In 1969, NPA was formed and the first violent incident took place in 1971. A year later, President Ferdinand Marcos introduced martial law. Until 2002, NPA received a considerable amount of aid from outside the Philippines. However, later developments forced it to rely on support from other local sources. Between 1969-2008, more that 43,000 insurgency related fatalities were recorded.
Dissatisfied with the corruption of Ferdinand Marcos' administration, the New People's Army (NPA) broke off from the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) on March 29, 1969. Previously, NPA served as the military wing of the CPP but left the Party due to its perceived ineffectiveness. Under the leadership of Bernabe Buscayno, the NPA dropped the Marxist-Leninst ideologies of the CPP in favor of Maoist principles, aimed at creating a communist state through rural guerrilla warfare. The initial strength of the NPA was believed to be approximately 60 guerrillas and 35 weapons large. NPA went on to proclaim itself the successor to Hukbalahap, a communist insurgent faction that fought against the Japanese occupation of the Philipphines during World War 2, as well as the Philippine government in the rebellion (1942-1954).
On August 21, 1971, the first act of NPA violence took place when NPA militants threw two grenades on a Liberal Party rally in Manila, killing 9 people and injuring 95 others. Relying on small armed community-based propaganda units, the NPA found itself in an all-out insurgency by 1972. On September 21, 1972, president Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law, which had the NPA maneuvering and island hopping. In 1974, the NPA launched its first tactical operation in Calbiga, Samar, when it ambushed an army scout patrol and seized a number of their weapons.
Between the 1970s and 1980s, thousands of volunteers, including youth and teenagers from both urban and rural areas, joined the organization. In 1992, NPA split into two factions: the reaffirmist faction lead by Sison and the rejectionist faction which advocated the formation of larger military units and urban insurgencies. In 1986, the NPA held a coup to replace President Marcos with Corazon Aquino. The NPA believed that Aquino was sympathetic to their cause and temporarily placed their operations on hold. However, Aquinos played the NPA, using the lull in activity to gather intelligence on the organization and launch attacks against them. Through NPA's history, 13 smaller factions emerged from the group, the most notable being MLPP-RHB, APP, RPA, RPA-ABB and CPA. A parallel Moro insurgency created favorable conditions for the development of NPA. During the 1970s, 75% of the Philippine military was deployed on the island of Mindanao, a Moro stronghold, despite the 1976 peace deal between the government and MILF. As of 2000, 40% of the AFP troops continued to engage Moro rebels.
In 2001, AFP launched a campaign of selective extrajudicial killings, in an attempt to suppress NPA activity. By targeting suspected rebels sympathizers, the campaign aimed to destroy the communist political infrastructure. The program was modeled after the Phoenix Program, a U.S. project implemented during the Vietnam War. According to a pro communist NGO between January 2001 – October 2012, security forces carried out a total of 1,335 extrajudicial killings. On 9 August 2002, NPA was designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) by the United States State Department. A parallel increase in counter insurgency operations negatively affected the course of the rebellion. Netherlands based Jose Maria Sison is currently leader of CPP's eight member politburo and 26 member central committee—the party's highest ruling bodies. Despite the existence of the politburo, NPA's local units receive a high level of autonomy due to difficulties in communication between each of the fronts across the country. Rebel recruits receive combat training from veteran fighters and ideological training by Mao Tsetung in: the Three Main Rules of Discipline and Eight Points of Attention; the Comprehensive Agreement to Respect Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law. NPA units usually consist of 15–30 fighters, with special armed partisan units of 50–60 rebels serving in a special operations capacity. NPA also formed a limited tactical alliance with the Moro National Liberation Front and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front on the island of Mindanao, enabling the mutual transfer of troops through each other's territory. Between 1969-2008, more that 43,000 insurgency related fatalities were recorded.
Since the early stages of the rebellion, the island of Samar is considered to be NPA's main stronghold. While Samar represents 2% and 5% of the Philippine population and territory respectively, 11% of all NPA related incidents have taken place on the island. Samar's terrain consists of densely forested mountainous areas, providing fertile ground for the conduct of guerrilla warfare.
An important factor in the spread of the rebellion was the issue of widespread landlessness. Land reforms provided only a limited solution for the millions of Philippine landless farmers. In the case of Samar, 40 landowning clans controlled approximately half of the island's agricultural land. Instances of landowner harassment and violence towards working class tenants led to escalating tensions between the two social groups.
In 1976, NPA gained popular support among the inhabitants of Samar following vigilante actions against cattle rustling gangs. The following year, NPA transferred agents from Cebu and Manila where conditions were less favorable. The influx of troops enable NPA to form units fully engaged in guerrilla activities. In 1982, an unofficial communist government was formed, solidifying Samar as a communist stronghold. The 1980s downfall of the coconut industry greatly affected livelihoods of many Samaranos, further fueling the rebellion. Between January 2011 and December 2012, a total of 153 insurgency related incidents took place in Samar, resulting in 21 deaths and 55 injuries.
On 27 August 1976, president Ferdinand Marcos announced the capture of top NPA commander Victor Corpus. The announcement followed the previous week's arrest of NPA's second in command Bernabe Buscayno and 23 NPA officers. Marcos described the arrests as the final blow to the insurgency.
On 13 November 1976, the NPA attacked a logging truck in the area of Mambusao, Davao Oriental. Six security troops were killed and three were wounded.
On 22 November 1976, the NPA staged a raid on 5 barrios situated on the perimeter of the Clark Air Base, seizing 43 weapons from the local CHDF militia.
On 30 June 2002, one soldier and 15 militants were injured in the aftermath of a skirmish in Nueva Era town in Ilocos Norte province. Documentation and pamphlets were seized from rebel-built bunkers.
On 13 July 2005, NPA cadres killed nine soldiers and injured three in the province of Ilocos Sur.
On 29 September 2005, left-wing party Bayan Muna announced that 53 of its members had been killed by alleged government hired gunmen between 2001 and 2005. Leftist labor movement Kilusan Mayo Uno seconded the accusations, claiming that 33 of its activists were killed in 2005. Satur Ocampo described the killings as "political repression masquerading as counter-insurgency and antiterrorism operations". A PNP official said that the killings would be fully investigated, and following an official enquiry, at least two soldiers were charged with murder.
On 30 October 2005, at least 10 militants were wounded in the aftermath of clashes in Surigao del Sur.
On 10 November 2005, rebels set light to a public bus in the Bataan province, after the owner refused to pay a revolutionary tax.
On 16 July 2006, a Philippine soldier and a policeman were killed in a gunfight in Occidental Mindoro. On the same day, the NPA allegedly assassinated an army officer in Bulucan.
On 21 July 2006, NPA raided a police station in the Isabela Province, stealing four rifles and a number of communication sets.
On 23 June 2006, a rebel ambush in the Laguna province resulted in the injury of a soldier.
On 24 July 2006, the NPA detonated two landmines along a road situated outside the Unidos village, Surigao del Sur province, seriously injuring 15 civilians. An NPA spokesman apologized for the incident and offered to cover the costs of the victims' hospital stay, while at the same time stating that NPA would continue the use of IEDs. On the same day, suspected NPA members set fire to a Globe telecommunications Tower in the Camarines Sur province.
On 26 June 2006, an NPA-planted landmine hit a military minivan in Camarines Sur Province, wounding a soldier.
On 8 August 2006, an NPA attack caused the injury of five soldiers who were at the time packing relief supplies for evacuees from the Mayon Volcano area. In a separate incident, the AFP killed five rebels and lost one soldier during clashes with the NPA.
In May 2007, the NPA imposed a countrywide campaign tax on politicians willing to participate in the 2007 midterm elections. According to a PNP source, the victorious candidate of the Albay governor's race paid the NPA a total of $800,000. Former Albay governor Fernando Gonzales accused the NPA of denying him entry into the southern regions of the Albay province. The rebels also intensified their attacks before the election date, resulting in the deaths of 18 people.
On 7 June 2007, the NPA engaged AFP troops in Monkayo town, Compostela Valley. Both sides issued conflicting reports concerning incident: a government spokesman announced the death of nine rebels and four soldiers, while the NPA denied claimed to have killed 15 soldiers and suffering one fatality.
On 15 June 2007, the AFP clashed with insurgents in the Compostela Valley province. Nine militants and four soldiers were killed during the battle.
On 16 June 2007, NPA fighters killed four policemen in the Cataduanes Province of the Bicol region. Weapons were removed from the killed officers.
On 17 June 2007, a squad of militants detonated three bombs at a Globe Telecom tower in Iloilo after disarming the security guards on the site.
On 24 June 2007, several dozen communist guerrillas carried out a raid on the town hall of Dangcagan, Bukidnon province. One police officer was killed as the rebels fled with eight stolen weapons.
On 29 June 2007, a band of militants launched an offensive on an AFP patrol base in Agusan del Norte. Eight militants and seven AFP soldiers were killed, and the rebels abducted three AFP personnel.
On 31 June 2007, three guerrillas were killed by the Philippine army in Agusan del Norte.
On 15 May 2010 at around 14:50, a truck carrying members of the Philippine Army was bombed while cruising along a road in Davao City. One soldier died and two injured soldiers were evacuated to Davao Medical Center.
On 13 July 2010, the NPA executed Mateo Biong, Jr., a drug cartel leader and former mayor of Giporlos, Eastern Samar. Biong was accused of killing rival drug dealers, illegal logging and mining, and misuse of public funds.
On 26 September 2010, security forces killed top NPA commander Elmer Osila during clashes in the town of Goa, northern Camarines Sur province.
On 14 December 2010, ten soldiers were killed and two injured in the aftermath of a guerrilla ambush in Las Navas, Samar. The rebels took 11 rifles from the killed soldiers.
On 15 December 2010, two civilians were killed, one of them a 15-year-old boy and the other a former chairman of Barangay Poponton, in an ambush on a pump boat along Hinaga River in the Northern Samar town of Las Navas. Five soldiers and a civilian were reported missing as a result of the ambush carried out with automatic weapons at around 5 pm that left the civilian vessel heavily damaged. The attack was believed to have been carried out by an undetermined number of the NPA rebels who were said to be hiding along the forested area of the Hinaga River.
On 26 May 2011, three construction workers are killed and another wounded in an attack staged by leftist rebels in the ore-rich township of Tampakan. Ten gunmen, believed to be NPA rebels, ambushed a convoy of five trucks at around 1:30pm with small arms and grenades in the village of Danlag, Cotabato.
On 2 June 2011, the PNP arrested rebel explosive expert Ryan Sison in Dalahican village, Lucena city, Quezon, confiscating IED components.
On 26 July 2011, one loyalist militiaman was killed and one wounded in Barangay Gumitan, Marilog district, Davao.
On 3 October 2011, a band of 200 NPA fighters set fire to equipment belonging to mining corporations in the villages of Cagiano and Taganito, Surigao del Norte.
On 17 January 2012, six insurgents were killed during a clash in a Japanese banana plantation in the Compostela valley.
On 9 April 2012, rebels carried out a raid on the police station of Tibao, Zamboanga del Sur, Mindanao, stealing weapons and taking hostage a policeman, who was later released.
On 19 April 2012, an IED detonated by the NPA killed three and injured two soldiers in New Upian, Barangay Marilog, Marilog district, Davao city.
On 23 April 2012, militants stole several high-powered assault rifles from a security agency in Butuan City, Mindanao, after posing as National Bureau of Investigation agents.
On 25 April 2012, an NPA attack resulted in the deaths of 11 soldiers and 2 civilians in Ifugao, Luzon province.
On 29 April 2012, militants killed four soldiers and a civilian PDT member in Labo town, Camarines Norte, Luzon, and took their weapons.
On 7 May 2012, the NPA claimed to have carried out an ambush in Trento town, Agusan del Sur and Monkayo town, Compostela Valley, killing three soldiers, and wounding four. In a second incident, two soldiers were wounded in the vicinity of the Bahayan river, Trento. The AFP responded by bombing the town of Trento, displacing 80 families.
On 14 May 2012, a soldier was killed during a shootout in Barangay Bucalan in Canlaon city, Negros Oriental, Central Visayas.
On 20 May 2012, rebels sabotaged equipment stationed at an airport construction site in Albay.
On 24 May 2012, NPA agents assassinated an intelligence officer at the cockfighting pit of Lagonglong, Misamis Oriental, Mindanao.
On 28 February 2013, authorities detained the NPA's Central Visayas commander Ruben Nabas along with his secretary. On the same day, two NPA members surrendered to the authorities of Barangay Del Pilar Cabadbaran.
On 7 May 2013, two soldiers were killed while escorting election officials in the province of Kalinga.
On 11 May 2013, rebels of the communist New People's Army allegedly ambushed the convoy of Bukidnon town mayor Joelito Jacosalem Talaid, wounding him and killing four of his bodyguards. A radio report stated the mayor had been shot in the leg. Talaid was traveling through Barangay Kibogtok when he and his bodyguards were stopped by up to 10 armed men. Talaid was also allegedly forced to hand over 7 million Philippine pesos worth of cash to the suspects.
On 20 May 2013, NPA militants raided the office of a security agency in Orange Valley village, Tagum city, stealing firearms, ammunition and bulletproof vests. They also detonated an IED on a national highway in Barangay Pandapan, Tagum City, injuring five soldiers and a civilian.
On 27 May 2013, a group of 30 rebels ambushed a Special Action Force patrol in the Capagaran village, Allacapan municipality, Cagayan province, killing 8 policemen and injuring 7 others.
On 21 August 2013, one soldier was killed and three were wounded in a skirmish in Purok, Barangay Balagan in San Mariano town. Security forces seized two IEDs and propaganda materials.
On 30 August 2013, Philippine air force helicopters bombed rebel positions in the Northern Sagada area, Mountain province, following a clash that took place a day earlier during which two policemen were wounded.
On 5 December 2013, NPA officer Rene Rabulan Briones was killed in Del Gallego, Camarines Sur, during a shootout with the Philippine military.
On 14 December 2013, the NPA raided a police station in Kibawe, Bukidnon. A police officer was killed, and the insurgents stole 13 firearms before escaping in four cars.
On 27 March 2014, Andrea Rosal, daughter of deceased former NPA spokesman "Ka Roger" Rosal, was arrested in Caloocan City.
Between 7–10 April 2014, NPA set fire to vehicles and heavy equipment belonging to mining companies in the Masara village in Maco and Pantukan, Compostela valley, after alleged environmental damage caused by the mining companies.
On 17 April 2014, insurgents clashed with a detachment of the Citizen Armed Geographical Unit (CAFGU) in Barangay San Pascual, Catarman, Northern Samar. There were no casualties.
On 20 May 2014, five communist militants were killed in two separate encounters in Roxas, North Cotabato and Tayabas, Quezon. One soldier was wounded. Loyalist forces seized weaponry, radios, ammunition and propaganda materials.
On 23 May 2014, at least five NPA rebels were killed and two captured in the aftermath of a firefight that took place in Barangay Balocawe, Matnog, Sorsogon province.
On 8 June 2014, security forces captured NPA commander Nasyo in Tanjay city, Negros Oriental.
On 16 July 2014, an NDF spokesman announced that the NPA had suffered 14 fatalities following simultaneous attacks against private armies in Santa Irene, Prosperidad, Barangay Bitan-agan, San Francisco in Agusan del Sur. A civilian and a private army commander were also killed in the incident, and NDF claimed to have seized a number of weapons during the raids.
On 31 July 2014, one soldier and an unspecified number of rebels were killed in a firefight in Tapaz, Capiz.
On 6 August 2014, the AFP arrested top militant commander Eduardo Almores Esteban in Landheights subdivision in Barangay Buntala, Jaro.
On 4 September 2014, five NPA fighters died in an encounter with an army patrol in Lacub, Abra.
On 3 November 2014, NPA gunmen killed two soldiers in the town of Daraga, Albay province.
On 5 November 2014, the AFP engaged suspected NPA insurgents, killing three fighters and seizing nine weapons, in Sitio Tubak, Barangay Nomol Maasim, Sarangani province.
On 23 November 2014, three civilians were injured in an NPA attack on an army patrol post in Sitio Guiwanon, Barangay Danao, San Jacinto town on Ticao island.
On 25 November 2014, the PNP detained rebel commander Billy Morado along with another insurgent in the city of Caloocan.
On 5 December 2014, a security force patrol clashed with communist guerrillas in Sitio Upper Balantang, Barangay Cabuyuan, Mabini, Compostela valley, killing five rebels.
On 17 December 2014, the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group arrested NPA commander Jordan Reyes Donillo at a checkpoint located in Barangay Magnaga, Pantukan, Compostela Valley. On the same day, the NPA released a statement claiming to have killed 40 government loyalists, including policemen, soldiers and militia, in the course of 28 operations in December.
On 16 January 2015, three NPA officers surrendered to the authorities in Capiz, the former rebels belonged to the Tugalbong and Baloy platoons of NPA.
On 23 January 2015, government troops clashed with NPA militants in Sitio Brazil, Mat-i, Surigao city and Imbayao, Malaybalay, Bukidnon. Despite the fact that no casualties were reported, the Philippine Army seized two rifles and a grenade launcher in the former encounter.
On 28 January 2015, NPA rebels killed a soldier of the 69th Infantry Battalion in an ambush in the Paquibato district.
On 2 February 2015, rebels executed Rufino Dumayas, a former NPA commander, after accusing him of revealing the identities of several rebels and cooperating with security forces.
On 5 February 2015, an army officer was killed by communist guerrillas in the town of Las Navas, Northern Samar. Two rebels were later arrested.
On 6 February 2015, security forces overpowered a group of NPA rebels, forcing them to flee, in Barangay Rojales, Carmen, Agusan del Norte. Numerous weapons, explosives and communication equipment were seized, and one rebel was arrested.
On 8 February 2015, authorities arrested Raunil Mortejo, Reboy Gandinao and Jasmin Badilla, three members of NPA's Eastern Mindanao Command. The arrests took place in Barangay Sinaragan, Matanao, Davao del Sur, and in Barangay Lumintao in Quezon town, Bukidnon.
On 9 February 2015, security forces uncovered NPA encampments in Sitio Tig-atay, Barangay Igpaho, Tubungan, and Sitio Tigmarabas, Barangay Ongyod, Miag-ao. The camps had the capacity to accommodate 120 people.