A series of large-scale combat and assassination operations by the Duterte government’s security forces in the last two weeks have killed at least 22 revolutionary fighters of the New People’s Army in central and southern Philippines. On 16 August, combined elements of the Philippine Army 5th Special Forces Battalion, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and local Philippine National Police assassinated celebrated NPA fighter and visual artist John Niebres in his home in Cannery Site village, Polomolok town in South Cotabato province.

Niebres, renowned as ‘Ka Parts Bagani’, was unarmed when killed by the state security forces. Marco Valbuena, Chief Information Officer of the Communist Party of the Philippines said, “Ka Parts was unarmed and was in no position to fight,” countering the Philippine Army’s version that Ka Parts was killed in a gunfight when he was supposed to be served an arrest warrant.

Also on 16 August, the Armed Forces of the Philippines launched a massive aerial bombardment and strafing campaign against a unit of the NPA in Dolores town, Eastern Samar province, killing 19 guerilla fighters. Starting at 8:00 am, AFP surveillance drones, attack helicopters, FA-50 jet fighters and A-29B Super Tucano aircrafts fired rocket missiles and cannon rounds and dropped 500-pound bombs, including in agricultural and residential areas of Dolores town.

The CPP Information Bureau confirmed that “the fallen Red fighters were part of a 50-man unit of the NPA who were in the area to conduct political, military, economic, education, cultural and medical work among the peasant masses.” The CPP added the NPA unit included a medical team who were set to conduct surgery and other medical procedures in the camp when the AFP aerial attacks started.

On 20 August, two NPA fighters, Kerima Lorena Tariman and ‘Ka Pabling’, were martyred in an armed clash with the Philippine Army’s 79th Infantry Battalion in Hacienda Raymunda, Silay City, in Negros Occidental province. CPP Chief Information Officer Marco Valbuena said that Tariman, known as Ka Ella, “was captured alive by elements of the 79th Infantry Battalion… was not provided immediate medical treatment and was instead finished off or left to bleed to death.”

Tributes and honors have been pouring in for the fallen revolutionary fighters. The CPP paid tribute to Ka Parts Bagani “as a Red Artist of the People and valiant warrior of the NPA… His artworks reflected the people’s yearning for freedom from oppression, exploitation, hunger and for national and social liberation.”

The CPP also called on all revolutionary forces and the Filipino people to honor the 19 martyrs of Dolores, Eastern Samar, saying they are “among the best sons and daughters of the people who dedicated their lives to the cause of national freedom and democracy.” Admitting their death as a big loss, the CPP said however that “it is a temporary setback… The NPA continues to make strides in recruiting new Red fighters, building more units, expanding its areas of operations, building new guerrilla fronts… In due time, the embattled guerrilla unit of the NPA in Dolores will be reorganized with new recruits to continue the work left by their fallen heroes.”

Ka Ella Tariman, an acclaimed literary artist, revolutionary journalist and mother was hailed by the CPP, “She became the artist she was by immersing herself with the peasant masses whom she served. In them, she found the muse for her craft… Ka Ella offered her life for the liberation of the Filipino people from fascism, oppression and exploitation.”