Return of Anti-Subversion Act defended, assailed
MANILA, Philippines — Interior Secretary Eduardo Año wants to revive the antisubversion law, saying it would effectively end the 50-year communist insurgency by cutting off the funds that come from legal organizations allegedly being used as fronts by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP-NPA-NDFP).
“It can’t be denied by anyone that the continued existence and illegal activities of the CPP-NPA-NDFP constitute a clear, present and grave danger to the security of the Philippines,” Año said in a statement on Wednesday.
On Monday, Año proposed to reinstate the Anti-Subversion Act, or Republic Act No. 1700, which criminalized mere membership in the CPP and similar groups.
“It will be the beginning of an inevitable end,” the official said, adding that the repeal of the antisubversion law in 1992 allowed communist rebels to “grow bolder and use the democratic space accorded them to regroup, organize and mobilize.”
Año claimed that some 500 to 1,000 youth are recruited yearly in schools and universities by so-called legal communist front organizations, of which 10 percent end up as NPA rebels.
“(The revived law would only cover) communists who are actively working to overthrow the government through armed struggle and does not cover legitimate dissent or political opposition,” he added.
But in a statement sent from his base in Utrecht in the Netherlands on Wednesday, CPP founder Jose Maria “Joma” Sison disputed Año’s claims and said that “the revival of the antisubversion law will not eliminate the CPP and the people’s democratic revolution.”
Sison warned that the resurrection of the law would “only serve to further violate the national and democratic rights of the people and thus incite the broad masses to rise up.”
He added: “The revival of the antisubversion law can give further license to Duterte’s armed minions to violate human rights and can further embolden them to witch hunt, harass, threaten and kill those that they arbitrarily list as ‘communists’ among the critics of the regime and the people in general.”
Such law, Sison said, “has long been condemned as a poison to the freedom of thought, expression and assembly.” —With a report from Delfin T. Mallari