The New People's Army (NPA) is a paramilitary organization based in the Philippines. Many governments around the world classify the NPA as a terrorist organization, since it advocates a period of prolonged “people's war” which is designed to undermine the government of the Philippines. At its height, over 25,000 people were members of the NPA, although reforms in the 1980s drastically reduced the size and activity level of the organization until the late 1990s, when NPA activities flared up again in some regions of the Philippines.
This organization was founded in 1969 to act as the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines. Evidence suggests that the New People's Army received substantial financial support from China well through the 1970s, reflecting its status as a Maoist Communist organization. The organization uses guerrilla tactics to advance its goal of overthrowing the government, relying on highly mobile operatives to accomplish various operations.
Like many paramilitary organizations which are attempting to overthrow national governments from the inside, the NPA focuses its efforts on politicians, informers, people who are socially prominent, and foreign advisers. The New People's Army has launched several attacks against American servicemembers in the Philippines, for example, with the goal of trying to destabilize the national government by driving Americans out of the region.
New People's Army members tend to be most active in rural areas of the Philippines, where controlling them is extremely difficult. Foreign visitors to the region are often advised to stay out of these regions to avoid entanglements with the NPA, which has been known to commit human rights violations and atrocities in the advancement of its goals.
While armed struggle may be a valid mode of resistance against a government, some people feel that the New People's Army may have confused its ideals and goals. For example, in addition to engaging in guerrilla warfare, the NPA has also been involved in cases of extortion, kidnapping, and rioting which involved innocent individuals and had no clear purpose. This led to the decision to classify the NPA as a terrorist organization by the United States in 2002, with the European Union following suit several years later.
The government of the Philippines has also issued several invitations to peace talks to the NPA, and several such talks have been held. Despite these talks, the NPA continues to be active, although many people hope that a resolution can be reached.