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Communists mark 40th with call to arms

By Vaudine England
BBC News

Members of the New Peoples Army (file photo)
Peace talks have been suspended since 2004

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) has marked its 40th anniversary with a call to arms.

It outlined a strategy of confronting government and military officials, and their relatives and friends.

Self-exiled leader Jose Maria Sison said more party members were needed, and expected, amid financial turmoil.

The communists gained public support during the martial law years of the 1970s but lost dominance when the country returned to democracy in 1986.

The party statement said it would identify those who were "perpetrating treason, plunder and human rights violations".

Such officials would be subject to arrest or battle by guerrilla fighters, it asserted.

The CPP's armed wing, the New Peoples' Army (NPA), has an estimated 5,000 members and has been fighting the government since 1969 in one of Asia's longest-running insurgencies.

'Gigantic task'

Mr Sison's statement, issued from his base in the Netherlands, appeared to admit a need for the party to work harder to achieve its goals.

He expressed the hope that current global financial turmoil would swell the ranks of his party, which he said was based on Marxism-Leninism-Maoism.

Mr Sison said the rebel group already had "tens of thousands" of members but more were needed for "gigantic tasks ahead."

"Tens of thousands of cadres and hundreds of thousands of members are needed for a new great leap in the advance of the Philippine revolution," he said in his message.

"The crisis conditions inflict terrible suffering on the people, but also incite them to wage revolutionary struggle," he said.

"They are therefore favourable for the rapid growth and advance of the CPP and other organised revolutionary forces of the Filipino people," he said.

He also blamed "the bankruptcy of the US-instigated policies of neoliberal globalisation and war on terror" for the "unprecedentedly rapid worsening of the crisis of the world capitalist system and the Philippine ruling system".

'Abuses'

Mr Sison is facing charges before Dutch courts for conspiring to assassinate his former comrades, Romulo Kintanar and Arturo Tabara.

Groups of former members of the CPP are pursuing compensation for what they say have been brutal purges within the movement.

The communists and the government regularly announce a Christmas ceasefire, although government troops were on alert on Friday's CPP anniversary.

Each accuse the other of rights abuses, and of extracting "taxes" from local landowners or business people around the country.

Peace talks between the two sides were suspended in 2004 after the rebels blamed the government for their inclusion on a US list of terrorist organisations - a step which hindered fundraising for Mr Sison and his colleagues in Europe.

In an informal meeting brokered by Norway in Oslo early this month, rebel negotiators rejected an indefinite ceasefire pushed by the government as a condition for resuming formal talks.

No new meetings have been scheduled.



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SEE ALSO
Philippines rebel in Dutch court
31 Aug 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: The Philippines
23 Aug 08 |  Country profiles


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