CPP-NPA has evolved into a terrorist group — military
"Revolutionary groups usually attack government troops, but the NPA proved indiscriminate in perpetrating violent acts. In truth, we find that they target more and more innocent and unarmed civilians," Military Civil Relations Service commander Brig. Gen. Francisco N. Cruz said in a statement.
"What the Filipino people qualify as terrorism, the New People’s Army celebrates as victories. It has tried to justify the excesses and violence of its aberrant members but even the international community has recognized the enormous harm that the NPA has inflicted upon innocent people," he added.
The communist group, however, scored the military for what it claimed were slanderous charges against the CPP-NPA, which is celebrating its 41st anniversary on March 29.
Specifically, the group accused the 8th Infantry Division on its Website of stepping up "psywar attacks," most prominently in claiming the discovery of mass graves of alleged NPA victims in Northern Samar.
"These slanders attempt to belittle the NPA's steady advance, as well as to cover up the military's abuses under Oplan Bantay Laya," said Santiago Salas, spokesman of the National Democratic Front in Eastern Visayas.
The US Department of State and European Union classified the CPP-NPA a foreign terrorist organization in 2002 and 2005, respectively.
Peace talks were stalled in 2004 after the Philippine government refused to move to have the NDF removed from the United States and European Union’s lists of terrorist groups.
According to the US Department of State, the New People’s Army is a Maoist group formed in March 1969 with the aim of overthrowing the government through protracted guerrilla warfare. Jose Maria Sison, the chairman of the CPP's Central Committee and the NPA's founder, reportedly directs CPP and NPA activity from the Netherlands, where he lives in self-imposed exile.
Luis Jalandoni, a fellow Central Committee member and director of the CPP's overt political wing, the National Democratic Front (NDF), also lives in the Netherlands and has become a Dutch citizen. "Although primarily a rural-based guerrilla group, the NPA has an active urban infrastructure to support its terrorist activities and at times uses city-based assassination squads," the agency said in a terrorism report in 2008.
In September 2007, Sison was briefly arrested in the Netherlands, but was released on a judge’s order a few days later.
The US agency estimates CPP-NPA members at less than 9,000, significantly lower than its peak of about 25,000 in the 1980s.
The NPA operates in rural Luzon, the Visayas and parts of Northern and Eastern Mindanao. It also has cells in Manila and other metropolitan centers, it said.
Citing military records, the military said the NPA had committed 1,746 killings in the past decade. It did not say how many of these were civilians. In 2009, communist insurgents killed 117 people, 81 of whom were civilians, while the rest were law enforcers, it said.
From 2000 to 2009, the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the communist party, destroyed about P1.3 billion worth of public and private infrastructure, equipment, telecommunication facilities and agricultural plantations, the military said. During that period, the NPA was allegedly involved in 66 bombing and 523 arson incidents.
In Samar this year, Cruz said, the NPA was responsible for three brutal incidents. The most recent occurred last March 21 when its members allegedly massacred a family in their sleep. A few days before, Luis Durico, barangay chairman of Genaronagan, Lope de Vega in Northern Samar, was brutally murdered by a group of NPAs in front of his family, Cruz said.
The local official, he said, was beheaded, and publicly displayed at the village center. NPA rebels also allegedly killed an unarmed farmer in front of his family and children and displayed his body at the village plaza in Madoroto in February.
"The NPA has lost its discipline and has gone out of control. It has become a loose organization without command and control," Cruz said.
GMANews.TV tried but failed to contact Marco Valbuena, media officer of the Communist Party of the Philippines, for comment.
The Armed Forces also cited the group’s alleged extortion activities as a reason for classifying it a terrorist organization.
The military said extortion is the New People’s Army’s "bread and butter," especially during elections when it forces candidates to pay permit-to-campaign, or even permit-to-win, and other revolutionary fees in areas considered as the group’s bailiwick.
Cruz’s department earlier claimed communist rebels earned about P1.15 billion from 1996 to 2007. The figure is expected to increase after the upcoming May 10 elections.
The Commission on Human Rights has said the permit-to-campaign racket is a form of extortion and violates human rights, “cutting deep into the very essence of free and genuine suffrage."
But the communist party has stood by the "correctness" of the NPA policy, which it said eliminates violent election-related incidents in NPA turfs. — Sophia Regina M. Dedace/NPA, GMANews.TV