The communist New People’s Army (NPA) has failed for the past five decades to overthrow the government because of its “irrelevant” cause and “bankrupt” ideology, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Thursday.
In a statement on the NPA’s 49th anniversary, Lorenzana slammed the communist armed wing anew by calling its existence as “futile, delusional and vicious,” as well as a “bane” to the country’s peace, security and national development.
“As with previous years, the rebels are again expected to show off their so-called ‘force’ by carrying out a string of celebratory attacks, atrocities and criminal acts to hide their dwindling number and degraded strength,” the Cabinet official said.
“For the past 49 years, you have failed to overthrow the duly constituted government and replace the ideals of democracy with your brand of communism, despite your relatively stronger force and mass base support,” Lorenzana added.
The NPA was founded in 1969, less than a year after the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) was founded by Jose Maria “Joma” Sison on December 26, 1968.
Sison met with Bernabe Buscayno, a former activist who had commanded an armed group during the communist-led uprising in the 1950s known as the Huk Rebellion.
Buscayno became the first commander of the communist armed group.
‘Lay down your arms’
Lorenzana lambasted Sison indirectly in his statement as he renewed his call to the NPA members to surrender to the military.
“As a fellow Filipino, I am calling on all CPP-NPA members to lay down your arms and re-join society. Do not continue to be blinded by the propaganda of your selfish leaders who live in luxury, away in a foreign land, with their families and loved ones by their side at your expense and at our people’s expense, especially those from vulnerable communities,” the Defense chief said.
“Your cause has become irrelevant and your ideology, bankrupt…What makes you now think that you can succeed even in the next 50 years given your dwindling number, degraded capability and lack of people’s support?” he asked.
On March 18, a guerilla front of the NPA based in the Northeastern Mindanao declared a unilateral ceasefire for the Lenten season, through its spokesman, “Ka Oto.”
The move was questioned by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), saying it was “unusual” and another “ploy” to catch government troops off-guard.
Lorenzana agreed with the AFP.
“The purported declaration of a unilateral ceasefire by the CPP-NPA for the observance of Lenten season is obviously a trick to convince the government to resume the peace talks, but its purpose is actually to deceive our ground forces,” he stressed.
“The CPP-NPA is afraid since their number is decreasing following the massive surrender of their members to renew their lives,” Lorenzana added.
Celebration for what?
Lorenzana then launched tirades against the NPA’s celebration of its founding, as well as the group’s intensified or “celebratory” attacks.
“The real question here for the NPA is what they really are celebrating on their anniversary? You (NPA) have done nothing good except for killing, extort from businesses and burn equipment of those who refuse to give their payments. You are the real reason why we are unprogressive [as a country],” he said.
“To the remaining members of the NPA, it is high time for you to return to mainstream society. Let go of the violence and deceptive ideologies that you are all fighting for. Think of the welfare of your family, and of the nation,” Lorenzana added.
The Defense chief earlier said he was opposed to the resumption of peace talks, following the resolution filed by 61 lawmakers at the House of Representatives, urging President Rodrigo Duterte to reopen peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front (NDF), the CPP’s political arm.
Duterte signed a declaration in December last year, officially terminating the peace talks with the communists, months after the attack on the Presidential Security Group convoy in Arakan, North Cotabato.
On Thursday, the NPA said different units across the country gave their “red salutes” in observance of group’s anniversary.
Ka Samuel Guerrero, spokesman of NPA Sorsogon or the Celso Minguez Command, said the NPA managed to thrive over the past years despite “attacks” from the “US-Duterte regime” and its “Oplan Kapayapaan,” an anti-communist drive of the AFP under President Rodrigo Duterte.
“The lesson here will serve as a guide and inspiration in achieving the many successes ahead of us in celebrating our 50th anniversary next year. The unwavering commitment, discipline, bravery and just revolution would surely bring us success,” Guerrero said in a separate statement.
He lambasted the “steel hands” of the Duterte administration for pushing charter change to allow a federal form of government.
“The truth is that federalism is a cover-up to intentionally open the economy of the country to foreign capitalists as well as to extend his (Duterte) ruling in the country and to void the people’s success fighting for their democratic rights,” Guerrero said.
The NPA Camarines Sur or the Norben Gruta Command gave its “red salutations” to the commanders of the communist fighters all over the country, echoing the stance of the NPA Sorsogon against the moves of the Duterte administration.
“The NPA managed to foil the counter-insurgency operations of all the puppets and fascist government since the dictatorship of US-Marcos until the regime of US-Aquino,” said Ka Michael Robredo, spokesman of NPA Camarines Sur, referring to the administrations of former presidents Ferdinand Marcos and Benigno Aquino 3rd.
“We will never allow [anyone]to claim the success through the armed movements,” he added.
He also urged all Red fighters to fight the “crazy and arrogant” Duterte administration before the year ends.
Duterte had declared the CPP and the NPA as “terrorist organizations” through a resolution he signed also last year.
The Department of Justice has filed a petition before the Manila Regional Trial Court, officially seeking for the tagging of the communist groups as terrorists.
The petition includes several personalities from the Left including Sison, former Bayan Muna representative and journalist Saturnino Ocampo, CPP leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, and Tirso Alcantara.