The geopolitical alignments of diverging social interests: the
Sino-Soviet split and the Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas,
School of Humanities, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, Singapore
In April 1967, the Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas (PKP) broke in two.
This article examines how a contradiction at the heart of the party’s
program, which sought to retain leadership over both a mass
movement and an alliance with a section of the elite, fragmented
the party along the lines of the Sino-Soviet dispute. The
ideological expression of the rival national interests of the Soviet
Union and People’s Republic of China found congruent alignment
with the diverging social forces in the PKP. The Soviet
bureaucracy oﬀered attractive terms of trade to countries of
belated capitalist development. Sections of Filipino capitalists saw
this as a means of developing national industry, and leading
layers of the PKP allied themselves with the Marcos
administration in support of these ends. In contrast, a cultural
revolution and a protracted people’s war expressed the
geopolitically imperiled position of China. University-based youth
were drawn to this perspective. Over the course of 1966, the PKP
was torn apart along the fault-lines of the Sino-Soviet ideological
split, as this global dispute gave political form to the diverging
social interests within the party.
Received 22 July 2020
Accepted 29 December 2020
Sino-Soviet split; Stalinism;
In April 1967, a signiﬁcant section of the leadership of the Partido Komunista ng Pilipi-
nas (PKP) was expelled from the party. By the end of 1968, this expelled contingent, tied
to a social layer of urban, university-based youth and headed by Jose Maria Sison,
founded a new Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). The PKP had established pol-
itical ties with President Ferdinand Marcos during his 1965 election campaign. Looking
to establish diplomatic and trade relations with Moscow as a means of carrying out
national industrialization, the PKP facilitated Marcos’imposition of a military dictator-
ship in 1972, oﬃcially endorsed his rule, and served in the martial law administration.
The CPP meanwhile established a network of connections with members of the ruling
class who opposed Marcos. They used the language of cultural revolution and a strategy
of a protracted people’s war promoted by the government of the People’s Republic of
China (PRC) to bring the mass unrest of the times behind the interests of their elite allies.
© 2021 BCAS, Inc.
CONTACT Joseph Scalice email@example.com
CRITICAL ASIAN STUDIES
Why did the PKP split in early 1967? I argue that mounting social tensions, expressed
in 1966 in mass opposition to the American war in Vietnam, split the PKP along the geo-
political fault lines of the Soviet Union (SU) and the PRC. This division within the PKP
was not the product of external machination, nor simply the result of the opportunism of
individual leaders. It was fundamentally a manifestation of a contradiction at the heart of
the party’s program, Stalinism, a perspective shared by both factions.
Stalinism expressed the political interests of privileged layers of the party bureaucracy
within the Soviet Union and, after 1949, the PRC. Seeking to defend and expand the
social basis of their positions, bureaucrats put forward a nationalist program of building
socialism in one country as the paramount political task rather than world socialist revo-
lution. Looking to secure diplomatic and trade relations in service to the construction of
their national economies, Stalinist bureaucrats sought political capital with which to
negotiate with the ruling class in countries around the world. To this end they rehabili-
tated the old Menshevik line of a two-stage revolution. They instructed communist
parties around the globe that the tasks of the revolution in which they were engaged
were not yet socialist in character but national and democratic only. A section of the capi-
talist class, they argued, would play a progressive role in this necessary ﬁrst stage. The
goal of communist party leaders should thus be to secure an alliance with this progressive
section of the national bourgeoisie, and to bring the pressure and support of a mass
movement behind their elite allies.
Stalinism was ﬁrst and foremost a political program that articulated the interests of the
ruling party bureaucracies, before it was denounced by Nikita Khrushchev in his 1956
speech to the Twentieth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
(CPSU) for its show trials, purges, and cult of the great leader. These were the mechan-
isms routinely employed by Stalinism to maintain a bureaucratic hold on power, but they
were not the essence of what was disseminated around the globe.
The global strength of
Stalinism rested on the appeal to a layer of nationalist intellectuals in countries of belated
capitalist development of its key concepts –socialism in one country, a two-stage theory
of revolution, and the bloc of four progressive classes (the working class, the peasantry,
the petty bourgeoisie, and the national bourgeoisie). Many communist party leaders
outside of the Soviet Union were drawn to Stalinism because they saw this as a means
of implementing national reforms. It allowed them to deploy the banner of Marxism
and use it to win mass support for industrialization under native capitalist ownership,
in opposition to foreign corporations. Loans from and trade with the Soviet bloc were
an additional measure in furtherance of this end. The support which the PKP gave to Fer-
dinand Marcos in 1965 was an expression of this program. The party sought to bring
about an alignment of interests between the emerging energy of mass social opposition
and the sizeable section of native capitalists represented by the Marcos administration. A
contradiction lay at the heart of this program, however, for it compelled the party to
engage in a perilous political balancing act which in a context of mounting social
unrest became increasingly diﬃcult to sustain. By the end of 1966, the PKP’s attempt
Khrushchev himself demonstrated the inescapability of these measures when, but months after his speech, he put an
end to the thaw and crushed the Hungarian revolution. On the historical origins of the mechanisms of Stalinism see
to retain the support of protestors and strikers while preserving an alliance with the
ruling class collapsed.
The SU and PRC, both committed to the construction of socialism within their own
borders, never merged their economies. Their divergent national interests inevitably
conﬂicted, giving rise to rivalry, then open split and armed conﬂict. The uneven econ-
omic development of the two countries and their starkly diﬀerent geopolitical circum-
stances fueled tensions. Situated behind the buﬀer zone of Eastern Europe and with a
fairly stable industrial base, the SU followed a policy of peaceful coexistence with the
United States and established friendly ties with autocrats. The PRC, in contrast, found
itself by the mid-1960s threatened on all sides, facing an imminent threat posed by the
U.S. invasion of Vietnam and the loss of its largest international ally, the Partai
Komunis Indonesia (PKI), after a military coup in 1965 by General Suharto which saw
hundreds of thousands of party cadres killed. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP)
sought to whip up armed struggle throughout the region to diﬀuse the threat of U.S.
imperialism to China’s immense imperiled borders.
While the Soviet government
embraced Suharto, the CCP promoted protracted people’s war and armed uprisings
throughout the “countryside of the world”backed by China, “the Yan’an of world
The pressures bearing down on China were the sharpest manifestations of a global
crisis which rapidly engendered mass protests. By 1966 the ideas of protracted people’s
war, associated with Red Army leader Lin Biao, had combined in the popular imagin-
ation of a generation of youth throughout the world with images of Mao’s Little Red
Book and Cultural Revolution. This amalgam was seen as the embodiment of true revo-
lutionary politics, in contrast to the conservative bureaucratism of SU President Leonid
Brezhnev. Communist parties around the world split along these ideological lines. Sup-
porters of the CCP’s political line did not oppose the Stalinist orientation to the for-
mation of an alliance with a section of the capitalist class. They sought, however, to
secure this alliance not with Soviet loans but with the radical cachet of Maoism,
which gave them a grip on the imagination of a burgeoning protest movement. As
social tensions mounted around the world in the late 1960s, the tide of global author-
itarianism rose. Rival sections of the elite turned to conspiratorial plots to secure rule
for themselves and an alliance with a party founded on the Maoist line was particularly
This period of CCP radicalism, what was seen internationally as the Lin Biao phase
of Maoism, was short-lived. The Sino-Soviet split turned into an armed conﬂict by
1969. Confronting an existential threat across its border, the CCP opened ties with
the United States. Lin Biao was ostracized from political power in 1970. Mao put
forward his “Three Worlds”theory, which lumped together the United States and
the USSR as the enemies of Third World nations, and, in the name of an anti-
Soviet alliance, led the PRC to establish friendly relations with Marcos in the Philip-
pines and General Augusto Pinochet in Chile. The United States government secured
its interests in this period by supporting autocrats and dictators throughout the
world; the SU and PRC followed suit.
Lüthi 2008; Friedman 2015; Robinson 2018
CRITICAL ASIAN STUDIES 3
This article examines how the opening stages of the Sino-Soviet split played out in the
Philippines. Mounting levels of social anger, initially expressed in response to the Amer-
ican War in Vietnam, split the PKP, with one faction maintaining ties with the Marcos
administration and the other attempting to retain a hold on the protest movement.
Neither faction sought a split, but the contradiction at the heart of Stalinism could not
hold under the social pressure of the time.
My account is a signiﬁcant departure from prior scholarship on this split. Most exist-
ing scholarly literature is based on interviews with cadres and former cadres of the PKP
and CPP and focuses on the history of the parties.
These interview-based works provide
valuable histories of the party, documenting internal discussions and organizational
development, but largely miss how the party functioned as a critical public force,
engaged in both following and shaping contemporary developments. Given that much
of its activity took the form of alliances with sections of the elite and given that these alli-
ances were subsequently abandoned, the interviewees generally did not speak of them.
Thus, the party’s relations with former President Diosdado Macapagal (in oﬃce 1961–
1965) and with then-President Marcos, so critical to contemporary events, were left
out of these interview accounts entirely. My research puts the party and its work at
the center of Philippine political life. It is here that the written record is particularly valu-
able, for party speeches and publications grappled with the burning questions of the day.
When these speeches were republished a few years later they were substantially redacted
and often fundamentally altered by CPP leaders. Much prior scholarship treats the 1967
PKP split as a prelude to the founding of the CPP in 1969 and not the focus of intensive
scrutiny. The most signiﬁcant scholarly explanation of this split is by Francisco Nemenzo
Jr. (1984), a former PKP member. Nemenzo saw the defeat of the Huk Rebellion and the
suppression of the PKP in the 1950s as producing a fundamental generational divide in
the party, arguing that
the schism was not a local expression of the international dispute between the Soviet and
Chinese parties but the oﬀshoot of a generational rift between the remnants of an
aborted rebellion and the new elements who were spared the trauma of defeat.
The PKP, he contended, split between older, more cautious veterans and younger, head-
strong, and reckless members. However, the available evidence does not support Nemen-
zo’s contention that the split was the product of a generational divide. A majority of the
party’s youth, including Nemenzo himself, remained in the PKP at the time of the split,
while some of the old guard, among them Simeon Rodriguez and Angel Baking, who had
suﬀered the trauma of defeat, supported the new CPP.
The PKP’s successful integration
of youth was most clearly expressed by the role of Jose Maria Sison, the founder and head
of the PKP youth wing. Sison joined the party’sﬁve-member Executive Committee in
December 1962. Over the next ﬁve years, he played a more prominent public role
than any other party member. He was instrumental in arranging the merger of the inde-
pendent labor party, Lapiang Manggagawa, with the administration of President
Prominent among these works are Weekley 2001; Abinales 2001; Fuller 2011; and Caouette 2004.
Nemenzo 1984, 84. Nemenzo’s analysis is contained in an unpublished, but widely cited, manuscript. The Huk Rebellion,
which lasted from 1949 until 1954, was a Luzon-based peasant uprising that was associated with the leadership of the
PKP and built upon the organizations established by the armed resistance to the Japanese Occupation, see Kerkvliet
Scalice 2017, 9, 311.
Macapagal in 1963. He wrote the oﬃcial handbook for Macapagal’s land reform, which
Sison heralded as “revolutionary.”In 1965, he oversaw the transfer of the support of the
party’s labor, peasant, and youth wings from Macapagal to Marcos, and delivered
speeches in support of Marcos’Nacionalista Party. There was thus an underlying conti-
nuity of political perspectives between Sison and those who became his political rivals in
the leadership of the PKP.
Nemenzo insisted that the split did not originate in the Sino-
Soviet conﬂict, but since it
occurred at the height of the Sino-Soviet dispute, what was initially a domestic quarrel
assumed an international dimension. …neither the Communist Party of the Soviet
Union nor the Communist Party of China were initially involved. Their interventions,
which came later, aggravated rather than triggered the conﬂict.
Nemenzo’s explanation was a salutary rebuttal to anti-communist claims that the actors
involved in the split were “agents”of foreign powers.
Despite this fact, both factions in
the PKP had nonetheless begun establishing ties with either the SU or the PRC prior to
I argue that the split was neither the product of domestic diﬀerences nor was it the
result of external machinations. Rather, the same global social pressures that gave shar-
pened expression to the Sino-Soviet dispute in the mid-1960s produced unrest through-
out the region that tore through the contradiction at the heart of Stalinism. PKP members
who were responsible for retaining inﬂuence over the emerging social unrest were drawn
to Maosim, while those engaged in securing ties with the progressive section of the capi-
talist class followed the line of the SU.
The two parties that emerged out of the split were
thus neither tools of these competing bureaucracies nor autonomous from them. The
divergent sets of social interests housed in the PKP and CPP found congruent alignment
with the rival tendencies of global Stalinism. Using newspaper accounts of the period and
the published speeches, statements, and leaﬂets of the PKP and associated political
groups, I demonstrate that Sison attempted for most of 1966 to corral and retain
control over a growing mass movement. He was compelled by U.S. President Lyndon
Johnson’s visit to Manila in October 1966 to place his organization at the head of the
inevitable protest this visit triggered and events rapidly spiraled out of his control.
Despite his best eﬀorts to divert anger away from police brutality and to establish ties
with the national bourgeoisie, he found himself and his allies the subject of a witch-
hunt, while the youth movement that he sought to control deﬁed the Marcos government
with which he wished to maintain ties. By the beginning of 1967, the split in the PKP was
Scalice 2021b. After the founding of the CPP, Sison attempted to blame his rivals, the Lava family, for all of the policies of
the PKP during this period, see Sison 1971. The truth was that not only did Sison support these policies, but he also was
the author of the majority of public statements involved in carrying them out. Sison’s rivals, who interfaced more
directly with the Marcos administration, produced far less written material than Sison, who, as a result of his leadership
role in the various front organizations of the party, wrote a great many documents.
Among those promoting this claim was Simeon del Rosario 1977.
MASAKA, the party’s peasant wing, remained with the PKP. It had been built from the ground up on support for Maca-
pagal’s land reform program of 1963 and was a conservative organization oriented to appeals to the state for improved
conditions. The majority of youth among the rank-and-ﬁle of the Kabataang Makabayan (KM) [Nationalist Youth], the
party’s youth organization, were of peasant background and they remained with the PKP as well.
CRITICAL ASIAN STUDIES 5
Relations with Marcos
The U.S. government carefully monitored the seismic tremors of social unrest in the Phi-
lippines. A secret national intelligence estimate, completed on February 17, 1966,
revealed the tensions on the fault lines of Philippine society, noting that “the key
problem is a deep and growing economic cleavage between upper and lower classes”
and should Marcos prove incapable of dealing with this in the next four years, “Philip-
pine political stability and democratic institutions could be seriously undermined.”
Glaring social inequality, poverty, and unemployment had built up a vast reservoir of
social anger. The next half decade demonstrated this anger could erupt on the public
stage over any number of possible causes. The ﬁrst manifestation of this mounting
social anger was opposition to the American war in Vietnam. The PKP channeled this
outrage in the Philippines behind the presidential candidacy of Ferdinand Marcos.
With the assistance of Bakri Ilyas, a member of the Partai Komunis Indonesia (PKI),
who was based in the Philippines, the PKP had reemerged from dormancy in the early
1960s. Two new leaders, Sison and Ignacio Lacsina, who was the head of a major
trade union umbrella organization, had built close relations with the administration of
Marcos’predecessor, Diosdado Macapagal, who had brieﬂy established friendly ties
with President Sukarno of Indonesia in 1963.
As the Philippine government’s connec-
tions to Sukarno’s government soured in late 1964 and as Macapagal planned to send
troops to Vietnam in support of U.S. President Johnson’s impending invasion, the
PKP moved to break with Macapagal and endorse Marcos. Over the course of 1965,
Sison oversaw the complex reorientation of the party’s front organizations away from
Macapagal and behind the candidacy of Marcos. A key role in this process was played
by the party’s new youth wing, the Kabataang Makabayan (KM) [Nationalist Youth],
which had been founded in November 1964. Marcos, then Senate President, blocked
the passage of Macapagal’s Philippine Civic Action Group (PHILCAG) legislation
which would have deployed Filipino forces to Vietnam, decrying the bill as unconstitu-
tional and inimical to national interests. On the basis of Marcos’claim that he would keep
the Philippines out of America’s war in Vietnam, Sison mobilized the KM and other PKP
–allied groups behind him in the presidential election, and Marcos won the election
Less than two weeks after his election, in an interview with Stanley Karnow
of the Washington Post, Marcos declared that he was committed to sending two thousand
Filipino troops to Vietnam. He covered his political reversal by telling Karnow, “many of
us felt that the United States was preparing to withdraw from Vietnam. But now that the
United States has demonstrated its resolute will to slug it out, we have been reassured.”
By the beginning of 1966, the PKP was already proﬁting from its support for Marcos –
salaried positions had opened and favorable diplomacy with the Soviet bloc was in the
oﬃng –yet their public statements voiced uncertainty and ambivalence. At the beginning
US Department of State 2001.
I explore these developments in Scalice 2021b.
Rosca 2004, 14.
Karnow 1965. Marcos used his professed opposition to the deployment of troops not only to secure electoral support on
the basis of his purported nationalist independence, but also to arrange lucrative payoﬀs from the Johnson adminis-
tration, which he personally pocketed. A degree of the corruption surrounding PHILCAG came to light in 1969 in the
investigation conducted by the US Congress’Symington Subcommittee on Security Agreements and Commitments
Abroad. The Nixon administration delayed publication of the ﬁndings of the Symington subcommittee until after
Marcos was re-elected in November 1969. See McFarland 2001; US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations 1969.
of the year, Sison published an editorial in the eighth issue of the party-controlled pol-
itical journal, the Progressive Review, in which he weighed the political signiﬁcance for
“the national democratic forces”–i.e. the PKP and its front organizations –of
Sison made no mention of Marcos’election promise to
keep Filipino troops out of Vietnam, nor of his post-election reversal. This had been
the entire public justiﬁcation for the party’s support for his candidacy less than three
months before, yet Sison passed over the question in silence. Instead, he depicted the
incoming government as torn between progressive and reactionary elements. Half of
Marcos cabinet, he claimed, was composed of pro-imperialist ﬁgures, but the other
half were “strong exponents of economic nationalism.”Marcos had installed the pro-
imperialist wing because he had “received greater American ﬁnancial support and …
this proved to be one of the decisive factors in the outcome of the election.”
words, the candidate endorsed by the PKP was in fact the preferred candidate of
Washington, whose support had secured his victory. The party’s political assessment
of the newly elected president, however, was based on the fact that “the Filipino national
bourgeoisie turned decisively against the Macapagal government.”
This was heart of the
matter. While Vietnam, the pretext for PKP support, had become an inconvenient topic,
what Sison claimed was the decisive alignment of Filipino capitalists behind Marcos
could not be ignored. A majority of the bourgeoisie had shifted its allegiances and the
PKP lined up behind their decision. U.S. imperialists had backed Marcos; Filipino capi-
talists had followed suit. The logic of Stalinism depicted a fundamental contradiction
rather than a subordinate alignment between these sets of interests. Sison argued that
these rival forces were contending for the political soul of the administration:
Marcos himself will be forced to make a choice between his people and his ﬁnanciers. …[I]t
is only the strength of the national democratic forces that is capable of drawing the president
to their side once the moment of decision is at hand.
Marcos’commitment to deploy Filipino forces to Vietnam eclipsed all other political
questions in 1966. Through the ﬁrst half of the year, in keeping with the strategy outlined
by Sison, Kabataang Makabayan remained on the political sidelines, unwilling to alienate
Marcos, and maintained a studious silence regarding their ally in the presidential palace
On February 11, the University of the Philippines (UP) Student Council staged the
ﬁrst protest of the year in front of the U.S. Embassy against the Vietnam War, but the
KM was nowhere to be seen.
A week later, Marcos authorized sending two thousand
Filipino troops to Vietnam, and in a live nationwide radio and television address
declared, “We regard it as essential that the relentless pressure of communist aggression
in Vietnam be stopped.”
Still the KM was silent. The KM would only stage a protest, or
Sison 1966a,2–3, emphasis in the original.
PC August 3, 1966–1967, 7; February 16, 1966.
Ingles 1966, 633.
CRITICAL ASIAN STUDIES 7
intervene in politics at all, if social anger could be safely directed away from Marcos and
his troop deployment. Four days after Marcos announced his PHILCAG appropriations
bill, U.S. Vice President Hubert Humphrey arrived in Manila. The Vice President –the
smiling liberal face of napalm and Agent Orange –was someone the KM could denounce,
and ﬁve thousand students, peasants, workers, and unemployed gathered on February 21
outside the Philippine Congress and marched to the U.S. Embassy, around which sixty
policemen stood guard.
March 25 marked the second International Day of Protest
against the American war in Vietnam.
Two thousand workers and students rallied in
front of the U.S. Embassy behind the banners of the KM, two aﬃliated youth groups –
the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation (BRPF) and the Student Cultural Association
of the University of the Philippines (SCAUP) –and the Lapiang Manggagawa (LM)
[Workers’Party], a union organization headed by Lacsina and Sison. The speakers at
the rally denounced everything but their ally in the Malacañang Palace: the U.S.
Embassy, the Philippine legislature, even Filipinos generally and their colonial mental-
On June 18, Marcos signed the PHILCAG bill into law. The KM remained silent.
Matters reached a breaking point at the end of August when Marcos announced that
he would be traveling to Washington within a month to confer with Johnson on the
conﬂict in Vietnam. On September 9, the newly elected UP Student Council, closely
allied to the KM, led a rally in front of Malacañang against the deployment of Filipino
troops to Vietnam.
The protestors issued a manifesto signed by both SCAUP and
BRPF, which stated, “We oppose this partisan involvement for the very reason than
no less than the President of the Philippines, in contravention of his aggressive policies,
has already recognized the obvious necessity of ending the Vietnam War.”
depicted their opposition to Marcos’deployment of troops as in support of positions
articulated by the President himself. They were, they claimed, “the people”appealing
to the professed better angels of his nature, in opposition to his “ﬁnanciers.”The
youth and students gathered around the KM saw Marcos’state visit to the U.S. as a deci-
sive moment for the policy of critical support and tactful pressure which they had been
led to pursue. A leaﬂet that was circulated on the eve of the rally declared:
The BRPF (Philippine Council) wholeheartedly supports the mass rally to be staged before
Malacañang on September 9 –an action initiated and led by the students of the UP. The
foundation enjoines [sic] all peace-loving people to participate in this just and historic
Yet among the peace-loving people who ignored this injunction was the KM. The youth
organization of the PKP did not assist in organizing the event, nor did it attempt to sway
the politics of the rally. The KM did not sign the manifesto, nor did they issue a counter-
manifesto. UP KM Chair Ibarra Malonzo, conscious that the silence of the KM since
Marcos took oﬃce had been much commented upon, issued a statement to the Collegian
on September 21. The KM, he admitted, “had nothing to do with the coordination of the
demonstration,”but, he hastened to add, “…our members, who are also university
PC February 23, 1966.
Zaroulis and Sullivan 1984,69–80.
“Rallies and the ‘Red Taint’” 1966; PC, March 23, 1966; Van Der Kroef 1967.
PC, August 31, 1966.
PC, September 9, 1966.
students, quietly and modestly helped in certain steps towards the accomplishment of the
Malonzo’s brief note acknowledging that the KM, which prided itself on being
the most militant of all youth organizations, had limited itself to the “quiet, modest”
private acts of its individual members, evinced a sense of chagrin and constraint.
While the BRPF and SCAUP circled tightly within the orbit of the PKP, their origin
and composition gave them a degree of organizational autonomy that the KM lacked.
The KM was in crisis, its fate at stake, and Sison, and the layers of urban, university-
based youth around him, knew it. They did not seek a complete rupture with Marcos but
they needed the muzzle removed. If mass protests erupted –and their rumblings were
drawing rapidly near –while the KM remained silent, the organization would wither.
A signiﬁcant demonstration was needed and the KM needed to be at its head.
It was not that the KM did not beneﬁt from its relationship with Marcos, it was simply
that as 1966 progressed KM leaders found the terms on which these beneﬁts had been
negotiated increasingly onerous. Youth and students, moving into the streets, were
ﬁnding their voice, while the leadership of the PKP had bartered away that of the KM.
Marcos sought to develop ties with the Soviet Union and opposed diplomatic relations
with China, but he had opened travel to both countries, an action welcomed by all sec-
tions of the party, including its youth wing. A ﬂurry of publicized trips followed, as repor-
ters and politicians journeyed to these previously forbidden destinations and returned
with accounts of life and politics behind the “Iron”or the “Bamboo Curtain.”The Phi-
lippines Free Press, the country’s leading newsweekly, summed up the impact of travel to
It is the success of Communist China that the beneﬁciaries of the present social order –the
rich, the comfortable, the government oﬃcials that serve them, the Establishment –must
fear. For if Communist China has succeeded in providing the Chinese people with the
necessities of life, the question will be raised why the “democratic”’ Philippines has failed
to serve the Filipino people likewise.
The ﬁrst wave of travel to China included journalists and political ﬁgures, but over the
summer a handful of university students journeyed to Beijing, among whom was the
KM’s new ally, E. Voltaire Garcia, who in August was elected chair of the UP Student
Council. As one of the ﬁrst oﬃcial actions of his term, Garcia sent a request to the
Chinese government for a group of UP students to be sponsored for travel to the
A month and half later, on October 18, he received a cable approving his
request and extending a formal invitation for a group of sixty students and professors
to receive a three week all-expenses paid tour of the PRC in late November.
the assistance of the University of the Philippines President Carlos Romulo, Garcia
received permission for the trip from Foreign Aﬀairs Secretary Narciso Ramos, with
the agreement that a list of the speciﬁc participants would be supplied to the Foreign
PC, September 21, 1966, 10.
“Moment of Truth”1966,1.
Lacaba 2003, 12.
CRITICAL ASIAN STUDIES 9
Aﬀairs oﬃce for ﬁnal authorization.
Four days later, President Johnson arrived in the
country and the most explosive protest in decades shook Manila on October 24. The
Marcos administration responded by banning all youth and student travel to China.
The same social unrest which was fueling travel to China was undermining relations
with the government that had been authorizing it. The lightning unleashed by the visit
of Johnson did not fall from a clear sky; popular anger had been growing over the pre-
ceding months. For Sison and his allies, to miss this moment would be to lose all
inﬂuence over an emerging mass movement, but to embrace it would be an act of
open deﬁance of the majority of the leadership of the PKP. October 24 marked an irre-
vocable decision: battle for control of the party or submit to its policy of supporting
Marcos and ties with the Soviet Union.
Sison had quietly commenced preparations several months earlier, when he had tra-
veled to China in late July. Unlike Garcia, Sison could not travel openly to Beijing; as the
head of the KM, he needed to avoid both the red-baiting accusations of the House Com-
mittee on Anti-Filipino Activities (CAFA) and the suspicious eyes of the other members
of the PKP leadership. Sison thus secretly slipped into China using as cover a conference
staged in Hiroshima, the Twelfth Gensuikyo World Conference against Atom and
Hydrogen Bombs. The Japanese Communist Party (JCP), which was responsible for
staging and hosting the conference, was moving rapidly toward a permanent break
with the CCP. In the last week of July, the Japanese government banned the Chinese del-
egation to the conference, but the JCP kept silent. On August 1, the JCP voted to allow the
Soviet delegation to attend, overriding a ban previously enacted by the party on Soviet
participation in the annual Hiroshima conference.
Sixteen of the twenty foreign del-
egations, a total of thirty-two delegates, walked out of the conference in protest, including
These thirty-two delegates held a press conference in the early morning hours of
August 3 and issued an oﬃcial statement which declared their opposition to the “agents
of imperialism, namely, collaborators controlled by the present rulers in Moscow.”
Sison traveled with the other delegates to Beijing, reaching the city on August 6,
where the next evening a banquet was staged in their honor.
Mao had ordered the
display of his provocative big character poster “Bombard the Headquarters”at Beijing
University the day before, summoning China’s youth to a cultural revolution. Over
the course of the next two weeks, as Sison met with leading representatives of the
CCP, including Zhou Enlai, ﬁrst hundreds of thousands and then millions of youths
marched before the Chairman in Tiananmen Square. They ecstatically waved their red
books; many wept openly. Sison, responsible over the past year for repressing and divert-
ing the social anger of youth, saw the political force that Mao gained in unleashing its
destructive capacity at his political enemies. On August 12, the CCP assembled ten
Romulo had had a distinguished career in foreign aﬀairs, having served as President of the United Nations General
Assembly in 1949 and 1950, then as Secretary of Foreign Aﬀairs for multiple Philippines presidents. He was Marcos’
Minister of Foreign Aﬀairs for the duration of martial law. Narciso Ramos was the father of Fidel V. Ramos, who led
the ﬁrst batch of PHILCAG troops to Vietnam and later headed the Philippine Constabulary during the martial law
regime. Fidel Ramos served as president of the Philippines from 1992 until 1998.
Scalapino 1967, 278.
Writing in the Collegian in January 1967 in response to red-baiting charges from Carlos Albert, he stated “I walked out
from the conference together with two Belgian priests and with the members of sixteen foreign delegates [sic]”, see
Peking Review 1966–1967 9 (33), 4; 9 (34), 28.
Peking Review 9 (33), 4.
10 J. SCALICE
thousand people to welcome the thirty-two delegates who had walked out in Hiroshima
and hail their upholding the “correct and glorious line”of Mao.
Sison returned to the
Philippines with a daunting task. He needed to seize control of the PKP and orient it to
the political line of Beijing before the social explosion, or failing that, to wrest away as
large a portion of its membership as possible and establish a new party. He used the
rhetoric of the Cultural Revolution to secure and mobilize the support of urban, univer-
sity-based youth, who were his core constituency. He quietly worked to build a network
of support both within the party and among its broad periphery. To allay suspicion, the
KM did not publicly change course; it remained silent until October 23, the eve of the
protest in Manila. Looking to position himself at the head of the emerging struggle,
Sison published an article in the Collegian on September 9 which strained the boundaries
of the PKP’s dictates but never ruptured them.
It was the ﬁrst time Sison had published
a statement on PHILCAG since he had called for support for Marcos on the grounds that
he would keep the Philippines out of Vietnam. The deployment of Filipino forces, Sison
now wrote, was “mercenary in the sense that the Marcos administration had it organized
with the expectations of aid from the United States in other projects,”and its “real
nature”was “psy-war, intelligence, and combat.”He asked his readers, “Is President
Marcos helping in the execution of the Pentagon’s‘new design’?”but pointedly refrained
from answering his own question. Sison concluded, “If he is, then expect the rise of
fascism in our country.”The article did not directly denounce Marcos, but it raised
unpleasant questions about his administration and cast PHILCAG in a hostile light.
Without openly violating party discipline, Sison had positioned himself to emerge at
the head of opposition and protest.
October 24, 1966
The American war in Vietnam required political cover. Lyndon Johnson cast this war as
part of broad international support for a stable democratic government in South
Vietnam, and to shore up this pretense turned to South Korea, Thailand, and the Philip-
pines, cobbling together the best regional support that money could buy. On September
21, during the midst of Marcos’state visit to Washington, the Johnson administration
drafted a proposal to hold a summit in Manila in late October to present the multilateral
character of the war on an Asian stage, an idea which was presented to journalists as
having originated with Marcos. The Philippines Free Press accurately summed up the
whole staged aﬀair this way: “The entire ﬁrepower of the American delegation during
the Summit was concentrated on changing the complexion of the war in Vietnam
from an American war to a war of, by, and for Asians.”
On October 23, in the
grande dame of American colonialism, the Manila Hotel, the summit began. The gath-
ered Asian leaders adopted a pose of regional concern. South Vietnam Prime Minister
Nguyen Cao Ky, who had fascist sympathies and had led a military coup, Park
Chung-hee, who had been installed as president of South Korea by a military junta in
1961, Thanom Kittikachorn, military dictator of Thailand, and Ferdinand Marcos, the
Peking Review 9 (34), 24–25.
Rama 1966b, 69.
CRITICAL ASIAN STUDIES 11
only democratically elected ﬁgure in the bunch, all signed a joint declaration of support
for South Vietnam which Johnson had drawn up for the occasion, committing them-
selves to “Peace and Progress in Asia.”That evening, Johnson ordered the U.S. Navy
to begin shelling North Vietnam’s coastline.
Between late October and the end of
1966, the U.S. military launched more than 500,000 shells in Vietnam, a number
which exceeded the total it had ﬁred during the entirety of the Second World War.
The joint declaration of peace in his pocket, Johnson departed the next morning for
Cam Ranh Bay, where he reviewed the troops.
The Manila Summit was quickly forgot-
ten, its posturing and declarations at best an historical footnote. The developments
immediately outside the Manila Hotel were of far greater signiﬁcance.
A week before Johnson arrived, Voltaire Garcia chaired a “tumultuous meeting”of the
UP Student Council, securing by a narrow margin a resolution to stage a protest against
the Manila Summit.
Manila’s mayor Antonio Villegas issued a permit for a protest to be
held in front of the U.S. Embassy, several blocks from the Manila Hotel.
demonstrated in front of the Embassy for an hour while a series of speakers stood on
top of a jeep to address the crowd. Contemporary reports record that there were two
thousand protestors present.
Some claim that the decision to move the protest to the
Manila Hotel came spontaneously from the crowd while others say that it was an instruc-
tion from the leaders of the rally.
When protestors arrived at the hotel, police instructed
them to disperse because their permit did not extend beyond the U.S. Embassy.
sions mounted as the protestors stood their ground in the face of the riot-gear clad
police. A number of contemporary reports state that Americans in suits were standing
behind and circulating among the Manila police; the police attacked the protestors
when an American shouted “Go get ‘em!”
The protestors ﬂed as police beat students
with rattan batons and ﬁred shots in the air. At some point during the dispersal, a
police oﬃcer aimed and ﬁred at a ﬂeeing student named Prudencio Tan, shooting him
in the neck.
Rosca reported that “doctors had to open a hole at the base of his neck
to enable him to breathe: his windpipe had been punctured.”
As the police attacked
the protestors, members of the foreign press were also injured and reporters and camera-
men for United Press International (UPI), the Washington Post, the Canadian Broadcast
Company (CBC), and the Australian Broadcast Company (ABC) were hurt.
arrested and ﬁled charges against ﬁve people. The October 24 demonstration –the ﬁrst of
many spasmodic social eruptions which shook the country over the next half decade –
would have occurred without Sison’s leadership, but he had positioned himself at its
head and retained control over the restive and growing youth movement. Now he
sought to contain this social force. He was not yet prepared for a vast explosion; he
needed to secure his sway over the PKP.
Rusk 1966, fn. 1.
Manila 1966, 2; PC October 19, 1966.
PC October 26, 1966; Lacaba 2003, 11.
PC October 26, 1966, 2; Lacaba 2003, 11; Rosca 1966, 12.
Rosca 1966, 12; Lacaba 2003, 11.
Rosca 1966, 14.
Rosca 1966, 16.
Tutay 1966, 10.
12 J. SCALICE
Stalinism measures the political strength of the rival forces vying for control of a party
by their ability to negotiate ties with the bourgeoisie. In late 1966, the PKP focused its
attention not on the war in Vietnam or the burgeoning police state apparatus at
home, but on the formation of the broadest alliance with the bourgeoisie in the
history of the party, the Movement for the Advancement of Nationalism (MAN). Over
the course of the preceding year, the editorial and business pages of the major dailies
and newsweeklies manifested a growing atmosphere of discontent in sections of the Phi-
lippine business community over the parity rights enjoyed by American business owners
in the country and for securing new international sources of loans.
They did not seek
economic independence from the U.S., but aspired to become semi-autonomous junior
partners and no longer mere placeholders on corporate executive boards run by Amer-
icans. Toward the end of the year, Teoﬁsto Guingona Jr., Governor of the Development
Bank of the Philippines and Chair of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce, quietly tra-
veled to Moscow to survey the possibilities of economic ties with the Soviet bloc.
developments did not express an ideological shift among the Philippine elite, who
remained as anti-communist as ever. They did, however, seek by political and geopoliti-
cal maneuver to expand their portfolios. The enthusiasm in the business community for
the formation of MAN was bound up with a December 1966 court ruling that subjected
American ﬁrms to the Retail Trade Nationalization Act, a law from which American-
owned businesses had been exempt. There was a ﬂurry of interest in the ﬁrst half of
1967 in the possibility that American ﬁrms would be forcibly nationalized and handed
over to private Filipino ownership by the state.
MAN was to be the fulcrum of this
endeavor, adding to the capitalists’eﬀort the mass of workers, peasants, and youths
the PKP brought to the organization. Economic ties with the Soviet bloc, which the
PKP would negotiate, gave extended leverage. Victory in the struggle for the Communist
Party would be won by the section of its leadership that emerged dominant in MAN.
Sison’s party rivals had far more inﬂuence with Filipino capitalists in late 1966 than he
did. They used their ties with the Soviet Union to promise trade deals and cash loans
on competitive terms. They also had positions in the Marcos administration, while the
protests of October 24 threatened to rupture the KM’s relationship with the president
it had backed less than a year before.
The one advantage that Sison had was his own energy and that of the youth movement
behind him. If he could move quickly enough –organize, travel, network, and speak –it
was possible he could build MAN while the remaining leadership of the PKP was still
organizing its forces. In his view, any social movement not focused on this end was a was-
teful expenditure of eﬀort. Opposition to police brutality needed to be corralled and
denunciations of the Marcos administration silenced. Every social layer which Sison
See for example, GW Mar 2 and Apr 20, 1966.
Lansang 1999, 108. Guingona would later become Vice President of the Philippines, 2001–2004.
The Manila Bulletin the morning after the ruling accurately summed up the decision, writing that it “gave the law a
scope that went even beyond the hopes of Filipino nationalists”, see MB Dec 17, 1966–1967.
The Jarencio ruling was reversed in August 1967 and American-owned businesses were again declared exempt. The
enthusiasm in the business community for MAN dwindled. At its founding in February, however, MAN had the
support of major banks and sections of industry, all of which saw the immediate possibility of proﬁt in MAN’s economic
nationalism. For a useful summary of the Jarencio decision, see “PhilippineDecision on Retail Trade Nationalization
Law,”1967. Among the founding members of MAN were the heads of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce,
Chamber of Industries, and Chamber of Filipino Retailers. See MAN 1967, 149.
CRITICAL ASIAN STUDIES 13
could mobilize needed to be focused on one end: securing ties with Filipino capitalists
through the formation of MAN.
Events, however, quickly spiraled out of control.
O24M and police brutality
Within days, popular outrage over the brutal suppression of demonstrators at the Manila
Hotel took organizational shape as the October 24th Movement (O24M), and Voltaire
Garcia was made chair of this ad hoc new group.
The O24M emerged independently
of the PKP but was marked from its inception by the political confusion engendered
by the party, all factions of which continued to support Marcos. The new organization
simultaneously decried the emergence of “fascism”and appealed to the “liberal prin-
ciples”of the Marcos administration. O24M included anarchistic elements, university
students drawn to Mao’s Cultural Revolution but generally opposed to political auth-
ority. The demonstration and its violent dispersal in front of the television cameras
and newspaper reporters of the world had publicly humiliated Marcos and he immedi-
ately ordered an investigation into the protests, which he termed a riot. At the same time,
he sought to contain popular anger by summoning a select group of UP student leaders
to Malacañang Palace on October 30. Voltaire Garcia and his conservative campus rival,
Violeta Calvo, met with the president, who announced that all charges against the ﬁve
accused protestors would be dropped.
Marcos’commitment, however, did little to
appease the growing outrage. The police had beaten and ﬁred upon demonstrators,
who now sought not clemency but redress. On November 3, over one thousand students
marched to Malacañang to denounce police brutality. KM mainstays addressed the
crowd, but the dwindling control of the organization’s leadership found expression in
anti-police slogans (such as “Down with the AID-controlled police”) demonstrators dis-
played on their placards.
Along with the entire leadership of the PKP, Sison held to the
Stalinist perspective of the progressive character of a section of the capitalist class in the
national democratic revolution. To carry out an alliance with this layer, sections of the
military and police had to be won over with nationalist appeals. The O24M was a
loose, spontaneous amalgam, the absence of a thought-through political program con-
tained in its very name, which expressed nothing beyond an angry reaction to an
immediate grievance. Sison sought to control this outrage by redirecting it away from
the repressive apparatus of the state and towards the program of national democracy.
On December 6, on the quiet Loyola Heights campus of Ateneo de Manila, Sison
addressed an assembly sponsored by the Ateneo Political Society.
The central thrust
of Sison’s speech was his depiction of the emerging youth movement as fundamentally
a nationalist movement oriented to securing limited reforms through appeals to, and
pressure brought to bear upon, the existing structures of political power:
The youth of today …have much to teach their elders …recalling them to the cause of
nationalism …Our elders in the highest councils of the government today are bound by
Lacaba 2003, 10; Rosca 2004, 15.
Lacaba 1966c, 71; Tutay 1966, 66.
GW, November 16, 1966, 13.
In the ﬁrst edition of Struggle for National Democracy this speech was entitled “Nationalism and Youth.”See Sison
1967a, 19. In subsequent editions it was entitled “The October 24th Movement.”
14 J. SCALICE
compromises with big vested interests which have made possible their elections and
appointments. We wish to bind them with the tradition of the nationalist and the revolu-
tionary youth who merge themselves with the masses under the red banner of the Philippine
Youth were not oriented to a socialist revolution carried out by the working class, but to
political continuity and reformist politics. Their task was to sway their conﬂicted elders
away from imperialism and bind them in service to nationalism. However much he
couched his argument in the language of youthful revolt, Sison oﬀered the most
tepid of reformism. The program of the KM, he stated, “merely aﬃrms what every
patriotic Filipino should adhere to,”and he approvingly cited the slogans of the
Garcia (“Filipino First”), Macapagal (“Unﬁnished Revolution”), and Marcos (“The
nation can be great again”) administrations as evidence of the continuity between
the politics of the KM and that of their establishment elders. Their elders were conﬂ-
icted, however, wavering between their imperialist benefactors and the needs of the
people. Here the intervention of youth was needed, he argued, to remind the elders
of their true allegiances, to expose the imperialists, and to win the elders back to the
nation. Youth did not have access to the press, so they voiced this pressure politics
Sison then turned to the question of police brutality. “Since we are interested in the
free development of nationalism in this country,”he said, “we need to consider the
fact that foreign agencies maintain an undue amount of control and inﬂuence over
our police forces and our armed forces.”
Police brutality expressed not the fundamental
character of the state but a distortion of its role under the pressure and control of imperi-
alism. Political reforms would transform “our police”from brutal oppressors into
national heroes, modern-day del Pilars
“in the ranks of the police and the military:”
There is the need to wage a nationalist education campaign. The events before, during and
after the October 24th Incident reveal to us how much our government oﬃcials misunder-
stand the spirit of nationalism. Anti-nationalism has so much poisoned the minds of so
many of our police oﬃcers and those higher executive oﬃcials who give them the orders.
Anti-nationalism was the root cause of police brutality, according to Sison, but it was the
product of an unfortunate misunderstanding which could be remedied by nationalist
education. Sison called on the government to facilitate “seminars on nationalism and
civil liberties among members of the police and armed forces so that a bridge of sympathy
and understanding could be built for the prevention of fascism.”
Sison argued that
youth and workers could not independently resolve any of their problems and that the
state, far from being their enemy, could be made their ally. They needed simply to
pressure it with demonstrations and bind it to the “national interest.”
Sison 1967a, 20.
Sison 1967a, 23.
Gregorio del Pilar was a young Filipino General who fought courageously against the Americans during the early stages
of the Philippine-American war. He was killed in the Battle of Tirad Pass, December 2, 1899.
Sison 1967a, 23.
Sison 1967a, 24.
Sison 1967a, 24. When Sison reprinted this article in 1972, he removed the fatuous reference to police oﬃcers as
modern del Pilars, as well as his campaign of seminars and sympathy, and simply concluded with the rise of
fascism. Martial law was but months away.
CRITICAL ASIAN STUDIES 15
Whereas Sison was looking to contain the energy of the demonstrating students and
direct it into safe channels while he worked to take control of the party, his PKP rivals
sought to defuse this entirely, as they were reluctant to see anything endanger their
relationship with the Marcos administration. Marcos’Executive Secretary Rafael Salas
had brought over ﬁfty “technopols”into the administration and directly oversaw their
A good many of these were members or close supporters of the PKP. Among
them was Ruben Torres, who over the next half decade oversaw the party’seﬀorts to
establish ties between the Marcos government and the Soviet Union, and between the
PKP and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU). In early 1967, he traveled
to Moscow to begin this process.
Political protests, however, threatened to jeopardize
these relations and embarrass Marcos on the world stage. The Labor Department, under
the leadership of undersecretary Raoul Inocentes, who had close ties to the PKP, set about
to systematically discourage unions and labor organizations from participating in the
October 24 demonstration.
As a result of this intervention, only the organizations
directly tied to the still independent Lacsina joined the protest. In the wake of the
October 24 demonstration, the rift which the PKP leadership had sought to prevent
between the Marcos administration and their youth wing widened. The loose amalgam
known as the O24M issued a leaﬂet denouncing Salas’“boys”:
The Marcos administration has suﬀered its ﬁrst signiﬁcant defeat in the eyes of our people
and is now desperately trying to deceive the students and the people through its paid agents
out of a craven fear of the powerful anti-imperialist and anti-fascist October 24th
Sensing Marcos’political vulnerability, former President Macapagal and several other
leading ﬁgures of the elite opposition began denouncing Salas as a “red”for his ties to
the same forces with whom Macapagal had allied the Liberal Party three years
Marcos hit back through Congressman Carmelo Barbero, Chair of the House
Committee on National Defense, who launched a series of inquiries into the alleged
support given by remnants of the Huk guerrilla movement to Macapagal in the 1965 elec-
Barbero was a dubious political ﬁgure. A colonel in the army, he headed the Civil
Aﬀairs Oﬃce (CAO) in the 1950s, the psychological warfare arm of the Philippine Armed
Forces. In 1955, he launched a lucrative career smuggling goods from Japan, working
with Santiago Nuval, the military attaché to the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo. After
Nuval was court-martialed for this activity, Marcos rehabilitated the political careers
of both Nuval and Barbero. Nuval was appointed head of the Navy, while Barbero,
now a Liberal Party politician, became Marcos’loyal ally in the House. Barbero played
an instrumental role in both the opening of ties with the Soviet Union and the red-
Joaquin 1987, 93.
Joaquin 2003, 80, 83, 84. The party’s behind-the-scenes orientation to Moscow, conducted in tandem with its relations
with the Marcos administration, began in 1966. Its open hostility towards the PRC and the CPP began in early 1971
when, along with Moscow-aligned parties around the globe, it responded with pent-up fury to China’s opening of
ping-pong diplomacy, see Scalice 2017, 623–639.
MC October 14, 1966, 13.
Joaquin 1987, 126.
MC October 17, 1966, 2
16 J. SCALICE
baiting of Sison and his cohort. In October 1966, just before he launched an anti-com-
munist witch-hunt against the October 24 demonstrators, Barbero returned from
Moscow, where he had quietly begun negotiations to secure ties with the Soviet
Union. On November 9, he introduced legislation in Congress to establish trade relations
with the Soviet bloc. Visiting Soviet dignitaries over the next six years would be housed in
the home of Barbero. His daughter, Joseﬁna, attended Lumumba University in Moscow
on a full scholarship in 1970. After Marcos imposed martial law in 1972, he made Barbero
his undersecretary of defense.
The violence of the police on October 24 shocked the
nation and a congressional hearing was quickly called to investigate the suppression of
the protest. Marcos arranged for the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency
(NICA) and the National Police Commission (NPC) to be brought in to investigate
the student demonstrations, claiming that he suspected a “mastermind or ﬁnancier”
was behind the protest.
Having instigated what would become a massive witch-hunt
against alleged communists on campuses, Marcos announced that he was pardoning
the student demonstrators and handed the reins of the investigation over to the legisla-
ture. An inquiry that would occupy the rest of the year was formally launched by the
House Committee on Education on October 28. Within twenty-four hours, however,
the investigation had been handed over to Representative Alberto Ubay, who headed a
subcommittee charged with investigating “communist inﬁltration of Philippine
Ubay’s investigation was then transformed into a joint hearing with Barbero’s
investigation of ties between the Huks and Macapagal.
Barbero’s role in the witchhunt-
ing of the young demonstrators expressed a strong alignment of interests between anti-
communists in the legislature and the leadership of the PKP. Barbero simultaneously
sought to establish diplomatic and economic relations with the Soviet Union and to
crackdown on Sison and the KM. At no point in his investigation did any of the PKP
forces in the Marcos administration come under scrutiny. Ignacio Lacsina, whom the
Moscow-oriented leadership regarded as a loose cannon, occasionally was the subject
of denunciations, but this was done in a secondary and pro forma manner. Barbero
focused on Sison and his supporters.
When Sison was called before the joint congressional committee on November 15, the
witch-hunt intensiﬁed. A retired naval captain and government intelligence operative,
Carlos Albert, led Sison’s questioning. He charged Sison with having traveled to
China, but Sison denied this, declaring that he had never been to the country.
informed the House Committee that Sison was a communist.
under the terms of the 1957 Anti-Subversion Law (RA1700), carried the threat of a life
sentence and possibly the death penalty.
On November 23, Albert presented thirty-
nine documents and four charts which he claimed demonstrated that the KM was a com-
munist organization. Sison and his colleagues should be prosecuted, he argued, for
MC October 20, 1966; GW June 18, 1969, 28, 31; McCoy 2002, 147.
MT October 28, 1966.
MT October 27, 1966, 8-A.
MT October 28, 1966, 19-A; MC Oct 29, 1966.
Manila 1966, 43; Sison and Rosca 2004, 45.
Sison published a response to Albert’s charges in the January 4 Collegian, categorically denying that he had ever been
to China and accusing Albert of lying. See Sison 1967b. When Sison reprinted this article in SND he redacted “I have
never gone to Red China”to “If I have ever gone to Red China, it is perfectly my right to go there.”See Sison 1967a, 229.
CRITICAL ASIAN STUDIES 17
“inciting to rebellion.”Barbero concurred, stating that Albert had presented suﬃcient
proof to warrant prosecution. The specter of RA1700 had been raised in the legislature.
On Friday, November 25, Ismael Lapuz, head of NICA, put before Barbero’s committee
the state’s case for prosecuting Sison and other leading members of the KM on charges of
subversion. Present at the hearing was Justice Department Chief Prosecutor Emilio Gan-
cayco, who was said to be weighing issuing charges against Sison and the KM under
Lapuz presented no evidence to substantiate his charges, stating that he
would reveal the details in a closed door meeting in NICA headquarters on the following
Monday. Communists, he claimed, had inﬁltrated university campuses, but the school
“most inﬁltrated”was UP. In this process of inﬁltration, the KM served as “the instru-
ment”of the PKP. Thirty to forty professors from various local colleges, he stated, had
been placed on the NICA subversives list –a fact damning to NICA, not the professors.
In closed door proceedings, Lapuz stated that Sison was linked to the communist parties
of China and Indonesia, and that the KM was engaged in a “full-scale expansion program
in the provinces and cities and in local universities and colleges.”Barbero announced that
he was seeking RA1700 prosecution of Sison.
Sison, who was eﬀectively placed under
house arrest, claimed that “government intelligence agents”were “surrounding his house
twenty-four hours a day and trailing him whereever [sic] he goes.”
The KM pushed
back. Sison told the press that not he but Carlos Albert should be prosecuted, for his
ties to the CIA.
On November 30, Senator Lorenzo Tañada announced that he was
ﬁling a libel suit against Ismael Lapuz and Carlos Albert on behalf of the KM. On Decem-
ber 2, the KM issued a press statement declaring its intent to ﬁle twenty charges of libel
against Albert, for which they had the backing not only of Tañada but of Sen. Jose Diokno
Neither Lapuz nor Albert had produced any substantive evidence to back up their
numerous accusations against Sison and the KM. Confronting the threat of a libel suit
and with Congress going into its extended holiday break, the leaders of the witch-hunt
regrouped. Barbero announced on December 10 that he would travel to Jakarta with a
team of government investigators to “interview witnesses and examine documents
seized by the Suharto government from the PKI”to substantiate their charges against
Sison and the KM.
On Christmas Eve, Barbero staged a press conference in Saigon
while en route home from Jakarta. He announced that his investigation had exposed a
powerful “Indonesian lobby,”tied to the PKI, in which Sison played a leading role.
Suharto, he stated, had been “most cooperative”and had ordered “the most secret intel-
ligence ﬁles of the government opened for us to examine”while subjecting “red prisoners
to another interrogation with special emphasis on the Philippine angle.”Barbero stated
that Bakri Ilyas had confessed under interrogation that the Filipino contacts of the “Indo-
nesian lobby”had been “paid ‘fabulous sums’as ‘secret employees’of the Indonesian
Embassy in Manila then.”
The Manila Bulletin ran an editorial stating that “The
MC November 24, 1966.
MC November 26, 1966.
MC November 28; November 29, 1966.
MC November 27, 1966, 2.
MT December 2, 1966, 14-A; MC November 24, 1966, 14.
MT December 1; December 3, 1966, 8-A.
MT December 11, 1966.
MT December 25, 6-A; December 26, 1966.
18 J. SCALICE
Indonesian spy …in prison awaiting trial for his part in the abortive October coup in
1965, Bakhri [sic] has incriminated his Filipino contacts during interrogation.”It
emerged in the conference that at least “ﬁfty ranking oﬃcials, including some of the Pre-
sident’s top advisers”had been implicated. This was the ﬁrst mention in the entire aﬀair
of the PKP leadership now tied to Marcos, but this charge immediately disappeared from
Sison and the KM remained the focus of all accusations.
On December 29,
Sison delivered a speech entitled, “Rizal the ‘Subversive’” to the Conference Delegates
Association (CONDA) congress held in Bacolod. In this speech he drew a line of histori-
cal continuity from his own political role and that of the KM of which he was head, to
that of national hero Jose Rizal. Sison identiﬁed his own political opponents with the
reactionary forces who seventy years earlier had tried and executed the Philippine
If Dr. Jose Rizal were alive today, he would be among those topping the list of subversives
prepared by both the traditional and modern enemies of genuine Filipino nationhood and
democracy …[Rizal] was ﬁrst witch-hunted, subsequently exiled and ﬁnally murdered at
Bagumbayan …the inquisitors of the nationalist youth and students today …are equivalent
to the vile inquisitors of Rizal.
It was an eﬀective argument. Sison’s historical analogy drew apt connections between the
reactionaries of the past and the present, but it could do no more than this. The passio-
nate intensity of the O24M, which Sison sought to corral as he struggled to create MAN,
had brought unwanted attention to the PKP and, in particular, to Sison. The witch-hunt
that ensued threatened to alienate the party from its ruling class allies. That Barbero was
following in the tradition of the reactionary forces that executed Rizal on Bagumbayan
may have been true, but this did not alter the fact that what the majority of the party lea-
dership sought was an end to the political scrutiny that threatened their growing
inﬂuence. The legislative persecution of Sison’s faction rapidly came to center around
the question of China.
Ban on China travel
Among those who had been summoned to testify before Barbero’s committee was UP
Student Council member Jejomar Binay.
Under questioning on November 9, Binay
informed the committee that a large contingent of students was preparing to travel to
This revelation was treated as a bombshell and legislators demanded that
Foreign Aﬀairs Secretary Narciso Ramos deny travel permits to the students. The
Manila Chronicle characterized this as an “all-expense paid ‘ﬁrst class’tour of Commu-
From October 24 until November 18, UP President Romulo, who had
approved the students’travel and obtained authorization from Narciso Ramos and
MB December 27, 1966, 6.
Barbero’s claims of having solid evidence against Sison seem to have been political grandstanding. As 1967 opened, the
congressional witch-hunt receded from the public stage, cropping up occasionally in a speech or two but lacking the
concerted might of the state that it had carried in December 1966.
Sison 1967a,1–8. When Sison republished this speech in 1972 he cut the ﬁrst page and half, removing the material on
Rizal from its original historical context: a defense against Barbero and company. He renamed the speech, “Rizal the
Social Critic.”See Sison 1972,1–6.
Binay would later become Vice-President of the Philippines from 2010 to 2016.
Lacaba 2003, 10, 12.
MC November 10, 1966–1967.
CRITICAL ASIAN STUDIES 19
Marcos, had been in Paris at a UNESCO conference, but in mid-November he reiterated
his support for the students’travel, declaring “I cannot see how we can deprive intelligent
students the right to travel and judge for themselves the advantages of our democratic
way of life vis-a-vis the rigidity and repression in a totalitarian state.”
The trip, arranged
by Voltaire Garcia, was scheduled to last from late November to mid-December.
Ramos, under intense public pressure from the legislature and doubtless private pressure
from Marcos in the wake of the October 24 protest, reversed his decision to allow the
ﬁfty-eight person group to travel to China, and informed the press that he had
decided that the students were not yet “mature enough”to visit the country, and
might thus “pose a security problem upon their return from Red China.”
assistance of NICA, Ramos placed the names of these ﬁfty-eight students and professors
on a “lookout list,”warning that they were “suspected of planning to ‘force’their way to
Not content with the eﬀectiveness of this measure, Ramos can-
celed the passports of the intended travelers. Adopting the red-baiting language of
Barbero, he warned a gathering at Union Church of a “possible communist revival …
induced by popular winds from Beijing …we would be a nation of dolts indeed, if we
failed to see clearly the subversive implication of the Chinese communist technique of
While the furor over travel to Beijing played out on the front
pages of the daily press, the Manila Times ran a series of articles over the course of
the ﬁrst two weeks of December called, “Life behind the Iron Curtain,”describing in gen-
erally positive terms the possibilities of travel in the Soviet bloc. Yet no witch-hunt was
launched in Congress, and no red-baiting accusations were raised in the pages of the
Manila Bulletin, the most anti-Communist of all the major papers. Clearly a double stan-
dard was at play.
The excitement surrounding the possibility of diplomatic ties and trade relations with
the Soviet bloc linked a seemingly disparate set of interest groups: the left-leaning
Tonypet Araneta, editor-in-chief of Graphic Weekly 1966–1967; the President of the
Chamber of Commerce, Teoﬁsto Guingona Jr.; the smuggler turned witch-hunter,
Carmelo Barbero; and the Marcos administration itself. The common orientation of
these forces was to rewrite the former colony’s imbalanced terms of trade with the
United States, loosen the grip of U.S. ﬁnance capital, and secure a larger share of the
proﬁts. Success required access to new markets and an alternative source of loans and
investment. Coming to terms with the Soviet bloc might supply the Philippines with
suﬃcient economic weight to strike a better deal with the U.S. The PKP leaders involved
in the Marcos administration stood at the center of this eﬀort.
At the beginning of 1967, with the direct involvement of the PKP and its periphery,
and at the instigation of the Marcos administration, the Philippine legislature created
a Special Committee to Re-examine Philippine National Policy towards Communist
Countries, which became known as the Enverga Committee. Its ﬁnal report, which
detailed the economic opportunities of trade relations with the Soviet bloc, pointedly
PC November 16, 1966.
MC November 17, 1966. The list of these “immature”travelers included a number of faculty members at the University
of the Philippines, among them the chair of the Political Science department.
MC November 25, 1966.
MB December 10, 1966, 9.
20 J. SCALICE
excluded China. It laid the basis for the eventual establishment of ties between the Phi-
lippines and the Soviet Union in 1976.
While representatives of the Philippine
Chamber of Commerce traveled to Moscow with government approval, the students
tied to the O24M deﬁed the government and began traveling to China. They returned
with paraphernalia of the Cultural Revolution: copies of the Little Red Book, and Mao
caps and pins, which carried extraordinary cachet on campuses in 1967. In May a
group of prominent UP students wrote a letter to the editor of the Philippine Collegian,
calling for a “purge”of the university and the “re-education”of its faculty.
language, even six months earlier, would have been utterly alien in the Philippines,
but over the next ﬁve years, it became inescapable. The political landscape had been irre-
Movement for the Advancement of Nationalism (MAN)
More than any other ﬁgure, Sison tried to hold these rapidly diverging political ten-
dencies together but it proved an impossible task. Toward the end of 1966, he arranged
for the KM to present “anti-imperialist awards”to Horacio, Francisco, and Vicente Lava,
members of the Lava family that dominated the Moscow faction of the PKP.
students returning to the Philippines from China identiﬁed with the Red Guard, Sison
identiﬁed with Mao. The anger of these youth was politically useful only if directed to
his chosen ends, which above all lay in securing an alliance with a section of the capitalist
class. He delivered a speech on December 26, entitled “The Nationalist as a Political Acti-
vist,”in which he presented all of the classes of Philippine society on a political spectrum,
from workers and peasants on the left to the compradores on the right. The task was to
isolate the right-wing, he announced, by winning over the “middle middle”of the spec-
trum, the national bourgeoisie:
To tilt the balance for the purpose of isolating the right wing composed of the enemies of
progress and democracy, it is necessary therefore for the main and massive forces of the
workers and peasants to unite with the intelligentsia, small property owners and indepen-
dent handicraftsmen, win over the nationalist entrepreneurs and at least, neutralize the
right middle forces.
But winning over the “middle middle”required tact. Sison delivered a speech in March
1967, “Socialism and Nationalism,”in which he repeatedly stated that the tasks of the
revolution were not yet socialist: “it would be an error of dogmatism or sheer ignorance
of the real conditions of our country if we insist on making socialism our immediate
Sison was instrumental in the formation of the Movement for the Advancement
of Nationalism (MAN) in February 1967, which brought together the heads of major
banks, the Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber of Industries, the Chamber of Filipino
Retailers, a nationwide franchise of pawnshops, and other leading capitalist interests, and
I examine the eﬀorts at establishing trade and diplomatic ties with the Soviet bloc in Scalice 2021a.
PC May 7, 1967, 4.
MT December 1, 1966–1967, 20-A. After his expulsion from the party, Sison would denounce the “Lavaites”as “a black
bourgeois gang”and claimed that he had always opposed them. See Sison 1971.
Sison 1967a, 38.
Sison 1967a, 119.
CRITICAL ASIAN STUDIES 21
pledged to them the loyalty of labor in a nationalist alliance.
Lacsina told the
assembled delegates that “if labor will have to make a sacriﬁce for the national interest,
it is willing to bear the hardship.”
Sison also addressed the founding congress, declar-
ing that MAN
as it is now composed, directly represents the highest development of the nationalist move-
ment for the last twenty years. …To stress this fact, we say proudly that materially prosper-
ous but patriotic Filipinos are here and now united with the representatives of the toiling
This state of aﬀairs was not to last. In early April 1967 Sison and his colleagues were out-
maneuvered by their rivals in the PKP and expelled from the party. Sison quickly lost
inﬂuence with MAN, whose membership was above all interested in maintaining
relations with the Marcos administration and establishing economic ties with the
Within a month of his expulsion from the PKP, Sison returned to
China, where he met with Mao.
In January 1969, less than two years after his expul-
sion, building on the remnants of the KM, Sison and his handful of fellow thinkers
founded a new communist party.
Thus were the battle lines drawn in the face of an imminent social explosion. Within a
month of the expulsion, the Philippine Constabulary opened ﬁre on a mass peasant
march in downtown Manila, killing thirty-three people and injuring forty-seven.
August, Marshall Wright of the U.S. National Security Council wrote to National Secur-
ity advisor Walt Rostow:
It would be nearly impossible to overestimate the gravity of the problems with which our
next ambassador to Manila must deal. It has become common-place for people knowledge-
able on the Philippines to predict a vast social upheaval in the near future. There is wide-
spread talk that the current president will be the last popularly elected Philippine chief
executive. Many high-level American oﬃcials consider the Philippines to be the most
serious and the most bleak threat that we face in Asia.
The political line of the SU gave to Sison’s rivals a set of choice economic incentives to
oﬀer Filipino capitalists: loans and trade relations which could serve as a form of capital
in a renegotiation of relations with the country’s colonizer, the United States. The politi-
cal line of the PRC, meanwhile, gave Sison credibility and sway over the growing social
unrest. No longer seeking to gain control of the PKP, he gave full rein to the growing
youth movement and began to promote the need for an armed struggle in the
The heads of the Philippine Chambers of Commerce, Industry, and Retail were all charter members of MAN, see MAN
MAN 1967, 135.
Remaining in the camp of the PKP, MAN backed Marcos’re-election in 1969.
The founding of the CPP was backdated in party documents to December 1968 to coincide with Mao’s birthday.
They were organized in a religious cult known as the Lapiang Malaya [Free Party] and had come to Manila to demand
22 J. SCALICE
A continuous increase in social tensions marked the period from the October 24 dem-
onstration in 1966 to the imposition of martial law in September 1972. A series of pro-
tests occurred against U.S. military bases in 1968, and an unprecedented wave of student
strikes shut down universities across the country in 1969. As the gravity of the social
crisis increased, the speciﬁc weight of Sison’s youth movement rose and tipped the
scales of bourgeois politics. At the time that MAN was founded only the far-sighted
anticipated this, while most inclined to the staid rivals of Sison and their immediately
useful relations with the SU.
The threat of dictatorship grew in tandem with social unrest. As 1970 opened, and an
explosion of protests known as the First Quarter Storm swept across the country, people
began to openly discuss the possibility of martial law. A rival set of bourgeois interests
emerged, those of the excluded opposition in a time of unrest.
They were not
opposed to martial law, but they were opposed to Marcos, for it was they, not he, who
should be in power. It was among these elements that the CPP at last found its “progress-
ive section of the national bourgeoisie.”
Through the KM and a number of other organizations that came under its sway
between 1970 and 1972, the CPP assisted elite opposition attempts to destabilize the
Marcos administration. Their protests, marches, and publications focused not on capit-
alism, but on Marcos, whom they denounced as a fascist. Their elite allies supplied them
with funding, free nationwide weekly television and radio broadcasting slots, and favor-
able coverage in major papers. The KM and its sibling organizations mobilized their base
to campaign for the elite opposition Liberal Party in the 1971 midterm election.
The ideological split in the Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas (PKP) was a concentrated
political manifestation of a rapidly sharpening social crisis. The fragmentation of the
party closely followed the fault lines of the Sino-Soviet split but this was not the
expression of external machinations. The ideological shape of the rival national interests
of the Stalinist bureaucracies in Moscow and Beijing in the mid-1960s to early 1970s
found congruent alignment with emerging social divisions in the rapidly shifting political
landscape of the Philippines. The anger of youthful dissent and the economic nationalism
of sections of the elite had previously mingled in the party in a hierarchical but peaceable
fashion. The social unrest in 1966 was a harbinger of an impending explosion of working
class and peasant unrest. The contradiction at the heart of Stalinism, its quest to retain
control over a mass movement and maintain ties with a section of the elite, tore
through the party. In the ﬁnal analysis, the split occurred not because of individual
leaders but despite them.
The author would like to express his thanks to Peter Zinoman, John Sidel, Vicente Rafael, and
Taomo Zhou for their support.
No potential conﬂict of interest was reported by the author.
At their core was a number of old ruling class familes: Aquino, Lopez, Laurel, Osmeña, see Scalice 2017, 432.
For a speciﬁc example of the functioning of this alliance, see Scalice 2018. For the broader details, see Scalice 2017.
CRITICAL ASIAN STUDIES 23
Notes on contributor
Joseph Scalice is a postdoctoral researcher at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, study-
ing revolutionary movements and authoritarianism in Southeast Asia with a focus on the postwar
Philippines. He is the author of the forthcoming book, The Drama of Dictatorship: Martial Law
and the Communist Parties of the Philippines (University of Wisconsin Press, 2022).
Joseph Scalice http://orcid.org/0000-0002-7479-8583
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