Nice report of NPA activities in the Philippines the past year. I don’t think that this group is extremely active militarily, though they do have a large army. They probably have at least 10,000 fighters under arms, and probably a lot more. Counting village militia, they probably have 100,000’s of irregular fighters.
For the most part, they concentrate on building the mass base of their movement. The size of the mass base is huge, easily millions of civilian supporters. But I do not think that this group is ready to seriously challenge the regime anytime soon. First of all, most of their strength is in the rural areas. I don’t think they will be able to build up a good support base in the urban areas for decades, but I could be wrong. This is a crucial weakness. The NPA has very ambitious plans to expand the number of fronts from 120 to 180 nationwide in the next few years.
There is no place in Philippines politics for anyone on the Left, even if the NPA disarmed and tried to obtain power peacefully. Leftwingers of all stripes are regularly killed off in the Philippines. Former NPA members left the movement to try to run for office in order to test the peaceful path to power and were quickly assassinated.
I think the NPA has a serious supply problem and is not very well armed. They may have a cash flow problem too. As the Philippines is an archipelago, it’s probably hard to get weapons to the NPA.
In other insurgencies, weaponry is smuggled in from neighboring countries.
In Gaza, Hamas money purchases weapons in Egypt which are then smuggled into Gaza. I don’t know how the Taliban and Pakistani Taliban obtain arms, but I understand Afghanistan is awash in weapons after years of war. In Peru, Sendero is flush with cash and is able to purchase modern weaponry. The FARC is in a similar situation and buys most of its weaponry from arms smugglers. Some probably comes from Venezuela too. Hezbollah has a tremendous amount of weaponry that comes from state sponsors Syria and Iran.
Truth is that without a state sponsor, a lot of these groups have a hard time arming themselves. They also tend to have cash flow problems unless they can tax lucrative drug crops like Sendero and the FARC.
You can see that the NPA generally treats enemy prisoners very well. They are given first aid, treated humanely, and typically released to the Red Cross. At other times, they are simply disarmed. It’s interesting that in many encounters, local police, CAFGU forces and even occasionally the Philippines military refuses to fight, surrenders and gives up their weaponry. They do this because they know that the NPA does not kill POW’s. I never understood killing POW’s. Don’t you want to encourage the enemy to surrender to you?
There are on and off again peace talks in the conflict, but the government doesn’t appear to be serious about negotiations. The NPA has a fraternal relationship with the Muslim rebels in Mindanao, the MILF, but not with the radical Al Qaeda types, who are mostly decimated anyway.
New People’s Army Launches 92 Tactical Offensives in 2009
Ka Oris, National Democratic Front spokesperson in southern Mindanao.
Originally published in the December 21, 2009 issue of Ang Bayan on the Philippine Revolution website.
Even during the first half of the year, it was clear that the US-Arroyo regime’s grandiose Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL) campaign was a failure. AFP Chief Gen. Victor Ibrado himself admitted that they failed to meet Gloria Arroyo’s target of crushing the revolutionary movement before the end of her term in 2010. He knew that it would not be that easy to conquer the four-decade armed revolutionary movement in the country led by the Party.
He also knew that while the military and police concentrate their forces on a few limited areas for a set amount of time, the NPA is able to exercise full initiative in other areas to launch tactical offensives like raids, ambushes, acts of sabotage, sniping and arrest operations.
Based on partial reports, the NPA launched at least 92 tactical offensives nationwide from December 2008 to November 2009, the majority of which were ambushes (49) and raids (20). These numbers would be much higher if arrest operations, punitive measures and sabotage operations were included.
On the other hand, during encounters and defensive battles, the NPA was able to seize the initiative from the enemy and confiscate weapons. The NPA was able to confiscate at least 213 firearms, including machine guns like the FM Minimi and M60 light machine gun, M203 grenade launchers, rounds of ammunition as well as other military equipment such as communication radios and GPS (Global Positioning System).
The enemy sustained at least 231 dead and 176 wounded, and nine were captured as prisoners of war. On the other hand, four Red fighters heroically sacrificed their lives in these battles.
Following are some of the most prominent tactical offensives of the NPA from December 2008 to November 2009:
December 22, 2008. Red fighters of Front 21 of the Northeastern Mindanao Region (NEMR) carted away 18 firearms in a simultaneous attack on the police headquarters and San Roque Metal Inc. (SRMI) in the town of Tubay, Agusan del Sur. The arms haul consisted of 10 M16 rifles, three shotguns, three .38 caliber revolvers, two 9 mm pistols, a cal .45 pistol and a cal. 22 revolver.
The guerrillas also seized two VHF radios. A policeman was killed and another one wounded when they resisted. Meanwhile, six pieces of heavy equipment owned by SRMI worth millions of pesos were torched by the NPA as punishment for the company’s destruction of the environment and the livelihoods of the Lumad workers and people due to its mining operations.
January 3, 2009. In Southern Tagalog, the enemy was stunned when guerrillas of the Narciso Antazo Aramil Command of the NPA-Rizal ambushed troops of the 418th Provincial Police Mobile Group (PPMG) near the national capital.
One policeman was killed and another one wounded when the patrol car they were riding was hit by command-detonated explosives (CDEX) in Sitio Calumpit, Barangay Macabud, Rodriquez, Rizal. Rizal is only 12 miles east of Manila. The guerrillas administered first aid to a wounded police before he was brought to a hospital.
The Red fighters confiscated 12 firearms from the police consisting of six M16s, three 9 mm pistols and three cal .45 pistols. Three policemen were taken prisoner and after 83 days were freed by the people’s court and transferred by an NPA custodial unit on March 27 to representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Sen. Jamby Madrigal and Bishop Gabriel Reyes of the Diocese of Rizal.
January 22. In Bicol, the enemy incurred 16 casualties (eight dead and eight wounded) in a raid carried out by fighters of the Nerissa San Juan Command on the Philippine Army and CAFGU detachment in Barangay Poot, Pandan town, Catanduanes Island.
January 31. Twenty troops of the 53rd IB were killed in an ambush launched in Sitio Laknapan, Barangay Gibo, Siason, Zamboanga del Norte by the Front Feliciano of the NPA in the Western Mindanao Region.
February 15. A platoon of Scout Rangers accompanied by four American soldiers were conducting “clearing operations” when they were ambushed by Red fighters of the Celso Minguez Command in Barangay Batang, Irosin town, Sorsogon, Luzon. The Scout Rangers incurred 12 killed and eight wounded when a CDEX was exploded. The AFP and the American troops were preparing for the 2009 US-RP Balikatan Exercises in Bicol.
March 1. In the North Central Mindanao Region (NCMR), six soldiers were killed and three more were wounded in an ambush launched by the NPA in Sitio Tinopongan, Barangay Sta. Cruz, Quezon town, Bukidnon. Among those killed was 1Lt. Ricardo Naguiat, 29th IB commander. The NPA seized four M16s.
May 19. Again, in Bicol, eleven (11) firearms consisting of five carbines, four Garands, an M14 and two cal .45 pistols were confiscated by Red fighters when they attacked the 22nd IB detachment in Barangay Lubigan, Jr., Sipocot town, Camarines Sur, Luzon. They overran the enemy’s camp when elements of the Philippine Army and CAFGU ran in the heat of battle.
May 29. In Eastern Visayas, eight high-powered firearms were added to the NPA arsenal in Northern Samar when six M16s, an M14, an M203 grenade launcher and rounds of ammunition were seized in a raid on an AFP detachment by Red fighters of the Rodante Urtal Command in Barangay Polangi, Catarman town, Northern Samar.
August 9. In the Southern Mindanao Region (SMR), members of the Armando Dumandan Command of the BHB confiscated 15 rifles in a five-minute raid on the 72nd IB detachment in Barangay Napungas, Asuncion, Davao del Norte without firing a single shot. Six M14s, eight Garands, an M16 and the patrol base’s communication radio were taken.
It became easy to enter the detachment when a sergeant of the Philippine Army, who is also the commander of the detachment at the neighboring village was taken prisoner at a checkpoint set up by the Red fighters. No soldier or paramilitary element was hurt because they offered no resistance. The sergeant was released after a few weeks.
August 30. In Eastern Visayas, ten automatic rifles–four M14s, four M16s and two carbines–were carried off by Red fighters of the Arnulfo Ortiz Command when they attacked the CAFGU detachment in Sitio Cambabang, Barangay Cogon, Basey town, Samar.
November 2. Despite the enemy’s taunts, the NPA Red fighters were able to play a ruse on them when they were able to enter the patrol base of the 72nd IB in Sitio New Kapatagan, Barangay Casoon, Monkayo, Compostela Valley, Mindanao. The NPA guerrillas were able to go near the detachment by wearing Special Forces uniforms.
It was too late when the enemy realized that they were outwitted by the 4th Pulang Bagani Company of the Merardo Arce Command of the NPA. The detachment commander, Cpl. Dominador Alegre, was quickly arrested and the CAFGU elements disarmed. The NPA took 18 firearms consisting of 10 Garands, five carbines, two M16s and an M14. An ICOM radio, ammunition and uniforms were also confiscated. Corporal Alegre was taken prisoner and released after a few weeks.
November 11. People’s guerrillas in NEMR once again carted off 18 firearms when they raided the compound of the Surigao Development Corporation (SUDECOR) in Surigao, Mindanao, and disarmed elements of the Special Civilian Armed Auxiliary (SCAA) who were guarding the big logging company. Military, police and paramilitary forces attempted a rescue but were ambushed by the NPA on their way to SUDECOR. As many as 20 enemy forces were killed and five were wounded in this firefight.
Tactical offensives in December 2009
A military officer was among 14 soldiers killed while at least 15 were wounded in firefights reported this December. The New People’s Army (NPA) also seized 17 weapons and other military equipment.
December 20. Thirteen firearms, including four high-powered rifles were seized by Red fighters without firing a single shot in a raid on the Philippine National Police station in San Narciso, Quezon, Luzon. The police fell for it when NPA guerrillas disguised themselves as soldiers of the Philippine Army. The AFP had just finished declaring San Narciso “NPA-free”.
December 18. In Davao Oriental, Mindanao, two elements of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) were killed and three others were wounded when they were attacked by Red fighters of Front 15 in Barangay Sibajay, Boston. The military forces were having lunch when they were besieged by guerrillas riding two dump trucks.
December 14. In the AM, 2Lt. Michael Angelo Quibuyen, commander of the Casay Detachment of the Philippine Army 49th IB and another soldier were killed when they clashed with guerrillas of the Celso Minguez Command in Barangay Tigkiw, Gubat, Sorsogon, Luzon.
The NPA unit was maneuvering to avoid a large military operation when it clashed with fascist troops. The Red fighters were the first to fire. Due to the military’s great embarassment, they covered their casualties with tarpaulin and spread word that these were Red fighters. Even so, the villagers still came to know the identities of the casualties.
December 10. In Samar, two elements of the Philippine Army were killed when they encountered NPA Red fighters in Barangay Binanggaran, Calbiga, Samar.
December 10. A radio operator of the 82nd IB Alpha Coy was killed when his military unit attempted to besiege an NPA platoon under the Napoleon Tumagtang Command of the NPA in Sitio Bayong, Barangay Manampunay, Leon, Iloilo, Panay Island.
December 3. Meanwhile, according to the latest correspondence reports from the field, seven and not three soldiers were killed when Red fighters of the Conrado Heredia Command of the NPA ambushed elements of the 25th IB Alpha Coy in Sitio Paraiso, Diwalwal, Monkayo, Compostela Valley, Mindanao.
In a statement, command spokesperson Ka Roel Agustin II reported the seizure once again of an FM Minimi light machine gun as well as two M16s, a .45 caliber pistol and other military equipment. At least 12 soldiers were wounded. AB had previously reported that four military troopers were wounded.