CPP anniversary marred by protest from ‘peace’ groups

“Peace advocates” lead a protest rally against communist rebels in front of the Iloilo provincial capitol. (Jennifer P. Rendon photo)

By Rjay Zuriaga Castor and Jennifer P. Rendon

The observation of the 55th anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) has been met with a protest staged by groups claiming to advocate for “peace.”

Anti-insurgency organizations Alliance for Peace, Environment, and Sustainability, and Sentrong Alyansa ng Mamamayan para sa Bayan held a counter rally in front of the Iloilo Provincial Capitol on Tuesday morning, December 26.

“Ang ini nga aktibidad natun isa ka condemnation rally para ipakita natun sa mga remaining pa nga mga miyembro pa sang CPP-NPA-NDF nga wala kita dapat sang pagaselebrahon sa ila subong nga anibersaryo,” said Ka Rey Hachuela, the group’s spokesperson.

“This is a condemnation rally to show to the remaining members of the CPP-NPA-NDF that there is nothing to celebrate with their anniversary.]

Members of the groups were holding placards with messages such as “Prayer for peace and condemnation to those victims of atrocities, deception, and lies of the CPP-NPA-NDF,” “Yes for Peace,” “End CPP-NPA-NDF Now,” and “Do not deceive the children, the youth, and the students,” among others.

The CPP was created on December 26, 1968 – three years after the dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos was elected into the presidency. It was founded by Jose Maria “Joma” Sison, a leading figure in the communist movement in the country who died on December 16, 2022.

The New People’s Army (NPA) is the CPP’s armed component while the National Democratic Front (NDF) is its political wing.

Hachuela described the CPP-NPA-NDF as “traitors,” “deceptive,” and “violent” enemies of the government who wreak havoc on the lives of the Filipino people and the communities.

“Ang atun subong nga ginapakita sa ila ang almost 55 years nga pag exist sang mga terorista nga grupo nga CPP-NPA, nagtuga lamang sang grabe nga kahalitan sa aton mga pumulyo, sa mga kabataan, sa ila nga buas damlag,” Ka Rey added.

[What we are showing is that the almost 55 years of existence of the CPP-NPA-NDF has only caused severe harm to our communities, to the youth, especially their future.]

He asserted that the CPP-NPA-NDF had achieved nothing but the pointless deaths of many innocent lives in pursuit of their godless and soulless ideology.

“Let’s continue condemning the existence of the CPP-NPA-NDF and give our wholehearted support to end terrorism and insurgency. For several decades, we have not gained any benefits from them… just pain and misfortune. Let’s put an end to their mania and terroristic activities that have destroyed families, killed innocent lives, curtailed our freedom and dampened our future,” he said.

As it celebrates its 55th anniversary on Tuesday, the CPP has ordered its guerrilla forces to temporarily halt their offensive operations against the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) nationwide.

The suspension of guerrilla activities commenced from 12:01 midnight on December 25 to 11:59 pm on December 26.

“The ceasefire declaration is also in solidarity with the people’s traditional holiday celebration,” said CPP spokesperson Marco Valbuena.

This marks the first instance of the CPP announcing a unilateral ceasefire since the breakdown of its peace talks with the Philippine government during the administration of former president Rodrigo Duterte in 2018.

Earlier this October, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. expressed confidence that Western Visayas will be free from communist insurgency, citing a decline in the number of communist rebels in the region.

“We must keep on going and we’ll wait for your invitation to come back when you declare this area insurgent-free… I think it’s achievable,” Marcos said in a situation briefing with security officers in Camp General Macario Peralta Jr. in Jamindan, Capiz.