CPP: 44 years of guerrilla warfare

Edwin G. Espejo

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The Communist Party of the Philippines celebrates its 44th founding anniversary on Wednesday, December 26, still stuck at the 'strategic defensive' stage

ARMED. Philippine communist rebels have been fighting the government since 1968. Photo by Keith Bacongco

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – Asia’s longest running insurgency is 44 years old today, December 26, still far away from its aim of reaching armed parity with the Philippine government.

In 2008, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) boldly declared that it was aiming for a strategic stalemate — by 2013 — in its guerrilla war with the Philippine government. The underground party’s Maoist-inspired warfare has 3 strategic stages: strategic defensive, strategic stalemate and strategic offensive.

Forty four years after it was born, the CPP is still in the strategic defensive stage.

In a statement to observe its 44th founding anniversary on Wednesday, December 26, the guerrillas however said they were “making substantial progress” in carrying out their objective of a “strategic stalemate.”

The CPP anniversary comes a day after police and military units captured a key NPA leader in Negros Oriental, Filemon Mendrez, the 6th most wanted man in the country with a P5.25-M bounty on his head.

A team composed of military and police forces nabbed Filemon Mendrez — the 6th most wanted man in the country with a P5.25M bounty on his head — at 10:30 am Tuesday, December 25, in BarangayTubod, Manjuyod, Negros Oriental.

Mendrez, a key New People’s Army rebel leader, will be held without bail and is due to stand trial, an army statement said, but details on the criminal cases against him were not disclosed.

Both sides have also declared the longest Christmas truce in recent history. The NPA declared a Christmas ceasefire from Dec. 20 to Jan. 15, 2013. The Armed Forces of the Philippines, on the other hand, declared a ceasefire from Dec. 16 to Jan. 2, 2013.

They held peace negotiations in The Hague last Dec 17 and 18 — a process that has dragged for more than two decades.

The CPP boasted that it now operates in more than 100 guerrilla fronts and intends to increase this to 180 “within the next five years since 2010 or for a longer period if need be.”

STILL FIGHTING. George Madlos, NPA regional spokesman in Mindanao. Photo by Keith Bacongco

For the first time also, the underground party also admitted that in the 1980s — which was considered the peak of the insurgency — it only had 6,100 rifles. The admission was meant to dispute military claims that the armed regulars of the NPA have been reduced to 4,000 today from a high of 25,000 fully armed rebels in the 1980s.

“The Aquino regime and its retinue of military officers keep on boasting that most areas of the Philippines have become insurgency-free…(the) fact is, that NPA armed strength in 1986 was only 6,100 rifles,” the CPP central committee said.

Mindanao forces

Rebel spokesman Jorge Madlos, a.k.a Ka Oris, said in an e-mailed statement that despite massive military operations in rebel strongholds in the island, they were able to increase the number of guerilla fronts from 39 in 2008 to 44 this year.

Ka Oris said 40% of its 44 guerrilla fronts now have company size formations in addition to its 5 main regional guerilla units (sentro de grabidad).

He said the NPAs have been growing at the rate of 10% every year over the last 3 years, a claim disputed by military figures that show their numbers are dwindling.

The CPP in Mindanao is also now building regional and sub-regional operational commands for the NPA, something that it used to have in the 1980s but decided to disband following ideological debate which led to the decimation of rebel ranks nationwide in the 1990s.

Rebel forces in the Davao and Caraga regions are again capable of launching undersized battalion formations for tactical offensives as they did in raiding Taganito Mines more than a year ago.

Lt. Gen. Jorge Segovia, commanding general of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Eastern Mindanao Command, however said rebel forces in Mindanao could not be more than 1,500 fully armed regulars. – Rappler.com

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