CPP announces leadership change as NPA marks 48th anniversary
MANILA, Philippines – The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) on Wednesday, March 29, marked the 48th anniversary of its armed wing New People's Army (NPA) by announcing the election of a new set of young members to its central committee.
The announcement came as the guerrillas and the Duterte administration revive a stalled peace process that began last year.
In a communique, the CPP disclosed that it held its historic Second Party Congress from October 24 to November 7, 2016, the first national party congress that Asia's longest-running insurgent movement held in 5 decades.
The national congress is the highest policy-making body of the party. In between sessions of the congress, it's the CC that crafts policies and implements party decisions.
In the guerrillas' congress last year, the CPP amended its constitution to guarantee the participation of younger members to the CC.
"More than half of the newly-elected CC members are from the young and middle-aged cadres of the Party, ensuring that the Party leadership will remain vibrant, tightly linked with the lower levels of leadership and capable of leading the practical work and day-to-day tasks of the Party, especially in waging revolutionary armed struggle against the reactionary state," the CPP said.
Up to 120 leaders participated in the historic gathering, the party said. "Of those who attended, around 30% were above 60 years old, while around 60% were in the 45-59 years age bracket, while 15% were 44 years and younger. The oldest delegate was 70 years old. The youngest delegate was 33 years old," the statement added.
The amendments also allowed "members of foreign fraternal parties" and paved the way for the retirement of CC members older than 70 but who will retain party membership and continue to enjoy financial support from the CPP.
"The Party program reaffirms the necessity of waging armed revolution in order to counter the armed violence employed by the US imperialists and the local reactionary ruling classes and end the oppressive and exploitative semicolonial and semifeudal system," the CPP said.
"Drawing lessons from the Party's rich history, the Second Congress presented a clearer picture of the strategy and tactics for taking advantage of the insoluble and worsening crisis of the world capitalist system, the strategic decline of US imperialism and the chronic crisis of the domestic ruling system in order to advance the protracted people's war towards complete victory," the CPP added.
Peace under Duterte?
The statement made no mention of the ongoing peace talks with the Duterte administration. The gathering last year was held just after the 2nd round of peace negotiatons in Norway between the government and the National Democratic Front (NDF) that represents the rebels in the talks.
Separate unilateral ceasefires were in place at the time, but the CPP claimed the military kept on attacking its guerrillas.
The first firefight to break the ceasefire between the military and the NPA would happen in January 2017 while the peace panels were holding the 3rd round of talks in Rome.
The CPP claims to have close to 70,000 members nationwide, mostly from Mindanao.
The military scoffed at this, saying the guerrillas have been reduced to banditry and extortion. Military estimates show the NPA has 4,000 armed combatants.
"Given the serious degradation of the strength and following of the NPA, we deem it no longer a force to reckon with compared to the 1970s and 1980s," said the military's public affairs chief, Colonel Edgard Arevalo.
The CPP disagrees, saying its second congress "is a testimony both of the accumulated strength and capacity as well as determination to assemble a big number of cadres. It underscores as well the inability of the reactionary state to destroy the armed revolutionary movement."
At its peak in the mid-1980s, the CPP had 25,000 armed regulars, according to the military. The movement suffered a bitter ideological split in the 1990s that caused the formation of breakaway rebel groups and a subsequent decline in rebel influence in major areas. – Rappler.com