In late February, 2015, five Filipino soldiers were killed and another six injured in an ambush conducted by the insurgents of the New People’s Army. Hit and run tactics were employed by the insurgents, using civilians as shields against counter fire by the Filipino soldiers. This ambush is one of the many guerrilla attacks conducted by the Communist Party of the Philippines against the Filipino government since their establishment in 1968. Their struggle against the current Filipino government has been an ongoing affair in hopes for a successful revolution. Even though the New People’s Army is no where near as big or as active as it once was in years past, the New People’s Army continues in their efforts against the Filipino government.
The roots of establishment of the Communist Party of the Philippines date back to 1950 as a result of a mix of relations between the Philippines, the United States, and Communist China. At the time, the Philippines had recently declared their independence from US colonial rule. This provided the perfect opportunity for the development of communist influence and eventually the foundation of a communist party. Since the party’s establishment the New People’s Army, the military wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, have made many attempts to undermine and overthrow the current Filipino government.
The growing threat of communism within the Philippines’ borders lead to an investigation that had inevitably discovered the presence of a new communist party. “Intelligence agents have unearthed evidence that Communist adherents and party cardholders exist in responsible Government and civic positions hitherto unsuspected.” There was not any real evidence before this incident that suggested communist infiltration of the government, and there had been no reports on the issue. However the government still felt the pressure and potential danger of what could happen if no action were to be taken. It was a common belief that these communist agencies were looking to undermine and overthrow the current government, and to establish communist control. This was in fact the goal of this “communist agency”, and still is today. The government investigation was only the beginning of what will eventually become a menacing presence with the establishment of their own armed force the New People’s Army (Fig. 1).
Where did communist influence begin? The Philippines was under colonial rule by the Spanish for several hundred years before becoming colonized by the United States. The U.S. had traded for the Philippines by giving Spain $20,000,000, and allowing Spanish ships and merchandise to continue to import into the country. The United States firmly believed the Philippines was incapable to govern itself, and with the growing threat of communism spreading throughout Europe and Asia the U.S. thought Spain would not be able to successfully maintain law and order in the Philippines. For a period of time the Filipino people were content with U.S. colonial rule by accepting economic and military aid, rejecting Communist China, allowing U.S. troops to station in the Philippines, and sending their own troops to help fight in Korea . However, U.S. colonial rule in the Philippines was short lived after many nationalist claims were made. There were many nationalist demonstrations held by Filipinos many decades earlier against Spanish colonial rule, but they were never able to declare their independence from Spain. After nearly 50 years of revolution from U.S. colonial rule the Philippines were finally given political independence in 1946 . Shorty after gaining their independence from the U.S. there became many conflicting ideas among the people on how the country should be governed. Independence from the U.S. allowed for more radical ideas of government rule to advance.
During U.S. colonial rule The Communist Party of the Philippines Islands, which was established in August 1930, held its very first Congress in Manila on May 1931 in secret. 40 delegates from 13 Filipino provinces attended the meeting, and established a manifesto which favored the rapid development of the CPP . Their thoughts and ideas in the manifesto stemmed from their hatred of U.S. colonial rule.
The formation of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) had been influenced greatly by the People’s Republic of China and the founding father Mao Zedong to the right (Fig. 2). “On December 26, 1968, the anniversary of the birth of Mao Zedong, eleven young Filipino radicals met secretly at a remote spot in Pangasinan Province in Northern Luzon to found a new communist party, the goal of which was to transform the Philippines through armed revolution into a socialist state. They labored for two weeks to produce the Communist Party of the Philippines” . The CPP incorporated many of the same ideas from the People’s Republic of China including Marxist-Leninist Mao Zedong Thought. The CPP followed what was called the “Maoist formula,” a revolutionary master plan to use peasant war in the Filipino countryside to revolutionize. In specific, the CPP have adopted guerilla warfare, sedition, and Marx’s concept of primitive accumulation (accumulation by dispossession).
In order for the CPP to carry out their revolutionary plan of peasant war they needed to establish an armed revolutionary force. Their armed military wing, known as the New People’s Army, carried out the armed struggle of guerilla warfare, and recruited Filipinos from the underdeveloped countryside. The New People’s Army was able to successfully expand in number due to the fact that they were able to recruit individuals who faced national oppression. The national oppression faced by one group of individuals in particular, the Igorots, originated from their struggle of land. They were pushed out to the outskirts of the Philippines even though they had ancestral claims to the land. Their land had been taken control by the Philippines government, and were given empty promises of development projects that never helped the Ingorots’ cause. Another source of the New People’s Army recruitment came from the Cordillera people. There had been a class struggle between the Cordillera and landlords, which happened to be one of the New People’s Army’s targets in armed struggle. This common “enemy” led to increased recruitment for the New People’s Army. These two groups of people joined the New People’s Army in their struggle for self-determination, so they would be able to “determine their own laws on economic and social matters” .
The number of members in the New People’s Army is not certain since membership was extremely volatile, but according to Mango and Gregor membership was in the number range of approximately 20,000 to 22,000. The guerrilla attacks are directed towards military personnel, but often result in civilian casualties . Members active in the New people’s Army are trained to engage in several small ambushes, which involve “strikes, attacks on landlords, mass resistance to evictions, seizure of food and see supplies from landlords and merchants”. “Many of the Filipino Communist leaders had been convicted on charges of sedition and rebellion and sentenced to various terms of imprisonment” . The text in Fig. 3 reads, “A Philippine court today sentenced six top Communist leaders to death and nine others to life imprisonment for murders, robberies and armed rebellion aimed at overthrowing the Philippine Government”. Several communist affiliates of the Communist Party of the Philippines were found guilty by a Filipino court for actions directed toward overthrowing the government. The six individuals sentenced to death, and the others with lesser sentences had connections with the communist party in China. The text in Fig. 4 reads, in addition to Fig. 3, that, “350,000 unregistered Chinese were in the Philippines, including many communists”  which may have played a large role in how influential the New People’s Army have been on Filipino society.
Further affecting Filipino society, the New People’s Army who adopted Marx’s concept of primitive accumulation  have applied his concept to neoliberal mining in the Philippines. The New People’s Army apply Marx’s idea by killing anti-mining activists, and targeting mines in the Philippines causing millions of dollars in damage. The reason behind the attacks on these activists and the mines is because the mines are progress in the eyes of the Communist Party of the Philippines to be a movement towards capitalism which is associated with Western ideas. In order for them to establish a communist state, any other ideas would have to be destroyed .
The Communist Party of the Philippines founded in 1968 by People’s Republic of China and Mao Zedong influence has resulted in nearly 50 years of revolution through small guerrilla strikes, attacking landlords, resistance against the Filipino military, and destruction of mines scattered throughout the Philippines against Filipino societies. Years of continual support from neighboring Communist China have enabled the Communist Party of the Philippines to expand their influence and recruitment from underdeveloped areas. Even though the Communist Party of the Philippines or New People’s Army are not nearly as influential as they once were in history it is still important to understand the actions conducted by them. Today, government talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines could possibly result in amends , but until a resolution is found the New People’s Army continues to wage their revolution to overthrow the Filipino government.
 “Communist Rebels Kill Five Soldiers in Northern Philippines Ambush,” CTVNews, February 27, 2015, accessed April 9, 2015, http://www.ctvnews.ca/world/communist-rebels-kill-five-soldiers-in-northern-philippines-ambush-1.2256186.
 The New York Times, “Philippines Wary of Communist Infiltration; Say Reds Sponsor Graft to Corrupt Officials.” (New York: The United Press, 1950), 4.
 The New York Times, “Philippines Wary of Communist Infiltration; Say Reds Sponsor Graft to Corrupt Officials,” 4.
 George Edward Taylor, The Philippines and the United States: Problems of Partnership (New York: Praeger), 11.
 Taylor, The Philippines and the United States: Problems of Partnership, 11.
 Taylor, The Philippines and the United States: Problems of Partnership, 93.
 William Chapman, Inside the Philippine Revolution (New York: W.W. Norton 1987), 11.
 Dev Nathan, “Armed Struggle in Philippines,” Economic and Political Weekly (1987), 2201.
 Jose P. Mango, and Gregor A. James, “Insurgency and Counterinsurgency in the Philippines,” Asian Survey (1986), 505.
 Taylor, The Philippines and the United States: Problems of Partnership, 94.
 The United Press, “Philippines Dooms 6 Top Communists.” (New York: The United Press, 1951), 1.
 The New York Times, “Philippines Wary of Communist Infiltration; Say Reds Sponsor Graft to Corrupt Officials,” 4.
 William N. Holden, “The New People’s Army and Neoliberal Mining in the Philippines: A Struggle against Primitive Accumulation,” Capitalism Nature Socialism (2014), 61.
 Holden, “The New People’s Army and Neoliberal Mining in the Philippines: A Struggle against Primitive Accumulation,” Capitalism Nature Socialism (2014), 74-75.
 Prashanth Parameswaran, “Will Philippine Talks with Communist Rebels Resume in 2015?” The Diplomat (2014).
Brands, H.W., Bound to Empire: the United States and the Philippines. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.
Chapman, William, Inside the Philippine Revolution. New York: W.W. Norton, 1987.
Holden, William N., “The New People’s Army and Neoliberal Mining in the Philippines: A Struggle against Primitive Accumulation,” Capitalism Nature Socialism (2014): 61-83. Accessed February 5, 2014.
Mango, Jose P., and A. James Gregor, “Insurgency and Counterinsurgency in the Philippines,” Asian Survey (1986): 501-517. Accessed February 5, 2014.
Nathan, Dev, “Armed Struggle in Philippines,” Economic and Political Weekly (1987): 2201-2203. Accessed February 5, 2014.
Taylor, George Edward, The Philippines and the United States: Problems of Partnership. New York: Praeger, 1964.
The New York Times, “Philippines Wary of Communist Infiltration; Say Reds Sponsor Graft to Corrupt Officials.” New York: The United Press, 1950. From ProQuest Historical Newspapers. Web, http://search.proquest.com/docview/111757152?accountid=14902 (accessed February 13, 2015).
The New York Times, “Philippines Dooms 6 Top Communists.” New York: The New York Times, 1951. From ProQuest Historical Newspapers. Web, http://search.proquest.com/docview/111902734?accountid=14902 (accessed February 13, 2015).
Figure 1. NPA guerrillas march in the background as the infamous Marxist hammer and sickle is displayed, 2013, http://contrarianjournal.com/tag/new-peoples-army/
Figure 2. Mao Zedong portrait, 2012, http://www.deviantart.com/morelikethis/328981301
Figure 3. Philippines Dooms Top 6 Communists, 1950, http://search.proquest.com/docview/111902734?accountid=14902
Figure 4. Philippines Wary of Communist Infiltration; Say Reds Sponsor Graft to Corrupt Officials, 1950, http://search.proquest.com/docview/111757152?accountid=14902
- section 26 (12:10-1)
It is only a natural human behavior to want ones beliefs to be followed by others, to be a leader. This is something the United States is guilty of, especially when it comes to the containment of communism and socialist ideals. This is evident in particular to the Vietnam War when US troops were sent overseas to try and fight the outbreak of communism and the Vietcong. It is not just the war in Vietnam that US has overstepped their boundaries, we are currently getting too involved in the Ukraine as well.
Ever since Vietnam gained its independence from France in 1945, the US had been aiding the efforts to fight against rebels for communism. At the end of the US’s involvement in the war in 1973 South Korea surrendered to the North, which ultimately made all of our troops fighting an unfulfilled loss. Because of the current threat of communism across the globe, it made the US especially susceptible to want to restrict communism. The US’s containment policies and ideas on the domino theory caused the country to overstep their political boundaries and engage in a futile word.
Even before the official war in Vietnam started, people in America were being educated and wanted about the dangers of communism in hopes of preventing it. In an article titled “Education the Way to End Communism, Truman Declares” by Anthony Liviero. This article was published by the New York Times on March 9, 1949 with the intended audience being the general public. The purpose of the article was to stress the importance of educating all people on the dangers of communism in order to prevent it. Even though the article was only intended as a positive, it was never our place to try to teach people another style of government is wrong if it not our country.
The article was written shortly after the Second World War and right before the start of the cold war and China declaring its change to a communist style government. The author, Liviero, compares to the people he is writing about because he is an American man, like President Truman, whom he wrote about. Liviero was also a man with a good education and intelligent which influenced his writing. The article talks about how people everyone should be educated about the dangers of communism so it doesn’t spread. Ultimately, it was unsuccessful because the Vietnam War did happen and was ultimately lost.
This image I selected is an accurate representation of what the era of the Vietnam War looked like back in America. People were very resistant to the war and society, especially the younger, more liberal generation was very distraught about the US staying involved overseas. There was especially more backlash at home in the late 1960’s and early 70’s because at that point, attacks by North Vietnam and the Vietcong became more intense and to a larger scale. Americans continued to protest sending troops over to Vietnam until President Nixon withdrew troops, and even in that time there was still distrust in the American government and its decisions.
Yet another reason why the war in Vietnam was not worth fighting was because even not government officials could see it was an inevitable loss either way. There was an article written in 1962 for the New York Times by Max Frankel. In his article, he predicts that the United States would be involved in the Vietnam War for many years. Although he was wrong about the US hopefully gaining a victory, he was correct about it being a grudgingly long and painful war. When Frankel talks about the US’s aid and involvement in South Vietnam he says it would be a “mistake to look for a dramatic victory in South Vietnam” (Frankel, 1962). Even Frankel could see, like a majority of America that it probably was not worth our time to try and be the heroic country that we are in Vietnam.
Even modern writers, like Frankel can see that the US’s influence just was not powerful enough. A more contemporary article was published in 2012 by Sophie Lam in the UK newspaper, The Independent. In her article, Lam makes the claim that even though the war was 4 decades ago, there is still a distinction on the 17th parallel between the two parts of the country (Lam, 2012). So, even though the war was about a half a century ago, there is still some western influence to the southern parts of Vietnam while the North retains its image of being more conservative. This proves that the US influence is strong, but was still never strong enough to ultimately win the war from the North and communism. Southern Vietnam was never strong enough and neither was the aid from America to fight communism and so the South fell.
Even though the Vietnam War is almost a half century passed, there is still tension with the US and other countries on the topic of communism and different government style beliefs. In an article posted recently on CNN the current state of Russia’s disagreement with the US trying to get involved in Ukraine is being called an “undeclared war” (Chance, 1). Containment ideas from the US are a historical part of many wars and conflicts and history seems to be repeating itself. It seems as though, as evident in Vietnam and now Russia and the Ukraine, as a country, we cannot help ourselves from getting involved in other governments.
In the first image above, there is a group of rioters in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, who are fighting for a change in their government. There seems to be a parallel of the Kiev rioters and members of the Vietcong because they will protest and fight for their ideal government style. The second photo is one of the Vietcong during the war. In the future, the current situation in Ukraine could turn into another “Vietnam” war in that it could simply start out as somewhat innocent protesters and turn into something more serious.
Not only was the war pointless because of the countless American troops lost through the war, there are still Laotian civilians being injured in the war’s aftermath. In an article written for the Washington Post in July 2012 by author, Stephanie McCrummen, she gives a narrative of a trip that Secretary of State Hilary Clinton took to countries such as Laos, Mongolia and Vietnam. The image above shows a photo of Clinton sitting and talking with Laotian Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong. During the war, there were 580,000 US bombing missions between Laos and Vietnam and an average of %30 of the bombs did not detonate until recently. Clinton visited said South Asian countries “to underline the Obama administration’s much-promoted strategic pivot toward Asia, and more particularly to convince ASEAN nations that U.S. interests in the region are not just security-based but also economic” (McCrummen).
There is also the extremely large population of Vietnamese citizens who were acceptable and willing to the change of communism. In 1964, a Vietnamese reporter, whose name was left out of the report, went into Vietcong territory to speak with members of the North Vietnamese’s fighting source. He sat down with the troops for about one hour and asked them about their experiences. Most members he met were late teens or early 20’s. They said that being a Guerilla was a decision they would not regret because Americans “only [went there] to be agressors” (Special to). Some of them had said they had to sneak into Saigon, the capital of the South to see what is was like and said it “disgusted” them and claimed it had been “corrupted” (Special to). A few younger men had told the reporter that they were made to go with the Guerillas when they attacked their hamlet but after being with the group for a while they became happy with their troop. If people of the country decide they want what we are fighting against we have no business being there. The reason that we lost the war was because people in Vietnam finally decided, whether they were originally forced or not, they wanted the change to communism.
Through history, there has been an obvious repetition of the US always trying to fight battles. That is not to say that some haven’t been worth getting involved. In the case of WWII with the Axis and Allied powers, there was a definite need to send troops and help the Allies but in the case of Vietnam, there really was no demand.
It was not as though there were other countries that were suffering or being oppressed because of North Vietnam. It was us who decided to make the conflict between two parts of one country into more of a global affair. Perhaps this is why The US government feels responsible for the actions of other countries and feels we must be an influence on them. As if we don’t intervene then there will be another war like Vietnam or Korea or Cold War. The US is trying to create a peace through the world, but a peace that is to our specifications. There is a natural process for things to evolve on their own but how can there be an evolution if there is always an intervention?
Chance, Matthew “What is Russia doing in Ukraine, and what can West do about it?”, Published 31 August 2014, Date accessed 7 September 2014. http://www.cnn.com/2014/08/31/opinion/chance-analysis-russia-ukraine/index.html?iref=allsearch
FRANKEL, MAX Special to The New,York Times. 1962. U.S. SEES VIETNAM FACING LONG WAR. New York Times (1923-Current file), Jan 10, 1962. http://search.proquest.com/docview/115797379?accountid=14902 (accessed November 16, 2014).
Lam, Sophie. 2012. MORNING, NOON AND NIGHT IN VIETNAM. The Independent, Nov 14, 2012.
LEVIERO, ANTHONY Special to THE NEW,YORK TIMES. 1949. “EDUCATION THE WAY TO END COMMUNISM, TRUMAN DECLARES.” New York Times (1923-Current File), Mar 09, 1. http://search.proquest.com/docview/105729800?accountid=14902.
McCrummen, Stephanie. 2012. In laos, clinton touches on toll of vietnam war. The Washington Post, Jul 12, 2012. http://search.proquest.com/docview/1024455114?accountid=14902 (accessed December 5, 2014).
Special to The New,York Times. 1964. Vietcong fighters say they are glad they joined guerrillas. New York Times (1923-Current file), Nov 23, 1964. http://search.proquest.com/docview/115920297?accountid=14902 (accessed December 5, 2014).
“Clinton on Landmark Visit to Laos.” Alternet. Accessed December 5, 2014. http://www.alternet.org/rss/breaking_news/1026479/clinton_on_landmark_visit_to_laos.
“English Online.” The Vietnam War. Accessed December 2, 2014. http://www.english-online.at/history/vietnam-war/vietnam-war-background.htm.
“”Vietcong Not in Black Pyjamas?” Topic.” [TMP]. February 18, 2013. Accessed December 5, 2014. http://theminiaturespage.com/boards/msg.mv?id=296443.
“Rioters in Kiev”, Photographer Unknown. 7 September 2014. http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/djclimenhaga/2014/02/advice-to-canadian-politicians-and-media-take-care-support-ukrai