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Armed men ‘abduct,’ grill Himamaylan villagers – rights group

By Visayas Today

Armed men believed to be military personnel barged into a home in an upland village of Himamaylan City early Friday morning, August 30, allegedly handcuffing and blindfolding occupants, including high school students, and forcing them into a vehicle as they searched for purported communist rebels, a human rights group said.

The September 21 Movement Southern Negros said the gunmen forced their way into the home of farmer Delia dela Rosa Pacheco, 64, in Sitio Maliko-liko, Barangay Carabalan around 3 a.m.

They then rounded up Pacheco, her niece Aiza dela Rosa, 24, and two other relatives, one a Grade 11 student, the other in Grade 10, and a guest, Teresita Camanso, 46, a daycare worker from Sitio Lanap, Barangay Buenavista who was staying for the night after attending a seminar at the Himamaylan city hall.

The statement quoted Pacheco as saying they were all ordered to lie on the floor as the gunmen cuffed and blindfolded them. They were later taken to the vehicle.

Camanso told the human rights group that the gunmen asked her if she knew “Loida” and “Toti,” who they said were members of the New People’s Army who were supposedly staying in the house.

She was also grilled about the formation of an indigenous peoples’ organization in her village. 

The other occupants of the house were also interrogated. 

The September 21 Movement condemned the incident and urged vigilance against what it called the “creeping militarism and dictatorship in Negros.” #

CPP: ‘The NPA does not torture its enemies’

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) denied the New People’s Army (NPA) tortured the four police officers killed in Ayungon, Negros Oriental last July 18.

In a statement, the CPP’s Information Bureau said that based on reports of the NPA’s Mt. Cansermon Command that claimed responsibility for the attack, the four armed personnel of the Philippine National Police (PNP) were killed in an ambush.

Those killed were not tortured, contrary to claims made by President Rodrigo Duterte, the CPP said.

“They were armed adversaries of the NPA and died in a legitimate act of war. Duterte and the police are making up stories in a vain attempt to gain public sympathy,” the CPP added.

The group said, the NPA strictly prohibits the use of torture, “[u]nlike the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines] and PNP.”

“The NPA’s rules prohibit even lifting a finger against its captives or prisoners. The policies of the NPA are much unlike Duterte’s cruel war that targets civilians with extreme brutality,” the CPP said.

‘No ordinary ambush’

In a press conference last Friday, Police Regional Office-7 (Central Visayas) director PBGen. Dobeld Sinas said he does not believe the casualties died in an ordinary ambush.

Sinas alleged the four police officers were dragged, hogtied, mauled and even hit with butts of rifles by the NPA.

Sinas identified the fatalities as Corporal Relebert Beronio and Patrolmen Raffy Callao, Patrolman Ruel Cabellon and Patrolman Marquino de Leon.

Based on police reports, the four police officers were on board two motorcycles were waylaid and fired upon by at least 11 unidentified NPA fighters.

They were intelligence personnel of the 704 Mobile Force Company of the Regional Mobile Force Battalion in Central Visayas.

The NPA’s Mt. Cansermon Command (MCC) spokesperson, Dionisio Magbuelas, said the four officers were killed for acting as spies to implement police operations that had led to civilian deaths in Negros Oriental.

“Based on our intelligence report, the four police operatives were gathering information and surveilling the area for another round of Oplan Sauron or Synchronized Enhanced Management of Police Operations where innocent civilians are killed by uniformed personnel in the guise of counter-insurgency efforts,” the NPA said in a statement.

‘Series of successful tactical offensive’

In another statement Thursday, the NPA unit claimed no less than 43 soldiers and police were either killed or injured in three separate offensives it conducted between June 22 and July 18.

Aside from the Ayungon ambush, the MCC also conducted what it called a sniping operation in Sitio Bulo, Brgy. Bantolinao, Manjuyod, Negros Oriental last June 22 that resulted in the death of three soldiers of the 94th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army (IBPA) and the wounding of 20 others.

Last July 2, the MCC said it foiled a raid attempt by the 11th IBPA in Sitio Small Samac, Brgy. Nalundan, Bindoy, Negros Oriental and launched a counter offensive that killed 10 and wounded six government troopers. 

“The series of successful tactical offensive was conducted by MCC-NPA to need the call for justice for the victims of extrajudicial killings especially for the innocent victim’s of Oplan Sauron 1 and 2,” Magbuelas said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Lawyer shot dead in Negros Oriental as chief of village where 4 cops killed allegedly commits suicide

By Visayas Today

A lawyer was shot dead while his wife and a pedicab driver were injured when the couple was attacked by two motorcycle-riding killers in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental Tuesday afternoon, July 23.

The same day, the chief of the village in Ayungon town where four policemen were killed by communist rebels in a July 18 ambush also died in a hospital, one day after allegedly drinking pesticide, Negros Oriental police director Colonel Raul Tacaca said.

Barangay Mabato chairman Sunny Caldera (Photo from Visayas Today)

A police report said lawyer Anthony Trinidad and his wife Novie Marie, both 53 and residents of San Carlos City, Negros Occidental, were in their SUV when they were fired on in the center of Guihulngan.

Their vehicle hit the pedicab driven by Guillermo Magdasal, 52, before hitting a concrete wall.

The three were rushed to the Guihulngan District Hospital where the lawyer was declared dead.

Last year, Trinidad was reportedly among the names in a hit list by an alleged anti-communist group called Kawsa Guihulnganon Batok Komunista (KAGUBAK), according to Defend Negros #StopTheAttacks Network.

Defend Negros condemned the senseless killing of the lawyer.

Meanwhile, Tacaca said Barangay Mabato chairnan Sunny Caldera, 51, had been found vomiting by the roadside with a pesticide container near him on Monday.

He was brought to Bindoy District Hospital then transferred to the Silliman University Medical Center in Dumaguete City where he expired the next day.

Earlier, police Region 7 chief Brigadier General Debold Sinas said they were looking into Caldera’s possible involvement to the deaths of the four personnel of the Regional Mobile Force Battalion.

Sinas said the village chief, who had reportedly been seen talking to one of the policemen before they were killed, had not warned them that the area was a “mass base” of the rebels.

Tacaca acknowledged they had yet to talk to Caldera’s family.

The Mt. Cansermon Command of the New People’s Army owned responsibility for the ambush on the policemen.

“Based on our intelligence report, the four police operatives were gathering information and surveilling the area for another round of Oplan Sauron or Synchronized Enhanced Management of Police Operations where innocent civilians are killed by uniformed personnel in the guise of counter-insurgency efforts,” the rebels said in a statement released Monday.

“These police officers have been long harassing the residents of the area for allegedly supporting the revolutionary movement,” they claimed. “In fact, the residents were forced to evacuate because of continued intimidation.”

Multiple murder and theft charges have been filed against 20 suspected rebels for the ambush.

Also charged was Victoriano Anadon, a reported contact who the policemen were supposed to meet but who was later found to be allegedly linked to the rebels. #

Cop killed, 8 wounded in clash with NPA in Mountain Province

By Joseph Gregorio

Clashes again erupted between elements of the Mountain Province police and the Leonardo Pacsi Command (LPC) of the New People’s Army at the boundary of Tadian and Bauko municipalities Tuesday afternoon resulting in the death of a police officer and the wounding of eight others.

At about 3:45 Teusday afternoon, LPC fighters blasted a command-detonated explosive against pursuing Regional Mobile Force Battalion-Philippine National Police (RMFB-PNP) Cordillera troopers.

Police Regional Office Cordillera (PROCor) said Police Corporal Marlon Casil was killed while wounded in the police operation were Patrolman Erwin Calixto, PCpl Marcelo Bayeng, PCpl Ramadick Meloy, PCpl Clifford Gama, PCpl Edwin Keya, PCpl John Calcaligong, PSSgt Salvador Agalatiw, PMSgt Alphedes Alvaro.

Tuesday’s incident was the third time the LPC engaged government troops in a fire fight.

On Monday, the LPC launched a harassment operation against the pursuing police at Tadian’s Mt. Kilakilat two days after a police officer was killed and another was wounded in an encounter between the guerrillas and the police at Mt. Gunggung-o in Barangay Bagnen, Bauko.

Philippine Army 54th Infantry Battalion commander Lt. Col. Narciso Nabulneg Jr. said they have joined the police in the pursuit operations against the communist fighters.

Earlier, the Tadian Municipal government issued an advisory to the residents and visitors to avoid the mountainous parts of Tadian’s Bas-ang area (Barangays Lubon, Masla, Sumadel, Batayan, Bantey, Duagan, Mabalite) and Sitios Pingew, Luwagan, Malupa and Tabeo areas in neighboring Bauko.

The Bauko municipal disaster risk reduction and management office implemented a pre-emptive evacuation at Sitios Cotcot, Sitios Luagan and Malupa in Abatan, Bauko. #

NPA turns 50 today; CPP calls for intensified guerrilla warfare

The Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) called on the New People’s Army (NPA) to boldly intensify guerrilla warfare and wage all-out resistance against the Rodrigo Duterte government as the revolutionary army celebrates its 50th founding anniversary today.

Congratulating Red fighters all over the country, the CPP’s top leadership said the NPA continues to advance nationwide and succeeded in surmounting Duterte’s all-out offensives and focused military operations in 2018.

Founded by the CPP in March 29, 1969 in Sta. Rita, Capas, Tarlac, the NPA started with only nine rifles and 26 inferior firearms for 60 Red fighters consisting of veteran guerrillas and new recruits from Manila and Isabela.

CPP founding chairperson Jose Maria Sison and local rebel leader Bernabe Buscayno were among the prominent personalities present in the event.

After five decades of continuous guerrilla warfare, the NPA said it has 110 guerrilla fronts all over the country, majority of which are composed of company-sized formation of full-time Red fighters.

The NPA’s guerrilla war is the longest-running in the world today.

Major victories in 2018

Last year, the CPP said the NPA mounted several hundred tactical offensives across the country, seizing at least 107 high powered rifles from government forces and even from security agencies serving big mining operations.

The underground party said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine National Police and their paramilitary forces suffered at least 600 casualties in 2018 with more than 380 killed in action.

One hundred eighty five AFP soldiers were killed in action across eastern Mindanao, the CPP claimed.

The group added that the numbers of government casualties were more than 40 percent higher than in 2017.

Units of the AFP that suffered the most casualties were those deployed in focused military operations in north central and north eastern Mindanao provinces where NPA units were able to carry out active defense operations against AFP offensives.

The CPP said the AFP’s decision to reduce its troop deployment in Mindanao to as low as 60 percent from a high of 80 percent in previous years is added proof that aims to crush the NPA in eastern Mindanao is failing.

“In the face of the steady nationwide growth of the NPA, Duterte’s security officials have already toned down on their earlier braggadocio of defeating the NPA by middle of 2019. They have instead moved their ‘deadline’ to the end of 2022,” the CPP said.

5-year plan

Even as it successfully frustrating Duterte’s all-out war, the CPP called on the NPA to boldly intensify guerrilla warfare nationwide and wage all-out resistance against the Duterte regime.

The CPP said the call is in accordance with the Central Committee’s five-year program (2017-2021) to continue developing nationwide strength, spread and advance.

“We must strengthen the NPA several times over and raise its capability in annihilating enemy units,” the CPP said.

The program includes the building of more units of people’s militias, self-defense units of mass organizations, partisan units, as well as raising their capability in waging mass guerrilla warfare, the CPP said.

“With its current nationwide strength and spread, the NPA is in a position to carry the people’s war forward to unprecedented levels in the coming years,” the group added.  # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Joma: It’s Duterte regime that may not survive by 2022, not the NPA

The Rodrigo Duterte government should concentrate on surviving the next three years rather than be preoccupied in trying to wiping out the New People’s Army (NPA) by 2022, National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison said.

Even with a reset deadline, government military and police forces will surely fail in destroying the revolutionary army, Sison in a statement said, adding it is Duterte who may already be out of office by 2022.

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairperson explained the military and the police cannot accomplish in three years what they failed to accomplish in 50 years.

“The scheme will surely fail from day to day, week to week, month to month and from year to year as the NPA will intensify tactical offensives and mass work,” Sison said,

 Instead, Duterte himself will have difficulty surviving politically, he added.

“These are lameduck years for him, during which infighting among his followers will be debilitating and challenges will rise from within the ruling system as well as from the revolutionary forces,” Sison said.

Department of National Defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana told reporters Tuesday the government hopes to wipe out the communist guerrillas in three years.

 ‘Pipe dream’

In the press briefing, Lorenzana admitted that defeating the communists could not be accomplished within the year, as earlier predicted by Duterte.

In September, President Duterte’s said the government would win the war against the NPA by the second quarter of 2019.

Former Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff and now Presidential peace adviser Antonio Galvez in November echoed Duterte’s statement that the military will eliminate the NPA by next year.

Lorenzana, however, said the prediction is a tall order even with increased military operations nationwide.

“We cannot do it this year because it is a huge problem. If you will recall, this insurgency has been going on for the past 50 years already and we cannot end it in one year,” Lorenzana said.

“Maybe, our target now should be in the remaining three years of President Duterte’s term. We can probably accomplish that,” he added.

‘Wasted years’

Sison said Duterte should be blamed for wasting opportunities to sign peace agreements with the NDFP aimed at addressing the root causes of the armed conflict.

Duterte cancelled the peace talks with the NDFP in November 2017 and moved to have CPP and the NPA declared as “terrorist organizations.”

“Were the Duterte regime willing to engage sincerely and seriously in peace negotiations with the NDFP to address the roots of the armed conflict and make agreements on social, economic and political reforms, a just peace could be attained in less time than three years and at far less cost in contrast to the enemy’s futile military campaigns that are costly in terms of blood and public money,” Sison said.

“The problem with the Duterte regime is that it thinks peace negotiations are merely for the surrender and pacification of the revolutionary forces and that the sincerity of the NDFP is merely the willingness to surrender to the unjust ruling system of big compradors, landlords and corrupt bureaucrats like Duterte,” he added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NPA in Bicol celebrates CPP’s 50th anniversary

The Romulo Jallores Command of the New People’s Army invited journalists of select local and international media groups to a press conference in a guerilla camp deep in the Bicol Region.

The event was part of the nationwide celebration of the 50th anniversary of the reestablishment of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

CPP successfully celebrates 50th anniversary

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) successfully celebrated its 50th founding anniversary yesterday in many regions nationwide despite the government’s refusal to reciprocate its unilateral ceasefire declaration, the group’s information bureau announced.

“In the guerrilla areas, NPA (New People’s Army) Red fighters and Party members gathered in fiesta-like assemblies together with the peasant masses from nearby barrios with food and cultural programs,” the CPP said in a statement.

The NPA’s temporary ceasefire held since December 24 despite relentless military offensives by the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines), the group said.

No fire fights happened during the NPA’s unilateral ceasefire from December 24 to 26.

“In the cities, Party members and activists held meetings and small gatherings under the nose of police and military intelligence agents,” the group’s information bureau revealed.

Last week, members of the Revolutionary Council of Trade Unions, an underground organization of workers, held a rally in downtown Manila as a “warm up” activity prior to yesterday’s anniversary.

Abroad, a rally was held in Hong Kong last Sunday by Filipino migrants in unity with the CPP celebrations.

An assembly was also planned in The Netherlands where the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) International Office is based, the CPP said.

President Rodrigo Duterte ordered Saturday the destruction of all Reds, both combatants and civilians, marking the first Christmas and New Year that his government refused to declare a ceasefire.

A platoon of the Romulo Jallores Command of the New People’s Army parades before members of the media and civilian supporters in a camp in the hinterlands of Bicol. (Photo by R. Villanueva)

NPA victories

In response to ongoing military operations against communists, NPA guerrillas struck in the Bicol region, Kalinga Province in the North, Compostela Valley in Mindanao and Northern Samar in the Visayas, scoring massive victories that netted them dozens of firearms while inflicting casualties on both AFP and paramilitary forces.

In Barangay Western Uma in Lubuagan, Kalinga last December 23, Sunday, the NPA’s Lejo Cawilan Command overran a detachment of the 77th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (PA) and carted away 30 firearms.

The detachment’s commander, a Sergeant Elon D. Bayang, was reportedly killed while three paramilitary troopers were injured. The NPA said they also suffered one casualty in the attack.

The NPA accused the PA unit and its Civilian Auxiliary Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) paramilitary of harassing and restricting the movements of residents in the area whom they accuse of being rebel supporters.

The government troopers also instigated gambling and “anti-social” activities in the communities, the NPA said.

The raid followed a massively successful NPA raid of a military patrol base in Barangay New Tubigon, Sibagat town, Agusan del Sur where they carted away 24 high powered firearms “without firing a single shot.”

The Red Fighters also took two soldiers of the 3rd Special Forces Battalion and 12 paramilitary troopers captive. The NPA assured that their prisoners of war are being treated humanely under International Humanitarian Laws.

Earlier, the NPA also launched successful tactical offensives in Sorsogon and Northern Samar provinces.

In Las Navas town in Northern Samar last December 22, a government soldier was killed while two others when attacked by the NPA.

PA Private First Class Alvin Avila died on the spot while Private Ivan Anthony Ignao Michael Ocasla were wounded.

The NPA in Sorsogon Province attacked a Philippine National Police station in Magallanes town, inflicting injuries on three police personnel before withdrawing after a ten-minute fire fight.

Aside from projecting nationwide strength on the CPP’s 50th founding anniversary, the successive NPA attack are seen as the NPA’s response to massive military operations against civilian communities.

Since early December bombings and military operations in the Kalabugao plains straddling the  tri-boundary of Agusan del Sur, Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental in Mindanao have forced indigenous peoples and civilian communities to flee.

Col. Edgardo de Leon, commander of the 403rd Infantry Brigade said the bombings and military operations are meant to disrupt the CPP’s anniversary celebrations.

“We discovered a major NPA hideout that is probably a projected venue of the CPP anniversary celebration,” de Leon said.

Meanwhile, CPP and NDFP’s respective websites, prwc.net and ndfp.org have become inaccessible since yesterday.

“The CPP’s website became inaccessible as it was under attack likely by the US-trained AFP cyberwarfare group. But in social media, the hashtags #CPP50 and #LetsCelebrate were the top Twitter trending topics in the Philippines for several hours since early morning and was still trending as of mid afternoon,” the CPP Information Bureau said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

CPP hails Sison, heroes and martyrs on 50th anniversary

The Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) hailed Jose Maria Sison and its thousands of martyrs and heroes in a message on the revolutionary group’s 50th founding anniversary today.

“The Central Committee gives highest honors to Comrade Jose Ma. Sison, the Party’s founding chairman, who masterfully applied Marxism-Leninism-Maoism to the concrete conditions of the Philippines and set the revolution along the correct path and steered it from strength to strength,” the CPP said.

Celebrating a rare milestone in the history of armed uprisings in the world, the party said Sison continues to be a leading light of the longest-running Maoist revolution in the world.

“Even during his prolonged incarceration and exile since 1987, [Sison’s] theoretical, socio-historical and practical insights continue to illuminate the Filipino people’s revolutionary path, help guide the Party as well as rouse the international proletariat and people to wage anti-imperialist resistance and socialist revolution,” the CPP said.

Aside from Sison, the revolutionary party said it salutes all revolutionary heroes and martyrs who gave their all for the people and served revolution to their last breath.

“It is with their dedication and sacrifices that made possible the revolutionary victories of the Filipino people,” the CPP said.

The CPP was founded in the province of Pangasinan in 1968 by a small group of intellectuals and activists led by Sison on a date that coincided with the 75th birth anniversary of the revolutionary thinker, poet and leader Mao Tse Tung.

The CPP said it celebrates its anniversary while it wages “all-out resistance against Duterte’s fascist tyranny, corruption and puppetry.”

“The rise of the US-Duterte fascist regime and its reign of terror and tyranny is, symptomatic of, and aggravates the grave conditions of the semicolonial and semifeudal system in the Philippines,” the CPP said.

The party added that the killings and many other forms of human rights violations is the Duterte regime’s way of countering the Filipino people’s growing resistance against old methods of political rule characterized by political dynasties, corruption and neglect.

Worsening crisis under Duterte

Under Duterte, the CPP said, social crises have grown even more grotesque as shown by fiscal deficits and debts.

Last September, the budget deficit widened by almost 80 percent to P378 billion from P213.1 billion during the same period last year, the group said.

To finance its programs and operations, the CPP said the Philippine government plans to borrow as much as P624.4 billion next year as Duterte seeks excessive amounts of loans from China, as well as from the Asian Development Bank and other financial institutions in order to spend for his Build, Build, Build Program.

“Under Duterte, Philippine public debt rose by more than 17 percent to P7.167 trillion from P6.09 trillion in 2016. Over the past 15 years, the Philippines allotted P10.741 trillion in debt payments and services,” the CPP said.

Against this backdrop, the CPP said the Duterte regime has become outright fascist, unleashing martial law in Mindanao until the end of next year and implementing its counter-insurgency scheme Oplan Kapayapaan to bloody results.

But the CPP said Duterte cannot defeat the NPA with such schemes, owing to widespread and deep support to its revolution.

NPA is growing

The CPP said that amidst Duterte’s harsh rhetoric against the party and the NPA, the armed revolution still grows five decades after it began.

“Duterte and the AFP have repeatedly boasted of crushing the NPA. Their claim last year that the NPA will be defeated before the end of 2018 has been frustrated and proven a big lie. This year, they proclaim that the NPA will be completely finished by mid-2019. As in all previous regimes, they keep on moving their impossible deadline,” the CPP said.

The CPP said the NPA has more than 110 guerrilla fronts in 80 provinces throughout the country, a great majority of which boasts of company-sized or bigger fighting units that are augmented by people’s militias.

“Even with US military advice and support, Duterte’s pipedream of crushing by mid-2019 the people’s armed revolution and other forms of resistance will fail,” the CPP declared.

“With the nationwide spread and growth of the NPA, it is practically impossible for Duterte to achieve superiority on all fronts at any given time. The NPA enjoys such widespread and deep support among the masses rendering the AFP incapable of encircling or constricting every guerrilla unit without rousing widespread resistance,” the group explained.

The CPP said the NPA has recently stepped up “annihilative tactical offensives” from north to south, wiping out small enemy units and seizing firearms and other war materiél while carrying out numerous attritive actions against fascist troops with the help of people’s militias and self-defense corps of revolutionary mass organizations.

In Mindanao, the NPA continues to persevere and succeed in launching successful tactical offensives despite being focus of military offensives, most notable of which is the recent overrunning of a paramilitary detachment and capture of 24 firearms in Agusan del Sur.

The CPP also said the three-week long offensives by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in the Bukidnon-Misamis Oriental-Agusan del Sur triboundary allegedly aimed at driving away the Lumad from their lands have been roundly frustrated.

“The enemy desperately wants to duplicate its concentrated and sustained offensives in the Davao region in North Central Mindanao, Samar, Bicol, Southern Tagalog and Negros. It will, however, be roundly frustrated as it faces a stronger nationwide force of the NPA that is ever more capable and determined to mount annihilative attacks on its weak and vulnerable points, to make it bleed with countless attritive actions while avoiding its attacks,” the CPP said.

Duterte’s November 28 order deploying more AFP troops in Bicol, Samar and Negros lessens the 75 percent concentration of government troops in Mindanao to 65 percent, the CPP said.

“[It] provided the NPA in the Luzon and Visayas regions the opportunity to mount a growing number of tactical offensives. Duterte’s order to deploy more troops in Bicol, Samar and Negros is an admission of the growing strength of the NPA in Luzon and Visayas. In doing so, the AFP is being further overstretched, increasingly exposing thinner parts to NPA annihilative offensives,” the group revealed.

CPP challenges members

The CPP’s 50th anniversary statement challenged its members to intensify their anti-feudal struggles and other mass struggles in the countryside.

“Amid worsening conditions and worsening forms of exploitation and oppression, the broad masses of peasants must intensify the land reform movement across the country and raise the demand for free distribution of land to the tiller. Mobilize the peasant masses in their millions,” the group said.

The party called on workers, students and other democratic sectors to carry out mass struggles in the advancement of their rights and welfare amid worsening socio-economic conditions against “Duterte’s heavy taxation, inflation, corruption, misuse of public funds and other anti-people policies.”

It also called on underground organizations and network to frustrate and defeat the Duterte regime’s surveillance, arrests, extrajudicial killings and other forms of attack against the legal democratic forces.

“Activists and mass leaders who are being targets of liquidation or abduction can avail of the security of the guerrilla base areas of the NPA,” the CPP said.

“As we mark and celebrate the Party’s 50th anniversary, we look forward to accomplishing ever bigger achievements and revolutionary victories,” it said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Generations of fighters | Bicol as hotbed of revolution

A few weeks ago, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the deployment of more troops to crush the “insurgency,” but the men and women, both old and young, of this armed revolution just laughed.

By RONALYN V. OLEA

BICOL REGION – Somewhere in the mountainous part of the region, there were makeshift huts made of freshly cut pieces of wood, leaves and plastic waterproof sheets. A few hammocks made of taffeta hung in between trees. These served as temporary sleeping quarters for the mobile army composed mainly of peasants, some workers and intellectuals.

There was a kitchen, a meeting place and a stage. Slits of bamboo were used as poles for the flags of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), New People’s Army (NPA) and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

Electricity came from a generator. Water was sourced from the nearby brook.

The temporary camp was only a two-hour walk (for the urban-raised but less than an hour for those who know the terrain by heart) from the cemented road.

In this same region, military operations continue. A few weeks ago, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the deployment of more troops to crush the “insurgency.” But the men and women, both old and young, of this armed revolution just laughed at their enemy’s dream.

Why such confidence? What sustains the NPA? Who supports them?

Four NPA guerrillas from different generations shared their stories.

Taking roots

The NPA prides itself as the people’s army.

Samuel Guerrero, the 69-year-old spokesperson of the NPA-Celso Minguez Command, has devoted 27 years living among the poorest. Like many NPA units, 70 percent of his time is devoted to organizing and the other 30 percent to military work.

“In some villages, the poor eat lima-lima (a Bicolano term for pig’s food) because they could not afford to buy rice. If you are immersed among the poor, your resolve to fight is strengthened all the more. Even the fatigue disappears when you are with the masses,” Guerrero said in Filipino.

He himself came from a poor peasant family. At the age of 12, Guerrero’s small hands became familiar with soil. His family cleared portions of public land and planted abaca, corn, sweet potatoes, banana and coconut. Sometime in 1975, the soldiers came and destroyed their crops. The men in uniform also accused his father of being a NPA. Out of fear, the family left and went back only in 1986.

When his father was confined in a hospital due to a disease affecting his spine, the family became deeply indebted. They were able to pay it many years after.

“The poorest just waits for death to come,” Guerrero said. “The system only works for the rich.”

And so, it was easy for Guerrero to embrace the alternative society espoused by the revolutionary movement. On May 10, 1991, Guerrero sought out the NPA to join them.

Guerrero explained that the NPA does not only fight their enemy but also help the masses in agricultural production, wage agrarian revolution, provide health services, build organs of political power, among others.

His hair, beard and moustache already white, Guerrero does not have any plan of retiring yet. He guides the younger ones, often talking to them and helping them in even the menial tasks of preparing food and fetching water.

“The leader should be the role model in strict discipline. He should have a good relationship with his troops,” he said.

His wife and their three children are also active in the revolutionary movement in the village.

Peasant and worker

A few years younger than Guerrero, Ka Cedric, 53, also came from a poor peasant family. He grew up in a village considered as NPA mass base and decided to join the guerrillas when he reached 18, the minimum age set by the CPP to join its army.

Asked if his parents agreed with his decision, Ka Cedric paused, his face distorted, his shoulders stiffened and he broke into tears. After a minute or so, he related that the 52nd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army took his father when he was eight years old. “They tortured him for one week. When he came home, bruises were all over his body,” he told Bulatlat in Filipino.

After the incident, Ka Cedric’s father joined the NPA. When his father died, he was not able to pay his last respects because he was assigned in another province.

In 1983 Ka Cedric was wounded. A grenade exploded as they took soldiers’ firearms after a successful ambush. The left side of his body and his left leg were hit by shrapnel; it took him eight months to recover.

He soon rejoined the NPA, performing organizing tasks and technical work. In 1990, problems arose within the NPA and Ka Cedric decided to leave.

Ka Cedric’s family decided to go to Manila where he worked as a construction worker for more than ten years.  He became active in their union and held a strike to demand wage hike, remittance of their social benefits, among others.

When all of his children already finished high school, the family went back to the province.

In 2017, he rejoined the NPA. “I have always believed there is no other solution,” Ka Cedric told Bulatlat.

Women guerillas

For Ka Arianne, 43, becoming a guerrilla was a fulfilled dream.

Born in a middle class family, Ka Arianne grew up in the city. As a young girl, she remembered her mother, a lay leader who was active in the movement against the Marcos dictatorship, welcoming NPA guerrillas in their home.

In 1998, after earning a degree and passing the licensure examinations, Ka Arianne was dead set to join the NPA. Finishing her studies was sort of a concession, she said. Her parents eventually respected her decision.

Even when she got married and gave birth to her two sons, Ka Arianne never thought of leaving the NPA. Her husband, a NPA fighter of peasant origin, is assigned in another unit. Once a year, they are able to spend quality time with their sons, now aged 13 and 8.

“I never imagined life outside the movement. Raising a revolutionary family is part of our plan,” the guerrilla with a fair complexion and her long, black wavy hair tied in a ponytail, said.

Last summer, her eldest was able to attend an educational discussion about the Philippine Society and Revolution. “He was shocked to know that Cory [Aquino] was far from being saintly,” Ka Arianne said smiling.

“We do not want to impose [upon our children] but we make it a point to expose them to the kind of life we have here, a communist way of living, that is, from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs,” she said. “At the very least, we want them to learn how to care for others and not to think only of personal satisfaction.”

Asked what sustains her, she replied, “The best part is being able to help resolve the problems of the masses.”

Ka Arianne said they form revolutionary committees, the concrete manifestation of red political power, in villages, municipalities and provinces, depending on the level of consolidation of the mass base. These committees perform the functions of revolutionary government, including the dispensation of justice, setting up people’s militia and provision of social services.

Asked what she thought of Duterte’s pledge to crush the revolutionary movement, Ka Arianne let out a gentle laughter and said, “Hindi niya kaya.” (He is not capable.)

She said government troops are afraid of the NPA. “They dare not go to the mountains. They often stay in urban areas, terrorizing the people,” she said.

One of the youngest NPA in the camp also dismissed Duterte’s threats. Ka Kim, 20, said the masses love the NPA so much. “They would invite us to their homes, offer us coffee and whatever food they have,” she said, her eyes glowing.

Like Ka Arianne, Ka Kim grew up seeing NPA guerrillas in their home. “They would give us rice whenever we did not have anything to eat.”

At the age of 11, Ka Kim, the fifth of six siblings, helped in planting banana, vegetables and root crops.  “Whenever NPA fighters pass by, they would also help us in our work,” she said.

Her parents and siblings are active members of organizations in the village. When she reached 18, she joined the NPA.

In the first few months, Ka Kim admitted getting homesick. Whenever melancholy strikes, she performs her tasks or talk to her comrades. “They are all inspiring, especially the old ones,” Ka Kim said.

Ka Kim looks forward to the NPA growing bigger and stronger in the following years.

With the CPP turning 50 this year, Guerrero said they adhere to the resolutions last 2016 to overcome conservatism and achieve more gains for the Filipino people.

“This is a protracted people’s war. When I’m gone, my children and my grandchildren would be there to continue breaking the yoke of imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism,” Guerrero said.

Imperialism refers to foreign domination and control over the country’s economic, political and military affairs. Feudalism refers to the feudal bondage of farmers and agricultural workers while bureaucrat capitalism is the use of public office to plunder the nation’s wealth.

For less than a week, the temporary camp was undisturbed. Several farmers came to visit, bringing vegetables and other supplies. Members of cultural group Armas performed revolutionary songs and skits.

Despite the cold December breeze, their hearts were on fire. #