Joma, ex-solon in list tagging CPP, NPA as terror groups

MANILA Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II confirmed that Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairman Jose Maria Sison and former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo were included in the 600 persons linked to the CPP and its armed wing New People's Army (NPA) who were tagged as terrorists in a petition filed before the Manila Regional Trial Court last month.

Also in the list are UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, alleged CPP leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) consultant Rafael Baylosis, former peace panel chief Luis Jalandoni, human rights lawyer and former Baguio City councilor Jose Molintas and Cordillerans Joanna Carino, Windel Farag-ey Bolinget, Sherwin De Vera, Beverly Sakongan Longid and Jeannette Ribaya Cawiding.

Aguirre said that the list was not "baseless and irresponsible" as claimed by Corpuz as he dared critics to just challenge the DOJ's move before the court.

"This list is a product of research and evidence supplied by police authorities and intelligence agencies. If they have evidence to the contrary, they should just answer the petition and the court will hear them. This case should not be tried through the media," Aguirre told reporters.

The DOJ chief explained that the petition was filed following the termination of the peace talks between the government and the CPP.

Corpuz, a former chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, was named UN special rapporteur in 2014. She decried her inclusion in the list as "baseless, malicious and irresponsible."

She founded the indigenous peoples advocacy and research group, Tebtebba Inc., and helped draft the Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples, which was adopted by the United Nations in 2007.

Ocampo, on the other hand, is facing murder charges in the Manila RTC for his alleged involvement in the murder of suspected military spies in the communist movement in the 1980s.

Baylosis, for his part, was ordered arrested last January over charges of illegal possession of firearms.

In a 55-page proscription petition filed by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Peter Ong, the agency asked the Manila RTC to issue an order declaring CPP and the NPA also known as the Bagong Hukbong Bayan, as terrorist and outlawed organizations, associations or group of persons persuant to Section 17 of Republic Act No. 9372 or the Human Security Act of 2007.

Ong said the petition has basically two grounds namely, 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 for the purpose of engaging in terrorism but it commits act of terrorism such as murder and arson and other activities for the purpose of sowing terror.

It 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, seizing control of the government and imposing a totalitarian regime.

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

Thus, there is no other time to put an end to their deception, to their protracted people's war and to their evil plan of imposing a totalitarian regime, but through the filing of this petition and, consequently, by declaring respondents CPP-NPA as terrorist and outlawed organizations, associations and or group of persons, part of the petition said.

Ong said in 2017 alone, there were 12 incidents, including ambushes conducted by the NPA targeting soldiers and policemen in various parts of the country.

Ong said the filing of petition came after President Duterte's decision to issue a proclamation naming the CPP as a terror group.

He said the attacks occurred as President Rodrigo Duterte was extending his hand and showing good faith in the peace talks between the government and the rebels.

The point is the President was extending his hand, showing his good faith and sincerity for just and lasting peace. And yet ito pa ang mga offensives ang kapalit ng peace negotiations, Ong noted.

The senior prosecutor 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.

"They committed terrorist acts that will justify in designating them as terrorist organization," Ong explained.

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

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque earlier announced that the President has signed a proclamation formally designating the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization.

The Palace spokesperson said the President signed the proclamation pursuant to the provisions of Republic Act No. 10168 or the Human Security Act.

Roque said under the law, affiliate revolutionary groups of the CPP-NPA would also be considered terrorist groups, and anyone proven to be financing them would be held liable.

Citing the pertinent provisions of RA 10168, Roque said a designated person is any person or entity designated or identified as a terrorist, as one who finances terrorism or a terrorist organization or group under the applicable United Nations Security Council resolution or by another jurisdiction or supranational jurisdiction and pursuant to the proclamation which implements the Human Security Act.

Take note that the domestic statute and the UN Security Council prohibit the giving of funds to terrorist organizations. This will enable law enforcement agencies to run after individuals who will, in any way, provide financial support to the NPA now that it has been described as a terrorist organization, Roque said.

In his proclamation, Duterte directed the Department of Foreign Affairs to publish the foregoing designation of CPP-NPA and other designated persons, organizations, in accordance with Sections 3 and 15 of RA 10168 and its implementing rules and regulations.

The proclamation was issued after the Philippine government terminated peace talks with the CPP-NPA after a series of violent attacks which the President described as against the humanitarian law.

Source: Philippine News Agency