Communist Party lost 'ideology', now 'bandits' – Army officials

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – On the 47th anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), military officials from the 4th Infantry Division (ID) described followers as bereft of idealism and dismissed them as nothing more than bandits and terrorists.

The 4th ID of the Philippine Army has operational jurisdiction over Northern Mindanao, including the provinces of Surigao del Sur and Del Norte, Agusan provinces, Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental and Camiguin, which currently hosts the biggest presence of the New People’s Army (NPA).

The CPP is waging among the longest running communist insurgencies in Asia, if not the world.

Major General Oscar Lactao, commanding general of the 4th ID, described the NPA, the armed wing of the CPP, as terrorists involved in crime and human rights violations.

“In order for the CPP-NPA-NDF to project their existence, sowing threat is paramount for them to pursue their armed struggle. However, in a civilized society they already lost their ‘ideology’ because they shifted to banditry,” Lactao said.

Lactao said that National Democratic Front (NDF) Mindanao spokesperson Jorge Madlos or "Ka Oris" and Myrna Sularte or "Maria Malaya" and their sympathizers face charges of multiple murder, frustrated murder, kidnapping, exploitation and illegal position of firearms, explosives and ammunitions.

The NPA had over 40,000 members in the 70s but membership has reportedly dwindled to just over 4,000, particularly in Surigao, Agusan and Bukidnon.

Radicalized minors

Captain Joe Patrick Martinez, 4th ID spokesperson, said that recently, two minor students of TRIFPSS (Tribal Indigenous Filipino People School in Surigao del Sur) and ALCADEV (Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development Inc), were saved from NPA exploitation with the help of local authorities and officials.

“Their parents have pursued and filed cases against Jorge Madlos, including Genasque Enriquez, Secretary General of Kahugpungan sa Lomadnong Organisasyon sa Caraga (Kasalo) and 11 others, in violation of RA 9208 or the Anti-Human Trafficking in Persons Act and RA 7610 or the Child Abuse and Exploitation Act before the provincial prosecution sub-office in Lianga, Surigao del Sur last December 18, 2015,” he said.

Based on the accounts of the two minors, they were radicalized by their teachers in TRIPFPSS and ALCADEV and forced to hold firearms and kill people by the NPA terrorists.

Enriquez was once the third nominee of KaTribu partylist.

Lactao said that because of the NPA's shift to banditry, there has also been a downward trend in NPA Initiated Violent Incidents (NIVIs).

“Comparative data show that in 2011 there were 168 NIVIs and this began to dwindle to 153 in 2012, and before 2015 ends, there have been only 119 NIVIs recorded,” he added.

Martinez said that this can be attributed to the NPAs being captured with the help of civilians. Some have surrendered because they supposedly realized the “futility” of armed struggle. Records show that a total of 269 NPA members have surrendered and have been apprehended in 2015 alone.

“The decreasing efforts and deromanticized existence of the NPA is irreversible. Even if they will fight another decade or century, they will not win the war because people no longer believe in their failed ideology,” Lactao said.

Lactao thanked residents of Northern Mindanao for their trust and confidence in the Army, "especially in giving timely and relevant information for us to address the insurgency situation."

He added, "We urge you to continue the same support in 2016 for us to finally reach our goal of having a peaceful Northern Mindanao that is ready for further development.” 

The CPP has been mum on the exact number of its guerrilla army, but former CPP chairman Jose Maria Sison claims the NPA has regained the strength it lost during the 1990s. Asserting its influence, the National Democratic Front said candidates in next year’s general elections should set aside funds if they wish to campaign in rebel-held territories. –