Communist guerillas vowed on Sunday to meet the military’s intensified counter-insurgency operations head-on and frustrate President Duterte’s goal to end insurgency in the country before he steps down in June next year as they celebrated the 53rd anniversary of their political wing, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
The Philippine National Police has alerted its units against possible attacks by the rebels, whom the Armed Forces of the Philippines said have suffered irreversible defeat around the country. On Friday, a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) during a firefight in Davao de Oro.
While acknowledging some losses by its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), in some areas around the country, the Central Committee of the CPP said a great majority of NPA units have rendered the military’s superiority ineffective and have “grown in strength” and “expanded’ their base of support.
“The national and regional operational commands of the NPA remain intact despite the unremitting division and battalion-sized tactical operations carried out by the AFP,” the CPP said. The military recently killed Jorge “Ka Oris” Madlos, head of the national operations command of the NPA.
“NPA units have also frustrated major strategic offensives in the provinces of Cagayan, Ilocos Sur, Quezon, Camarines Norte, Masbate, other Bicol provinces as well as in the islands of Mindoro, Palawan, Samar and Negros,” the CPP said.
Duterte has ordered the military to finish off the communist-spawned insurgency before he leaves office next year, a task that the Armed Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Andres Centino said is not impossible, considering that the rebels only number about 4, 000, and whose guerilla fronts are currently the subjects of sustained operations.
Centino noted the successive dismantling of guerilla fronts in the operational areas of the Northern Luzon Command and Eastern Mindanao Command.
On the eve of the CPP anniversary, PNP chief General Dionardo Carlos ordered police units to heighten their vigilance against possible hostilities by the rebels in order to mark the anniversary of their political wing.
“Historically, there are documented incidents of high-profile tactical engagements against government forces, and hostilities against soft targets launched by the CPP-NPA to mark the CPP anniversary every December 26th, and the NPA anniversary on March 29th,” he said.
The PNP chief put the Special Action Force, the PNP’s national maneuver force and all 17 Regional Mobile Force Battalions nationwide on the highest alert condition for possible rapid deployment and quick reaction to any contingency.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the “long years of futile resistance” by the rebels “should be more than enough for them to realize that they will never succeed in forcing their unchristian ideology and communist principle on our people.”
“The influence of the CPP will continue to diminish as the government implements a whole-of-nation (WON) approach, where the people themselves are in the forefront of the fight. Since the WON was started in 2018, we saw the flood of surrenderees and capture or killing of ranking NPA cadres. At last the people are fed up and are rising up against them,” the defense chief said in a statement.
Lorenzana noted that since the government has offered benefits for those who are returning to the realm of the government, “tens of thousands have availed of this offer.”
“We call upon those still in the hills to also take up this offer. Come down for the sake of your families. Together we shall work to make our country peaceful and prosperous,” he said.
Centino said CPP had suffered “irreversible damage” as the military has continued to gain tactical and strategic victories against the rebels.
“The CPP has nothing to celebrate on its December 26 anniversary. The year 2021 was the most successful period in our fight against insurgency,” he said, adding that they have already reduced the capabilities of the NPA through the neutralization of its top leaders, dismantling of 21 guerilla fronts and the weakening of 14 others.
Centino said at least 340 conflict-affected barangays have also been cleared, causing the surrender of rebels and the withdrawal of support of exploited masses.
“This year, the CTG (communist terrorist group) has suffered irreparable damage in its leadership, strength and resources, and the government’s accomplishments have placed us in a better position to end the local armed conflict by next year as mandated by the President,” the chief of staff said.
“The AFP is confident that it can comply with the order to put an end to insurgency before the term of President end and finally bring lasting peace and development in the countryside,” he added.
The CPP vowed to lead the NPA in waging extensive and intensive guerilla war and expand its guerilla fronts by building new fronts and subregional areas to widen the rebels’ areas of operations and stop the government’s campaign.
Image credits: AP/Pat Roque