Friday, December 09, 2005

Report #15 on the fall of communism

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December 8, 2005
Army blames communist rebels for Manila attacks

By Manny Mogato
MANILA (Reuters) - Philippine communist rebels were behind a series of attacks in Manila on cars and a building housing offices of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's husband, the armed forces' chief of staff said on Thursday.

General Generoso Senga dismissed reports that a shadowy group of soldiers calling themselves "Enlightened Warriors" fired 15 shots at the building and damaged three cars with small bombs on Wednesday, saying the rogue military force did not exist.

"Initially, our findings with the police are that these were actually done by some operatives from the New People's Army terrorists," Senga told reporters.

The insurgency by the 8,000-member New People's Army (NPA) has killed more than 40,000 people since the late 1960s, deterred investment and stunted rural development in the Philippines, one of Southeast Asia's poorest countries.

The NPA, active in 69 of 79 provinces, usually limits attacks to the countryside, targetting officials it deems to be corrupt and businesses that refuse to pay "revolutionary war taxes".

On Wednesday, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita suggested the NPA was behind bomb threats this week to seven embassies in Manila. The U.S. embassy suspended operations for two days over "plausible threat information" which it did not describe.

Ermita also cited intelligence reports showing a rise in NPA-related violence in the past 60 days, including a landmine attack in the central Philippines that killed nine soldiers.

The NPA's spokesman denied the rebels were behind Wednesday's attacks.

"I was informed no NPA unit carried out any such attack in Manila," Gregorio Rosal, alias Ka Roger, said in a statement sent to news organisations on Thursday, adding the government was trying to "cover up an open rebellion within the military".


In July 2003, Arroyo put down a brief mutiny by 300 soldiers who seized control of a high-rise apartment in Manila's financial district, demanding Arroyo resign over corruption allegations.

On Wednesday, gunmen shot at the building, used rarely by Arroyo's husband, Jose Miguel, which also houses the offices of the president's private lawyers.

The attacks were claimed by the "Enlightened Warriors", with a warning of more to come to bring down the Arroyo government.

Lieutenant-General Hermogenes Esperon, the army commander, said soldiers' morale was high and disputed reports of growing dissatisfaction leading to the formation of a renegade group.

Esperon said the communist rebels were making it appear that disgruntled troops were behind the attacks.

"They are insulting our soldiers. Our soldiers are not power grabbers," he told reporters, adding intelligence reports pointed to the NPA being behind attempts to destabilise the government.

The government in Manila is also fighting four home-grown Muslim rebel groups and foreign militants from Jemaah Islamiah, a regional network linked to al Qaeda.

Manila also said it wanted Dutch authorities to deport the founder and leader of the Communist Party of the Philippines, Jose Maria Sison, after state lawyers filed murder charges against him over the death of a provincial governor in 2001.

The government says Sison ordered the killing from the Netherlands, where he has been living in exile since the late 1980s.

Copyright © 2005 Reuters


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