PNP, AFP prepared for NPA attacks as Reds declare mourning period for Joma Sison

Anjo Bagaoisan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 18 2022 06:35 PM

MANILA — The Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said Sunday they are prepared for any possible attack or offensive by the rebel New People’s Army (NPA) in the days approaching the 54th anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) this December 26.

This also as the CPP declared a period of mourning following the death of their founding chairman Jose Maria Sison on Friday and allowed guerrillas to stage offensives against government forces.

The CPP’s Central Committee said in a statement released Sunday it was dedicating the upcoming anniversary at the end of the 10-day mourning period to Sison’s memory.

Units of the CPP’s armed wing were ordered to “silently perform” a 21-gun salute at daybreak of December 26 in tribute to the founding chairman.

“During this period of mourning, the NPA can stage tactical offensives against the rampaging fascist forces to defend the people,” the statement read.

Both the PNP and AFP said they have not received or monitored any serious credible threats related to Sison’s death or the CPP anniversary.

PNP spokesperson Col. Jean Fajardo said police mobile forces and the Special Action Force have been deployed to areas with previously recorded attacks connected to the NPA.

She added more police have been sent to stations and detachments that are seen as vulnerable to rebel attacks and harassment.

“So far wala tayong nare-receive na any serious threat relating po sa forthcoming anniversary ng CPP sa darating na December 26, but nonetheless hindi po tayo nagko-kompyansa at ‘yong ating intelligence monitoring po ay tuloy-tuloy in coordination with other intelligence units po,” Fajardo said in a phone interview. 

The PNP has already gone on full alert since Thursday, both for the CPP anniversary and the holiday season, with police leaves put on hold.

More than 115,000 police have been deployed nationwide under the “Oplan Ligtas Paskuhan 2022”, Fajardo said.

For the military’s part, AFP spokesperson Col. Medel Aguilar called the CPP’s statement on further attacks “irresponsible”.

“Reckless that they never consider what our people want - PEACE,” he said in a Viber message.

However, he expressed hope the rebel group would choose a different path.

“We pray that they will already be enlightened to abandon armed struggle,” Aguilar said in a separate text message.

“For the security and safety of our communities, we will never let our guard down.”

Philippine law enforcement has not yet disclosed its action on the possible return of Sison’s remains to the Philippines.

The self-exiled figurehead of the Philippine communist movement died at 83 on Saturday after a 2-week confinement in Utrecht, The Netherlands, his residence since the late 1980s.

He said in 2018 he was determined to physically go back home whether he was alive or dead.

The CPP Central Committee added in their statement they await the homecoming of Sison’s remains and will give members time to pay their respects once his ashes arrive.

CPP chief information officer Marco Valbuena told ABS-CBN News they have already been talking with Sison’s family about the arrangements.

"I think we have to first give private time to [Sison’s wife] Ka Julie and the Sison family before settling the matter of Ka Joma's ‘homecoming’, he said Sunday via e-mail.

A public viewing of Sison’s remains in Utrecht was announced for December 18 to 22 before his interment on December 27.

Presidential adviser on peace, reconciliation and unity Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr. on Saturday called Sison’s death “the end of an era” in Philippine history which was defined by armed hostilities.

“With the death of Mr. Sison, it is our hope that it will also put an end to the local communist armed conflict that claimed the lives of so many Filipinos and pushed back development in the countryside,” he said in a statement.

“Now is the time for all of us Filipinos to unite and work together to bring a just and lasting peace to our country.” 

The National Task Force To End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), meanwhile, repeated calls by Galvez and the Department of National Defense for remaining communist rebels to surrender their arms and return to the government’s fold.