By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Founding Chairman, Kabataang Makabayan
February 12, 2014
Dear Fellow Activists,
Thank you for requesting me to address a message to your forum concerning the Kabataang Makabayan. I am happy, as I presume, that you are already in the process of preparing for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of this glorious youth organization, which has played such a great role in Philippine history up to now.
It is appropriate that you recall the KM in connection with the current celebration of the First Quarter Storm of 1970 and the Diliman Commune of 1971. In these events, the KM and other youth organizations brought to an unprecedented high point the patriotic and progressive youth movement that had developed in the entire 1960s.
I am asked to talk about how we founded the Kabataang Makabayan on November 30, 1964 and what was the socio-economic and political context that necessitated the radicalism and militancy of the Filipino students and youth. Let me say right away that the KM arose from the student youth organizing since 1959 in resistance to the chronic crisis conditions of a semicolonial and semifeudal ruling system.
We organized the Student Cultural Association of the University of the Philippines (SCAUP) in 1959 in order to side with the bourgeois liberals against the attempts of the dominant church to transgress the separation of church and state and violate the academic freedom of the state university. But we had the higher purpose of bringing the level of debate and struggle to one between the people and the forces of national liberation and democracy on the one hand and those status quo forces of pro-imperialism and reaction on the other side.
We were not afraid of the prevalent anti-communist atmosphere and the Anti-Subversion Law which had been promulgated in 1957. When the congressional Committee on Anti-Filipino Activities (CAFA) engaged in an anti-communist witch hunt in 1960-61, the SCAUP was intellectually and politically prepared to engage in united front with most of the campus organizations and to launch in 1961 a big demonstration of 5000 students that literally scuttled the CAFA. The objective was to defend academic freedom and also to promote the national democratic line against imperialsm and local reaction.
The anti-CAFA mass action was a signal event in breaching the dominance of anti-communist reaction and coincided with the worsening social crisis. On the basis of our anti-CAFA experience, we proceeded to encourage the students in the downtown colleges and universities to form associations similar to SCAUP, which had an open level of national democratic studies and a discreet level of Marxist-Leninist studies. Soon enough, after the SCAUP developed partners in other schools, it became possible to organize national student conferences taking the national democratic line from 1962 onwards.
Together with other student activists, we joined the trade union movement through the Lapiang Manggagawa (Workers’ Party) and certain labor federations in the latter half of 1962. We focused on research and education work and came into close relations with young workers whom we would subsequently recruit to become members of Kabataang Makabayan. We also came into contact with peasant organizations and recruited the young peasants to become KM members. We had easy access to the young teachers and other young professionals.
Thus, in 1964 we were able to organize the Kabataang Makabayan as a comprehensive patriotic and progressive youth organization of students and young workers, peasants and professionals. The delegates to the founding Congress of the KM on November 30, 1964 at the auditorium of the YMCA came from student organizations in the University of the Philippines, Lyceum of the Philippines, Philippine College of Commerce, MLQ University, University of the East and so on, from the trade unions of the National Association of Trade Unions and from peasant associations in Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog.
The KM was attractive to the youth because it had a national democratic program and became well-known for its militant mass protest actions. It engaged in alliances with the organizations of workers, peasants, women, professionals and other sectors. The KM described itself as the assistant of the working class and as the training school for cadres. Just like the SCAUP, the KM openly conducted national democratic studies and discreetly Marxist-Leninist studies. It was resolute and vigorous in arousing, organizing and moblizing the youth on a national scale. The more the Marcos regime threatened the KM and tried to suppress its mass actions, the more the youth wanted to join the KM.
You must keep in mind that the gigantic mass actions in the First Quarter Storm of 1970 and the Diliman Commune of 1971 were the products of resolute and militant struggles since the 1960s. The earlier high points in mass mobilization included the Omnibus rally against unequal treaties with the US in 1965, the nationwide student strikes from 1967 onwards, the peasant rally in 1969 and the protests against the US war of aggression in Vietnam. As the Marcos regime exposed its evil scheme to impose fascist dictatorship on them, the youth and the broad masses of the people intensified their efforts to build their organized strength and launch mass actions.
The revolutionary theoretical, political and practical training of the KM activists was of such a high quality that many of them became cadres and members of the Communist Party of the Phillippines, which was reestablished in 1968 under the guidance of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought. The KM facilitated the nationwide expansion of the CPP. When Marcos suspended the writ of habeas corpus in 1971 and proclaimed martial law in 1972, KM members joined the revolutionary underground and the New People’s Army in accordance with the line that people’s war is the answer to martial law.
The KM made important contributions to the revolutionary struggle against the Marcos fascist dictatorship and was one of the major forces weakening and isolating the reign of terror and greed until Marcos ruling clique was overthrown in 1986. The KM did not surface anymore as a legal organization after the fall of Marcos. Since then, it has become the Communist Youth League even as it has retained its original name. It continues its role as the training school of the revolutionary youth in order to develop them as full-fledged communists. We can say that more than ever the KM is playing a major role in the people’s democratic revolution through people’s war.
All kinds of preparations must be made in order to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the KM in a big and meaningful way. They must include campaigns and activities, with definite goals to achieve in promoting theoretical studies, political education, organizational expansion, mass mobilization and cultural work, especially in the various art forms. I welcome the campaign to oust the Aquino regime. This is a good preparation for the golden anniversary of the KM. Whether the campaign can oust the regime or not before 2016, it can serve to strengthen the national democratic movement of the youth and entire people.
Through mass struggles, we build the revolutionary strength to overthrow the ruling system and achieve national liberation and democracy.