The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) is “gasping for breath” following a breakdown in communication between its units due to the neutralization of its ranking leaders, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said Monday.
In a statement, AFP spokesperson Col. Medel Agular said the death of CPP’s chairman Jose Maria Sison in the Netherlands has also left the underground movement, which observes its 54th founding anniversary Dec. 26, with “no sense of purpose and direction.”
“There is a breakdown in the communication lines between the CPP Central Committee and its subordinate organs and armed group (NPA). This is primarily due to the neutralization of many of the CPP top leaders: Julius Giron; Menandro Villanueva; Jorge Madlos; etc, the silence and long absence of their supposed chairman now, Benito Tiamzon, and the loss of their mass bases and mass organizations,” Aguilar said.
The CPP is left with only 23 guerrilla fronts, only five of which are able to implement party programs. The rest, he said, are “weak and gasping for breath,” Aguilar said.
“This gives the military the opportunity to focus its superior capability against the five while the civil government needs only to implement programs that will address the source of peoples’ discontent,” he said.
Sison, who died on Dec. 16, established the CPP in 1968.
“To keep the organization afloat, the CPP through a digital person known as ‘Marco Valbuena’ can only come up with press releases and statements to convey the party’s directive and message to its lower organs and armed group, including its threat of tactical offensives,” Aguilar said.
Following Sison’s death, the CPP said it would not seek a ceasefire with state forces this holiday season.
But Aguilar said there were no reported “atrocities” during the Christmas season despite the absence of a ceasefire.
The CPP’s call to its remaining New People’s Army (NPA) fighters to carry out “tactical offensives” against government troops, he said, was aimed at preventing the organization’s “total disintegration.”
Even after over 50 years, the CPP has failed to achieve its goals despite peaking with an estimated 28,000 members in the mid-80s, Aguilar said.
“Indeed, 54 years is more than enough. The country’s suffering must end now,” he said adding that after all that time, the underground movement never achieved anything significant to get closer to its goals of overthrowing the government, seizing power and overhauling the political system. Maricel V. Cruz
“As the underground movement struggled to establish a guerrilla front in every congressional district of the country, its leaders and members can only watch with frustration and helplessness as the government’s security operations and development programs decapitates them,” Aguilar said.
Aguilar also said there were no reported “atrocities” during the Christmas season despite the absence of a ceasefire.
On Monday, the National Capital Region Police Office director Maj. Gen Jonnel Estomo urged members and supporters of the CPP-NPA to surrender and swear allegiance to the government.
The government is encouraging CPP-NPA members to give up armed struggle and return to mainstream society to restore the long-lost peace and unity in the country following the death of Sison.
“We believe that despite the difference in belief and ideology, we are one in pursuing a safe and progressive community for our children and families,” Estomo said.
Estomo said Sison’s demise is expected to result in the deterioration of the influence, capability and manpower of the long-running guerrilla insurgency.
The NCRPO announced that 55 CPP-NPA members have formally withdrawn their allegiance from the rebel group. The returnees laid down their firearms, ammunition and other items.
In the House of Representatives, Deputy Minority leader and ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro appealed to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to reopen the peace negotiations with the communist rebels.
“President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s wish for unity in the country can only be achieved if the inequalities plaguing the Philippines are addressed,” Castro said in a statement.
“One way to comprehensively do this is to reopen the peace negotiations between the government of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and start from where it left off,” she added.
Castro said the government and the NDF were set to formally sign a number of agreements when President Rodrigo Duterte unilaterally terminated the peace talks in November 2017.
“These include already initialed common drafts of an agreement on land reform and rural development and on national industrialization and economic development. These are the gist of the negotiations and would start to address the roots of the conflict,” she added.
“The breakthroughs in the peace negotiations have generated much support among our people, including members of Congress,” Castro said. But unfortunately, she said, this momentum was not sustained.