THE Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has taken to task the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) for ordering its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), to step up recruitment, saying the move was in conflict with the next round of peace negotiations in Oslo, Norway.
“This [recruitment]is a sad development, granting this is truly their real intent. Why? Because it is an indication of an expansion program that ironically runs counter to the essence of the ongoing peace talks,” Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr., AFP spokesman, said.
“It also belies the real intent of the group… that they really do not desire a long, just and lasting peace for the country,” he added.
The Philippine government and communist rebels agreed to return to the formal negotiating table about a month after President Rodrigo Duterte scrapped peace talks over bloody clashes between the military and rebel forces.
In a lengthy message to the NPA on its 48th anniversary (March 29), the CPP Central Committee gave the following tasks to its armed wing in fufillment of the recruitment drive:
• carry out extensive and intensive guerrilla warfare on an ever widening scale and deepening mass base and toward developing full-scale guerrilla warfare;
• accelerate the recruitment of armed personnel in all regions across the entire archipelago. Recruit large numbers from the educated youth and working class to become cadres and political officers in the New People’s Army;
• resolve the gross imbalance in growth and strength of NPA forces by carrying out a campaign to rectify errors to spur a dramatic increase in the NPA strength in Luzon and Visayas. Combat military conservatism, militia-ism and civilianization in the people’s army;
• increase several times over the number of people’s militia units in all barrios where there are Party branches, and build local guerrilla units at the municipal or section levels where there are Party section committees;
• expand and consolidate existing guerrilla fronts and build new ones. Develop guerrilla war theaters by raising the capacity of contiguous NPA guerrilla fronts to coordinate and utilize the interplay of its forces;
• carry out the revolutionary land reform program more intensively and on an ever widening scale. Undertake anti-feudal campaigns at inter-barrio or higher levels;
• help build the Party within the people’s army and among the masses. Carry out intensive political education among the Red commanders and fighters to raise their revolutionary consciousness, steel their will to fight and strengthen their absolute devotion to serve the people and the revolutionary cause; and
• persevere in carrying out the policies of the people’s democratic government. Enforce policies with regard to the protection of the environment, as well as those covering the operations of business and economic ventures to ensure the well-being of the people.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the NPA has a strength of under 5,000 assisted by a huge support group “that benefit[s]on the extortion that they are doing.”