The Department of Justice (DoJ) on Wednesday filed before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila a petition that seeks to declare the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) as terrorist organizations.
The move was prompted by an order made by President Rodrigo Duterte last year.
The President signed Proclamation 360 on November 23, 2017, which terminated peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front-CPP-NPA.
On December 5, 2017, he issued Proclamation 374, declaring the CPP and NPA as terrorist organizations under Republic Act 10168 or the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012.
The National Democratic Front (NDF) is an umbrella organization that counts the CPP and the NPA as members.
Malacanang tagged the CPP-NPA as a terror group “in view of [its]violent acts… which sow and create a condition of widespread and extraordinary fear and panic among the populace.”
Duterte already halted the peace talks with the NDF-CPP-NPA in November over a series of rebel attacks on government troops.
He has also ordered the rearrest of NDF consultants to the peace negotiations who were conditionally released by the courts to surrender or else face sanctions from the law.
The DoJ petition cited 12 “terror activities” and “atrocities” perpetrated by the CPP-NPA in Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental, Surigao provinces, Misamis provinces, Cagayan de Oro City (Misamis Oriental), Bukidnon and Davao.
The CPP and NPA are “merely buying time by entering into peace talks, while their main purpose is to mobilize all their forces in preparation for the ‘peoples war’ aimed at overthrowing duly constituted authorities, seizing control of the Philippine government and imposing a totalitarian regime,” the document read.
According to the petition, “[T]here is no other time to put an end to their deception, to their ‘protracted peoples war’ and to their evil plan of imposing a totalitarian regime through the filing of this petition, and, consequently, by declaring respondents CPP and NPA as terrorist and outlawed organizations, associations and/or group of persons.”
The Manila RTC giving its nod to the petition will result in the government allowing the Court of Appeals (CA) to engage in wiretapping activities against the communists, as well as apply for a freeze order on and examination of bank accounts and assets of the CPP-NPA’s financiers, leaders and identified members.
A court decision is needed for the CPP and the NPA to be considered terrorist organizations in accordance with Section 17 of the Human Security Act (Republic Act 9372).
The DoJ’s move will boost a case accusing the President of committing crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Court (ICC), according to the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives.
The seven-strong bloc of lawmakers issued the warning on Wednesday only hours after the Justice department filed the petition against the CPP-NPA.
On Tuesday, Duterte said he is willing to shell out P25,000 to P100,000 so that NPA rebels will be enticed to kill each other.
He added that a bounty claimant only needs to present him the head of a rebel to get the money.
“To raise such bounty so that even the NPA[rebels]would go kill each other is violating due process. This is not the Wild, Wild West when you can just put up a wanted poster of a person, dead or alive. This policy would just prove the pending case in the ICC of him committing crimes against humanity,” Rep. Antonio Tinio of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers party-list said.
“By listening to the President’s speeches, the policy that has been emerging is either killing or rape. Those are apparently his means and methods,” Tinio added.
The Palace announced last February 8 that the ICC has decided to conduct preliminary examination of the crimes against humanity allegedly committed.
Accusers cited the alleged 7,000 deaths from the Duterte administration’s war on drugs.
“There is no other way to say it. The President has turned so barbaric. He doesn’t care about laws,” Rep. Emmi de Jesus of Gabriela party-list said.
Lawyer Jude Sabio, counsel for self-confessed Davao “death squad” hitman Edgar Matobato, who asked the ICC in May 2017 to investigate Duterte and 11 other government officials, including Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez of Davao del Norte, over the alleged crimes against humanity in connection with the 7,000 deaths.
“The government has said this move [of going after the NDF]would also mean targeting the support groups of the CPP-NPA. Considering this statement, you can expect wanton violation of human rights by this administration.” Rep. Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna party-list, pointed out.
“By putting a bounty, you are inciting the public to kill innocent people for the sake of money,” Rep. Sarah Elago of Kabataan party-list said.
The President canceled the peace talks with the NDF on July 22, 2017 or three days after the NPA attacked a convoy of the Presidential Security Group in North Cotabato in Mindanao in southern Philippines.
At the time, Duterte also slammed the NDF for ordering the NPA to intensify its attacks on government forces in
response to the declaration of martial law in Mindanao that the front said was “against the people.”
WITH REPORT FROM LLANESCA T. PANTI