We are not always cognizant of some political struggles which directly affect us. Our poor understanding and relationship to the many freedom struggles underway in the Philippines is a case in point: in Oregon we have a view into Hawaiʻi, the Pacific Rim nations, Polynesia and the Philippines, and we live with people from all of these places, but we know little or nothing about their tremendous democratic, independence and socialist movements. Many people in the US are hard-pressed to find the Philippines on a map.
There have been moments when we were not so self-centered or looking in other directions. On the eve of the Second World War there were strong bonds between the lefts in the Philippines and the United States, farmworkers with roots in the Philippines were a militant founding force in the west coast farmworker movements, Teamsters for a Democratic Union activists in California have drawn on the energy of Filipino cannery workers and the 1981 assassinations of Silme Domingo and Gene Viernes came as a violent pushback against a broad movement which linked working conditions here to human rights in the Philippines. This is only a quick recital of a few leading movements; there is much more to research and discuss here.
The current situation in the Philippines is complicated and we can't do a full analysis here. Even getting the basics down for US readers is difficult. If you are reading the standard news sources here you are learning that the newly-elected Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte is the devil in blue suede shoes, a kind of violence-prone and profane Donald Trump with mass support and struggling in a social crisis-driven situation while facing off against a humanitarian and human rights constituency which has either been outfoxed or buried by the same social crises. If we stop with this analysis we miss the important complexities of the situation.
Duterte has had some considerable contact with the left and some sort of power-sharing agreement is being debated. The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) is the most prominent and most deeply involved left political force which stands to benefit from a coalition government. Behind such a coalition government stands the possibility of increased anti-imperialist forward movement and forward movement as well for real independence and democracy and some higher levels of social peace. All of that is possible, or at least more likely, if debate and discussions move forward.
A quick and long catch up article is running in the current issue of Links. We recommend this as a starting point for the left in the US,
The National Democratic Front of the Philippines takes up some of the issues raised in the Links article here. A more pessimistic view is given in Jacobin here. The main value of the Jacobin article is that it shows a particular pole in some of the discussions underway in the US. The Philippine Revolution Web Central has some statements which will help readers trace developments to the point that we are at today. The possibility of something like a Bolivarian revolutionary movement rooting itself in the Philippines and taking power has been forecast and debated for some time and a series of articles here show how this concept has developed.