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Philippines Table of Contents


The Communist Insurgency

The Philippine communist insurgency of the 1990s was rooted in the nation's history of peasant rebellion. Rural revolts-- isolated and unsuccessful--were common during the early part of the twentieth century and before. Discontent among peasants over land tenancy and growing population pressures inspired increasing violence in the 1930s, especially in Central Luzon where isolated peasant rebellions gave way to better organized, sometimes revolutionary movements. After World War II, tensions between peasants and the government-backed landlords grew, leading to the Huk rebellion. Formerly anti-Japanese guerrillas, the Huk (see Glossary) fighters were associated with the Communist Party of the Philippines (Partido Kommunista ng Pilipinas--PKP), which had been established in 1930. The rebellion waned during the early 1950s, but Huk supporters and the remnants of the Huk army later played important roles in the founding of the NPA in the late 1960s.

The CPP guerrilla movement, the NPA, was a successor to the PKP-Huk actions. Jose Maria Sison and a handful of young revolutionaries founded the CPP--Marxist Leninist, now usually referred to as the CPP, in Central Luzon on December 26, 1968. It soon became the core communist political organization, leaving just a small remnant of the original PKP. The NPA was formed the following March with sixty former Huk fighters. The new party has been a result of an internal schism in the parent PKP, created by ideological differences and by personal animosity between Sison and PKP leaders. The CPP pursued a Maoist-inspired program unlike the Soviet-sponsored PKP. The PKP eventually renounced armed insurrection and, in 1990, was an inconsequential, quasi-legal political party with about 5,000 members. The outlawed CPP, meanwhile, aggressively pursued its guerrilla war, and in 1990 fielded some 18,000 to 23,000 full-time insurgents.

Data as of June 1991