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Philippines Table of Contents


Leadership and Organization


Figure 13. Areas of Insurgent Organization and Activity, 1989

Source: Based on information from Jose Maria Sison, with Ranier Werning, The Philippine Revolution: The Leader's View, New York, 1989, xxii; and Stanley Karnow, In Our Image: America's Empire in the Philippines, New York, 1989, 429.

The CPP was nominally led by its Central Committee, which in 1989 had some thirty full and nine alternate members. In the party's decentralized structure, the Central Committee acted as the highest policy-making body and provided theoretical guidance to lower echelons. The Central Committee met infrequently, however, and real power was vested in members of its Political Bureau. The Political Bureau was thought to have at least nine members in 1989, but it attempted to meet only once every six months. Day-to-day decisions were made by a five-member Executive Committee. In late 1989, the committee included the party's acting chairman, Benito Tiamzon; Wilma Austria-Tiamzon, his wife; Ricardo Reyes; Romulo Kintanar; and Jose Maria Sison. Sison, the CPP's founder, was actively speaking and writing in support of the revolution while living in self-imposed exile in the Netherlands. Despite Sison's denials, the military maintained that he continued to direct the CPP from abroad as its chairman in absentia.

CPP political and military operations were monitored and controlled through a system of territorial and functional organs. Six territorial commissions directed the basic work of party political cadres and military commanders: Northern Luzon, Central Luzon, Southern Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao, and Manila-Rizal (see fig. 13). In keeping with the CPP's policy of "democratic centralism," party affairs were managed by committees at echelons down to village level. Beneath the territorial commissions were sixteen regional and island party committees, which oversaw front, district, and section committees. At the bottom of the CPP's organizational hierarchy were local party branches and barrio revolutionary committees. In a parallel organization, the NPA maintained operational commands at each level of the CPP structure to coordinate the movements' political and military struggle.

Less was known about the organization and function of the party's national-level functional commissions, but the existence of at least three--the National United Front Commission, the Finance Commission, and the Military Commission--seemed certain in l990. The Military Commission, whose apparent role was to direct and coordinate NPA activity, was directed by Executive Committeemember Romulo Kintanar, who was often described as the NPA's commander. Establishing, directing, and sustaining party front groups was the function of the United Front Commission, which guided the CPP-dominated National Democratic Front and other political fronts and, through the Middle Forces Department, the activities involved in pursuing the party's interests in other areas, such as relations with the Catholic Church. The CPP's Finance Commission presumably managed taxation, fundraising , and spending. Another organ, the National Organization Commission, reportedly was to be dissolved, along with the Manila-Rizal Commission, to form the National Urban Center Commission in mid-1990.

Data as of June 1991