Duterte widens break with Reds, declares CPP-NPA terrorists
President Rodrigo Duterte further widened his break with communist insurgents by formally declaring as terrorist organizations the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA).
The declaration followed the President’s decision to cut all peace negotiations with the rebels, saying he was fed up with their attacks on government forces and civilians.
The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), the political arm of the CPP, was not included in the proclamation that the President signed on Tuesday, said presidential spokesperson Harry Roque. He did not explain why the group was spared.
The Department of Justice has been directed to file the petition in the Regional Trial Court to legally declare the CPP and NPA terrorist organizations under the Human Security Act.
Roque said this was “[i]n view of the continued violent acts of the CPP-NPA, which sow and create a condition of widespread and extraordinary fear and panic among the populace.”
“It is not automatic that just because the executive has classified the group as a terrorist organization, it will be considered a terrorist organization under the domestic law and under relevant security council resolutions,” he said.
The President also directed the Department of Foreign Affairs to publish the designation of CPP-NPA as terrorist organizations.
While a court order is needed to legally recognize the groups as terrorists, the President’s proclamation has an effect because the government does not negotiate with terrorists, Roque said.
He also said that state forces would be able to go after CPP or NPA members for terrorism if they were committing the predicate crimes listed under the Human Security Act, with the additional element that their act was intended to sow fear and panic in the minds of the public.
The government would also go after those providing financial support to terrorist organizations, he said. These include mining firms and other businesses.
“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,” he said.
In his proclamation, Mr. Duterte declared the CPP-NPA a designated or identified terrorist organization pursuant to the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012.
It defines a terrorist financier as “any person or entity designated and/or identified as a terrorist, 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.”
Roque said the petition to declare the CPP and the NPA terrorist organizations would be subject to a hearing, with the rebel groups to be afforded the chance to argue why they should not be deemed terrorist groups.
For purposes of the Human Security Act, the CPP and the NPA would be considered terrorist organizations after the court issued a ruling saying so.
ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio said declaring the CPP and the NPA terrorist organizations would usher in more human rights abuses against critics of the Duterte administration. —With a report from Vince F. Nonato
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