They “had it coming.”
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa on Thursday was referring to the terrorist label that the Department of Justice (DoJ) on Wednesday tacked on the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA).
De la Rosa said the CPP-NPA wants Filipinos to stay poor by obstructing the wishes of small villages to live peacefully and economically well.
“Dami na nilang ginagawa na acts of terror. Imbes gaganda yung economy ng isang lugar, yung far-flung barangay sinusunog nila mga heavy equipment ng mga gumagawa ng kalsada, tulay, dahil daw hindi nagbibigay ng revolutionary tax kuno [They have committed many acts of terror. Instead of the economy of a community in far-flung villages thriving, members of the group torch heavy equipment of builders of roads and bridges, because the owners of the machines are not paying them ‘revolutionary tax’],” according to the PNP chief.
“Gusto nila maghirap ang Pilipino para meron silang mare-recruit to their side. Bakit, meron bang maniwala sa kanila kapag maganda na buhay ng Pilipino? Wala na [The CPP-NPA wants the Filipinos to remain poor so they can recruit them. Why, who will believe them if the Filipinos are prosperous? None],” he said.
Declaring the CPP and the NPA as terrorist organizations, de la Rosa added, would make them an easier target for the government.
He announced that the National Police Commission (Napolcom) also on Wednesday ordered the creation of five new battalions that will be deployed to fight terrorist organizations in the country.
The order eyes 2,500 recruits for the Special Action Force (SAF) of the Philippine National Police.
The DoJ on February 21 filed a petition to declare the CPP and the NPA as terrorist organizations before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila.
In the petition, the DoJ said the CPP and the NPA had conducted 12 “terror activities” in various provinces.
In November 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte terminated peace talks between the government and the two groups over recent attacks on soldiers.
He later tagged the CPP-NPA as a terrorist group.
A number of consultants to the National Democratic Front (NDF) from the ranks of the CPA and the NPA were subsequently arrested by authorities and charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives, murder and other crimes.
The NDF is an umbrella group that counts the CPP and the NPA as among its members.
The Duterte administration had denied that it is cracking down on members of the CPP and the NPA and that it is still open to possibly resuming the peace talks.
The CPP and the NPA deserve the terrorist tag, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said also on Thursday.
The military’s statement came after the filing of the DoJ petition.
Brig. Gen. Bienvenido Datuin Jr., AFP spokesman, said the terrorist label on the group was “important” to remove the image of the communists as fighters for the rights of Filipinos.
“For the past months, we all witnessed their acts as terrorist organizations such as kidnapping, killing of an innocent civilian, burning of materials and extortion in the communities,” Datuin added in an interview.
“As I have said, if they are branded as criminals… then we can run after them. We can file cases or revoke the means of those supporting them so that the support being poured to them [is cut short],” he said.
Datuin said the AFP has records on “everything they [NPA rebels) have been doing such as extortion and burning of materials, so we support the DoJ on this petition and…we have [pieces of evidence]to show that they are really doing terroristic acts.”
WITH REPORT FROM DEMPSEY REYES