The Hukbalahap Rebellion: US Support for the Defeat of the Peasants

The Hukbalahap rebellion is Communist-led peasant uprising in central Luzon, Philippines. The central Luzon plain is a rich agricultural area where a large peasant population works as tenant farmers on vast estates. The name of the movement is a Tagalog acronym for Hukbo ng Bayan Laban sa Hapon, which means “People’s Anti-Japanese Army.”

Philippine independence from the United States is scheduled for July 4, 1946. An election is held in April for positions in the new government. The Hukbalahap participates, and the Huk leader Luis Taruc wins a seat in Congress but – along with some other Huk candidates – is unseated by the victorious Liberal Party.

The Huks retreat to the jungle and begin their rebellion.

Women play a central role in the Huk rebellion As spies, organizers, nurses, couriers, soldiers, and even military commanders, women work closely with men to resist first Japanese occupation and later, after WWII, to challenge the new Philippine republic.

The morale of government troops is low. Their indiscriminate retaliations against villagers only strengthen Huk appeal. During the next four years, the Manila government steadily slips in prestige while Huk strength increases. By 1950 the guerrillas are approaching Manila, and the Communist leadership decides the time was ripe for a seizure of power.

U.S. President Harry Truman, alarmed at the worldwide expansion of Communist power, authorizes large shipments of military supplies to the Manila government. The Huks suffer a crucial setback when government agents raid their secret headquarters in Manila. The entire Huk political leadership is arrested in a single night.

The rebellion is defeated.

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