CPP denounces additional EDCA sites on NPA's 54th anniversary

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 29) — Communist guerrillas are denouncing the expanded access of American troops in the country as they mark their 54th anniversary on Wednesday, calling also on members to continue the armed struggle.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said the decades-long war of its armed wing, the New People's Army (NPA), proves to be an effective strategy in its bid for what it calls national freedom and democracy.

"The preservation and nationwide growth of the NPA through more than five decades of fighting clearly proves the correctness of the strategy and tactics set forth by the Party for waging protracted people's war in the Philippines," the CPP's Central Committee said.

"The NPA faces heavier and greater tasks ahead. We need to surmount and defeat the intensified campaigns of encirclement and armed suppression being carried out by the US puppet army," it added. "We must continue to accumulate strength by smashing the AFP part by part in order to bring the people's war from its current level to the next higher level."

The CPP also lashed out at what it describes as the Marcos administration's neo-liberal economic policies, and the plan of the United States to increase its presence in Philippine bases as a way to counter East Asian giant China.

On March 22, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said the Philippines and the United States have already identified the locations for the four new Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) sites in the country that will be "scattered around the Philippines" as a defense strategy.

RELATED: US dictates the terms of EDCA – Bayan Muna

This was the first anniversary of the NPA since Jose Maria "Joma" Sison, CPP's founding chairman, died on Dec. 17 last year. At the time, the Department of National Defense said his death was a symbol of the "crumbling hierarchy of the CPP-NPA-NDF (National Democratic Front)."

Colonel Medel Aguilar, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson, said Sison's death would also weaken the underground movement.

On Wednesday, Aguilar said the communist insurgency is nearing its end as the CPP-NPA only has a "few remaining hardcores and deceived supporters."

"The most difficult challenge and a bitter pill to swallow is the realization of the CPP of its irrelevance in the life of the Filipino people," he added.

Aguilar, however, pointed out the CPP can take credit for making the government realize its deficiencies in delivering basic services.

Meanwhile, a group of individuals claiming to be former rebels trooped to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to seek a dialogue on a proposed bill in Congress giving protection to human rights activists.

"We are expecting for a dialogue after the Holy Week and then the Commission on Human Rights will change their mind and position to join the call of the people that the dangerous, and very ominous, House Bill 77, which is a ploy and scheme of the CPP-NPA-NDF to protect their underground operations must be rejected once and for all," said Jeffrey "Ka Eric" Celis, secretary-general of SAMBAYANAN.

United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders Mary Lawlor recently called on the national government to enact the bill into law, highlighting that human rights defenders are being attacked, killed, and harassed in the Philippines.

READ: UN official urges passage of PH law protecting human rights defenders