Gov’t moves to plug CPP-NPA fund sources | Inquirer News

Gov’t moves to plug CPP-NPA fund sources

By: - Reporter / @MRamosINQ
/ 05:00 AM December 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The government has taken another step to deny funds to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), when the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) designated them as terrorist organizations in a resolution it made public on Christmas Day.

Justice Undersecretary Adrian Sugay on Saturday said the ATC’s Dec. 9 resolution would allow the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to freeze the bank deposits and other assets of the CPP and the NPA, which has been fighting one of Asia’s longest-running insurgencies.

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“The next step is for the AMLC to proceed with its powers under [the law] regarding the freezing of assets and run after the bank accounts [of the CPP-NPA],” Sugay told the Inquirer in a phone interview.

He was referring to Sections 35 and 36 of Republic Act No. 11479, or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, which authorized the AMLC to scrutinize the finances of organizations or groups of individuals that the ATC had labeled as terrorists.

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Under the law, the AMLC could issue a 20-day freeze order on the assets of these groups and extend this to another six months upon the approval of the Court of Appeals.

Sugay said the AMLC may also exercise its authority to examine the accounts related to the CPP-NPA under Republic Act No. 10168, also known as the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012.

That law was applied when the AMLC froze the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) accounts of the Catholic church-run Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) early this year based on the council’s allegations that there was probable cause that the BPI accounts of RMP were related to terrorism financing.

The AMLC’s action followed the deportation in 2018 of an elderly Australian missionary nun, Patricia Fox, a former coordinator of the RMP.

Since it is improbable for the CPP-NPA to open accounts in their names, the government will have to target their alleged members or supporters to slow down if not entirely stop the flow of funds to the rebel movement.

But Sugay said individuals believed to be financing the activities of the insurgents would have to be covered by a separate resolution for designation by the ATC.

“At this point, only the assets of the CPP and NPA would be covered [by the freeze order]. You need to designate the individuals if you want to go after their assets,” the justice official said.

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Sugay stressed that the move of the ATC to designate the Maoist rebels as terrorists would not affect the pending proscription case that the Department of Justice (DOJ) had lodged against the CPP-NPA in a Manila Regional Trial Court in 2018.“Proscription is different from designation,” he said. “The designation is merely for purposes of going after the assets, courtesy of the AMLC.”

“Proscription is practically declaring an organization or group of persons as outlawed. If your group has been proscribed or declared as outlawed, you can be charged for violation of the antiterror law,” he added.

“(This decision of the ATC) has no legal effect as far as the proscription case against the CPP-NPA is concerned. That process will continue,” Sugay said. Citing Section 25 of the antiterror law and the proscription case that the DOJ filed, the ATC resolution said the CPP-NPA “have been and are still using acts of terror to sow and create a condition of widespread and extraordinary fear and panic among the populace.”

Major offensive

The resolution was made public a day before the CPP marked its 52nd founding anniversary. Also a day before the anniversary, the Army’s 6th Infantry Division in Mindanao launched a major offensive against the NPA to prevent them from gathering at a rebel camp in Sultan Kudarat province to commemorate the Dec. 26, 1968 founding of the CPP.

Maj. Gen. Juvymax Uy, the division commander, said 10 guerrillas were killed in the air, artillery, and ground assaults on Friday morning in the village of Namat Masla in Palimbang town.

Uy said around 200 NPA rebels were sighted converging in the area from the upland towns of South Cotabato and Sen. Ninoy Aquino town in Sultan Kudarat.

Soldiers who overran the NPA camp recovered several high-powered firearms, improvised bombs, laptops, two power generator sets, and “subversive” documents, he said.

The government troops raised the Philippine flag over the rebel camp to signify its liberation from the NPA.

The CPP earlier ordered the rebels to hold clandestine meetings to mark the underground party’s anniversary amid escalating military offensives.

Uy thanked locals who informed the Army about the rebel gathering.

Abdulsatar Badruddin, executive secretary of the mayor of Palimbang, said barangay leaders, including members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, supported the military’s “anti-NPA campaign.”

In Agusan del Sur province later that afternoon, troops clashed with about 20 guerrillas at Barangay Padiay in Sibagat town.

Brig. Gen. Allan Hambala, commander of the Army’s 401st Infantry Brigade, the rebels fled after a 25-minute gunfight. The soldiers recovered an AK-47 rifle, an M14 rifle, a .45-caliber pistol, hundreds of ammunition of different calibers, medical supplies, documents, a camera and several backpacks with personal belongings.

‘Child recruitment’ hit

In Gutalac town, Zamboanga del Norte, Subanen tribal leaders slammed the NPA for recruiting children and youth from indigenous communities.

“They take advantage of our unschooled youngsters, luring them to fight the government supposedly to have genuine progress and development in our communities,” said Timuay Alex Langeras, president of Gukom Western Mindanao Tribal Leaders Federation. The CPP’s central committee said In a statement that the NPA continued to expand despite the billions of pesos in public funds spent to crush the insurgency.

‘People’s militias’

In his statement, CPP founding chair Jose Maria Sison said the NPA now numbered close to 10,000 fighters, supported by thousands of “people’s militias.” In 2018, the government estimated that the NPA had 3,700 regular fighters. Last year, the Department of National Defense said 3,500 guerrillas had surrendered and availed of the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Livelihood Integration Program. —WITH REPORTS FROM EDWIN O. FERNANDEZ, JULIE S. ALIPALA, RICHEL V. UMEL AND LEAH D. AGOHOY INQ

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TAGS: AMLC, ATC, communist, CPP, NPA, terrorist
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