The Communist Party of the Philippines Pursuing the objective of creating a solid political instrument of the working class, which he had earlier attempted in the Partido Obrero, Crisanto Evangelista established the Communist Party of the Philippines which would be imbued with Marxism-Leninism. Supported by the Katipunan ng mga Anak Pawis and the Katipunang Pambansang Mambubukid sa Pilipinas, the chief organizations of the trade union movement and the peasant movement respectively, the Communist Party of the Philippines was founded on August 26, 1930, and formally launched on November 7, 1930, thus bringing into an alliance the working class and the peasantry.
The Communist Party of the Philippines immediately became the object of concerted vilification and provocations by the ruling class and the U.S. colonial government. It faced immediately the same reactionary forces of imperialism and feudalism which thwarted the Philippine Revolution at the turn of the century and the first labor federation, the Union Obrera Democratica, in 1902 and 1903.
On May 1, 1931, workers marching under the two o’clock sun were bombarded with jets of water at Maypajo, Caloocan, upon the orders of the U.S. colonial regime. Subsequently, the meeting of the workers to celebrate the day was raided by American secret policemen and constabulary soldiers. The jails of Manila were filled with industrial workers and peasants. Twenty-eight communist leaders headed by Crisanto Evangelista, Juan Feleo, Guillermo Capadocia and Mariano Balgos were singled out from hundreds of arrested workers and were accused of sedition and illegal assembly. The leaders were given considerably long prison terms, others were banished. The Communist Party was outlawed, only a few months after its establishment. Provincial governors and town presidents were instructed by the U.S. colonial regime not to give any permit to the KAP and KPMP for any gathering.
It was only when the demand for the Popular Front grew stronger, as a result of the depression and worsened condition of the masses, that President Quezon pardoned the imprisoned and banished labor leaders in 1936. The Roosevelt government, in an antifascist act of expediency, acceded to the clamor for the release of the Communist Party leaders; communist parties in all parts of the world had become the most reliable antifascist fighters.
At the same time, Quezon tried to establish labor “unity” under his leadership and he tried establishing the National Federation of Labor with government subsidy. His attempt failed and Evangelista succeeded in upholding as a matter of principle and in practice the independence of the working-class movement from the Commonwealth government.
Come 1938, the Communist Party of the Philippines became numerically stronger as it merged with the Socialist Party led by Pedro Abad Santos. Through this merger, it made up for the years when it was outlawed and its leaders were either in prison or banished. The Socialist Party, which had become strong in the countryside, brought the peasantry in greater number to the Communist Party of the Philippines. The latter party had continued to enjoy the support of the proletariat even in its underground years, as proven when it again emerged.
In 1939, Crisanto Evangelista made another consolidation in the trade union movement and organized the Collective Labor Movement. This later became an organic part of the anti- Japanese resistance movement.
At this point, we give recognition to the profound development of the ideology, politics and organization of the working class under the leadership of Crisanto Evangelista. With respect to ideology, the working class started to grasp the universal theory of Marxism-Leninism. With respect to politics, the Communist Party started to make the working class a significant force in the struggle for national democracy. With respect to organization, the Communist Party of the Philippines was established as a definite working-class party.
A serious shortcoming of the leadership of the Communist Party of the Philippines, before the contradiction between the Filipino people and Japanese fascism became the principal contradiction, was the failure to place the principal stress on the national and agrarian struggle against U.S. imperialism and feudalism. The leadership was well-versed in the contradiction between the proletariat and the capitalist class in general, but it failed all the time to stress the fact that the main contradiction within the Philippine society then was between U.S. imperialism and feudalism on the one hand and the Filipino people, mainly the workers and peasants, on the other hand. While all the workers, Marxist or not, demanded Philippine independence from U.S. imperialism, the matter of national liberation was obscured by the slogans of class struggle between the capitalist class and the working class.
The Communist Party of the Philippines was so immersed in legal and urban struggles that it was unprepared to wage armed struggle against Japanese fascism immediately. Crisanto Evangelista and other leaders of the Party were apprehended in the city by the Japanese a month after enemy occupation of Manila. Evangelista died a patriotic death in the hands of the Japanese fascists.
During the war, the CPP failed to make use of the Popular Front and the antifascist struggle as an occasion for building up anti-imperialism that would last the duration of the war and be capable of meeting the return of U.S. imperialism. Had the people been prepared to fight the return of U.S. imperialism, the slogan of “democratic peace” would not have been raised to allow the U.S. imperialists to crush the forces of national democracy, which broadly included not only the Communist Party of the Philippines and the HUKBALAHAP but even such a party as the Democratic Alliance.
The Japanese Occupation put the trade union movement into disarray as industrial and commercial activity became irregular and fell under the control of the aggressor.