Manila court removes 4 names in DOJ terror tag petition

MANILAA Manila court ruled that former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo, National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) consultant Rafael Baylosis, UN Special Rapporteur Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, and Jose Melencio Molintas are non-parties to the Department of Justice's (DOJ) petition seeking to declare Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA), as terrorist groups.

In a 14-page resolution dated July 27 but was obtained by the media on Wednesday, Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 19 Presiding Judge Marlo Magdoza-Malagar ruled to declare Ocampo and Baylosis as non-parties since the prayed-for declaration from this court is an organization, association or group of persons.

The court held that the alleged CPP-NPA officers were not properly impleaded in the case, thus, prompting it to recall the summons issued against them.

It pointed out that the subject of the prayed-for declaration is the CPP-NPA as an organization, association or group of persons, thus, neither Ocampo or Baylosis can be considered a party-respondent in the petition.

Malagar also gave credence to their denial of being officers of the alleged terrorist organizations.

Technically therefore, neither Ocampo nor Baylosis can be considered a party-respondent in this Petition since the remedy sought does not specifically pertain to them, as individuals. Rather, it is the CPP and the NPA which are the respondents because it is against them that the declaration is sought, read the resolution.

The court revealed that the government's evidence against Ocampo and Baylosisfive affidavitsshowed "no clear allegation" that the two were "members" or "officers" of the CPP-NPA.

The affidavits simply alleged they occupied positions in the "Central Committee" or the "Political Bureau" or the "Executive Committee" of the CPP, the court said.

It noted that it is the CPP and the NPA which are the respondents because it is against them that the declaration is sought.

Even the petitioner admitted the same in its opposition to the movants' motion to dismiss, when it stated that the petition is seeking for a declaration from the court that the CPP-NPA are terrorist organizations.

However, Malagar junk Ocampo and Baylosis' motions to dismiss the petition itself.

For Molintas and Corpuz, Malagar said both also denied being members of the alleged terrorist organizations.

Their names appear in the Petition as members of the alleged terrorist groups but technically, they cannot be considered as party-respondents, he said.

Molintas claimed that he came to learn that he was implicated as officer of the CPP-NPA only through the local newspapers .

He added that he was never part of the CPP-NPA and that his organization , the Cordillera People's Alliance (CPA) is not a terrorist group.

For her part, Corpuz pointed out that only seven of the persons enumerated in the petition were properly identified and that she, together with the majority of individuals named in the petition were not designated as respondents but were included in the summons.

The petitioner cannot cavalierly dismiss their concern. It is undisputed that the inclusion of their names in the petition has potentially caused serious harm to their reputation, the court said.

This finding is also made in consideration of the fact that other than enumerating their names, there is nothing in the petition or its attachments that pointing to Molintas and Corpuz being officers of the CPP-NPA, it added.

In the same resolution, the court directed the DOJ to cause service of summons to organizations CPP and NPA by publication in a newspaper of general circulation.

Considering the petitioner's obvious lack of knowledge of the official address of the CPP-NPA, recourse may be made to service summons by publication, this time specifically directed to the respondent-organizations, he explained.

Sought for a comment, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra believes the government remains on track with its pending petition seeking to declare as terrorists the CPP-NPA.

I have not seen that resolution but the fact of the matter is that these individuals are not really the party respondents. It's the CPP and the NPA that are sought to be declared as terrorist organizations, Guevarra said in a text message sent to Philippine News Agency (PNA).

It is these entities, not the named individuals, who are the party-respondents in the petition to declare them as terrorist organizations, he said.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, meanwhile, said they have yet to receive a copy of the court's resolution.

We still have to see a copy of the resolution and study its impact, if any, he said.

The petition filed by the DOJ before the Manila RTC last March seeks to declare communist leaders and their armed members as terrorists.

The DOJ submitted to the court a list of over 600 personalities, including CPP founder Jose Maria Sison, peace negotiator Luis Jalandoni, former lawmaker and leftist leader Satur Ocampo, and Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples.

Also in the list are 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.

The petition was filed following the termination of the peace talks between the government and the CPP in November last year.

Duterte initiated formal peace talks with the 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 10168 or the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012 as basis. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency