The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) dismissed claims by Manila government security officials the New People’s Army (NPA) has already been strategically defeated, describing the declarations are nothing more than dreamland statements.
In a reaction to an online press briefing by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) last Wednesday, the CPP branded as ludicrous government claims that all but 14 “weakened guerilla fronts” of the NPA have been dismantled.
“This is pure wishful thinking on the part of the US-Marcos regime. It is a desperate attempt to fool the people and dampen their spirit of resistance,” the CPP said in a statement.
‘Zero active guerilla fronts’
In the briefing, NTF-ELCAC executive director Ernesto Torres Jr. said there are “zero active guerrilla fronts” and only 14 weakened units of the NPA remain. NTF-ELCAC said six guerilla fronts had recently been dismantled.
Torres did not identify the locations of the so-called remaining fronts but said it is Manila government’s priority to dismantle them to help in local peace talks engagements.
National Security Council (NSC) assistant director general Jonathan Malaya in the same briefing alleged the NPA is at its weakest in its 55-year history with less than 1,500 fighters remaining nationwide.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in a New Year statement also boasted there are no longer active NPA fronts, reporting killing 67 leaders and 1,399 members as well as seizing 1,751 firearms throughout 2023.
The CPP however said the AFP, NSC and the NTF-ELCAC presented no proof in their self-congratulatory claims, saying in turn that majority of the guerilla fronts across 14 regional NPA commands are “far from dismantled.”
CPP chief information officer Marco Valbuena said the NPA’s current strength remains deep and the wide mass support it enjoys is far from what the AFP wishes to imagine.
‘Why the increased AFP budget then?’
Valbuena admitted the NPA suffered grave losses from 2019 to 2022 due to internal weaknesses and errors as well as sustained military operations by close to 100,000 AFP troops since 2017.
“Squandering hundreds of billions of pesos, the reactionary armed forces have unleashed unimaginable state terrorist violence in the countryside,” Valbuena said.
But claims of strategic victory over the NPA are belied by the Marcos government’s increased military budget by almost 40% this year, Valbuena said, citing AFP’s ₱282.7 billion budget from last year’s ₱203.4 billion.
Valbuena said that a large part of the military’s funds go to the purchase and maintenance of US-supplied jet fighters and drones used in aerial bombing, artillery shelling and full-scale military operations in the countryside.
The CPP officer also said that a vast majority of AFP battalions remain deployed against the NPA despite announcements of wanting to shift to external defense against Chinese encroachment into Philippine territories.
Valbuena further said AFP’s claims of victories in the battlefield come at the expense of farmers and indigenous peoples’ communities who suffer de facto martial rule in the guise of “community support operations.”
“The AFP hinder the free movement of people, imposing curfew and prohibiting them from working in their fields, destroying their organizations, and other forms of suppression, in order to pave the way for the aggressive entry of mining operations, expansion of plantations, ecotourism and infrastructure projects,” he said.
“Fascist troops continue to carry out a campaign of state terrorism against the peasant masses, carrying out killings of civilians and covering up their crimes by claiming their victims to be NPA fighters,” Valbuena added.
‘Masses want their Red fighters back’
The CPP said in areas temporarily abandoned by NPA units due to intense military operations, the people wait for the return of the Red guerillas.
The Party said affected NPA units are determined to recover strength, rebuild their mass bases, and continue to wage armed revolution.
It added that the NPA has in fact started regaining its bearings since last year and have carried out maneuvers to frustrate AFP’s encirclement and focused military operations.
With the CPP’s third rectification movement launched on its 55th founding anniversary last December 26, it said the NPA shall soon regain lost territories and expand to new areas.
The CPP’s Central Committee also laid down several tasks the NPA should accomplish to recover strength, including the building of company-sized units for each guerrilla front and to launch basic or annihilative tactical military offensives that have a high percentage of succeeding.
Since December, CPP newsletter Ang Bayan has published reports of NPA operations that resulted in the killing of three Philippine Army troopers in Panay Island last December 9 and 10 and a paramilitary spy in Negros Island last December 27.
“The Red commanders and fighters of the NPA, and cadres of the Party are all determined to carry forward the people’s war as long as it takes until complete victory is attained,” the CPP said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)