New People's Army

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New People's Army
Bagong Hukbong Bayan
Leader(s)Jose Maria Sison
Dates of operation29 March 1969; 50 years ago (1969-03-29)[1]
MotivesProletarian revolution
National democratic revolution
Active region(s)Philippines
Notable attacksU.S. Army Colonel James N. Rowe assassination
StatusDesignated as Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. State Department[2]
Designated as terrorist group by EU Common Foreign and Security Policy[3]
Designated as terrorist group by Philippine government[4]
Sizeover 5,000[5]
The current flag of the NPA
One of the NPA's older flags

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 Jose Maria Sison, Bernabe Buscayno, and Lucio Manlapaz on 29 March 1969. The Maoist NPA conducts its armed guerrilla struggle based on the strategical line of protracted people's war.[citation needed] With an estimated strength of nearly 3,200 militants in 2015,[6] and latest attack as recent as 2015 in Agusan Del Sur, it operates in the rural areas throughout Philippines especially in the inaccessible hill areas of provinces far from the major cities.[7]

The NPA extorts "taxes", mostly from businesses, in the areas where it operates.[8] The CPP refers to the NPA as "the tax enforcement agency of the people's revolutionary government".[9] "Revolutionary taxes are used to fund community services and never go to the pockets of corrupt leaders" said National Democratic Front (NDF) spokesperson, Fidel Agcaoili.[10]

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.[11] The NDF wants the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER) signed first before the bilateral ceasefire agreement, or both can be signed simultaneously.[12]

However, relations with the government soured in 2017. President Rodrigo Duterte officially designated the group as a terrorist organization in late 2017. Both the United States and the European Union had designated the NPA as a terrorist organization prior to the Duterte government.


The New People's Army originated due to a division within the Philippine Communist Party (PKP) in the latter half of the 1960's. The split revolved around ideological and generational differences with the younger, more educated, and less orthodox members at odds with the entrenched, established, and old-school founders.[13] These dissenters were drawn to the revolutions that were happening in Cuba and China. Attempts at reconciliation between the two factions within the communist party failed, and the tensions were exacerbated by the foreign conflict between the Chinese Communist Party and the Soviet Communist Party.[14] Thus, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) was established. The international communist conflict between China and Russia continued to play a part in the party break up with China siding with the Communist Party of the Philippines. This in turn made the Philippine Communist Party gravitate towards the Soviet Communist Party. The CPP's relationship with China continued for around seven years with ideas, rhetoric, visits, and aid flowing back and forth.[13]

In the beginning of the CPP and NPA, they were supported heavily by the Chinese government, but their relations worsened when the Philippines and China established formal diplomatic relations.[13] The Chinese could no longer supply the rebels without extreme diplomatic backlash. After the communist regime in China withdrew its support, the NPA were hard pressed to obtain materials, goods, arms, and funds. To obtain weapons, the NPA initiated armed conflicts in order to obtain weapons and ammunition from government forces.[13] They became entirely self-sustained through a variety of methods, the main being the levying of "revolutionary taxes" on regions throughout the Philippines.[15] This involved "requesting" populations and industries support the revolution with gifts of goods and funds. Conflict between the NPA and the populace became common, and the population sometimes turned to cultist fanatics to guard against the NPA seizing their goods.[16]

Immediately after splitting from PKP, the CPP began to marshal its own forces. Leaders of the CPP contacted Bernabe Buscayno, popularly known as Commander Dante, and his band of Huk guerrilla fighters.[13] Commander Dante became enamored with the ideology and goals of the CPP, so he accepted the party's take over and use of his unit for their political purposes. The combining of the Huk guerrillas and the CPP led to the rise of the New People's Army on March 29, 1969. This organization began conducting missions and operations on the Island of Luzon, and, in the early 1970's, the NPA's ranks burgeoned from a few hundred to thousands of militants.[17] With their increased numbers, the NPA began engaging government forces more and more, but the government forces inflicted heavy losses on the NPA. After forcing the NPA back, government leaders in Manilla decided to turn their attention to the Moro rebellion which allowed the NPA to recover from its near annihilation.

After this, the leaders of the CPP sought to change their strategy. Up until that point, they had tried to use Mao's tactic of consolidating their control in a region that was easily defended- the mountains in the center of Luzon.[18] Their new strategy split the NPA and sent different contingents to other islands. This way they organization became a many headed beast that could continue to harass the government over a wide area even while sustaining losses in one area.[18] Following this new paradigm, confrontations with the government increased in the late 1970's.

The NPA claims responsibility for the 1989 assassination of U.S. Army Colonel James "Nick" Rowe, founder of the U.S. Army Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) course. Colonel Rowe was part of a military assistance program to the Philippine Army. The NPA asserts that this made him a legitimate military target.[19][20]

Second Great Rectification Movement[edit]

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 (AFP) and the Philippine intelligence community. Former CPP and NPA cadre Lualhati Milan Abreu's award-winning memoir Agaw-Dilim Agaw Liwanag chronicled the executions.[21]

Despite its successes, the Second Great Rectification also resulted in a series of splits within the CPP and the NPA. 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.[citation needed]

This group was designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the United States in August 2002 and by the European Union in November 2005.[3][22] 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".[23]

The Arroyo administration negotiated intermittently with delegates of the NPA in European countries.[1]

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.[24]

In March 2008, AFP chief Hermogenes Esperon Jr. claimed that the NPA rebels had only around 4,900 members, significantly down from 26,000 at its peak in the 1980s. The NPA currently[when?] have 110 guerrilla fronts in 71 out of 81 provinces.[25] Forty thousand people have died in the conflict since 1969.[26]

On 5 September 2007, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed Amnesty Proclamation 1377 for members of the CPP and its armed wing, the NPA; other communist rebel groups; and their umbrella organization, the National Democratic Front. 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.[27]

NPA rebels disguised as Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency personnel had raided a prison in Lucena, Quezon Province,[28][29] overpowering the guards and freeing rebel prisoners they deemed to be political prisoners.[30] 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.[31] Other NPA rebels held in other prisons were to be moved into secured facilities.[32]

There were 43 people arrested at a community health meeting in Morong, Rizal on 6 February 2010. They were accused of being part of the NPA. On 10 December 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.[33]

The NPA conducted attacks on 3 October 2011 against three large-scale mining corporations in Surigao del Norte. The attacks spanned only three hours, but they 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 AFP claimed that the NPA attacked the mining firms because of their failure to pay "revolutionary taxes".[34]

By the end of 2011, the government has resumed preliminary peace talks with the NPA[35] pending formal negotiations with the NPA's parent political organization, the CPP.[36]

22 March 2014 saw the arrest of Benito Tiamzon (chairman of the CPP and its armed wing, the 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 29 March 2014. 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.

Plantations run by Japanese companies have been assaulted by the NPA.[47][excessive citations]

As of early 2017, the Defense Secretary estimates the NPA has about 5,000 members. However, the AFP estimates the NPA has only 3,700 members.[5]


  • 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. However, President Duterte 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 1 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 twelve months to end the conflict. This was the second time the two sides agreed on a bilateral truce since November 1986.[48]

Alleged foreign sponsors[edit]

There have been reports of the Chinese government shipping arms to the NPA.[49] Due to this, the NPA have an unknown number of Type 56 assault rifles. The NPA has also allegedly received support from North Korea as well as former members from the defunct Communist Party of Malaya.[50]

Support of other left-wing organizations[edit]

The Philippine Army had apprehended Eduardo Quitoriano in 1994, who was a NPA liaison officer to the Japanese Red Army, who was involved in a money laundering case in Switzerland.[51]

It is reported that the NPA had supported the Naxalites (of India) on the Naxalite–Maoist insurgency by training and technical support.[52]

Legal status[edit]

By the Philippine government[edit]

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.[53] The law was repealed by President Fidel Ramos on October 1992, decriminalizing membership in the NPA and CPP.[54][55]

In December 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte declared the NPA along with the CPP as terrorist organizations.[4]

By foreign governments[edit]

The NPA is designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. State Department[2] and as a terrorist group by the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "New People's Army – Mapping Militant Organizations". Stanford University. Retrieved May 31, 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Foreign Terrorist Organizations". Retrieved September 19, 2012.
  3. ^ a b c "Council Implementing Regulation (EU) No 1285/2009". EUR-Lex. December 22, 2009. Retrieved March 18, 2010.
  4. ^ a b Ballaran, Jhoanna (December 5, 2017). "Duterte declares CPP, NPA as terrorist organizations". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved December 5, 2017.
  5. ^ a b Romero, Alexis. "DND admits recent surge in NPA numbers". Retrieved March 29, 2017.
  6. ^ Romero, Alexi (March 30, 2015). "AFP to NPA: No choice but to talk peace". Philippine Star. Retrieved March 30, 2015.
  7. ^ "FSI | CISAC | MAPPINGMILITANTS CISAC - MMP: Communist Party of the Philippines - New People's Army". Retrieved September 1, 2019.
  8. ^ FERNANDEZ, AMANDA (March 29, 2014). "NPA guerrillas mainly concentrated in north-eastern, southern Mindanao – AFP". GMA News. Retrieved March 30, 2014.
  9. ^ "About The New People's Army And Thpal-Sumitomo". December 23, 2011.
  10. ^ Cupin, Bea. "NPA has 'right' to collect revolutionary tax – NDF". Rappler. Retrieved March 20, 2019.
  11. ^ "Gov't drafts new framework to guide peace talks with leftist rebels". Retrieved March 29, 2017.
  12. ^ IV, Antonio L. Colina. "NDF: CASER first, then ceasefire, or sign both simultaneously | MindaNews". Retrieved March 20, 2019.
  13. ^ a b c d e "Mediansky, F.A. 1986. The New People's Army: A Nation-wide Insurgency in the Philippines. Contemporary Southeast Asia, 8 (1): 1-17. Obtained from" (PDF). Retrieved September 1, 2019. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  14. ^ "Mediansky, F.A. 1986. The New People's Army: A Nation-wide Insurgency in the Philippines. Contemporary Southeast Asia, 8 (1): 1-17. Obtained from" (PDF). Retrieved September 1, 2019. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  15. ^ Holden, William N. (December 1, 2011). "Neoliberalism and state terrorism in the Philippines: the fingerprints of Phoenix". Critical Studies on Terrorism. 4 (3): 331–350. doi:10.1080/17539153.2011.623401. Retrieved September 1, 2019 – via Taylor and Francis+NEJM.
  16. ^ Kowalewski, David. 1991. Cultism, insurgency, and vigilantism in the Philippines. Sociological Analysis, 52(3), 241-253.
  17. ^ "Kowalewski, David. 1991. Cultism, insurgency, and vigilantism in the Philippines. Sociological Analysis, 52(3), 241-253. Obtained from" (PDF). Retrieved September 1, 2019. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  18. ^ a b Holden, William (November 11, 2013). "The Never Ending War in the Wounded Land: The New People's Army on Samar". Journal of Geography and Geology. 5 (4): 29. doi:10.5539/jgg.v5n4p29. Retrieved September 1, 2019 – via
  19. ^ "U.S. Gives Philippines Lukewarm Reminder to Keep Col. Rowe's Killers in Jail". Archived from the original on March 28, 2008.
  20. ^ "Bio, Rowe, James N. Nick". Retrieved October 24, 2018.
  21. ^ Abreu, Lualhati Milan (2009). Agaw Dilim Agaw Liwanag. Quezon City, Philippines: University of the Philippines Press. p. 271. ISBN 978-971-542-617-6.
  22. ^ Powell, Colin (August 9, 2002). "Designation of a Foreign Terrorist Organization". U.S. State Department. Retrieved March 17, 2007.
  23. ^ "New People's Army (NPA)". Retrieved September 1, 2019.
  24. ^ "Asia Times Online :: Southeast Asia news and business from Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam". Retrieved February 10, 2015.
  25. ^ "Mag-asawang Benito at Wilma Tiamzon, kagyat na palayain! Ipagtagumpay ang pambansa-demokratikong rebolusyon! Paigtingin ang opensiba laban sa mga pwersa ng AFP-PNP!". March 29, 2014. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  26. ^ "Internet Archive Wayback Machine". July 9, 2007.[dead link]
  27. ^ "Senate urged to concur with amnesty proclamation". Retrieved March 23, 2016.
  28. ^ "PDEA to conduct own probe on Quezon jailbreak". Retrieved March 29, 2017.
  29. ^ "Manhunt on for 7 escaped Quezon inmates". Archived 23 September 2012 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on 31 October 2008.
  30. ^ "Communist rebels storm Philippine jail, freeing seven". October 26, 2008. Retrieved March 29, 2017.
  31. ^ "2 Quezon jail detainees stayed behind". Archived 4 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on 31 October 2008.
  32. ^ "High-risk NPA detainees to be transferred to secured facilities – Palace". Retrieved March 29, 2017.
  33. ^ "After 10 months in jail, 38 members of 'Morong 43' set free". ABS-CBN. Retrieved October 24, 2018.
  34. ^ GMA News (October 3, 2011). "NPA rebels attack 3 mining firms in Surigao del Norte". GMA News Online. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
  35. ^ "NDFP opening statement on resumption of formal peace talks". Archived 29 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 19 September 2012.
  36. ^ "GPH and NDFP agree to continue meaningful discussions prior to formal talks". Archived 31 August 2012 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 19 September 2012.
  37. ^ a b "Rebels own up raid on Japanese fruit exporter in Mindanao". Retrieved March 29, 2017.
  38. ^ "NPA thwarts fascist Army brigade-wide clearing operation for Japanese banana firm in Magpet". Philippine Revolution Web Central. December 4, 2012. Archived from the original on August 29, 2016. Retrieved August 23, 2016. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  39. ^ "Rebel Forces in Philippines Raid Sumitomo Fruits Japanese Fruit Exporter". January 28, 2014. Retrieved March 29, 2017.
  40. ^ "NPA Rebels Own up Deadly Attacks in Philippines; Vow to Strike at Plantations, Mining Firms". March 12, 2014. Retrieved March 29, 2017.
  41. ^ "Communist rebels attack two Philippine banana plantations". August 24, 2014. Retrieved March 29, 2017.
  42. ^ Asia, Forbes (August 26, 2015). "King of Ore: Despite Nickel Asia's Raids, Zamora Did Not Retreat". Retrieved March 29, 2017.
  43. ^ "Philippine Rebels attack a Japanese owned Banana Plantation". Retrieved March 29, 2017.
  44. ^ a b "NPA Attack Fail". Retrieved March 29, 2017.
  45. ^ "Failed NPA attack at Mawab 16 Jan 2012 (WARNING: GRAPHIC)". Retrieved March 29, 2017.
  46. ^ "NPA says Bukidnon plantations raze done to stop 'destructive' expansions". February 1, 2016. Retrieved March 29, 2017.
  47. ^ [37][38][39][40][41][42][43][44][44][45][37][46]
  48. ^ Villamor, Felipe (April 5, 2017). "Philippines and Communist Rebels Agree to a Temporary Cease-Fire". Retrieved September 1, 2019 – via
  49. ^ See SIPRI Yearbook 2002–2005, World Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers, 1999–2002 and The Military Balance 2000–2001 to 2004–2005.
  50. ^ Ciment, James. World Terrorism: An Encyclopedia of Political Violence from Ancient Times to the Post-9/11 Era. Routledge. p. 720.
  51. ^ Mickolus, Edward F. and Simmons, Susan L. (2014). The 50 Worst Terrorist Attacks. p. 8.
  52. ^ ""Philippine reds export armed struggle"". Retrieved September 1, 2019.
  53. ^ "Anti-Subversion Act". Chan Robles Virtual Law Library. Archived from the original on June 20, 1957. Retrieved September 12, 2015. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  54. ^ "Ramos legalises Communist Party, frees 48 rebels". New Straits Times. Reuter. September 23, 1992. Retrieved September 12, 2015.
  55. ^ "An Act Repealing Republic Act Numbered One Thousand Seven Hundred, as Amended, Otherwise Known as the Anti-Subversion Act". Archived from the original on September 22, 1992. Retrieved September 12, 2015. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)

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