An insurgency led by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) is ravaging the nation’s countryside.1 Children as young as twelve are forced to join the “New People’s Army” (NPA) and to fight for the communist cause.2 Farmers are often killed for refusing to support or join the communist cause. Businessmen are threatened with death or the destruction of their property should they not pay taxes to the revolutionaries. Politicians in areas of strong communist influence either become puppets of the CPP-NPA or are murdered. This insurgency has killed more than 120,000 Filipinos to date, and the body count is rapidly rising.3
The communist insurgents’ ultimate goal is to conquer the nation, and they are fighting toward this end via two means. The first of these is armed force.
According to Jun Alcover, a former high-ranking Communist Party member turned anticommunist congressman, the CPP hopes “to win the revolutionary struggle and change the social, economic, and political landscape in the Philippines—[through] armed revolution, Mao Zedong style.”4 Yettan Verita Liwanag, a coauthor with Alcover of the book Atrocities & Lies: The Untold Secrets of the Communist Party of the Philippines, details the communists’ plan to carry out this bloody insurrection. The first step would be to draw a significant number of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) away from the island of Luzon (where the capital is) to the southern Island of Mindanao, where the NPA, allied with secessionist forces such as the Moro National Liberation Front and the Bangsa Moro Army, would be able to bog down the AFP. “Attacks from the combined forces would tie down a large part of the AFP in the south. By splitting the AFP, NPA forces in the Visayaz could then contribute to the uprising by simultaneously assaulting their areas of responsibility. Finally, after achieving strategic advantage over the elements of the AFP by dividing its attention,” the communists in Luzon could “then strike the National Capital Region by surrounding it with pockets of Red-controlled areas and enveloping it from the inside” with a massive uprising of armed and non-armed supporters, ranging from workers to leftist students.5
This is the communist dream of violent revolution as envisioned by the founder and leader of the New People’s Army—however, it is a long shot.6 The communists know that the AFP, which is far more powerful than their own modest forces, would almost surely win an all-out military conflict. So the communists are also fighting for control of the Philippines on a second, more insidious front.
The CPP-NPA is trying to increase its reputation as a legitimate political party within the international community; meanwhile, it is smearing the Philippine government and the AFP as human-rights violators and mass murderers. The communists hope ultimately to cause enough commotion to invite direct intervention in Filipino affairs from foreign entities (including the United Nations), leading to pressure from those entities to accommodate the communists and perhaps even create a coalition government with them.7 In this way the CPP-NPA could wield much power in the Philippines while reducing the damage to its insurgency force.
Even more amazing than the fact that a remnant of the Cold War severely threatens the Philippines is the fact that the Philippine government is permitting it to do so.
From its prime in the 1980 of tens of thousands of “comrades,” the NPA has been reduced to a few thousand—a number that the Philippine government could easily squash. Yet a continuous policy of accommodation and appeasement from the Philippine government has allowed the NPA to survive, threatening the prosperity and lives of all Filipinos. . . .
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Acknowledgments: I wish to thank Alan Germani and Craig Biddle for their helpful suggestions on earlier drafts and for editing this article.
1 Both the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army have been designated by the United States as terrorist organizations. “Designation of a Foreign Terrorist Organization,” U.S. Department of State, August 9, 2010, http://web.archive.org/web/20070314180724/http://www.state.gov/secretary/former/powell/remarks/2002/12542.htm.
2 Yettan Verita Liwanag, Jun Alcover, Tito Poras, and Matthew Jennings, Atrocities & Lies: The Untold Secrets of the Communist Party of the Philippines (Quezon City, Philippines: National Alliance for Democracy and Freedom Foundation, Inc., 2008).
3 “NPA Rebels Threaten Attacks Despite Talks,” philstar.com, December 26, 2010, http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=642850&publicationSubCategoryId=200.
4 Liwanag et al., Atrocities & Lies, pp. 3–4.
5 Liwanag et al., Atrocities & Lies, p. 156.
6 Liwanag et al., Atrocities & Lies, p. 156.
7 Liwanag et al., Atrocities & Lies, p. 172.
8 The Marcos presidency spanned 1965–1986; martial law, 1972–1981.
9 Ronald Reagan in a debate with Walter Mondale, “1984 U.S. Presidential Debate—October 21,” http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/1984_U.S._Presidential_Debate_-_October_21.
10 “Lawmakers Welcome Talks with National Democratic Front,” Philippine Star, January 15, 2011, http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleid=648290; “The Communist Party of the Philippines/National Democratic Front Network Abroad,” GlobalSecurity.org, 1989, http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/report/1989/BOG.htm; “Joma, Cory Had ‘Exceptional’ Relationship,” ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau, August 3, 2009, http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/pinoy-migration/08/03/09/joma-cory-had-exceptional-relationship.
11 “Reds Defend Deadly Samar Ambush” Philippine Daily Inquirer, December 18, 2010, http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/regions/view/20101218-309638/Reds-defend-deadly-Samar-ambush.
12 “Communist Rebels in Philippines Kill 10 Soldiers: Military,” Agence France-Presse, December 15, 2010, http://news.ph.msn.com/regional/article.aspx?cp-documentid=4522682.
13 “Statement of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles Regarding the NPA Ambush in Northern Samar,” December 16, 2010,, press release prepared by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, http://www.gov.ph/2010/12/16/statement-of-the-presidential-adviser-on-the-peace-process-teresita-quintos-deles-regarding-the-npa-ambush-in-northern-samar/.
14 Liwanag et al., Atrocities & Lies, pp. 91–92.
15 “No. 1 NPA Recruiter,” Gold Star Daily, January 30, 2011, http://www.goldstardailynews.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=638:no-1-npa-recruiter&catid=103:letters&Itemid=268.
16 “Eight Policemen Killed in Samar Ambush,” Inquirer.net, August 21, 2010, http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/regions/view/20100821-288039/Eight-policemen-killed-in-Samar-ambush.
17 “CHR Condemns Use of Landmine by NPA Rebs in N. Samar Ambush,” Leyte Samar Daily Express, August 25, 2010, http://leytesamardaily.net/2010/08/chr-condemns-use-of-landmine-by-npa-rebs-in-n-samar-ambush/.
18 “AFP Vows to End Communist Insurgency,” Remate, November 16, 2010, http://www.remate.ph/breaking-news/end-communist-insurgency-by-2016-–-afp/.
19 Liwanag et al., Atrocities & Lies, p. 5.
20 Liwanag et al., Atrocities & Lies, pp. 5–6.
21 Liwanag et al., Atrocities & Lies, pp. 5–6.
22 The Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindana (ARMM) suffers from many secessionist and Islamist insurgencies as well. Liwanag et al., Atrocities & Lies, pp. 116–17.
23 Liwanag et al., Atrocities & Lies, pp. 162–67.
24 Thirteenth president of the Philippines, Joseph “Erap” Estrada, “‘All-out’ Push Needed to End Insurgencies,” Agence France-Presse, through The Manila Times, October 21, 2009, http://www.manilatimes.net/index.php/top-stories/4388-erap-vows-war-vs-rebels.