NPA launches offensive vs gov't in 'insurgency free' Quezon province

James Relativo - Philstar.com
NPA launches offensive vs gov't in 'insurgency free' Quezon province
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 — The New People's Army confirmed a tactical offensive against the 85th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army in the province of Quezon — a move that they say would "bring justice to all victims of the 85th IBPA."

The military earlier confirmed that five members of the Citizens Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) were killed in an encounter with NPA rebels in Sitio Pagasa, Barangay Mapulot, Tagkawayan on Friday.

This comes less than two months after Quezon Gov. Angelina Tan and officials of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, Southern Luzon Command and Philippine National Police declared the province to be "rebel free."

"The ambush carried out by the New People's Army signals and opens up the more popular tactical offensives in the whole province," said Ka Cleo del Mundo, spokesperson of NPA-Quezon, in a statement in Filipino released on Friday.

"This gives justice to all the victims of the 85IBPA. This is for the masses that we love who experienced torture, harassment and murder at the hands of ruthless soldiers under the US-Duterte and current US-Marcos II regime."

The NPA claims that around 20,000 cases of human rights violation were recorded in the region under former President Rodrigo Duterte.

They said that the government "justified" the said actions in the name of counter-insurgency through combat military operations and alleged fake surrenderees.

Col. Dennis Cana, spokesman for the Southern Luzon Command, earlier said that the encounter occured at around 7 a.m. 

Conflicting reports have been shared by the opposing sides, with the military stating that there were three militiamen and one soldier wounded.

The NPA, however, claimed that four from the military were wounded while members of the Red Army allegedly fled safely.

The encounter reportedly lasted for over an hour, where NPA rebels were said to have confiscated high-powered firearms.

Amnesty refusal

President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. earlier this year offered an amnesty to members of the NPA, a revolutionary group led by the Communist Party of the Philippines. 

The NPA's Southern Tagalog Regional Operational Command (Melito Glor Command) in July refused the said amnesty.

"Our tactical offensive is a testament that the NPA will continue to prosper in Quezon province. We will not fail," continued Del Mundo.

"We continue to recieve the widespread support of the people because the revolution continued to be just."

The NPA has 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.

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