The Armed Struggle
Brief Background on the CPP/NPA/NDF Armed Struggle
Formed in December 1968 by literature professor Jose Maria Sison along with several student revolutionaries, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) is an underground political organization of Marxist ideologues that seeks to overthrow the national government through armed struggle. In March 1969, its military wing, the New People’s Army (NPA) was founded.
The NPA, which had its roots from the Hukbalahap revolutionaries during World War II, grew progressively during the time of President Ferdinand Marcos. Large numbers of peasants and student activists went up the mountains to join the armed struggle against government corruption, and lack of land reform and development in rural communities.
In April 1973, the National Democratic Front (NDF), a coalition of extreme left leaning political parties, trade unions, and other allied groups, was established. Among its member organizations are the CPP-NPA.
During the 1980s, violent clashes between the NPA combatants and military forces resulted in heavy casualties. The NDF-led CPP-NPA fought against foreign ownership of the country’s resources. Their attacks targeted foreign-owned and operated mines, construction companies, logging concessions, among others.
As Marcos was overthrown by a popular non-violent and prayerful mass revolution in 1986, the NPA went to operating in every province in the country, gathering thousands of recruits and sympathizers in the countryside.
When President Corazon Aquino stepped into power, grassroots support for the revolutionary movement decreased. To hold negotiations, the Aquino government and the CPP-NPA-NDF agreed to a 60-day ceasefire in 1987. However, peace talks took a standstill until President Fidel Ramos established an amnesty and negotiation process in 1992.
Over the past 20 years, the strength of the communist forces weakened due to brutal purging of suspected government informers and those who opposed the party’s leadership.
These days, the NPA continue to operate in rural areas while their founder, Sison, and other senior leaders live in exile in the Netherlands.
To date, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) estimates that the movement has only 4,111 members.