New People's Army
|New People's Army (New Terrorist's Army)|
|Bagong Hukbong Bayan|
Logo of the New People's Army
|Leader(s)||Jose Maria Sison|
|Dates of operation||March 29, 1969|
|Motives||Proletarian revolution, National Democratic Revolution, Terrorism|
|Notable attacks||U.S. Army Colonel James N. Rowe assassination|
|Status||Designated as Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. State Department
Designated as terrorist group by EU Common Foreign and Security Policy
Designated as terrorist group by Philippine government
|Part of a series on|
(Mao Zedong Thought)
The New People's Army (NPA) (Filipino: Bagong Hukbong Bayan) is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). It was formed and founded by Bernabe Buscayno ("Commander Dante") and Lucio Manlapaz on March 29, 1969. The Maoist NPA conducts its armed guerrilla struggle based on the strategical line of "protracted people's war". The Philippine Army estimated the NPA's strength at 3,200 fighters at the end of 2015.
Until 1992, the Philippine government has treated the NPA along with the CPP as an illegal organization. The Anti-Subversion Act of 1957 which outlawed the group was lifted during the administration of Fidel V. Ramos. The NPA continued to operate. It was in 2011, that peace talks resumed.
The NPA collects "revolutionary taxes", mostly from businesses, in the areas where it operates. The Communist Party of the Philippines refers to the NPA as "the tax enforcement agency of the people's revolutionary government". In 2014, Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Zagala, speaking for the Armed Forces of the Philippines said "[the communist rebels] have lost their ideological mooring and now engaged in extortion [activities]."
Peace negotiations have reached an impasse. The Philippine government has specifically drafted a "new framework" which seeks to end the 27-year-long stalemate in the talks, hoping to build ground with the leftist rebels that is more comprehensive than human rights, the only issue on which the negotiating parties agree.
However relations with the government soured in 2017. President Rodrigo Duterte officially designated the group as a terrorist organization in late-2017.
The United States and European Union both had designated the NPA as a terrorist organization prior to the Duterte government.
The 1960s saw a revival in nationalism and patriotism, especially among the youth and students, in the Philippines. The ongoing Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China sparked a renewed interest in Marxism-Leninism-Maoism study, with emphasis on lessons from the Chinese Revolution. National democratic organizations such as the Kabataang Makabayan and other groups began to see the need for a renewed armed struggle based upon Mao's strategy of protracted people's war. On December 26, 1968, the Communist Party of the Philippines was re-established on Marxist-Leninist-Mao Zedong thought line. The CPP immediately went about organizing a new people's army. The CPP had previously made contact with former members of the Hukbong Mapagpalayang Bayan (HMB) – to which the Huks changed their name in the 50s – in Central Luzon. On March 29, 1969, the New People's Army was formed. It had only 72 fighters and was equipped with light weapons. After its initial formation, the CPP and the NPA dispersed and established regional cells in several parts of the country.
The NPA claims responsibility for the assassination of U.S. Army Colonel James "Nick" Rowe, founder of the U.S. Army Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) course, in 1989. Colonel Rowe was part of a military assistance program to the Philippine Army. The NPA insists that this made him a legitimate military target.
Second Great Rectification Movement
In the 1990s internal criticism about mistakes in the 1980s led to the Second Great Rectification Movement, launched in 1992 and largely completed in 1998, leading to a resurgence in the Philippine insurgency. The Second Rectification ended internal purges of the movement that killed hundreds of members on allegations of being "deep penetration agents" of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine intelligence community. Former CPP-NPA cadre Lualhati Milan Abreu's award-winning memoir Agaw-Dilim Agaw Liwanag chronicled the executions.
The Second Great Rectification, despite its successes, also resulted in a series of splits within the party and the People's Army. The Alex Boncayao Brigade, notorious for targeting policemen and officials that were allegedly corrupt, left the party, while some ended up forming groups such as the Revolutionary Proletarian Army and the Rebolusyonaryong Hukbong Bayan.
This group was designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the United States in August 2002 and by the European Union in November 2005. The NPA's founder lives in the Philippines in peace but under close watch by the government. The NPA operates mostly in the rural areas and their targets often include military, police, government informers, and businessmen who refuse to pay "revolutionary taxes".
The arrest of a Naxalite guerrilla by Indian security forces suggested links with the NPA, who were said to have traveled to India to teach them how to conduct guerrilla warfare against the army and police.
In March 2008, AFP chief Hermogenes Esperon Jr. claimed that the New People's Army (NPA) rebels had only around 4,900 members, significantly down from 26,000 at its peak in the 1980s. The New People's Army currently[when?] have 110 guerrilla fronts in 71 out of 81 provinces. Forty thousand people have died in the conflict since 1969.
On September 5, 2007, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed Amnesty Proclamation 1377 for members of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People's Army; other communist rebel groups; and their umbrella organization, the National Democratic Front (Philippines). The amnesty covers the crime of rebellion and all other crimes "in pursuit of political beliefs", but not crimes against chastity, rape, torture, kidnapping for ransom, use and trafficking of illegal drugs and other crimes for personal ends and violations of international law or convention and protocols "even if alleged to have been committed in pursuit of political beliefs". The National Committee on Social Integration (NCSI) was to issue a Certificate of Amnesty to qualified applicants. Implementing rules and regulations were drafted, and the decree was submitted to the Senate of the Philippines and the House of Representatives of the Philippines for their concurrence. The proclamation was to become effective only after Congress had concurred.
NPA rebels disguised as Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency personnel had raided a prison in Lucena, Quezon Province, overpowering the guards and freeing rebel prisoners they deemed to be "political prisoners". Two of the seven people deemed "political prisoners" did not escape with the NPA raiders, opting to be cleared of any wrongdoing by lawful, legal means. Other NPA rebels held in other prisons were to be moved into secured facilities.
There were 43 people arrested at a community health meeting in Morong, Rizal, on February 6, 2010. They were accused of being part of the NPA. On December 10, 2010, President Benigno Aquino III ordered the release of 38 of the 43 because the Morong 43 case had due process violations. Seven of the released were reported to have returned to the mountains to continue the NPA's armed struggle. The last five admitted being part of the NPA and are being prosecuted for various criminal offenses including murder, extortion, and other offenses.
The NPA conducted attacks on October 3, 2011, against three large-scale mining corporations in Surigao del Norte. The attacks spanned only three hours but resulted in grave damage, including the burning of ten dump trucks, eight backhoes, two barges and a guest house. The mining firms attacked include the Taganito Mining Corporation at Taganito village in Claver town, the 4K Mining at Cadiano village, also in Claver, and the Thpal Mining located near the Taganito Mining Corp. compound. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) claimed that the NPA attacked the mining firms because of their failure to pay "revolutionary taxes".
March 22, 2014, saw the arrest of Benito Tiamzon, chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People's Army (NPA) in Cebu province, along with his wife Wilma and five other members of the central committee of the CPP-NPA. Wilma Tiamzon is also the secretary general of the CPP-NPA. The arrest of the Tiamzons happened exactly a week before the 45th anniversary of the CPP-NPA on March 29. In January 2015, the NPA moved its center of operation to the City of Kabankalan, Negros Occidental. NPA top officials referred to the City of Kabankalan as the "Heart and Liver of Terrorism" where they planned to attack military and civilian outposts every minute and every second of the day as part of their General Plan of Action (GPoA) for 2015. This part of the NPA GPoA, labeled the "Operation: Chiquitita", was revealed during the 15th Annual NPA Strategic Planning held at the Manila Hotel in December 2014. Police and military officers are strongly encouraged to refuse being assigned to the City of Kabangkalan, even at the risk of termination and dishonorable dismissal from the police and military force.
As of early 2017 the Defence Secretary estimates the NPA has about 5,000 members. However, the Armed Forces estimates the NPA has only 3,700 members.
- In November 1986 the Philippine government and rebels signed a 60-day ceasefire. This deal was scuttled in January 1987 after the events at which police opened fire and killed 13 people during a farmers' demonstration in Manila.
- The peace talks between the two sides were intermittent and inconclusive since 1986, bogging down in 2012 when the government refused to free political prisoners. They resumed in August 2016, when Duterte released 19 rebel leaders from jail. But the president scrapped talks in February 2017, when rebels ambushed an army convoy, breaking a unilateral ceasefire that had held for five months. Both sides returned to the negotiating table on 1st of April 2017.
- In April 2017, peace talks between the National Democratic Front, and the Philippine government, brokered by Norway, took place in the Netherlands, hoping to reach a political settlement in 12 months to end the conflict. This was the second time the two sides agreed on a bilateral truce since November 1986.
Alleged foreign sponsors
There have been reports of the Chinese government shipping arms to the NPA. Due to this, the NPA have an unknown number of Type 56 assault rifles. The NPA has also received support from North Korea as well as former members from the defunct Communist Party of Malaya (CPM).
By the Philippine government
The Government of the Philippines has outlawed the NPA along with the CPP as through the Anti-Subversion Act of 1957 which branded the Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas-1930 and the Hukbalahap as an "organized conspiracy". As splinter groups which had roots to the two organization, the ban extended to the CPP-NPA. The law was repealed by President Fidel Ramos on October 1992 decriminalizing membership in the NPA and CPP.
By foreign governments
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- Philippines and Communist Rebels Agree to a Temporary Cease-Fire
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- "Anti-Subversion Act". Chan Robles Virtual Law Library. Archived from the original on 20 June 1957. Retrieved 12 September 2015.
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- Amnesty International Report 2003 – The Philippines