By RAYMUND B. VILLANUEVA
Kodao Productions / Bulatlat
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) celebrated its 50th founding anniversary Dec. 26 in many regions nationwide despite the government’s refusal to reciprocate its unilateral ceasefire declaration, the group’s information bureau announced.
“In the guerrilla areas, NPA (New People’s Army) Red fighters and Party members gathered in fiesta-like assemblies together with the peasant masses from nearby barrios with food and cultural programs,” the CPP said in a statement.
The NPA implemented its temporary ceasefire since December 24 despite relentless military offensives by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). No fire fights happened during the NPA’s unilateral ceasefire from December 24 to 26.
“In the cities, Party members and activists held meetings and small gatherings under the nose of police and military intelligence agents,” the group’s information bureau revealed.
Last week, members of the Revolutionary Council of Trade Unions, an underground organization of workers, held a rally in downtown Manila as a “warm up” activity prior to yesterday’s anniversary.
Abroad, a rally was held in Hong Kong last Sunday by Filipino migrants in unity with the CPP celebrations.
An assembly was also planned in The Netherlands where the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) International Office is based, the CPP said.
President Rodrigo Duterte ordered Saturday the destruction of all Reds, both combatants and civilians, marking the first Christmas and New Year that his government refused to declare a ceasefire.
In response to ongoing military operations against communists, NPA guerrillas staged tactical offensives in the Bicol region, Kalinga Province in the North, Compostela Valley in Mindanao and Northern Samar in the Visayas, scoring victories that netted them dozens of firearms while inflicting casualties on both AFP and paramilitary forces.
In Barangay Western Uma in Lubuagan, Kalinga last December 23, Sunday, the NPA’s Lejo Cawilan Command overran a detachment of the 77th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (PA) and carted away 30 firearms.
The detachment’s commander, a Sergeant Elon D. Bayan, was reportedly killed while three paramilitary troopers were injured. The NPA said they also suffered one casualty in the attack.
The NPA accused the said unit and its Citizens Armed Force Geographical Unit (Cafgu) of harassing and restricting the movements of residents in the area whom they accuse of being rebel supporters.
The government troopers also instigated gambling and “anti-social” activities in the communities, the NPA said.
The attack followed another raid of a military patrol base in Barangay New Tubigon, Sibagat town, Agusan del Sur where they carted away 24 high powered firearms “without firing a single shot.”
The Red Fighters also took two soldiers of the 3rd Special Forces Battalion and 12 paramilitary troopers captive. The NPA assured that their prisoners of war are being treated humanely under International Humanitarian Laws.
Earlier, the NPA also launched successful tactical offensives in Sorsogon and Northern Samar provinces.
In Las Navas town in Northern Samar last December 22, a government soldier was killed while two others when attacked by the NPA.
Army Private First Class Alvin Avila died on the spot while Private Ivan Anthony Ignao Michael Ocasla were wounded.
The NPA in Sorsogon attacked a Philippine National Police station in Magallanes town, inflicting injuries on three police personnel before withdrawing after a ten-minute fire fight.
Aside from projecting nationwide strength on the CPP’s 50th founding anniversary, the successive NPA attacks are seen as the guerrillas’ response to massive military operations against civilian communities.
Since early December bombings and military operations in the Kalabugao plains straddling the tri-boundary of Agusan del Sur, Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental in Mindanao have forced indigenous peoples and civilian communities to flee.
Col. Edgardo de Leon, commander of the 403rd Infantry Brigade, said the bombings and military operations are meant to disrupt the CPP’s anniversary celebrations.
“We discovered a major NPA hideout that is probably a projected venue of the CPP anniversary celebration,” de Leon said.
Meanwhile, CPP and NDFP’s respective websites, prwc.net and ndfp.org have become inaccessible since yesterday.
“The CPP’s website became inaccessible as it was under attack likely by the US-trained AFP cyberwarfare group. But in social media, the hashtags #CPP50 and #LetsCelebrate were the top Twitter trending topics in the Philippines for several hours since early morning and was still trending as of mid afternoon,” the CPP Information Bureau said.