The New People's Army (NPA) is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines. It was formed on March 29 1969. The Maoist NPA conducts its armed guerrilla struggle based on the strategical line of 'protracted people's war'.
The NPA's roots can be traced from the Hukbalahap
, the armed wing of the earlier pro-Soviet Philippine Communist Party
. The Huks first mobilized and fought against the Japanese Empire
's occupation of the Philippines during World War II
. Under the leadership of Luis Taruc
and Communist Party General Secretary Jose Lava
, the Hukbalahap continued waging guerrilla warfare
against the United States
and the first independent governments before largely surrendering to President Ramon Magsaysay
in 1954. By the early 1960s the communist Huk campaign was waning.
After the Sino-Soviet split, communist parties around the world fractured into pro-USSR and Maoist groups. The upstart CPP broke from the older Soviet-line Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas-1930 on December 26, 1968. Three months later, on March 29, 1969, the CPP reformed the vanguard party's old militia, the Huks, and renamed them the New People's Army, on the anniversary of the date that the guerrilla resistance against Imperial Japan was formed in 1942. The formation was created when José María Sison met with a former Huk, Bernabe Buscayno, also known as "Commander Dante".
The NPA follows Maoism, claiming to fight for that ideology's concept of "New Democracy." Starting out with 60 fighters and 34 rifles, the NPA quickly spread throughout the Philippines during the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. After the declaration of martial law on September 21 1972 thousands of students joined the ranks. President Marcos lifted martial law on January 17 1981.
At its peak in the early 1980s there were over 25,000 fighters.
However, leadership from the CPP were jailed in the middle of the 1970s, including Jose Maria Sison. The remaining leadership of the NPA continued guerrilla warfare but began committing human rights violations, extortion, kidnappings and urban insurrection. This deviated from the NPA's original political line of guerrilla warfare and mass work in the countryside.
The NPA has been classified as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union.
Second Great Rectification Movement
In the 1990s internal criticism about mistakes in the 1980s led to the Second Great Rectification Movement, launched in 1992 and largely completed in 1998, leading to a resurgence in the Philippine revolution. The Second Rectification ended a massive internal purge of the movement that killed thousands of partisans and members on accusations of being deep penetration agents
of the Armed Forces of the Philippines
and the Philippine intelligence community
. Former NPA fighter Robert Francis Garcia
chronicled the wild murders in his book To Suffer Thy Comrades
and organized the Peace Advocates for Truth, Healing and Justice (PATH), a group composed of survivors of the "purges" and the families of victims and their friends and supporters. Due to this 'Rectification Movement', NPA rebels have been reported to have apologized to affected communities and even offered compensation for the victims of the purges.
The NPA claims responsibility for the assassination of U.S. Army Colonel James "Nick" Rowe, founder of the U.S. Army Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) course, in 1989. Colonel Rowe was part of a military assistance program to the Philippine army. The NPA insist that this made him a legitimate military target.
This group was designated as a foreign terrorist
organization by the United States
in August 2002 and by the European Union
in November 2005. The NPA's founder, Jose Maria Sison
, lives in the Netherlands
in self-imposed exile
. The NPA operates mostly in the rural areas and their targets often include politicians, military, police, criminals, landlords, business owners and occasionally U.S. agents in the Philippines. The NPA has also burned schools who refuse to cooperate with their ideology.
It is not uncommon for elements of the NPA, as part of its function as a shadow government covering various provinces and regions in the Philippines, to collect "revolutionary taxes" from small businesses and aspiring politicians in their area. In 1995 the CPP issued a communique approving of same-sex relationships and in 2005 the first gay marriage of two NPA cadre was performed.
The Arroyo administration has been negotiating intermittently with delegates of NPA in European countries.
In March 2007 Rep. Satur Ocampo was arrested on charges of murder relating to purges within the CPP/NPA alleged to have occurred during the 1980s. Leftists see it as part of a campaign of persecution against them.
On January, 2008, Avelino Razon, Philippine National Police chief stated that the New People's Army (NPA) rebels have only 5,700 members as of 2007 due to military destruction of 13 guerrilla bases (lowest level in 20 years). NPAs fought in 69 of 81 Philippine provinces since 1969. Forty thousand people have died in the conflict.
On September 5 2007
, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
signed Amnesty Proclamation 1377 for members of the Communist Party of the Philippines
and its armed wing, the New People's Army; other communist rebel groups; and their umbrella organization, the National Democratic Front
. The amnesty
will cover the crime of rebellion and all other crimes "in pursuit of political beliefs
," but not including crimes against chastity, rape, torture, kidnapping for ransom, use and trafficking of illegal drugs
and other crimes for personal ends and violations of international law or convention and protocols "even if alleged to have been committed in pursuit of political beliefs
." The National Committee on Social Integration (NCSI) will issue a Certificate of Amnesty to qualified applicants. Implementing rules and regulations are being drafted and the decree will be submitted to the Senate of the Philippines
and the House of Representatives of the Philippines
for their concurrence. The proclamation becomes effective only after Congress has concurred.
Senator Angara ambush
On January 5
, at 1 p.m., the New People's Army shot at soldiers along the route of Senator Edgardo Angara
. A short time later, Angara, by mobile phone, stated that there is “no more danger to my life.”