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2005-11-28 09:57:00
Embassy Manila
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 05 MANILA 005506 



E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/29/2015


B. MANILA 5346

Classified By: Charge d'Affaires, a. i., Paul W. Jones for
reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (C) Summary: Asia's longest surviving Communist
insurgency remains entrenched in the social and political
landscape of the Philippines. The Communist Party of the
Philippines (CPP) is currently attempting to exploit domestic
political tensions to force the Arroyo Administration from
power, but with no real prospects of success from its own
efforts. Although the CPP's armed wing -- the New People's
Army (NPA) -- does not have the capability militarily to
defeat the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), its 130
guerrilla fronts continue to threaten internal security and
impede economic development. Philippine national security
officials are concerned about perceived links between the
Communists and Opposition political leaders. Peace talks
between the GRP and National Democratic Front (NDF) remain
suspended. Dutch authorities are reviewing the GRP's legal
evidence against CPP-NPA leader/NDF political
consultant/designated terrorist Jose Maria Sison, who has
been residing in Utrecht, Netherlands as a political refugee.
NDF representatives recently provided the Norwegian
Government - which has been a broker in the GRP-NDF peace
process -- with a proposal for a 120 day cease-fire and
possible return to the negotiating table. End Summary.


A Persistent Threat


2. (C) Asia's longest surviving communist insurgency -- the
CPP/NPA/NDF -- is active in most of the Philippines' 79
provinces. To maintain a support base at the grassroots
level, CPP/NPA cadre often provide free medical care,
education, and other social services to the rural poor,
especially in areas where the GRP remains only a distant
reality. These social services, as well as propaganda
against the often ineffective and corrupt central
governmental structure, help to explain the continued appeal
of the CPP/NPA/NDF to segments of the Philippines' rural and
urban population. (Note: An estimated 30 per cent of the
Philippines' total population is living below the national
poverty line. According to the World Health Organization,
more than two-thirds of the poor reside in rural areas. End

3. (C) At its peak during the 1980's, the NPA was at least
25,000 strong. But internal disputes -- exploited by the GRP
-- split the CPP/NPA into factions including the Alex
Boncayao Brigade (ABB), Revolutionary Workers
Party/Revolutionary Proletarian Army (RWP/RPA), and
Rebolusyunaryong Partido Manggagawa - Mindanao (RPM-M). By
1996, during the presidency of General Fidel V. Ramos, NPA
troop strength dropped to about 6,000, but rebounded to
approximately 12,000 during the late 1990's under President

Estrada, ostensibly due to the release of 8,000 to 16,000
CPP/NPA members from prison during a general amnesty.
According to current estimates, troop strength is now down to
about 8,000, with 130 guerrilla fronts.

4. (C) Despite declining numbers, the NPA remains a potent
force, responsible for the deaths of at least 80 police and
army personnel as well as 40 civilians during the first eight
months of 2005 (ref b). The NPA targets not only GRP
security forces but also internal dissenters, defectors,
suspected government informants, and those who fail to pay
"revolutionary taxes" or "permit to campaign" (PTC) fees.

5. (SBU) Between 1970 and 1991, the NPA allegedly also
killed 16 U.S. citizens -- six civilians and ten military
personnel. From 1989 to 2001, the NPA claimed responsibility
for or were primary suspects in at least nine
bombings/attempted bombings against U.S. facilities in the
Philippines using improvised explosives, rocket propelled
grenades, and/or Molotov cocktails. Over this same 13-year
period, the NPA took two Americans hostage in two separate
incidents. Since 2001, there have been no reported attacks
against U.S. citizens, although the NPA has periodically
warned that it will target any armed Americans that entered
its areas of control or influence, notably during U.S.
military disaster relief assistance after the December 2004
typhoons in northern Luzon.


Peace Talks Collapse, Attacks Increase


6. (SBU) Peace talks (begun in 1992) between the NDF --
composed of 17 organizations including the CPP/NPA -- and the
GRP collapsed in September 2005 when the NDF declared that it
would await the ouster of President Arroyo and reiterated its
demand for the removal of the CPP/NPA from the U.S. and
European Union lists of terrorist organizations. With the
GRP suspension of immunity guarantees for NDF negotiators,
CPP/NPA leaders vowed to step up armed attacks throughout the

7. (SBU) During the two week period of September 24-October
8, the CPP claimed at least 74 military actions -- 24 of
which were in Mindanao. The NPA continues to threaten
security and impede investment/development by launching
attacks on nearly a daily basis against the military and
police, commuter buses, cell sites, construction equipment,
and infrastructure. On October 9, five soldiers and three
civilians were killed by NPA land mines in Misamis
Occidental. Another NPA-planted land mine and ambush on
November 19 left nine soldiers dead and 20 wounded in Iloilo,
Western Visayas. From November 20 to November 29, the NPA
has additionally killed at least 13 Philippine soldiers,
wounded more than 35, and abducted a Philippine Marine
sergeant. In response to these attacks, PNP Director General
Arturo C. Lomibao recommended a revival of the rewards system
for the capture of CPP/NPA leaders wanted on criminal charges.

8. (SBU) The GRP Peace Negotiating Panel For Talks With the
CPP/NPA/NDF (GPNP-CNN) condemned the NPA's use of land mines
as a violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for
Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL)
signed by the GRP and NPA on March 16, 1998 (see para 19).
President Arroyo reportedly directed the AFP -- which vowed
to intensify its operations against the NPA -- to ensure that
there would be minimal casualties among GRP forces.

9. (SBU) NDF representatives contacted the Norwegian
Government in mid-November with a proposal for a 120 day
cease-fire and possible return to the negotiating table.
Norwegian Embassy contacts were cautiously optimistic about
this proposal but noted that the spike in NPA attacks since
September could possibly be a strategy to strengthen the
NDF's negotiating hand with the GRP. According to press
accounts on November 23, at least two Philippine lawmakers,
as well as the MILF leadership, have also called for an
AFP-NPA cease-fire to help spur peace talks. AFP General
Generoso Senga and CPP spokesperson Gregario "Ka Roger" Rosal
separately stated that a cease-fire during the Christmas
season was possible, but likely to be violated.


GRP Efforts Against the NPA


10. (C) The GRP's counterinsurgency campaign against the 130
guerrilla fronts of the NPA operating in 14 of the 16
geographical regions of the Philippines consumes the majority
of AFP and PNP resources, according to officials of the
Department of National Defense and Department of Interior and
Local Government. From January to June 2004 (the most recent
statistics available), there were 505 armed engagements
between the AFP and NPA. However, by and large, the AFP does
not undertake significant offensives or well-planned
campaigns against NPA forces, but rather depends on chance
encounters or retaliatory attacks -- even in the wake of the
recent upsurge of CPP/NPA military activity.

11. (C) The PNP, which is mandated to support the AFP's
counterinsurgency campaign, dedicates nearly half of its
intelligence collection and investigative activities toward
tracking members of the CPP/NPA, according to PNP sources.
With many of the PNP's tactical operations focused against
the CPP/NPA, PNP assets continue to be diverted away from
other law enforcement operations to include those against
Muslim terrorist organizations.


The Leftist Politicians


12. (SBU) The GRP has long pursued a non-military/law
enforcement approach to winning over CPP members and other
leftists. Under special provisions in the 1987 Constitution,
up to twenty percent of Congressional seats are reserved for
"party list" members, mostly to represent marginalized
sectors of society rather than a geographic constituency.
These far-left but legal groups include Bayan Muna,
Anakpawis, Gabriela, Anak ng Bayan, Migrante, and Suara
Bangsamoro. Six party list representatives are currently
serving in Congress: former NDF chairman Satur Ocampo,
Teodoro A. Casino, and Joel G. Virador of Bayan Muna;
International League of Peoples' Struggle (ILPS) -
International Coordinating Group (ILPS-ICG) chairman Crispin
Beltran and ILPS-International Coordinating Committee (ICC)
member Rafael Mariano of Anakpawis, and ILPS-ICC member Lisa
Largoza-Maza of Gabriela. (Note: The International League of
Peoples' Struggle was founded on May 25, 2001, in Zutphen,
Netherlands by the International Initiative Committee chaired
by CPP/NPA leader and chief political consultant to the NDF
Jose Maria Sison. According to its website, membership of
the ILPS is composed of over 200 organizations from at least
40 countries that "support the cause of national liberation,
democracy and social liberation against imperialism and all
reaction." End Note.)

13. (C) Opinions vary widely on the relationship between the
CPP/NPA/NDF and these legal leftist groups. Some --
including at senior levels of the GRP leadership (see para
14) -- view them as no more than Communist front
organizations, and have claimed that they are funneling
Congressional funds to the CPP/NPA as well as organizing
anti-Arroyo demonstrations. Others view the participation of
these groups in the legitimate political arena and
institutions as a success story of co-option of formerly
radical elements into the democratic process. Party list
members uniformly deny membership in the CPP.


National Security Advisor's View


14. (C) At the direction of National Security Advisor
Norberto Gonzales, the Philippine National Security Council
(NSC) passed to the U.S. Embassy on October 16 an NSC
analysis entitled "The Communist Movement's Role in the
Destabilization Campaign Against the Government." Key points

--- The CPP/NPA/NDF has gained a firm foothold in the
Philippines' mainstream politics with members of its front
organizations sitting in Congress;

--- The CPP/NPA/NDF will enter into a power sharing
arrangement with any coalition that can oust Arroyo from

--- The Communist movement is spreading propaganda,
organizing street protests, and infiltrating/forming
alliances with such opposition and civil society groups as
the Freedom from Debt Coalition, Council for the Defense of
Civil Liberties, Coalition for Truth, White Ribbon Movement,
Gloria Step Down Movement, United Opposition, Bangon
Pilipinas, Akbayan, and former President Estrada's Partido ng
Manggagawang Pilipino;

--- Party list groups such as Bayan Muna and Gabriela have
been attending organizational meetings, prayer and mass
rallies, and press conferences of mainstream opposition
groups under Senator Panfilo Lacson, FPJ widow Susan Roces,
"Brother" Eddie Villanueva, and former president Corazon

--- Communists were key organizers of a People's Tribunal
that is holding an impeachment trial against President Arroyo
outside the halls of Congress;

--- The NPA has increased its attacks on military and police
outposts, businesses, and telecommunications facilities, and
is targeting for assassination members of the GRP's national
security/intelligence team and congressmen who withdrew their
endorsements for the impeachment of Arroyo;

--- From August 20-22, the CPP Central Committee sponsored a
training course of 22 NPA fighters on Command Detonating
Explosives (CDX). One of the trainers was a Russian chemist.

15. (C) Gonzales in private meetings (ref a) has repeatedly
mentioned the real threat that the CPP/NPA poses to the
security of the Philippines over the long-term. He has cited
this as a reason for concluding a peace agreement with the
MILF in Mindanao so that additional resources can be deployed
against the CPP/NPA.


A Political Refugee and Designated Terrorist


16. (C) According to an Embassy contact, Dutch officials
are now reviewing the GRP's legal evidence against CPP/NPA
founder/leader and chief political consultant to the NDF,
Jose Maria Sison. (According to the Dutch Ambassador to the
Philippines, however, the legal file is very thin.) Sison,
who remains on the U.S. and EU lists of designated
terrorists, has been residing in the Netherlands since 1987.

17. (C) Due to the lack of an extradition treaty between
the GRP and the Royal Netherlands Government, rendition or
deportation of Sison by Dutch authorities would be necessary
to bring him to justice in the Philippines. Among the
potential stumbling blocks to such an action is Sison's
protection as a judicially recognized political refugee under
the Refugee Convention and Article 3 of the European
Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental
Freedoms. GRP officials would also have to provide
assurances that he would not face the death penalty if
convicted; according to some sources, a recent letter from
President Arroyo finally provided such an assurance.




18. (C) We see no signs that the CPP/NPA has any intention
of abating its decades-old effort to overthrow the Philippine
government or that it has any hope of ever achieving this
goal. It continues to survive in reaction to chronic
nationwide problems of poor governance, inadequate
governmental resources to combat poverty, enduring resentment
over official corruption and incompetence, as well as
societal remnants of Philippine-style feudalism that continue
to favor a small number of political and economic dynasties.
The CPP/NPA's nationwide presence nonetheless make it a
significant threat in the eyes of the GRP, which remains
incapable of defeating it militarily.


Text of GRP Press Statement


19. (SBU) The complete text of a November 23 press statement
by the GRP Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace
Process - Peace Negotiating Panel For Talks with the
CPP/NPA/NDF follows.


We view with sadness and regret, the salutary message of the
Communist Party to its New People's Army congratulating the
guerrillas for its "string of successful tactical offensives"
in the past two weeks.

We are appalled on how such a killing spree and consequent
human suffering perpetuated on Filipinos by fellow Filipinos
can be celebrated as an occasion for celebration.

We view with particular alarm, the New People's Army use of
landmines in its assault against government troops. The GRP
considers the use of any kind of land mines as a violation of
the spirit and letter of the Comprehensive Agreement on the
Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law
(CARHRIHL) signed by the GRP and NDF on March 16, 1998.

Part III, Article 2 of the CARHRIHL reads: "This agreement
seeks to confront and prevent the most serious human rights
violations in terms of civil and political rights, as well as
to uphold, protect and promote the full scope of human rights
and fundamental freedoms including: The right not to be
subjected to forced evacuations, food and other forms of
economic blockades and indiscriminate bombings, shellings,
strafing, gunfire and the use of land mines."

The CARHRIHL clearly and deliberately does not distinguish
between victim-detonated and command-detonated land mines.
However the CPP defends use of land mines by citing
international conventions.

We likewise condemn the NPA's persistent attacks on civilian
targets such as Globe cell sites, which is a violation of
CARHRIHL, Part IV, Article 4, item 4 which states: "Civilian
population and civilians shall be treated as such and shall
be distinguished from combatants and, together with their
property, shall not be the object of attack. They shall
likewise be protected against indiscriminate aerial
bombardment, strafing, artillery fire, mortar fire, arson,
bulldozing and other similar forms of destroying lives and
property, from the use of explosives as well as the
stockpiling near or in their midst, and the use of chemical
and biological weapons."

We question the National Democratic Front's good faith when
it interprets the straightforward
language of the CARHRIHL to justify its violations and mangle
the spirit and letter of this sacred agreement.


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