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A Communist Philippines If...
AUTHOR Lt. Col. Librato S. Ladia
CSC AY 1988
               A  Communist Philippines If...
                     An Executive Summary
     The paper discusses the birth of communism in the Phi-
lippines, the "show window of America democracy in Asia."
The pro-Soviet Communist Party (PKP) was established in
l92Os, when the Philippines was still an American colony.
     During the Japanese occupation of the country, the
PKP's  Huks,  a peasant anti- Japanese guerilla group
played a key role in weakening the Japanese occupiers,
there by making up the mopping up operations of American
and Filipino forces later on.
     The failure of the PKP to seize state power could be
attributed for its impatience in organizing a wider
peasant mass base.
     The birth of the more radical Mao's leaning Communist
Party of the Philippines in the late 6Os was an offshoot
of misunderstanding between the old party members and the
more radicals from prominent school campuses in Manila.
With lessons learned from the struggle of Mao Tse-tung
against the Kuomintang, the CPP sees the current conflict
a protracted one.  The Party is based on a very wide base
of peasantry as well as other sectors of the society.
The Party adopts a Marxist-Leninist-Mao Tse-tung thought
as its primary guide in its organizational, ideological,
and political approach to violently overthrow the existing
social order.
     The movement uses three main weapons: the Communist
Party of the Philippines, to provide the brain; the New
People's Army, to protect the party as well as provide
a miltary arm; and the National Democratic Front, to provide
a shield to parry obstacles.
     The Marcos era has really been the period when this
movement became a formidable foe of the state.  The faith
of the country is now left to a relatively new leadership
which inherited a lot of problems from the former leader.
I. Historical Background
   A. Pre-World War II
   B. Japanese Occupation
   C. Post Worl War II
II.  The Establishment of a More Militant Party
III. Characteristics of the New Party
IV.  The Three Main Weapons
V. The United Front Concept
VI.  The 3-Staged Insurgency Strategy
VII. Conditions Contributive to Insurgency
VIII. The Marcos Era
IX.  A Communist Philippines If...
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                         A COMMUNIST PHILIPPINES IF...
I. Historical Background
A.   Pre-World War II
     On February 22, 1922 an American communist, purportedly
representing the Philippines, attended the Congress of Toilers
of the Far East in Moscow.  Subsequently, American communists
sent missionaries of revolt in the rural areas of the country1
as the situation then was ripe for exploitation.  In a related
development, the International Press correspondence, a commu-
nist organ reported that the Red Labor International (Prointern)
passed a resolution recognizing the importance of the Philip-
pines as strategic point in the Pacific Ocean.2   In 1928, Cri-
santo Evangelista and Cirilo Bugnot attended the Red Labor
International conference in Moscow.  Two years later, in a
large rally in Plaza Moriones, Tondo, Manila, a pro-Soviet
Partido Kommunista ng Pilipinas (PKP) was proclaimed with
Evangelista as head of the 7-man Politburo and the 35-man
Central Committee.  On October 26, 1932 the Supreme Court of
the country outlawed the party.  In the same period a Socialist
Party was organized in Central Luzon.
     On November 7, 1938 a merger was made between the PKP and
the Socialist Party.  The merger came about with the assistance
of James Allen, representative of the Communist Party of the
U.S.A.3  The Socialist Party was larger but its following was
loose and lack the discipline of real communist cadres.  In
effect, this was not in line with Lenin`s concept of a commu-
nist party as the advance detachment of the proletariat con-
sisting of dedicated core of professional revolutionaries.
B.   Japanese Occupation
     When the Japanese occupied Manila in January 1942, the
first line of this pro-Soviet party were arrested.  Majority
of the party members, however, fled to the various towns in
Central Luzon.  A month later in a conference of the Central
Luzon Bureau, a guerilla army was decided, thus, on March 29,
the HUKBALAHAP (Hukbong Bayan Laban Sa Hapon or People's Army
Against Japan) was born.  These guerillas, later on popularly
known as "Huks," were the outgrowth of a communist-led popular
front movement which had already established a substantial po-
litical base in Central Luzon.  Ably led by a group of experienced
organizers, of whom Luis Taruc was the best known, they moved
their combat-worthy followers into remote areas where bases
could be established and training carried on.
     Armed with weapons scavenged from the battlefield of Ba-
taan, the Huks soon launched small-scale harrassment operations
against the Japanese occupiers.  As the war continued, these
guerillas began to concentrate upon the development and conser-
vation of their own power.
     The relationship of the insurgent movement with the govern-
ment at this time could be compared with that of Mao Tse-tung's
struggle against Chiang Kai-shek-'s Kuomintang.  The break bet-
ween the two, manifested by the Long March, was again patched
up by Japanese aggression.  Mao and Chiang tacitly cooperated
against the common enemy up to the end of the war.  By July
1946, however, the "Third Revolutionary War"' was underway and
the outcome is now what makes Communist China.4
C.   Post World War II
     When the U.S. Army returned to the country, its attitude
towards the Huks was reserved, and some of the principal leaders,
including Luis Taruc, were jailed for having continued to carry
out "liquidation" of collaborators despite of ban imposed by
General MacArthur's headquarters.
     In preparation for the formal declaration of Philippine
Independence by the Americans, the Huk leaders were released.
Perhaps to make the country closely associated with America,
the United States had sworn to grant the independence on July 4,
1946.  (Please note that at present Philippine Independence is
celebrated every 12th of June, having been rectified in 1962
to conform with the date General Emilio Aguinaldo proclaimed
independence in 1898.)  Not long after this event, however,
the Huks, reacting with vigor against the refusal of the new
government to seat their six congressmen (including Taruc) and
accept their local control in areas of Central Luzon, went into
armed dissidence.  In moving thus early in the postwar era they
do not seem to have been responding to any external direction
but to be reacting to the efforts of the new government, as
they saw it, to rob them of the fruits of their efforts during
the Japanese occupation.  The wartime guerilla structure, along
with the support organization, had not been dismantled and mere-
ly needed to be reactivated.  The Philippine Army and the Cons-
tabulary controlled the towns, and the rebels controlled the
countryside.  The government forces controlled the day, and
locked themselves behind barbed wire by night, leaving the vital
hours of darkness to the Huks.
     Due to timely move by the government, particularly during
the Magsaysay era,5  many principal leaders of the PKP fell un-
der massive government operations.  Bitterly dissilusioned,
Luis Taruc surrendered to the government on May 16, 1954.  The
defeat of the Huk movement was attributed (at least by the
new members of a more militant party, the CPP) to the party's
petty-buorgeois eagerness to seize power and also for not giving
due regard to the strength of the government.  The fortunes
of the Huks continued to decline due to mishandling of the
relationship between Huk units and the people.  The Huks deve-
loped the tendency of the roving rebel bands and took shortcuts
instead of taking pains in developing mass support.
II.The Establishment of a More Militant Party
     The reestablishment of the present communist party is a
two-phased development: the urban phase and the rural phase.
The urban phase was the period between the founding of the Ka-
bataang Makabayan (KM), a youth organization in Greater Manila,
up to the declaration of martial law in 1972.  During this phase
the leadership structure of the Communist Party of the Philip-
pines (CPP) was recruited and organized.  The revolutionary
framework mainly came from the idealist youth from the school
campuses, intellectuals and professionals majority of whom
clustered in Greater Manila and a few urban center centers.  A
large number were students and intellectuals who came from the
provinces but found themselves in the urban centers due to the
nature of their occupation.
     It was during the 75th birthday of Mao Tse-tung, December
26, 1968, that a Maoist leaning party (CPP) was formally orga-
nized by Jose Ma Sison.  Sison,who was indoctrinated in Red Chi-
na, could not agree with the old party members of PKP. On March
29, 1969, exactly 27 years after the Huks were organized, the
New People's Army (NPA) was born.  This guerilla group fused
with Sison's party of militant students and young professionals
who were in search of an army.
     The communist controlled youth organization (KM) has gathered
strength and in a show of fcrceorganized the violent demons-
trations which rocked downtown Manila in the early 7Os.  Later
on the CPP attempted to established a guerilla zone in the re-
mote parts of Northeastern Luzon, a shift from the traditionally
Huk base in Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog.
     The rural phase or mobilization of CPP on the other hand
is the period since the declaration of martial law by President
Marcos in 1972 up to his ouster in 1986.  There are those who
call this period as the time democracy in the Philippines stopped.
Of course martial law only forced the activist organizations
to go underground.  It did not destroy the movement; it only
forced the now underground party to expand in the countryside.
The shift from urban subversion to active insurgency in the
rural areas was designed to destroy the economic base of the
nation which is agriculture.  This was how Mao Tse-tung defeated
the Nationalists in the late 4Os; encircle the cities from the
countryside.  In the Philippines this is a practical approach
as the weakest link of the government exists in the rural areas
and where deprivations exist among the peasant population.
The skeletal framework gathered flesh with sustained recruitment
in the rural areas.  The movement likewise started to gather
momentum in Mindanao where the Armed Forces of the Philippines
(AFP) was preoccupied with the Muslim seccessionist rebels
who wanted a seperate country of their own.  This allowed the
CPP/NPA to develop practically unmolested.
III. Characteristics of the New Party
     The more militant movement derive lessons from the old
party as well as other country victims: China, Cuba, Vietnam,
Cambodia, and now Nicaragua.  In avoiding past mistakes, CPP
strives to attain a party-led movement which is peasant based
protracted war.  The ideological, political, and organizational
errors of the past have been replaced by a time-tested formula
for waging guerilla warfare with a powerful propaganda machine
which seeks to isolate the government from all sectors.
Ideologically, the more militant communist party, adopts
Marxist-Leninist-Mao Tse-tung thought (MLMTT) as its supreme
guide to pursue its revolutionary goals, an approach similar
to that used in China, i.e., in a semi-colonial and semi-
feudal country a protracted people's war would be the only
practical approach towards capturing state power.
     Politically and again taking lessons from China, pursues
an insurgency which is identified with the masses.  It is a
protracted armed struggle being launched in the countryside
to encircle the cities.  It is a struggle against U.S. impe-
rialism, feudalism, and bureaucrat capitalism.  This is also
similar to the one adopted by the Viet Cong, that according
to their party doctrine the national democratic revolution had
two missions: anti-imperialism and anti-feudalism.
     By organization, the old party was criticized as weak.
The main disability of the old party has been its failure to
build an organization that had a broad mass base and one which
is national in scope.  Party members and its mass organizations
were relatively over-concentrated in Central Luzon and in the
Manila-Rizal areas.  This was so as the belief then was that
when the party could have gained control in Central Luzon, the
whole Luzon would follow, and a control over Luzon would mean
a control over the whole country.  The more militant party has
now been organized as proletarian in character.  Peasants,
workers, and students have been organized to participate actively
and on a national scale in the proletarian revolution which is
essentially an  agrarian revolution.  The party has likewise
organized a national united front as the other weapon to des-
troy and isolate the government.
IV.  The Three Main Weapons
     To assure victory of the movement, the CPP uses three wea-
pons.  From what Mao Tse-tung said, these are the party, to
provide the brains and leadership; an army, to protect the
party and provide military force; and a united front, to act
as a shield to parry the blows of its opponents.
     The Communist Party of the Philippines is the force at the
core leading the communist cause forward.  It is composed of
a highly disciplined group of professional revolutionaries de-
dicated to the overthrow of the government and the existing
social system.  By definition, the CPP is a party of the pro-
letariat and the peasantry.  Class origin is strictly adhered
to in the lower echelons, however its top rank remains domi-
nated by an elite group drawn from bourgeois intellectuals,
professionals, and students.  The expected intensity of the
struggle requires the party to be lean and strong.  It cannot
be a loose organization which would disintegrate under a strong
government pressure.  Its overlapping committee membership
assures the central committee a firm hold and unusual power
due to its high degree of party integration and continuing
intra-party surveillance.  A systematic purging cleanses
party ranks and maintains ideological purity.
     To transform the Philippine society, the armed struggle
is necessary.  Victory through the armed struggle assures the
party absolute authority and allows it a freehand to implement
its radical social programs.  The armed struggle being carried
out by the NPA is an agrarian revolution to maximize forces by
enticing the numerous land-hungry peasants to support the move-
ment.  To disperse and dissipate government forces, wide battle-
grounds have been opened by the rebels.  The armed struggle is
aimed at the overthrow not merely of the government to liberate
the country from U.S. imperialism but mainly to overthrow
the existing social system.
     To allow the CPP to expand its influence, a united front
is created.  By itself because it is relatively small, the CPP
could not expect to overpower the government.  The united front
is considered as powerful and essential instrument without which
the so called armed struggle in the countryside would falter.
By definition, the united front is the unity of all revolutio-
nary classes and strata against imperialism, feudalism, and
capitalism.  In other words, it is the total effort to isolate
the government forces politically and psychologically.
V. The United Front Concept
     Lenin once said that one hundred well-organized men can
easily defeat one thousand who are not organized.  To the CPP,
organization  i s  a  w e a p o n and the national united
front is a powerful organizational weapon and shield against
the state.  Similar to the National Liberation Front which
carried the banner of the communist struggie in South Vietnam,
the National Demecratic Front (NDF) is the formal structure
of the CPP's national united front concept.  Technically, the
NDF is people's organization for the movement.  The CPP wields
the united front and the armed struggle as the two weapons to
destroy the state to seize political power.  As the insurgency
expands, the growth of one influences the other.  The twin effort
is designed to merge together and unleash a powerful storm to
topple the political, social, economic, and military structure
of the country.  The united front effort provides the multi-
dimensional character of the movement.  Through it, the CPP
aims to achieve a decisive superiority in the balance of
forces which is the advantageous position of imposing its
will upon the Phlippine society.
VI.  The 3-Staged Insurgency Strategy
     In the official US Marine Corps publication FMFM 8-2
(Counterinsurgency Operations) Mao Tse-tung's doctrine on
protracted war has been amply discussed.  These are the passive
stage, the active stage, and counteroffensive stage.  This
doctrine is looked upon by the CPP as revealed truth and have
been adopted meticulously.  In the Philippine setting, these
are strategic defensive, strategic stalemate, and strategic
     At the strategic defensive, the party, the guerillas, and
the united front grow from small and weak to big and strong.
It is sometimes said that insurgents start with nothing but a
cause and grow to strength, while the counterinsurgency forces
start with everything but a cause and gradually decline in
strength to the point of weakness. 7   Strategic defensive has
two substages: early substage and advance substage.  In the
early substage, the CPP political apparatus is developed and
spreads out to every region.  It is in this substage where the
guerillas are deployed in most of the strategic locations of the
country.  In the advance substage of which the CPP has claimed
to have reached as early as December of 1982, guerilla warfare
is well-established and political support developed.  With the
united front efforts intensified, guerilla warfare is likewise
intensified to increase its arms inventory.  A sympathetic
environment is fully developed in the countryside and urban
guerilla units are deployed in population centers.
     In the strategic stalemate, the balance of forces is
more or less even.  The guerilla war becomes a conspicious
tug-of-war on strategic towns, cities, and large areas.  Most
importantly, political paralysis sets in the decision makers.
     The balance of forces has tilted in favor of the insurgents
at the strategic offensive.  The government has been profoundly
weakened and completely isolated while the insurgents gain
moral supremacy.  As a result, the government is forced to
go on the strategic defensive.  The momentum of the rebels
would then be unstoppable, and like in most countries that have
fallen to this threat, the situation is already considered
VII. Conditions Contributive to Insurgency
     From Che Guevarra we know that the communists do not
necessarily wait for a revolutionary to arise; they create that
situation.  The favorable insurgent situation in the Philippines,
however, have not all been created by the insurgents, they
may have hastened their development.  In FMFM 8-2, insurgency
is discussed as a product of unsatisfactory conditions, social
change, and a broad belief in the prospects for improvements.8
Such as the case, the aspirations of the people are not met
by the government or ruling elite and there is an organized
effort to discredit the existing leadership, if not the whole
system itself.  On reading the 14 conditions that encourage
popular revolt in above publication9, only 3 don't meet the
real situation in the Philippines: illeteracy, disease, and
ethnic or religious discrimination, at least leaving some-
thing for the insurgents to fabricate.  Filipinos have one
of the highest literacy in Southeast Asia; there is known
sickness or epidemic that threaten the well being of the
people; and religion or ethnic diversity has not been the
disuniting factor in the country (except in Southern Minda-
nao with some Muslims and are not targets of communist insur-
gency, but seccessionist insurgency).  The remaining follow-
ing conditions have been the main issues raised by the
insurgents: social injustice, feudalism, poverty, low pro-
ductivity, unemployment, overpopulation, official corruption,
government inefficiency, inequities in the distribution  of
arable land, and colonialism and foreign exploitation.
VIII. The Marcos Era
     Former President Ferdinad E Marcos has been called as the
biggest recruiter of the NPA. It was during his long tenure as
head of the country (1966-1986) that the CPP and its military
arm, the NPA, grew to a very serious threat.  Marcos justified
the imposition of martial law in 1972 with this Red menace.
In the book Waltzing With a Dictator, however, this appears not
to be so
 1972...Marcos had created a Red
          Peril that didn't exist.  The Huk insur-
          gency had long been defeated; the commu-
          nist New People s Army (NPA) was  an
          uncertain and wobbling infant.10
     Be this as it may, after a decade of Marcos tenure, the
CPP/NPA really became a formidable foe of the government. Con-
ditions in the country called for a change in the leadership,
that even some legitimate political oppositions were eyeing
on tieing up with the enemy of the state just to remove Marcos
from power.  It was during this time that the economy of the
country was destroyed and the military corrupted or politicized.
Despite of this gloomy picture, the U.S. government, the
alleged champion of democracy in the world continued supporting
Marcos, even as he established a conjugal dictatorship.  Po-
licy of America towards the Philippines then could be better
cited in Waltzing With a Dictator
          "Democracy is not the most important
          issue for U.S. foreign policy,"  explained
          a Foreign Service Officer who had been in
          the Philippines when martial law was imposed
          and was being asked many years later. . .why
          the United States had not objected.  "The most
          important thing is the U.S. national interest,
          our security interest, our economic interest"
                ...Marcos might be a dictator, but he
          Washington's man in Manila.  And that
          was to remain the policy under four American
          presidents and for fourteen years. . .11
     America has of course two big bases in the Philippines
and sizable investment since the country became a colony
under the stars and stripes.  These have all been well taken
care of by Marcos at the expense  of untold miseries in the
country.  Consequently, the CPP/NPA had easy and ready issues
to alienate the people from the government.  "Down With U.S.-
Marcos Dictatorship" cried the street demonstrators.
     When President Corazon C Aquino took the helm of the coun-
try after Marcos was unceremoniously deposed in a people's po-
wer revolution in February 1986, she inherited all the problems
of the dying "show window of American democracy in Asia."  At
first the CPP/NPA  were reluctant to do things that may not be
favorable to them as Aquino was, and in some degree still is,
popular to the masses.  As a sign of good faith, she released
all political detainees, including high officials of the Com-
munist Party of the Philippines.  Then a dialogue/negotiation
between the government and the Communists was held which did
not give tangible results.  Like all communists, the CPP/NPA
like to negotiateas this gives them/time to group and consolidate
openly because normally a ceasefire is declared on such occasion.
Accordingly, Aquino has been dubbed by the military as soft on
the communists and that she is surrounded by communist sympa-
thizers in her own cabinet.  These allegations may not be all
true; she may only want to treat all dissidents through the
democratic ways.  She certainly has a better appreciation of
the American democratic way of life as she once lived in Bos-
ton as a young student then as a wife of the late Senator
Ninoy Aquino.  But for one, the American type of democracy
may not work in the Philippines as the environment and general
attitude of the people are different.
IX.  A Communist Philippines If.
      In low intensity conflict class we learned that insurgency
is not military in origin, nor is it military in resolution.
Military approach is merely a limited antidote to the problem
of insurgergency.  Figuratively speaking, it is just an aspirin
that may remove the outward symptoms of a serious illness but
cannot permanently cure the illness itself.  It would demand
a major surgery, a long-range process of excising deeply rooted
socio-economic ills in the society, to cure the problem.
      Government cannot stand alone in the fight against insur-
gency.  National stability and security must arise from the
unity of the people, built through the dedicated stewer of
community leaders. With the right example from the national
leadership, these community leaders are the ones who  can
effectively reach the grassroots and therefore strengthen the
link of the community with the government.  These are the lead-
ers who can show to the people, by words and by deeds, the
way of sacrifice, restraint, discipline and peaceful, collective
enterprise in order that they will never take the option of
violence that is being offered by the insurgents.
      If the Philippines will not be determined in at least
eradicating the unsatisfactory conditions that breed revolt,
then the country is in its sure path of joining the other
victims of communist movement.  A weak government will not do
good to the masses as insurgency is encouraged by administra-
tive weakness of the government.  A strong and honest govern-
ment can win back the allegiance of the people.  Counter-
measures should be based on sufficient knowledge of the CPP's
history, doctrines, strategy, objectives, leadership styles,
organizations, and its  propaganda machine.  To do otherwise
would bring more harm than good.
     For the military, it is worth remembering what Clausewitz
refers to war as a remarkable trinity12 in which the directing
policy of the government, the professional qualities of the
Army, and the attitude of the population play an equally
sinificant part.  The military should not be expected to
solve the problem alone.  If the attitudes of the people or
the " passions of the people" as Frederick the Great refers
to the third element in Clausewitz's remarkable trinity is
not supportive to government policies, then the military have
an almost impossible task to handle.
      With the right approachand the right national strategy,
let us just hope that the Philippines will not be a repeat
location of the most quoted conversation between a U.S. Colo-
nel and a North Vietnamese Colonel in 1975, just after the
Vietnam War, which runs as follows:
               "You know you never defeated us in the
          battlefield," said the American Colonel.
               The North Vietnamese Colonel pondered
          this remark a moment.  "That may be so,"
          he replied,  "but it is also irrelevant.13
         1Geoffrey Bocca, The Philippines America`s Forgotten Friends
(New York:Parents Magazine Press, 1974), p.117
         2Orgellio, Aspects of CPP Insurgency (Quezon City, GHQ AFP,
n.d.),pp. 2-3
         3Ibid, p. 3
         4The Mao Tse-tung Casyndekan (Colorado: A.B. Hirschfeld
Press,1970),pp. viii-ix
         5Douglas S Blaufarb, The Counterinsurgency Era: U.S.
Doctrine and Performance (New York: The Free Press,1977),pp.27-40
         6Geoffrey Bocca, The Philippines America s Forgotten Fiends,
Ibid,pp. 163-173
         7Frank Kitson, Low Intensity Operations Subversion, In-
surgency, Peace-keeping (Pennsylvania: Stackpole Books, 1971) p. 29
         8MCDEC, USMC, Counterinsurgency Operations, FMFM 8-2
(Quantico, 1980), p. 3
         10Raymond Bonner, Waltzing With a Dictator The Marcoses
and the Making of American Policy (New York: Times Books, 1987),
p. 117
         11Ibid , pp.132-139
         12Michael Howard,Clausewitz (New York: 0xford University
Press,1983), p. 20
         13Harry G Summers Jr, 0n Strategy: The Vietnam War in
Conflict (Carlisle Barracks,Pa, US Army War College,1982), p.1
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Bocca, Geoffrey. The Philippines America's Forgotten
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Bonner, Raymond. Waltzing With a Dictator The Marcoses
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   Books, 1987
Bunge, Frederica M. Philippines A Country Study. Wash.
   D.C., Dept of the Army, 1983
Devillers, Philippe. Mao. New York, Schocken Books, 1969
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FMFM 8-2 Counterinsurgency Operations. Washington D.C.,
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Greene T.N. Lieutenant Colonel. The Guerilla--And How
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Howard, Michael. Clausewitz. New York, Oxford University
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JCS Pub 1 DoD Dictionary Of Military and Associated
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The Mao Tse-tung Casyndekan. Colorado, A.B. Hirschfeld
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0rgellio. Aspects of CPP Insurgency. Quezon City,
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Summers, Harry G. , Jr. On Strategy: The Vietnam War in
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