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NPA trumpets ‘growth’ in Mindanao

Edwin G. Espejo

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The New People's Army claims it now has 42 guerrilla fronts in Mindanao, up from 32

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – The communist-led New People’s Army (NPA) in Mindanao has grown in numbers over the last 2 years, according to rebel spokesman Jorge Madlos, or Ka Oris.

“We have formed additional platoons and increased our armed strength by almost 20%,” Madlos said in a statement sent to reporters on the eve of the 43rd founding anniversary of the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

He also claimed that their guerilla fronts have increased to 42, up from 32 fronts 3 years ago. “We have maintained 42 guerrilla fronts island-wide and increased the number of company-sized fronts,” Madlos also said.

The communist rebels also have 5 regional party committees in mainland Mindanao.

The CPP-NPA rebellion is Asia’s longest running insurgency.

The NPA was founded on March 29, 1969 in Sta. Rita, Pampanga from remnants of the Hukbong Mapagpalaya ng Bayan (HMB), the armed wing of the old Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas (PKP). 

From an undersized platoon of poorly equipped fighters with less than 25 rifles and handguns, the NPA expanded throughout the archipelago and became a major threat to national security during the Marcos dictatorship.

It is believed that more than half of the total armed regulars of the NPA today are in Mindanao, also the seat of the Moro secessionist movement.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has placed the total strength of the NPAs nationwide at a little over 4,000 fully armed regulars.

Early this year, AFP chief of staff Gen Jessie Dellosa said the military is tightening its grip on “NPA bandits with our focused combat operations.”

Daring attacks

At its peak in the mid-1980s, the NPA had an estimated 24,000 armed guerrillas.

The communist rebels shocked the military and the national government when they launched simultaneous attacks against 3 mining companies in Surigao del Norte in October last year.

More than 200 NPA rebels reportedly participated in the daring attacks which destroyed more than P500-M worth equipment and facilities. 

No one was hurt during the attacks but the NPA demonstrated its capacity to strike at will in areas where they maintain strongholds.

The northeastern side of Mindanao has long been known to host the Mindanao party leadership of the CPP-NPA.

The rebels are also active in central as well as southern Mindanao where they have repeatedly launched tactical offensives and attacked several big agribusiness corporations. –

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