Philippines Communist Insurgency Report – December 2018

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PSA’s Forward-Looking Assessment: Over the short term, PSA anticipates that the high level of uncertainty will affect the intensity of communist insurgency activity. Somewhat surprisingly, NPA violent activities increased significantly starting in July 2018, a trend that continued into August, however the level of violence began to go down in September.

Over the long term, the situation is also characterized by uncertainty depending on several factors – including the success of the government’s economic development policies.

Backchannel talks between government and communist representatives are still on hold indefinitely. The government has set preconditions that are unlikely to be accepted by communist leadership.

In terms of geography, NPA activity will continue to take place in rural areas throughout the country. There are a few exceptions including Cebu province and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), as well as some areas in the Luzon and Visayas regions.

PSA notes, however, that there have been recorded arrests in urban areas, including Metro Manila and its peripheries. Urban mobilization activities, such as protests and recruitment from urban leftist organizations, are expected to continue.

The communist insurgency is still characterized by the following tactics and techniques:

Targeting Corporations:

  • Extortion
  • Arson
  • Raids that involve the seizure of firearms

Targeting Security Forces

  • Assassinations
  • Harassment (limited engagements with small arms fire)
  • Small arms and IED ambushes

The majority of violent incidents will still be armed encounters that result from government operations targeting communist insurgents.

The NPA historically has an infrequent capability to conduct large-scale and coordinated attacks against multiple targets. Nationwide, no operations of that level of sophistication occurred in 2018. PSA believes that this is indicative of diminished NPA capability in the face of government offensives. The August 10 raid of a Northern Samar police station stands out as the high end of NPA capability this year.