MANILA – The decades-long existence of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), which celebrated its 52nd founding anniversary Monday, is tainted by “violence, injustice, atrocities, deceit and lies”, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said.
“They remain to be one of the greatest hindrances to peace and development in some areas of our country,” Sobejana said.
In its quest to defeat the communist terrorist group, the military now employs conventional and non-conventional approaches to persuade the remaining NPA members to surrender, he said.
“With the AFP’s combination of persistent conventional and non-conventional military operations alongside the cooperation and support of other agencies and local government units, we will continue to pressure the communist terrorists to lay down their arms and go back to the mainstream society,” he added.
Apart from combat operations in known NPA lairs, the military, in coordination with local government units, also holds dialogues through localized peace talks by convincing rebels to lay down their arms and go back to the fold of the law.
Even as the NPA members dwindle in number, Sobejana called on Filipinos to help defeat the group by preventing communist terrorists from recruiting members.
The latest data from the AFP show that from January 1 to March 11 this year, a total of 1,091 NPA members, Militia ng Bayan, and underground movement organization, have surrendered; 42 killed during operations; and four apprehended.
“It is with unity that we will be able to convince our misled brothers and sisters to end the armed struggle and embrace genuine peace and development,” Sobejana said.
“The AFP nevertheless will always welcome those who have gone the wrong path and eventually chose peace over the senseless revolution of the communist terrorist CPP-NPA,” the AFP chief added.
Most of the rebels who have surrendered availed themselves of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) which provides a holistic package of benefits such as livelihood, medical, education, housing, and even legal assistance.
The former rebels themselves have exposed the CPP-NPA for using their “enemy machineries to exploit the youth, academic and religious sectors,” Sobejana said.
Founded on March 29, 1969, by the collaboration of Jose Maria Sison and former members of the Hukbong Mapagpalaya ng Bayan led by Bernabe Buscayno, the NPA has since waged a guerrilla war based on the Maoist strategy of protracted people’s war.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)