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Joma: Partisan deployment order not from me

National Democratic Front of the Philippines chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison denies the order to form and deploy New People’s Army (NPA) urban partisan units came from him.

Asked to react to the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) announcement it is looking at possible charges against him, Sison said the new allegations that he ordered the deployment is a “pure concoction of the butcher (PNP chief Debold) Sinas and his fascist superiors.”

Sison said he is not in any position to give any special order to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) or the NPA to deploy partisans.

Sison said he was among the guests in a recent international webinar on human rights violations of the Rodrigo Duterte government when other speakers and inquirers from the audience brought up the issue of the possible revival of the NPA’s armed city partisan units.

He said he merely acknowledged the fact that there had been such a strong public clamor since 2016 when the mass murder of suspected street-level users of illegal drugs had been perpetrated by the police.

“Although I acknowledged the public clamor during the webinar, I was careful to state that it is the Central Committee of the CPP that decides such questions concerning the nationwide revival of the armed city partisans,” Sison said.

“[A]nd I referred to the publications of the CPP and the statements of Marco Valbuena, CPP spokesman, that the CPP is really concerned about the brutal extrajudical killings being done by the military and police under the direction of the chief butcher Duterte,” he explained.

Standing order?

Sinas announced Monday that the PNP is looking at filing a complaint against Sison after alleging the partisan unit deployment is a standing order from him.

Sinas said he already spoke with PNP legal officers for the possible filing of a complaint against Sison.

“We are looking at its possible effect, if his statement can be used against him for any criminal case. I have already talked to some of our legal officers to ask if there is a case for threat, whatsoever, that could be filed over his pronouncements,” Sinas, in Filipino, told a press briefing.

“Once our legal team determines the case that could be filed, then we will file the case in court,” the police chief added.

Old order

A review of the CPP’s 41st anniversary statement however showed that its plan to revive its urban partisan units was announced as early as December 26, 2009.

“We must have a plan to increase the number of Red commanders and fighters, units of the NPA and guerrilla fronts from around 120 to 180 in order to cover the rural congressional districts and gain the ability to deploy armed city partisan units in the urban congressional districts,” part of the statement said.

“The NPA can take the initiative of developing armed city partisan warfare and launching special operations against enemy facilities and anti-people enterprises in order to force the enemy forces to go on guard duty and put more of its troops on the defensive,” it added.

The CPP said the NPA in urban areas must target for arrest and trial violators of human rights and international humanitarian law. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NDFP reveals CPP-NPA urged to form partisan teams ‘to fight gov’t abuses’

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) revealed that the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (CPP) are being urged to create armed urban partisan teams in response to widespread abuses by State security forces.

The NDFP International Information office said that in an online forum on the 52nd anniversary  of the Communist Party in the Philippines (CPP) in Europe last December 26, participants renewed calls for “punitive justice” by NPA partisans against abusive policemen and government soldiers.

Attended by civilians as well as local and foreign supporters of the underground Communist movement, the forum featured calls to fight “fascist attacks” against unarmed activists and civilians in urban areas by suspected State-sponsored death squads.

The calls came hours before mother and son Sonya and Frank Anthony Gregorio were buried at Paniqui, Tarlac after their cold-blooded murder by Police Senior Staff Sergeant Jonel Nuezca that was caught on camera.

The twin murders reignited complaints of massive human rights violations committed by government security forces that groups say have been consistently encouraged by President Rodrigo Duterte.

‘Up to the CPP’

Forum panelist and NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison acknowledged that calls to create NPA partisan units are widespread and that conditions are ripe for the return of armed partisans to counter the assassinations and impunity by the Manila government.

The CPP founder said he based his observation on the 52nd anniversary statement of the CPP and reports published in the Party’s website.

Sison said there are enough bases for small teams “to conduct armed partisan operations in the cities to mete out revolutionary justice against Duterte’s terrorist forces based in the urban areas.”

He, however, emphasized that the matter is up to the CPP leadership to undertake. “Experience will be the best teacher on how to do it,” he said.

Sison also stressed there is no need for the underground revolutionary movement to shift to “urban insurrectionism” to deal a fatal blow to the Duterte’s regime at the moment.

He encouraged the strengthening and expanding of existing guerrilla fronts to prepare the NPA into achieving an equal balance of forces with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police.

Sison said that based on CPP reports, the NPA is currently is far stronger than that in 1986 which was only about six thousand regulars.

The rise of younger under 30s red commanders would usher in more daring offensives, he said.

The NPA’s Alex Boncayao Brigade undertook partisan operations from the mid-1980s to the early 1990s.

The CPP leadership dissolved the partisan teams after internal investigations revealed that some Party leaders have abused the practice.

The CPP then undertook a “Second Great Rectification Movement” that expelled several high-ranking leaders from the organization.  # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

CPP claims NPA builds new guerilla fronts despite AFP’s all-out war

The Communist Party (CPP) said the New People’s Army (NPA) has in fact grown in strength despite the Manila government’s all-out war operations against the underground revolutionary groups.

In a statement issued last Christmas Day on the Party’s 52nd founding anniversary, the CPP said the NPA has built new guerrilla fronts and expanded old guerrilla fronts in several regions despite the large-scale and sustained military operations mounted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) the past year.

According to CPP’s Central Committee (CC), NPA units are expanding to new territories and recovering old areas as well as forming new guerrilla fronts.

The expansion is in order to avail of wider areas for maneuver as the NPA’s guerrilla forces face the AFP’s large-scale combat and aerial bombing operations, the CPP said.

NPA guerillas in Southern Mindanao Region present arms and sing “The Internationale” in Saturday’s celebration of the CPP’s 52nd founding anniversary. (CPP photo)

The statement did not give specific numbers but cited “outstanding” experiences in guerrilla territory expansion in Southern Tagalog, Bicol, Negros and Eastern Visayas regions that the Rodrigo Duterte government placed under “state of emergency” in 2018 under Memorandum Order 32.

The AFP subsequently deployed large number of troops in these regions, as well as in Northeast Mindanao, North Central Mindanao, Southern Mindanao and Far South Mindanao.

“It (CPP) estimates that there are now close to 150 battalions of enemy maneuver troops deployed against the NPA. Up to 82% of the total enemy forces are concentrated in eight regions,” the statement said.

The group said the AFP also aims to further increase the number of CAFGU paramilitaries to 70,000 by completing the recruitment of 9,000 more, proof that the AFP is far from annihilating the guerrilla army by the end of the Rodrigo Duterte presidency in 2022.

The CPP reported that the steady expansion of the areas of operation of the NPA renders large-scale AFP operations ineffective as the government troops fail to encircle and overpower the smaller NPA units.

It however admitted that some NPA commands have been constricted and overstretched by the AFP’s large-scale operations and aerial bombardment.

The CPP however expects Party leaders to carry out reorganizations of besieged NPA guerrilla fronts, drawing lessons from advanced experiences of commands of regions that effectively combine platoons to meet current AFP tactics.

It also called on the NPA to continue mastering guerrilla tactics of concentration, dispersal and shifting to evade the AFP’s main attacking force.

“[C]ause it to beat the air with large and wasteful operations, and then strike the weaker forces from its flanks,” the CPP said.

Despite the absence of ceasefire declarations by both the government and the CPP, the AFP failed to prevent celebrations of the Party’s 52nd anniversary yesterday, Saturday, December 26, the Party added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

52nd anniversary celebrations to be held today despite attacks—CPP

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) announced it will celebrate its 52nd founding anniversary today despite all-out attacks by government troopers.

In a Christmas day statement, CPP public information officer Marco Valbuena said “simple but joyous activities” will be held today in both rural and urban areas throughout the country.

“These activities are going to be held clandestinely to evade suppression by the fascist enemy’s military and police forces,” Valbuena said.

He said the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) continue to attack peasant communities even during the Christmas and New Year holiday season.

“The AFP has, so far, failed to detect and prevent the gatherings and assemblies which have already been held in some revolutionary areas… In some villages, the masses and local NPA units were able to mount their gatherings right under the nose of the AFP,” Valbuena added.

He said that more activities will also be held in the coming days.

Last December 16, the CPP Central Committee urged party members to celebrate their 52nd anniversary “with secret meetings and assemblies to mark the event wherever and whenever possible.”

The CPP also did not declare a holiday truce with the government following the December 7 announcement by Rodrigo Duterte that he will never again issue a ceasefire order with the CPP and its forces as long as he is president.

Duterte said, “There will be no ceasefire ever again under my term…For all intents and purposes, that ceasefire is dead. That’s gone. That has been long gone.”

(CPP image)

‘Fight against terror and evil’

The CPP said its celebrations this year shall focus on looking back in the past year, taking stock of the current situation and paying tribute to the heroes and martyrs of the Philippine revolution.

The celebrations shall also “affirm the commitment and determination to serve the people and fight to end the reign of terror and evil of the tyrannical US-Duterte regime.”

“Some of these meetings and gatherings double as education seminars to discuss the Party’s views about the current international and national situation,” the party’s statement added.

In the cities, the CPP said its revolutionary forces are also set to hold clandestine gatherings and assemblies among Party members and the revolutionary masses in their communities and homes.

“As in the rural areas, they can employ various creative methods to avoid enemy detection,” it said.

It also reminded its members it is not far-fetched for Duterte’s anti-communist National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Coflict to carry out another clampdown against the legal democratic forces in the government’s desperation to drown the joyous and militant spirit of the Party’s anniversary celebrations. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Randall Echanis: Funny guy who was serious at the negotiating table

The many facets of National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant Randall Echanis surfaced in the various tributes paid him since his gruesome murder a week ago today. Incongruous with his brutal death, the tributes pictured a tender and humorous person not beyond cracking jokes at this own expense or finding himself in funny situations. He was also a writer of some of the revolutionary Left’s most beloved poems and songs, even indulging comrades with the occasional singing and performances.

Detained three times and heavily tortured by three regimes in the past five decades, a stranger would be forgiven to assume that “Ka Randy” was a humorless person. But he definitely was not.

“Randall had a refreshing wry humor and was funny even without trying,” NDFP Negotiating Panel legal consultant Edre Olalia wrote on his first tribute to his long-time colleague in the peace negotiations with various administrations. Olalia recalled an episode in 2011 that Randall had to hold it long enough at the Utrecht train station because he had no Euro coins to pay to use the Wash Closet.

“I fondly recall how ‘brothers’ Fidel (Agcaoili, recently departed NDFP chief negotiator) and Randall engaged in unceasing juvenile banter and comradely taunts during idle moments or breaks in intense negotiations and serious consultations,” Olalia said. “And we had our own naughty private jokes and codes. And he can be gullible and childlike I tell you. But he is sharp and firm as could be. Simpleng tao pero matalim magsuri,” he added. (A simple person but sharp in his analysis.)

Ka Randy’s funny episodes continued up to the last formal talks he attended in Europe, this time with the Rodrigo Duterte government in January 2017.

Lawyer Kristina Conti recalled: “Isang araw, may break sa pagitan ng mga miting at dinner. May mga naka-tropa ako, nag-aya gumala, para ma-refresh daw ang utak. Kasi may miting ulit sa gabi. Nagkayayaan tingnan yung sunset, ‘dun sa may beach. Para makarating ‘dun kelangan dumaan sa isang hotel. ‘Sosyal naman dito,’ sabi ni Ka Randall. ‘Mag-picture muna tayo. Hehehe.’ Hala sila, sige pose-pose, ganda nga naman ng lighting. ‘Tapos batsi na, di tayo bagay dito,’ he said” Conti wrote.

Ka Randy having his photo taken at a hotel lobby during a break in the peace negotiations (Photo from Atty Kristina Conti)

[“One day, during a break between meetings and dinner, my companions proposed a walk to freshen their tired minds. There would be more meetings that night. The wanted to watch the sunset at the nearby beach. Along the way was a hotel. ‘It looks expensive here,’ Ka Randall said. ‘Let us have our pictures taken.’ Then he posed, and the lighting was good. ‘It’s time to leave. We don’t belong here,’ he said.”]

Ka Randy earned some ribbing from his colleagues one time when someone used a lighter hair dye on the silver-haired negotiator. “Kapag may chance iyan siya, nagpapa-tina ng buhok kasi marami na siyang puting buhok. Minsan, bago mag peace talks, nagpakulay siya ng buhok. Kulay brown ang lumabas,” Maureen Hermitanio recalled.

[If he had the chance, he had his hair dyed, as he has lots of white hair already. One time, it turned out brown.]

Echanis seemed to be a different person on the negotiating table, however, his NDFP Reciprocal Working Group on Social and Economic Reforms colleagues said. “Ka Randy was a funny guy, cracking jokes with poker face, which made his jokes even funnier. But he never joked around the formal negotiations, even if we knew it could have thawed some tensions. When asked why he was so serious at the peace table, he would simply say that peasants have sacrificed even their lives for the attainment of genuine agrarian reform. ‘It’s not a joke,’ he said,” Rosabella Guzman, resource person to the peace negotiations, wrote.

NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison said Echanis played a key role in the drafting of documents on agrarian reform and rural development, one that will be a basis of a future Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Reforms between the Left and the government. “He was outstanding as an advocate of genuine land reform, rural development and national industrialization. He was the National Chairperson of the Anakpawis Party List and Deputy Secretary General of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas and was a leading consultant of the NDFP on agrarian reform and member of the NDFP Reciprocal Working Committee on Social and Economic Reforms,” Sison wrote.

Poet, songwriter

Not much known to younger activists was the fact the Echanis was himself a poet and songwriter.

During his third imprisonment under the Gloria Arroyo regime, Echanis wrote the poem “Hindi Ko Kayo Titigilan” inside the Manila City in December 2008. He was released in 2010 and have since participated in the first and only formal talks with the Benigno Aquino administration in January 2011.

He also participated in formal negotiations in Europe and in the Philippines between 2016 and 2018.

In one of the tributes to Echanis, cultural worker Edgie Uyanguren rendered the song “Sa Paglayo Ay May Paglalapit Din,” a song co-wrote by Echanis with Ramon Ayco. Written in Cagayan Valley in 1979, the song was beloved by revolutionaries and activists alike.

In a gathering after the first formal talks between the NDFP and the Duterte government in 2016, Echanis performed an Ilokano revolutionary songs with fellow peace consultants from Northern Philippines, Kennedy Bangibang and Randy Malayao. Malayao himself was assassinated in January 2019.

Randall Echanis singing with fellow NDFP peace consultants from Northern Luzon.

‘Positive, calm and objective’

Echanis is most intimately remembered by younger agrarian reform activists as a positive and objective leader, a calming presence in the face of adversity.

Amihan Euza Mabalay recalled that Ka Randy was always encouraging to them as student land reform activists. “Laging constructive ang mga komento niya. Kahit ang UP Manila ang pinaka kaunting bilang ng miyembro, hindi ako napanghinaan ng loob nilang chair ng chapter dahil sa mga salita niya,” she wrote upon learning of Echanis’ death. Mabalay was National Network of Agrarian Reform Advocates-Youth (NNARA-Youth) University of the Philippines-Manila Chapter chairperson in her student days.

[His comments were always constructive. Even if the UP Manila chapter had the least number of members, I was never discouraged as chapter leader because of his encouraging words.]

She recalled further a t-shirt printing project they did in her senior year. “’Ang ganda! Pulang-pula ano, Amihan?’” Hindi naman sobrang ganda ng t-shirt na ‘yun pero ramdam namin na may pumuri sa pinagpaguran namin, hindi lang sa t-shirt kundi sa pag-oorganisa sa mga kapwa namin estudyante para sa buong taon o higit pa. Ilang beses nya din yun inulit-ulit kapag nagkikita kami habang nasa NRY pa ako,” she said.

[‘It’s beautiful! It’s very red, right Amihan?’ The t-shirt was not exceptional, in fact. But I felt that someone appreciated our efforts, not just in the production of the shirts but in our organizing of fellow students that entire year and beyond. He repeated the compliment when we saw each other while I was still with NNARA-Youth.]

Mabalay said Echanis was always appreciative of every initiative, effort and sacrifice, both to students and veteran activists like himself. He was never one to let anger get the better of him, even during heated discussions. She added that she liked when Echanis was present in meetings as the good points were duly appreciated and weaknesses were pointed out.

“He gave everyone a chance, based on the principles of serving the people. That’s why I called him Tatang (father),” she said in Filipino.

Echanis was buried at noontime today at the Loyola Memorial Gardens in Marikina City. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NPA to give military honors to Fidel Agcaoili tomorrow

The New People’s Army (NPA) ordered all its units to render military honors to the late National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Negotiating Panel chairperson Fidel Agcaoili on the occasion of his 76th birth anniversary tomorrow, Saturday.

“On August 8, Day of Remembrance and Tribute to Ka Fidel, all units of the NPA are directed, wherever they may be encamped, to go on formation at the break of dawn, hoist the banners of the Party, NPA and the NDF, present arms, and sing The Internationale as a way of remembering and giving Ka Fidel our snappiest Red salute,” the guerrilla army’s National Operations Command (NOC) said.

Agcaoili died of pulmonary arterial rupture in Utrecht, The Netherlands where the NDFP International Office is based last July 23.

He was cremated after a solemn tribute ceremony in Utrecht last July 31. His ashes will be eventually flown home to the Philippines in accordance with his family’s wishes.

In a statement Thursday, August 6, NPA spokesperson Jorge Madlos said they were deeply shocked and saddened by news of Agcaoili’s untimely death and extended the guerrilla army’s heartfelt sympathies to the wife, children, grandchildren, friends and colleagues of the late chief negotiator.

“Ka Fidel was a respected and beloved leader of the Filipino people and revolutionary movement. He upheld the interests and cause of the toiling masses and all the oppressed classes in Philippine society,” Madlos said.

The rebel spokesperson said Agcaoili  had always marched along the straight path of revolutionary struggle from his youth until his senior years for more than five decades.

“Although he came from a well-off family, Ka Fidel chose the path of simple living and all-out and dangerous struggle. Ka Fidel’s life, his militance, commitment and determination to advance the revolutionary struggle for national freedom and social liberation will forever serve as inspiration for all Red fighters of the NPA and for the Filipino people,” Madlos added.

Madlos recalled that wherever Agcaoili was assigned and whatever the task given him by the revolutionary movement his desire to see an end to “the oppression and exploitation of the Filipino people, as well as all the peoples of the world was always foremost in his mind.”

“It is clear that Ka Fidel was imbued with the communist spirit of selfless service to all oppressed and exploited,” Madlos said.

“The NPA recognizes and expresses its gratitude for the leadership and all the contributions of Ka Fidel, from the period of nationwide building of the Party and people’s army, to the struggle against the Marcos dictatorship, to helping develop international anti-imperialist solidarity of all the oppressed classes, and in ably representing the entire revolutionary movement in various stages of peace negotiations,” he said.

“The NPA upholds the highest tribute of the Party’s Central Committee to Ka Fidel and recognition as a hero of the Philippine revolution,” Madlos ended. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NDFP bids farewell to Fidel Agcaoili

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) International Office bid its final farewell to NDFP Negotiating Panel chairperson Fidel Agcaoili in a solemn ceremony at one o’clock Friday afternoon, July 31, in Utrecht, The Netherlands (8 pm Philippine time).

His remains were cremated after the ceremony that was streamed online for select comrades, colleagues and friends worldwide.

Agcaoili died of pulmonary arterial rupture last July 23 in the Dutch city where the group’s peace panel and international office is located.

NDFP Senior Adviser Luis Jalandoni gives Agcaoili a last militant salute. (Photo by Nwel Saturay/Kodao)

His remains will be flown home to the Philippines, the NDFP said.

A tribute is planned for Agcaoili in Europe on August 8 when he would have turned 76 years old.

The Communist Party of the Philippines has declared the same day as Fidel Agcaoili National Day of Remembrance and Tribute all over the country. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

CPP declares August 8 as Fidel Agcaoili Day of Remembrance

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) declared August 8 to be its National Day of Remembrance and Tribute to Fidel Agcaoili, National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Negotiating Panel chairperson, who died last week, July 23.

Agcaoili would have turned 76 years old on August 8.

“The Central Committee calls on all revolutionary forces, progressives, patriotic and democratic forces, migrants and other oppressed sectors, political detainees, as well as various anti-imperialist organizations and personalities across the globe to conduct tribute meetings and other activities wherever they may be to commemorate and celebrate Ka Fidel’s life of struggle and service to the people and revolution,” the CPP’s Central Committee in a statement Wednesday, July 29, said.

Agcaoili died of pulmonary arterial rupture at the NDFP International Office in Utrecht, The Netherlands.

His remains are scheduled to be cremated Friday, July 31 in the Dutch City. His ashes will be eventually flown home to the Philippines, the NDFP said.

In its statement, the CPP said the entire revolutionary movement mourns the passing of who they regard “a hero of the Filipino revolution,” one who “gave blood and sweat, and time and talent to advance the Filipino people’s great cause to achieve national and social liberation, as part of advancing the international working class movement for socialism and communism” for five decades.

The group recalled that Agcaoili joined the Student Cultural Association of the University of the Philippines in the 1960s and helped found the Kabataang Makabayan in 1964. He was later elected to the CPP’s Central Committee in 1970.

Agcaoili was captured in 1974 along with wife Rosario and their two sons. He spent nearly 11 years in jail as the longest-held political prisoner under Ferdinand Marcos’ martial law, enduring intense physical and psychological torture, including solitary confinement.

Upon his release, Agcaoili co-founded the human rights group Samahan ng Ex-detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) and the political party Partido ng Bayan and helped in the preparations of the 1986-1987 peace negotiations between the NDFP and the Corazon Aquino government.

In 1988, Agcaoili sought refuge in Spain due to threats from rightist elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and joined the NDFP Negotiating Panel in 1989.

He took over from long-time NDFP chief negotiator Luis Jalandoni in October 2016.

Facilitators of the Royal Norwegian Government praised Agcaoili as a negotiator.

‘Kind, dedicated negotiator’

In a tweet, Norwegian Special Envoy to the Philippine Peace Process Idun Tvedt sais she is “deeply saddened by the sudden death” of Agcaoili.

 “He was a professional and dedicated negotiator in the search for a peace solution to the armed conflict in the Philippines. We send our heartfelt condolences to his family,” Tvedt said.

Elisabeth Slattum, Tvedt’s predecessor, for her part said Agcaoili was a negotiator “with great dedication and heart for the cause.”

“In the numerous meetings and rounds of negotiation that took place in 2016-2017, he was always kind, respectful and cooperative to the Norwegian facilitators. I will remember him fondly, and I’m sending my heartfelt condolences to his wife and family,” Slattum said.

The CPP said Agcaoili’s contributions are thousands of strands woven into the broad fabric of the Filipino people’s struggle.

“His memory will always remain in the people’s hearts and will inspire them as they tread the difficult path of the national democratic and socialist revolutions,” the CPP said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

BREAKING: NDFP’s Fidel Agcaoili dies

National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Negotiating Panel chairperson Fidel V. Agcaoili passed away Thursday in Utrecht, The Netherlands, the group’s international information office announced.

He was 75 years old.

“The (NDFP) announces with deep sorrow the untimely passing of Ka Fidel V. Agcaoili today, 23 July 2020 at 12:45pm in Utrecht, The Netherlands. He would have turned 76 on 8 August,” it said.

“According to the doctor, the cause of his death was pulmonary arterial rupture which caused massive internal bleeding. It was not Covid-19 related,” it added.

Agcaoili, a veteran member of the Left’s peace panel, took over from his 20-year predecessor Luis Jalandoni on October 5, 2016 before the start of the second round of formal talks between the NDFP and the Duterte government in Oslo, Norway.

As chief negotiator, Agcaoili led the NDFP panel in forging major agreements with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) Negotiating Panel such as free land distribution for poor farmers and national industrialization for the country that may serve as the backbone of comprehensive agreements on social and economic reforms with future Manila governments.

He became a member of the NDFP Negotiating Panel in 1992.

He was also a long-time chairperson of the NDFP Human Rights Committee.

Agcaoili was the longest-held political prisoner under the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship and was released only after the first People Power uprising in 1986.

His remains will be flown to the Philippines in accordance with the wishes of his family, the NDFP said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NPA defeating Duterte’s all-out war, CPP says of guerrilla army’s 51st anniversary

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) reported numerous New People’s Army (NPA) victories despite massive military and psychological warfare operations unleashed by the Rodrigo Duterte government throughout 2019.

In a statement marking the guerrilla army’s 51st founding anniversary today, March 29, the CPP said the NPA continues to operate in more than 110 guerrilla fronts in 73 of 81 provinces across the country with “several thousand guerrilla fighters…armed with high-powered weapons and small firearms seized from the enemy, security forces and other sources.”

Belittling the results of the government’s National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) launched in 2018, the CPP Central Committee in its annual statement marking the NPA’s founding anniversary said Duterte and his military officers have failed in their declarations of crushing the guerrilla army.

“[F]irst by end of 2018, then by end of 2019, and later before Duterte’s term ends in 2022. Almost daily, AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) commanders make false public announcements claiming NPA ‘surrenderees,’ typically recycling old firearms in their armory and presenting these as surrendered weapons,” the CPP said.

The underground party cited the manipulated photograph claiming to be that of “surrenderees” in Masbate province late last year as proof of AFP’s lies.

The group also chided Duterte for predicting NPA will be defeated “sooner” as the AFP announced having destroyed or weakened 15 NPA guerrilla fronts.

“All these are empty boasts as the NPA continue to strengthen and wage revolutionary armed struggle alongside the democratic mass struggles of the Filipino people to end the reign of terror of the US-Duterte regime,” the CPP’s statement, released Saturday, March 28, said.

Image from CPP Founding Chairperson Jose Maria Sison’s post.

‘Two battalions killed’

The CPP said units of the guerrilla army operate under 14 regional operations command, which in turn are under the National Operations Command (NOC) of the NPA.

The NPA builds company-sized regional and sub-regional vertical forces, as well as company-sized guerrilla fronts with six to nine platoons, one-third of which are concentrated and two-thirds spread to cover the breadth of guerrilla front territories, the CPP said.

The CPP said that based on NOC reports, the NPA mounted at least 710 military actions of varying scale in 2019 that killed at least 651 government troops and wounded more than 465 others.

The number of killed and wounded is the equivalent of around 30 platoons or two battalions of its enemy troops, the group said.

‘NTF-ELCAC failing’

The CPP said the Duterte government’s NTF-ELCAC mounted all-out military offensives nationwide and formed nine new AFP battalions and deployed these primarily against the NPA.

The AFP is being assisted by the United States military in establishing and training new combat units such as the Light Reaction Regiment, the 1st Brigade Combat Team and the 2nd Brigade Combat Team which are all based in Fort Magsaysay, where the US maintains facilities under the EDCA (Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement), the CPP revealed.

In all, the AFP has 140 maneuver battalions, of which, 35 are deployed in Luzon; 19 in the Visayas; and 83 in Mindanao (19 battalions in Moro areas, and 64 in NPA areas), the group added.

“Thus, close to 85% or 118 battalions are deployed against the NPA,” it said.

The group said that close to 55% of AFP units deployed against the NPA are in Mindanao, mainly in the eastern regions. Combined AFP and PNP troop deployment is highest in Southern Mindanao, followed by Southern Tagalog, Eastern Visayas, North Central Mindanao, Far South Mindanao and Negros.

“The aim of the AFP is to concentrate one battalion of troops for every NPA guerrilla front, in the vain hope of crushing the NPA through intelligence, psywar (psychological warfare) and combat operations, it said.

Despite the additional units, the AFP’s forces are spread thinly, the CPP said, adding that at the national level, there are regions where government troops could not deploy a full battalion against every NPA guerrilla front.

On the ground, AFP combat battalions cannot saturate the territory and population of a guerrilla front, where there are widely spread revolutionary mass organizations, militia units and organs of political power which actively carry out mass campaigns and struggles, leaving large areas open for NPA units to maneuver, recruit, and strengthen themselves, the CPP revealed.

“When AFP brigades or divisions mount focused military operations in one or several guerrilla fronts in border areas, it combines several battalions pulled-out temporarily from their assigned areas of operation, giving the NPA units in other areas leeway to conduct political and military work,” the CPP said.

The CPP said that Duterte’s all-out war tactic against the NPA and its perceived supporters generates armed resistance.

“In putting down the people’s resistance with armed force, he is actually inciting the people to fight back. Like Marcos before, Duterte has become the Number 1 recruiter of the New People’s Army,” the group said.

Part of the NPA’s First Pulang Bagani Battalion in formation in Davao City in 2017. (R. Villanueva/Kodao)

NPA’s response to Covid-19

Marking the NPA’s 51st founding anniversary amid unilateral ceasefire declarations by both the CPP and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the underground party said it is mobilizing its forces in a public health campaign to prevent the spread of the disease and help treat those infected by the virus.

“The Party has directed the NPA, especially its medical units, to carry out a public health campaign together in coordination with village health committees to help prevent the spread of the disease, give special attention to the elderly and pregnant women, help care those who have been infected and promote personal hygiene and community sanitation,” the CPP statement reads.

It also directed its members in the cities to carry out similar mass campaigns, while raising demands for mass testing and other public health measures.

“Beyond the field of public health, the Filipino people must also take action in the arena of political struggle. It is as important to resist the militarist restrictions imposed by the Duterte regime, and raise their call for the ouster of Duterte to make him answer for his criminal sabotage of the public health care system,” it said.

The CPP said the NPA had been conducting such social services to poor Filipinos, earning them the monicker “the people’s army.”

“Its fighters are well known for being courageous and self-sacrificing. They are ever-ready to learn from the people their needs and demands and perform the most difficult and dangerous tasks in serving the people. They are also recognized by the masses as their defenders, cooperators, teachers, doctors, as well singers and artists, always attending to the people’s well-being and needs,” it said.

The CPP said the people always approach the NPA to seek advice or assistance whenever they demand redress from an injustice done, or seek intercession to iron out small conflicts in the communities.

‘Strengthening the NPA’

The CPP directed the NPA to further strengthen itself in order to “frustrate the government’s strategic plan of crushing the armed revolution, and to advance the people’s war in an all-sided manner.”

The group said it directed all its branches to make plans to help strengthen the guerrilla army by recommending its members and activists to join the NPA.

“There must be an active campaign of recruitment of young intellectuals and workers to join the NPA,” it said.

The CPP also directed the NPA to further intensify its tactical offensive operations through a combination of counter-encirclement and counter-offensives of large-scale military and police combat operations as well as raids against “soft-targets” such as military and paramilitary detachments and security forces.

It also ordered “more numerous and extensive harassments, interdictions, arrests, partisan, demolition and sapper operations and other armed actions.”

The CPP said that under its leadership, the NPA is expected to achieve more victories in its armed resistance and achievement of national and social liberation of Filipinos.

“The Filipino people look forward to celebrating more victories of the NPA in the coming years,” the CPP said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)