alliances etc.) in which Marxists,
Christians, liberals and people of other persuasions live in harmony and cooperate. They can stand on the same common social ground
and negotiate and agree on social, economic, political and cultural guiding principles and policies that are beneficial to all.
In recent times, they were able to unite against the Marcos fascist dictatorship, oppose its grave human rights violations and
overthrow it in 1986. Once more they were able to unite against the corrupt Estrada regime and removed it from power in 2001.
Right now, they are considering how to oust the Arroyo regime. They can agree on the most resolute and militant course of action
for the good of the entire people. They can go as far as overthrow the current unjust ruling system and replace it with a patriotic
and democratic government.
It is possible, desirable and necessary for Marxists, Christians and liberal to dialogue, cooperate and work together in the struggle for
national liberation, democracy, social justice and all-round development. Those who do not comprehend or who lag behind in
comprehending this proposition can be persuaded through patient reasoning. There are no other methods than information, education
and well-reasoned persuasion for raising the level of common understanding and cooperation.
But of course there are rabid anti-communists, pro-imperialists and die-hard reactionaries. If their position is a matter of conviction or
opinion, they have the right to hold on to it and there is no other way to deal with them but through debate or dialogue. It is an
entirely different matter if they wield and use state power to suppress the Marxists and other people. The problem of armed
counterrevolution is different from counterrevolutionary thinking and has to be dealt with differently.
But even when there is already a clash of arms, peace negotiations are possible. Thus, the National Democratic Front of the
Philippines (NDFP) has agreed to undertake peace negotiations with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).
The substantive agenda includes respect for human rights and international humanitarian law, social and economic reforms, political
and constitutional reforms and the end of hostilities and disposition of forces.
If the pro-imperialists and die-hard reactionaries succeed in scuttling the peace negotiations, it only means that they want to settle
the civil war through the application of the so-called purely military solution. They are carried away by the Bush line of permanent
"war on terror". The revolutionary forces and people have to prepare against the worst in order to be able to hope for the best. ###