Sangil: The rise of Luis Taruc

IN 1929, after vehement disagreement on policy and ideology among members of the Philippine Labor Congress, the Katipunan ng mga Anak Pawis ng Pilipinas was established by Crisanto Evangelista. The following year, he founded the Partido Communista, which the Supreme Court later declared as illegal organization. Thus outlawed, the Partido worked underground on the laboring class in Central Luzon.

Pedro Abad Santos, an educated and wealthy scion of a landed gentry founded the Socialist Party, which became the following year the political arm of the Aguman Ding Maldang Talapagobra. In 1938, the Partido Communista officers who were incarcerated in 1932 were released after pardon and the two parties, the Socialists and the Communist merged and made Central Luzon their political laboratory.

By the outbreak of the war in 1941, Central Luzon was teeming with a dynamic peasant and labor movement, which was the backbone of the Hukbo ng Bayan Laban sa Hapon (Hukbalahap) established in March 1942. Central Luzon was now a huk territory as the municipal governments were virtually in their hands. Landlords and wealthy residents evacuated to Manila and the farmers took over the land to enjoy a new bounty in freedom and material uplift. The absentee landlords blamed the husk for their difficult life as Manila evacuees were deprived of their harvests and the fruits of their lands.

The liberating US forces in 1945 always found to their dismay the early arrival of Hukbalahap forces in every location. Actually, the Huks cleared the obstacles for the liberating force. In Manila, Huk squadrons were holding the city when the Americans came; and so in other places where the huks arrived ahead of the new conquerors.

The mass arrest of the Huk leaders followed, even as municipal officials known elected by Huk support were removed and replaced with USAFFE guerrillas, arch rivals of the huks. Among those thrown to jail were Luis Taruc, Castro Alejandrino and other ranking Huk officers. Mass demonstrations before Malacanang pressured the release of the prisoners.

The Huks joined forces with the Democratic Alliance, a political aggrupation of intellectuals, workers and peasants in opposing the election to the presidency of Manuel Roxas who courted and failed to get the Huk support. He started a policy of repression against the Huks after winning the elections.

The mayhem began in the countryside with the Military Police and civilian guards bankrolled by absentee landlords desiring to get back home, waging ferocious campaigns. Massacres and pillage, like the one in Maliwalu, Bacolor town, were the order of the hour.

In the meantime, Taruc and several members of the Democratic Alliance were elected congressmen in their respective districts. President Roxas knew the Alliance congressmen and others of their ideology would oppose and reject the proposed bill on Parity Rights then a bill enrolled in congress. Roxas then masterminded the unseating of the said elected lawmakers and were accused of poll frauds. The Parity amendment was approved in congress. (The next part will be the years between 1948 and 1952, the election of Elpidio Quirino).
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