Marco L. Valbuena is the Chief Information Officer Communist Party of the Philippines.
What is the state of Western neocolonialism/neoliberalism in the Philippines? How does American imperialism still affect the nation? Talk about the CPP’s designation of the nation as semi-colonial/semi-feudal.
US imperialism remains the dominant political, economic, military and cultural power in the country. The neocolonial or puppet state continues to be subservient to the International Monetary Fund and World Bank and its credit rating agencies, to the American Chamber of Commerce, the US State Department and US armed forces.
The ruling classes of big bourgeois compradors and big landlords are mainly beholden to the US through long-standing economic and trade ties. The client-state and its armed forces in the main abide by US economic and foreign policy dictates.
Neoliberal economic policies are promoted along the lines of “promoting foreign investments” which have condemned the country to the status of exporter of low value-added semiprocessed manufactured goods and raw materials. As a result, the country remains export-oriented and dependent on foreign debt and imports. There are no basic industries, and manufacturing is mainly tied to the “global supply chain” or the international assembly line. Agricultural production remains largely backward and small-scale, even if there are large plantations dedicated to export crops.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is subservient to the US armed forces and relies on the US for financing, weapons, indoctrination and trainings. The US military has advisers and personnel permanently stationed in AFP camps across the country. Through its Operation Pacific Eagle-Philippines, the US extends funding under the guise of its “war against terrorism.” The US directs the AFP in its brutal counterguerrilla and counterinsurgency war, and has promoted aerial bombing using jetfighters and attack helicopters provided by American manufacturers and subsidiaries.
The Philippine media is under the heavy influence of the American press. News and information in the Philippines is drawn from CNN, MSNBC, AP, Reuters, AFP and other Western news agencies and mainly reflects the views of the American government. The Philippine educational system remains under the system promoted by the World Bank.
China is a rising imperialist power in the Philippines and is pushing to grow its influence within big business and the Philippine military. Chinese and American companies have largely mutually benefited from neoliberal economic policies. China has largely accommodated the interests of local bureaucrat capitalists, especially in government contracts for infrastructure projects. Under the Duterte administration, it can be said that China has managed to assert itself for increased influence. In return, China is engaged in large-scale plunder of Philippine marine and mineral resources.
Please describe for our readers the armed struggle the CPP and NPA are currently undertaking.
MV: The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) is leading a people’s democratic revolution that aims to overthrow the class rule of US imperialism, the big bourgeois compradors and the big landlords. It aims to put an end to the semicolonial and semifeudal system in order to create the conditions for socialist construction and revolution.
The CPP, through the New People’s Army (NPA), wages revolutionary armed struggle in the rural areas in more than 70 of 81 provinces in the Philippines. It also builds branches and committees in the cities among workers, the petit bourgeoisie and national bourgeoisie.
What is the party’s official response to the claims of Duterte that interference is being made in the May elections? What is the party’s stance on the elections?
The CPP regards the Philippine elections, primarily, as a contest between the different political factions of the ruling classes. Because the CPP is an illegal party and works outside the laws of the reactionary government, it does not participate in the elections. But the CPP closely observes the elections and helps guide the people as they participate in it.
Recent claims of Duterte that the CPP is in alliance with Vice President Leni Robredo or that the CPP is plotting to disrupt the upcoming elections are baseless. It is clearly an attempt to undermine the mounting election campaign of Robredo and Sen. Francis Pangilinan as president and vice-president, who have consistently opposed Duterte’s policies and have promised to make him account for the crimes against humanity committed during the sham drug war.
There is also reason to believe that Duterte is setting the stage for some sort of desperate political bid to steal the elections by declaring martial law or some sort of national emergency before or right after the elections, using the “communist disruption” as pretext. This might be a stupid scheme but can be resorted to by Duterte if he cannot be given assurances by the US imperialists who are now actively stage-managing the elections.
What damage has Duterte done in his time in his “all-out war” against the CPP, and can it be undone by any candidate?
MV: The all-out war of the Duterte regime since 2017 is characterized by brigade-sized military operations, using the whole range of the AFP’s arsenal from jet fighters to artillery batteries and several battalions of combat troops. Although some units of the NPA suffered losses due to some internal weakness or shortcoming, the majority of the NPA units have been able to adjust and carry out guerrilla counter-encirclement and mount tactical offensives from enemy’s rear or flanks. By persevering along the line of extensive and intensive guerrilla warfare on an ever widening and deepening mass base, the Party anticipates the NPA to be able to steadily advance in the coming years.
The broad democratic sectors are hoping that the next government will give more space to peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), put an end to the political suppression against patriotic and democratic forces, and release hundreds of political prisoners languishing in jails across the country. These demands will likely be opposed by the AFP and the militarists in the NTF-Elcac (the center for counterinsurgency).
Describe the help that the CPP has given to the Filipino people. Describe the party’s “revolutionary taxes” on corporations.
Agrarian revolution across the country has benefited millions of peasants across the country in the form of less onerous feudal land rent, higher wages for farmworkers, increased production and other reforms. The masses in the revolutionary areas are politically active and collectively exercise their democratic power through organs of political power which administer their economic, security and other village affairs. These committees also serve to iron out conflicts in the community to raise the level of unity among the people.
Taxes are imposed on businesses that operate within the revolutionary territories. A set percentage is levied on the profits of corporations owned by foreign capitalists, big bourgeois compradors and big landlords. Mining companies, plantations and other large destructive operations that encroach on peasants’ land and ancestral domain are sanctioned by making them pay penalties for violations of policies on the protection of environment and the people’s economic rights.
Small businessmen are also asked to pay a small amount of tax that would not affect the profitability and operations of their enterprise. These taxes are usually mutually agreed upon in negotiations, and are a form of recognition of the authority of the revolutionary government.
Revenues from taxes go to the costs of administration, agrarian reform (farm implements and machineries, seedlings, and so on) and defense of the people’s democratic government.
How did US rule deliberately underdevelop the Philippines?
The Philippines has been underdeveloped under the weight of foreign capital which dominate almost all aspects of the local economy with the collaboration of local big compradors and their bureaucrat capitalist political agents. At the dawn of semicolonialism, a slew of economic measures were implemented including the Parity Rights Act which gave foreign capitalists “equal rights” to operate in the country. Capital was invested mainly in extractive industries (logging, mining, rubber, abaca (manila hemp), coconut oil), which were then exported back to the US. Aside from basic processing, there were no investments in industrial manufacturing. In the late 1950s and 1960s, local manufacturing started to take the form of local assembly of vehicles, production of textile and garments, shoe manufacturing and other commodities mainly from imported components. The national bourgeoisie demanded “import substitution” but were limited to secondary components, although it allowed some degree of industrial manufacturing, e.g. some steel production and processing, batteries, chemicals. This will later be completely suppressed with all-out import liberalization of all kinds of commodities (from shoes to vehicles) starting the 1980s (and especially since the GATT/WTO in 1995) which killed even local assembly. The industrial national bourgeoisie have since been knocked down almost completely, and are now limited to retail, food processing and other minor areas. But even in those areas, they are being eased out by foreign capital and its big bourgeois comprador agents with successive neoliberal measures such as the Foreign Investments Act, the Retail Trade Liberalization Law and the recently enacted amendments to the Public Service Act which will give foreign capital full freedom to engage in the operation of utilities (electricity, water, and so on) which were once prohibited under the 1987 constitution.
What is the CPP’s position on the recent escalation of conflict in Ukraine? How does this conflict potentially impact the struggle in the Philippines?
The current armed conflict in Ukraine is a result primarily of more than 30 years of military aggression and provocation by the US imperialists and its NATO allies against Russia. In brazen transgression of the 1991 Minsk agreement, the US and its allies encroached on central and eastern Europe and one by one mounted wars and other acts of aggression and subversion to force these countries into the NATO, in order to allow the US to establish military bases and missile facilities nearer and nearer of the Russian border. The conflict can be directly traced back to 2014 when the US worked with neo-fascist forces in Ukraine to mount a coup and install a puppet state, push for Ukraine’s accession into the NATO and mount a war against the predominantly Russian Donbass region. Despite the 2014 and 2015 peace agreement concerning the Donbass region in which Ukraine recognized the autonomous status of the region, the Ukrainian armed forces, where the fascist Azov Battalion is embedded, incessantly mounted strikes, resulting in as much as 14,000 deaths over the past eight years. From November last year to February, Ukraine’s armed forces deployed up to 200,000 in the borders of Donbass and escalated the shelling on the instigation of US military advisers.
The “special military operations” of Russia in Ukraine is in the nature of military counter- aggression. It is to the objective interest of Russia to accomplish its aim of destroying the military infrastructure of Ukraine and have it agree to its demands to set aside its aspirations to join the NATO. The Zelensky government, on the other hand, is seeking to prolong the war in order to give time for the US and NATO countries to pour in tanks, missiles and other weapons.
The immediate effect of the Ukrainian conflict on the Filipino people is the skyrocketing prices of oil as a result of speculations by oil companies, investment houses and hedge funds which have pushed prices of crude oil to record highs despite the fact that there is no shortage, and that oil producing countries can easily produce more to make up for the supply disruption. The Filipino people must expose the profit-hungry oil companies who are making windfall profits from the situation in Ukraine.
The Filipino people must also trace the history of the Ukrainian conflict and not be swayed by Western media that denounce Russia’s “unprovoked” act of war in Ukraine. As a result of the prolonged and seemingly insoluble economic crisis in the US, the US government has long resorted to sparking big and small wars to keep the military industrial complex in business. Having ended its occupation of Afghanistan, the US needed another war to justify the record increase in the Pentagon’s budget for 2021 (which is set to increase further in in its FY-2022 budget). With the continuing global capitalist crisis, the US can replicate in Asia its provocations against Russia sometime in the future. Even now, the US is forging alliances such as the QUAD and the AUKUS to mount aggressive military actions in the Pacific, in the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea. In the event that open military conflict between the US and China breaks out, it is not a far-fetched possibility that the US will use its facilities in the Philippines as base for its operations, making the country a target of Chinese military action.
What innovations to Marxist theory has the CPP made in the course of the people’s protracted war, and mobile warfare?
The Party and the New People’s Army have adapted tactics of waging protracted people’s war in an archipelagic country. To do so, they have put into practice the principle of taking the major islands first, and exercising centralized leadership and decentralized operations. From the outset, the people’s war in the Philippines has been waged in a self-reliant manner, not relying on any international support, especially since the USSR and China have long turned their backs against the international proletariat. Its weapons are primarily seized from the enemy by mounting annihilative tactical offensives. To steadily advance, the NPA wages extensive and intensive guerrilla warfare on the basis of an ever widening and deepening mass base, in order to fight the enemy’s strategic offensives, and effectively use the tactics of concentration to carry out military strikes, dispersal and shifting to do mass work. Many of these are application of general principles of guerrilla warfare in the concrete situation in the country.
What is the CPP’s view of some Western socialists who do not care for the national liberation struggle for the Third World? What do those in the West not understand about the struggle for communism in the Third World?
Communists revolutionaries around the world must extend support and solidarity with each other’s struggles. In line with proletarian internationalism, the CPP is in solidarity with the revolutionary struggles of workers in the US, with the armed struggle of the peasants and adivasis of India, and the oppressed and exploited masses around the world.
CJ: How does global capitalism today rely on neo-colonialism and extraction in countries like the Philippines?
There is essentially no change in the fact that the Philippines and other neocolonies serve as sources of minerals and other raw materials. If anything, the plunder of resources has heightened and has become more brazen. Mountains of ore are loaded in barges, shiploads of black sand are siphoned and brought back to China. Industrial fishing along Philippine seas has depleted resources forcing the Philippines, an archipelagic country, to import fish.
How does the CPP help develop cadres? How does it help them stay ideologically committed?
The CPP trains its cadres in revolutionary theory and revolutionary practice. Members undergo the Party’s three level Party course that covers range of topics from the basic line and program of the Party to the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist theory.
Party cadres are deployed to branches and committees that carry out practical revolutionary work of arousing, organizing and mobilizing the masses. A large number of Party members are in the New People’s Army where they lead the practical day-to-day work of the NPA.
The Party promotes criticism and self-criticism in order to overcome weaknesses and shortcomings and raise the capacity of its cadres and their entire organization.
The ideological commitment of Party members are primarily developed by being firmly rooted among the masses where on a daily basis they see and experience together with the masses oppression, exploitation and fascist suppression under the ruling system, and see the necessity of waging revolutionary struggle.
Thank you to Marco L. Valbuena for this interview.