NPAs in southern Tagalog refuse Marcos' amnesty offer, to continue revolution

James Relativo - Philstar.com
NPAs in southern Tagalog refuse Marcos' amnesty offer, to continue revolution
This photo taken on July 30, 2017 shows guerrillas of the New People's Army (NPA) resting among bushes in the Sierra Madre mountain range, located east of Manila. Fuelled by one of the world's starkest rich-poor divides, a Maoist rebellion that began months before the first human landed on the moon plods on even though the country now boasts one of the world's fastest-growing economies.
AFP / Noel Celis

MANILA, Philippines — No member of the communist led New People's Army (NPA) in southern Tagalog will surrender their arms in exchange of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.'s amnesty — a pardon commonly given to people with political offenses.

Armando Cienfuego, spokesperson of the NPA's Southern Tagalog Regional Operational Command (Melito Glor Command) had this to say on Friday, a few days after Marcos announced that he will issue a proclamation granting amnesty to rebel returnees.

"The illegimiate US-Marcos-Duterte regime is dreaming if it thinks that NPA units would actually consider his amnesty offer [mentioned in his second State of the Nation Address]," Cienfuego said in a statement in Filipino.

"No member of NPA-ST will accept the amnesty offer in exchange of giving up the revolution. The red fighters firmly embrace the iron discipline of the NPA and truly believe its soundness."

The NPA, led by the Communist Party of the Philippines, have been waging an armed struggle since 1969 against foreign subjugation, landlessness and government corruption in the hopes of establishing a Maoist-inspired socialist republic.

While it had earlier been designated as a "terrorist" organization by the Anti-Terorism Council in December 2020, the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 19 dismissed petitions to outlaw the CPP-NPA as a terrorist entity.

The group also pointed out the administration's alleged hypocrisy in offering amnesties while continuing its militarization and "brutal violation of human rights" of both armed combatants and civilians.

"The lives of every red fighter are for the broad masses and not for the whims of the ruling classes. NPA fighters are ready to sacrifice their lives to advance the people's war towards victory," Cienfuego said.

"On the other hand, Marcos Jr.'s amnesty offer is proof that the government is afraid of the revolutionary movement's power to sustain and stregnthen itself in the midst of the semi-colonial and semi-feudal crisis."

'Revolutionary cause is greater'

Marco Valbuena, the CPP's chief information officer, on Tuesday hit Marcos' attempt at foiling the insurgency, saying that the "revolutionary cause is far greater than than any Marcos offer of amnesty."

The CPP leader said that history showed how the state had used prior amnesty offers as "sugar-coated bullets" against revolutionary forces.

"The US colonial government offered amnesty to Filipino freedom fighter Macario Sakay in 1905, but executed him later in 1907. In 1946, some leaders of the Hukbalahap were baited by the amnesty program of Quirino only to be murdered a few months later," Valbuena said.

"Installed into power by a combination of a military coup and giant mass movements, Corazon Aquino and Gloria Arroyo were pushed to declare amnesties and release a number political prisoners. Their regimes would later wage a brutal war of suppression marked by killings and massacres."

The legal activist human rights group Karapatan Monday criticized the amnesty offer to armed rebels, saying that a legislated amnesty is tantamount to a call for surrender "without the resolution of the root causes of the armed conflict."

A dying threat?

The government in April said that it now considers the CPP-NPA as a dying threat, boldly stating that the party and its armed wing will be "put to an end" in two years.

National Security Council assistant director general Jonathan Malaya claimed that there are currenly only "22 guerrilla front nationwide," including 18 that have been "severely weakened" by the intensified operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines

Past administrations have attempted to put a timeline to the death of the CPP-NPA for years, but none have succeeded.

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