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New International, December 1947


Gerald McDermott

Betrayal In The Philippines


From The New International, Vol.1 XIII No. 9, December 1947, p. 287.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Betrayal In The Philippines
by Hernando J. Abaya, with an Introduction by Harold Ickes
A.A. Wyn, New York 1946.

Abaya’s book gives a look behind the Truman administration’s own iron curtain and chronicles the method by which American imperialists and their compradore native assistants kept this Pacific colony subjugated through invasion and counter-invasion.

To get this picture, however, a little reading between the lines is necessary. It is also necessary for the reader to suffer through long and numerous quotes from Roosevelt, Truman, MacArthur, and so on. Abaya writes like a Filipino Drew Pearson. That is, he has facts, names, places, and a sense for inside news. Also like Pearson, the material is poorly organized – at times so much so as to be confusing – but the material is there, and from the very mass of it arises the story of the occupied and “liberated” Philippines.

The point that strikes the Marxist reader time after time is how real the “Third Camp” of labor and the colonial people really was. The most eloquent testimony to this still very much alive force was the pains taken by American, Japanese and Filipino capitalism always to keep a circle of bayonets around the masses, no matter what the inter-imperialist war might bring.

Belligerently muddled people – like Ickes – see only the shameful fact that the present Philippine government of Roxas is made up of men who collaborated actively with the Japanese. The truth is that these collaborators were loyal to their more important struggle – the class struggle against the Filipino peasantry.

With the defeat of American forces in the Philippines in 1942, the compradore Filipino bourgeoisie undertook a division of labor. Quezon, Osmena, and a few others fled to Washington to keep up good relations with the old American overlords. Laurel, Roxas and the majority of the native capitalists and landlords stayed behind – to help the new Japanese overlords, to he sure – but also and primarily to direct Japanese bayonets against their real enemy, the peasantry.

The working masses were watching. The American “protector” had proved weak. The native rulers flip-flopped, bickered and lost both prestige and their grip on the repressive state apparatus. And most important of all, arms were all over the place for the seizing. The peasantry struck out on its own. By the time American troops returned, a virtual dual power existed in central Luzon.

MacArthur’s return signaled a drive to smash the Hukbalahap (peasant resistance movement). Before the Japanese had surrendered, the terror against the peasant resistance was begun. At the same time, Osmena’s first move upon returning was to extend a hand to his class brothers, the leaders of the puppet republic – the Japanese one, that is. The book clearly shows MacArthur’s role in this – he was not only the main party to white-washing the collaborators, but actively fostered the rapprochement of the Osmena and Roxas wings of the Filipino bourgeoisie. Throughout his role of establishing American dominance, MacArthur relied primarily on machine guns rather than his much publicized “personal prestige” in the islands.

The book concludes with the account of how the collaborationist wing rose to power over the Osmena wing after Philippine “independence” – with the active connivance of MacArthur, High Commissioner McNutt, and the Truman administration. After all, Roxas & Co. had the experience of a previous puppet “independence” under their belts.

The book does not tell in so many words of the eventual Stalinist domination of the peasant section of the resistance movement. This is all too clear, however, from the program of the political arm of the resistance – the Democratic Alliance. It is the self-defeating “democratic revolution” approach of Stalinism. The Stalinists tried to lead the peasants into the Osmena camp, and the Roxas-MacArthur-McNutt machine rolled over them to victory.

To this day, however, the peasants of Luzon retain their arms and organizations. Their ally, the Filipino labor movement, continues to grow. This is the best insurance against another Betrayal in the Philippines.

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