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MANILA, Philippines (29-March-12) – As the New People’s Army turned 43 Thursday, the Communist Party of the Philippines declared that “the power of the landlord class must be destroyed” even as it warned against “increasing US military intervention” in the country.
The NPA, which draws much of its manpower from the peasantry, was founded on March 29, 1969 in Central Luzon to wage a “protracted people’s war” – now considered the longest-running communist insurgency in the world – from the rural areas based on the Maoist principle of “surrounding the cities from the countryside.”
In fact, the CPP considers “genuine land reform … the main content of the democratic revolution and as the way to arouse, organize and mobilize the poor peasants and farm workers as the main force of the revolution.”
In a statement marking the NPA’s anniversary, the CPP said, “The prime targets are the big landlords with political power and who are hostile to the revolutionary forces and unwilling to give way even to the minimum land reform program. Efforts must be undertaken to prevent them from further exploiting the peasants, to break up their feudal property and power and to punish those with blood debts.”
President Benigno Aquino III comes from one of the wealthiest landlord clans, the Cojuangcos, who own the vast Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac province and who have been resisting efforts to divide the estate for distribution to agrarian reform beneficiaries.
The CPP also called for the dismantling of “plantations, mining and logging enterprises that produce for export,” and “those that grab land from the peasants and indigenous people, limit the land for land reform, destroy the environment and agriculture, export non-renewable resources, prevent industrialization or engage in extreme exploitation of the workers.”
The military has consistently described as the NPA as a “spent” and “desperate” force on the verge of annihilation, decimated by internal strife and battlefield defeats from a peak of more than 25,000 fighters in the 1980s to only around 4,000 today.
But, short of giving actual figures, the CPP claimed the NPA “has a mass base that runs into the millions” and “operates in more than 100 guerrilla fronts spread out in 70 provinces nationwide” and covering “thousands of barrios and extensive areas of several hundred towns and cities.”
It said large fronts “cover 60-100 barrios while the small and medium-size fronts cover 40-59 barrios” while “new guerrilla fronts are now being built at a faster clip and new areas are persistently being reached and developed.”
“The sub-regional and front forces in a well-developed guerrilla theater can grow into battalion to oversize battalion strength complemented by brigade strength of militia units and barrio self-defense corps,” the CPP said.
But acknowledging the superior strength of the military, the CPP said, “Only by maintaining an offensive spirit and developing its initiative can a guerrilla force preserve and strengthen itself against large-scale and prolonged campaigns of encirclement, constriction and suppression by fascist troops.”
“The more the enemy forces attack, the more the people’s army must seize the initiative in fighting,” it added.
It also called for “strengthening front and inter-front planning, command and coordination,” which it said, “are acutely needed for greater maneuverability, flexibility and initiative.”
“We must be alert to increasing US military intervention,” the CPP said, citing what it called a trend towards “inter-operability” between American and local forces “in psywar, intelligence gathering and combat operations.”
Recently, news reports said Philippine air force planes had used American “smart bombs” to attack militants in Sulu and Aquino indicated approval of the use of US surveillance drones in the country, also he said actual strikes by unmanned aircraft would not be allowed.
“We must assert and defend the sovereignty of the Filipino people and the territorial integrity of the Philippines,” the CPP said.
At the same time, the CPP called for strengthened relations with the Moro Islamice Liberation Front and “other revolutionary forces of the Moro people.”
“We must respect the Moro people’s right to self-determination” and “coordinate with them in destroying the strength of the enemy. We must persist in weakening the enemy forces by forcing them to fight on two distant fronts in the north and in the south.”
It also cited the need for “drawing support for the people’s war from our compatriots overseas, especially the migrant workers who have been driven to leave their families and seek employment abroad because of poverty and underdevelopment in our country” and who, it said, “are outraged by the reactionary government’s policy of extortion, neglect of their welfare and needs, ignoring their pleas for assistance, and misuse of their foreign exchange earnings.”
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