National (as of 12/26/2007)

The founding chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines said Wednesday communist guerillas will hold “cultural activities” to celebrate the 39th anniversary of the movement.

Jose Ma. Sison dismissed as military propaganda reports that the CPP and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), would intensify their offensives against government troops to commemorate the founding of the movement.

“Propaganda lang ng military iyong sinasabing pagdating ng anibersaryo na putok dito putok doon panay offensive pero sa katotohanan ang karamihan ng ginagawa ay mga pag-aaral at pagtatanghal ng mga cultural activities,” Sison told ABS-CBN.

(Reports about the movement’s intensified offensives during the celebration are mere propaganda being spread by the military. In reality, what the communists do is to study the progress of the movement and perform cultural activities.)

Sison defended insurgents who have been criticized for launching armed attacks in various provinces. He said the movement also implements health and livelihood programs benefitting the poor people.

He said the armed revolution would continue to prosper as long as corrupt political leaders oppress the poor.

The NPA has been known to ambush small military and police units, raid isolated police stations to steal guns, kill suspected government informant and destroy company equipment to extort money from businesses. The armed rebellion has claimed thousands of lives.

Sison’s statement, meanwhile, contrasted the earlier declaration of the CPP urging its members to step up their offensives against the government.

In a statement on Tuesday, the CPP Central Committee directed all its members “to do our best to carry out the fighting tasks of our beloved party and make significant all-around advances in the Philippine revolution in the coming year.”

The CPP also ordered the NPA to “accelerate tactical offensives against the enemy in order to seize more weapons for building more units of the people’s army,”

The military placed its units on red alert Tuesday ahead of possible attacks by the NPA. The red alert will remain in effect from December 25 to 27.

The military began its unilateral three-week Christmas ceasefire on December 16 while the communist guerrillas declared a four-day truce over Christmas and New Year and hinted of a longer ceasefire if the Philippine government met certain conditions.

Both sides have been observing the practice almost yearly in this mainly Roman Catholic nation.

The CPP had earlier rejected a three-year ceasefire offered by the military. A CPP-NPA spokesman said the insurgents would agree to a longer truce if the military retreated to its barracks, among other conditions.

President Arroyo shelved peace talks in 2003, charging that the rebels were not interested in a political settlement and were intent only on seizing power by force. She has vowed to substantially reduce the 39 year-old guerrilla threat by the time she ends her six-year term in 2010. With a report from Agence France-Presse

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