Court removes UN rapporteurs, Ocampo, Baylosis from DOJ terror list
A Manila regional trial court (RTC) has cleared two United Nations experts, a former lawmaker and a peace talks consultant in a government petition seeking to declare them as terrorists, along with 600 other people, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), and its armed wing the New People’s Army (NPA).
In an order dated July 27, RTC Branch 19 Judge Marlo Magdoza-Malagar declared UN Special Rapporteur for Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Victoria Tauli-Corpuz; Jose Molintas, a former member of the UN expert mechanism on indigenous peoples’ rights; former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo; and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant Rafael Baylosis as “nonparties” to the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) proscription petition filed in February.
Clampdown on leftists
The petition stemmed from President Rodrigo Duterte’s pledge to clamp down on leftist rebel groups following the collapse of peace negotiations between the government and the NDFP.
By declaring the groups and individuals as terrorists, the government would be able to monitor them more closely, track their finances and restrict their access to resources.
‘Virtual hit list’
Named in the petition that claimed the communist rebels were out “to overthrow the duly constituted authorities … through armed struggle,” were exiled CPP founding chair Jose Maria Sison and his wife, Juliet; alleged CPP chair Benito Tiamzon and his wife, Wilma; top communist leaders Randall Echanis, Vicente Ladlad and Adelberto Silva; and over 600 individuals, some of them activists, former Catholic priests and leaders of mass organizations.
Human rights advocates said the petition was a “virtual government hit list” meant to harass and threaten critics of the Duterte administration.
They said the list, which Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Monday admitted as not having been vetted, contained double entries, dubious aliases, and generic names.
Lawyer Rachel Pastores urged the justice department to withdraw the petition.
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