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New People's Army
Native name Bagong Hukbong Bayan
Dates of operation March 29, 1969
Leader(s) Bernabe Buscayno
Motives Proletarian revolution
Active region(s) Philippines
Ideology Maoism
Notable attacks U.S. Army Colonel James N. Rowe assassination
Status Designated as Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. State Department[1]
Designated as terrorist group by EU Common Foreign and Security Policy[2]
File:New NPA flag.svg

The current flag of the NPA

One of the NPA's older flags

The New People's Army (NPA) (Filipino: Bagong Hukbong Bayan) is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) having 6,000 to 10,000 strong members as estimated by the United States C.I.A.. It was formed and founded by Bernabe Buscayno A.K.A. "Commander Dante" on March 29, 1969. The Maoist NPA conducts its armed guerrilla struggle based on the strategical line of protracted 'people's war'. The NPA collects "revolutionary taxes" in areas where it operates mostly from businesses.[3] This includes mining and logging operations - especially foreign owned enterprises that provides employment to the people with the belief that crippling the country's economy would give favor for a revolution to occur.

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The Communist Party of the Philippines refers to the NPA as "the tax enforcement agency of the people’s revolutionary government".[4] In 2014, Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Zagala, speaking for the Armed Forces of the Philippines said "[the communist rebels] have lost their ideological mooring and now engaged in extortion [activities]."[3]

The NPA is designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. State Department[1] and as a terrorist group by the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy.[2] The Government of the Philippines, however, has delisted the NPA as a terrorist organization in 2011 [5] and has resumed preliminary peace talks pending formal negotiations with the NPA's parent political organization, the CPP.[6] There have been reports of the Chinese government shipping arms to the NPA.[7] Due to this, the NPA got an unknown number of Type 56 assault rifle.

Peace negotiations have recently reached an impasse. The Philippine government has specifically drafted a "new framework" which seeks to end the 27-year-long stalemate in the talks, hoping to build ground with the leftists rebels that is more comprehensive than human rights, the only issue on which the negotiating parties agree.[8]


The 1960s saw a revival in nationalism and patriotism, especially among the youth and students, in the Philippines. The ongoing Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China, sparked a renewed interest in Marxist study, with emphasis on lessons from the Chinese Revolution. National democratic organizations such as the Kabataang Makabayan and other progressive groups began to see the need for a renewed armed struggle base upon Mao's strategy of protracted people's war. On December 26, 1968, the Communist Party of the Philippines was re-established on Marxist-Leninist-Mao Zedong Thought line. Adopting the strategy of protracted people's war, the CPP immediately went about organizing a new people's army. The CPP had previously made contact with former members of the Hukbong Mapagpalayang Bayan (HMB) - to which the Huks changed their name in the 50s - in Central Luzon. On March 29, 1969, the New People's Army or NPA was formed. It had only 72 fighters and was equipped with light weapons. After its initial formation, the CPP and the NPA dispersed and established regional cells in several parts of the country.

Second Great Rectification Movement

In the 1990s internal criticism about mistakes in the 1980s led to the Second Great Rectification Movement, launched in 1992 and largely completed in 1998, leading to a resurgence in the Philippine insurgency. The Second Rectification ended internal purges of the movement that killed hundreds of members on allegations of being deep penetration agents of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine intelligence community. Former CPP-NPA cadre Lualhati Milan Abreu's award-winning memoir "Agaw-Dilim Agaw Liwanag"[9] chronicled the executions.

The Rectification Movement, despite its successes also resulted in a series of splits within the Party and even the People's Army. The Alex Boncayao Brigade, notorious for targeting policemen and officials that were allegedly corrupt, bolted out of the party while some ended up forming groups such as the Revolutionary Proletarian Army and the Rebolusyonaryong Hukbong Bayan.

The NPA claims responsibility for the assassination of U.S. Army Colonel James "Nick" Rowe, founder of the U.S. Army Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) course, in 1989. Colonel Rowe was part of a military assistance program to the Philippine Army. The NPA insist that this made him a legitimate military target.[10][11]

After September 11, 2001 World Trade Center attacks

This group was designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the United States in August 2002 and by the European Union in November 2005.[2][12] The NPA's founder, Bernabe Buscayno, lives in the Philippines in peace but under close watch by the government. The NPA operates mostly in the rural areas and their targets often include military, police, government informers, and rural residents who refuse to pay "revolutionary taxes".[13]

The Arroyo administration has been negotiating intermittently with delegates of NPA in European countries.[citation needed]

The arrest of a Naxalite guerrilla by Indian security forces suggested links with the NPA, who were said to have traveled to India to teach them how to conduct guerrilla warfare against the army and police.[14]

In March, 2008, AFP chief Hermogenes Esperon Jr., claimed that the New People's Army (NPA) rebels had only around 4,900 members, significantly down from 26,000 at its peak in 1980's. NPAs currently fight in 10 of 81 Philippine provinces from 69 in 1986. Forty thousand people have died in the conflict since 1969.[15]

Amnesty Proclamation

On September 5, 2007, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed Amnesty Proclamation 1377 for members of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People's Army; other communist rebel groups; and their umbrella organization, the National Democratic Front (Philippines). The amnesty will cover the crime of rebellion and all other crimes "in pursuit of political beliefs," but not including crimes against chastity, rape, torture, kidnapping for ransom, use and trafficking of illegal drugs and other crimes for personal ends and violations of international law or convention and protocols "even if alleged to have been committed in pursuit of political beliefs." The National Committee on Social Integration (NCSI) will issue a Certificate of Amnesty to qualified applicants. Implementing rules and regulations are being drafted and the decree will be submitted to the Senate of the Philippines and the House of Representatives of the Philippines for their concurrence. The proclamation becomes effective only after Congress has concurred.[16]

Lucena prison raid

NPA rebels disguised as Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency personnel had raided a prison in Lucena, Quezon Province,[17][18] overpowering the guards and freeing rebel prisoners they deemed to be "political prisoners."[19] Two of the seven people deemed political prisoners did not escape with the NPA raiders, opting to be cleared of any wrongdoing by lawful, legal means.[20] Other NPA rebels held in other prisons were to be moved into secured facilities.[21]

Morong 43

There were 43 people arrested at a community health meeting in Morong, Rizal on February 6, 2010. They were accused of being part of the NPA. On December 10, 2010, President Benigno Aquino III ordered the release of 38 of the 43 because the Morong 43 case had due process violations. Seven of the released were reported to have returned to the mountains to continue the NPA's armed struggle. The last 5 admitted being part of the NPA and are being prosecuted for various criminal offenses including murder, extortion, and other offenses.[22]

Attack on three Surigao mines

The NPA conducted attacks on October 3, 2011 against three large-scale mining corporations in Surigao del Norte. The spectacular attacks spanned only three hours but resulted in grave damages, including the burning of ten dump trucks, eight backhoes, two barges and a guest house. The mining firms attacked include the Taganito Mining Corporation at Taganito village in Claver town, the 4K Mining at Cadiano village, also in Claver, and the Thpal Mining located near the Taganito Mining Corp. compound. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) claimed that the NPA attacked the mining firms because of their failure to pay "revolutionary taxes."[23]

Attack on Commando Unit

On the 27th of May, 2013, the NPA ambushed a truck in Allacapan, Cagayan, transporting an elite police commando unit, by first detonating a roadside bomb and then opening fire. The attack killed 7 police commandos and wounded 8 more. The attack came shortly after the government suspended all peace talks with the NPA, following the rebels refusal to accept an "immediate ceasefire".[24]

Capture of Top Leaders

March 22, 2014 saw the arrest of Benito Tiamzon, chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA) in the Cebu province, along with his wife Wilma and five other members of the central committee of the CPP-NPA. Wilma Tiamzon is also the secretary general of the CPP-NPA. The arrest of the Tiamzons happened exactly a week before the 45th anniversary of the CPP-NPA on March 29.[25]

Current organization

The CPP, NPA and National Democratic Front (Philippines) (NDFP) have developed revolutionary mass organizations of workers, peasants, women, youth and cultural groups and organized them into over 100 guerrilla fronts covering more than 800 municipalities and 10,000 villages, in 70 out of the 81 provinces in the country.

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A guerrilla front covers some 6 to 8 municipalities.
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In 2013, America's Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated their strength at between 6,000 to 10,000.

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 In 2014, the Armed Forces of the Philippines estimated their strength at 4,000.[3]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Foreign Terrorist Organizations",,, retrieved 19 September 2012
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Council Implementing Regulation (EU) No 1285/2009". EUR-Lex. 2009-12-22. Retrieved 2010-03-18. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 FERNANDEZ, AMANDA (March 29, 2014). "NPA guerrillas mainly concentrated in north-eastern, southern Mindanao — AFP". Retrieved 30 March 2014. 
  4. "ABOUT THE NEW PEOPLE’S ARMY AND THPAL-SUMITOMO". [1]. December 23, 2011. 
  5. "NDFP opening statement on resumption of formal peace talks",,, retrieved 19 Sept. 2012
  6. "GPH and NDFP agree to continue meaningful discussions prior to formal talks",,, retrieved 19 September 2012
  7. SIPRI Yearbook 2002-2005, World Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers, 1999-2002, The Military Balance 2000-2001 to 2004-2005
  8. "Gov't drafts new framework to guide peace talks with leftist rebels"
  9. Abreu, Lualhati Milan (2009). Agaw Dilim Agaw Liwanag. Quezon City, Philippines: University of the Philippines Press. pp. 271. ISBN 978-971-542-617-6. 
  11. Bio, Rowe, James N. "Nick"
  12. Powell, Colin (2002-08-09). "Designation of a Foreign Terrorist Organization". U.S. State Department. Archived from the original on 2007-03-14. Retrieved 2007-03-17. 
  13. New People's Army (NPA), Federation of American Scientists.
  15. Abs-Cbn Interactive, NPAs down to 5,700[dead link]
  16., Arroyo signs amnesty proclamation for communists
  17. PDEA to conduct own probe on Quezon jailbreak. Retrieved on October 31, 2008.
  18. Manhunt on for 7 escaped Quezon inmates. Retrieved on October 31, 2008.
  19. Rebels storm jail, freeing seven.[dead link] Retrieved on October 31, 2008.
  20. 2 Quezon jail detainees stayed behind. Retrieved on October 31, 2008.
  21. High-risk NPA detainees to be transferred to secured facilities - Palace. Retrieved on October 31, 2008.
  22. After 10 months in jail, 38 members of 'Morong 43' set free | ABS-CBN News | Latest Philippine Headlines, Breaking News, Video, Analysis, Features
  23. GMA News (October 3, 2011). "NPA rebels attack 3 mining firms in Surigao del Norte". Retrieved April 6, 2012. 
  24. "Communist rebels kill Philippine commandos"

External links

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