New People's Army
|New People's Army|
|Bagong Hukbong Bayan|
Logo of the New People's Army
|Dates of operation||March 29, 1969|
|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
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 A.K.A. "Commander Dante" 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 2014.
The NPA collects "revolutionary taxes" in areas where it operates mostly from businesses. 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]."
The NPA is designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. State Department and as a terrorist group by the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy. The Government of the Philippines, however, has delisted the NPA as a terrorist organization in 2011  and has resumed preliminary peace talks pending formal negotiations with the NPA's parent political organization, the CPP. There have been reports of the Chinese government shipping arms to the NPA. Due to this, the NPA got an unknown number of Type 56 assault rifles. NPA has also received support from North Korea.
Peace negotiations have recently 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 leftists rebels that is more comprehensive than human rights, the only issue on which the negotiating parties agree.
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 insist 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 even 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 1980's. The New People's Army currently have 110 guerilla fronts on 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 will cover the crime of rebellion and all other crimes "in pursuit of political beliefs," but not including 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) will issue a Certificate of Amnesty to qualified applicants. Implementing rules and regulations are being drafted and the decree will be submitted to the Senate of the Philippines and the House of Representatives of the Philippines for their concurrence. The proclamation becomes effective only after Congress has 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 5 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 the 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.
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