The Left and the Philippine Student Movement: Random Historical Notes on Party Politics and Sectoral Struggles

P.N. Abinales


The bulk of Philippine radical politics contemporary writing on the Communist Party of the Philippines’ (CCP-ML) military arm, the New People’s Army, should not diminish the fact that the Party has assigned importance to the urban sectors. In reality, the studentry is among the urban-based sectors the Party has given attention to. In this context, this paper aims to outline how the so-called Philippine student movement has come to occupy a central role in the CPP-ML’s politics and the historical impact of Party politics on the student sector. Initially, the student sector was viewed with extreme suspicion and it was only in the 1960s when the University of the Philippines spearheaded a nationalist campaign that the Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas gave due importance to the studentry. The radicals were Party members and were tasked to form the Party’s student mass organization, Kabataang Makabayan (KM). Tension spiked between the senior cadres and the youthful recruits and the expelled mostly young members created the Communist Party of the Philippines with KM as their solid mass organization. The role of students and the youth in the revolutionary process was education and propaganda. However, there came a rejection of the academe when a reconceptualization of the cultural struggle meant that the students needed to learn from the masses. Urban-based “revolutionary storms” still ranked second to rural resistance and when Martial Law was declared, the student movement was weakened. The inclusion of the studentry into the CCP-ML allowed a significant growth of the Party but it had also stunted the development of the student sector and thereby limited its contributions to the general struggle for social change. The full contribution of the student movement to the overall struggle remains undeveloped until serious rethinking be conducted and a much broader areas of growth defined.


student movement, the Left, Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army, University of the Philippines, Kabataang Makabayan, Philippine radical politics

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