DOJ: Terror tag petition vs. CPP-NPA stays

MANILA The Department of Justice (DOJ) will push through with its petition seeking to declare as terrorist groups the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People's Army (NPA).

Justice Undersecretary Erickson Balmes made the statement Thursday following President Rodrigo R. Duterte's order to give the peace talks with the communist rebels a last chance.

We are all for peace. However, the peace talks have not actually resumed. We will comply with any new directive of our President on this matter. For the time being, there being no order to the contrary, we will pursue the petition as filed, Balmes said when sought for comment.

The DOJ earlier asked the Manila Regional Trial Court to declare the CPP and the NPA as terror groups.

During Wednesday's Cabinet meeting, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Jesus Dureza said the President directed them to work on the resumption of talks with the communist rebels with clear instructions on the importance of forging a ceasefire agreement to stop mutual attacks and fighting while talks are underway.

Duterte initiated formal peace talks with the National Democratic Front (NDF) shortly after winning the presidency in 2016 but canceled them in November last year amid continued attacks of the NPA on government forces and civilians.

The President signed a proclamation in December 2017 declaring the CPP-NPA as a terror organization using Republic Act (RA) No. 10168 or the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012 as basis.

In a 55-page proscription petition filed by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Peter Ong, the DOJ asked the Manila RTC to issue an order declaring the CPP and NPA, also known as the Bagong Hukbong Bayan, as terrorist and outlawed organizations, associations or group of persons pursuant to Section 17 of RA 9372 or the Human Security Act of 2007.

Ong said the petition was basically based on two grounds: that the organization, association or group of persons was organized for the purpose of engaging in terrorism; and that even if the organization, association or group of persons was not organized to engage in terrorism, it still commits acts of terrorism, such as murder and arson and other activities, for the purpose of sowing terror.

The petition also said that the CPP-NPA are just buying time by deceiving the government in entering into peace talks while their main purpose is to mobilize their forces in preparation for a people's war to overthrow the duly-constituted authorities, seize control of the government, and impose a totalitarian regime.

Ong said the CPP-NPA also committed acts of terrorism, such as murder, kidnapping, arson and other activities, to sow terror and panic.

He also said their investigation showed how the CPP-NPA did not honor the good faith and sincerity extended by the Duterte administration and continued their offensives during the earlier peace talks.

Ong cited numerous attacks made by the CPP-NPA in various provinces across the country as basis to legally declare it as a terrorist group.

The DOJ has earlier confirmed that CPP founding chair Jose Maria Sison and former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo were among the 600 persons included in the terror tag petition against the communist rebels.

Source: Philippine News Agency