Solon grills OPAPP, AFP on ‘communist terrorist group’ tag in amnesty announcement
MANILA, Philippines — A lawmaker of the House of Representatives on Tuesday grilled the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and an officer of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), asking why the term “communist terrorist group” (CTG) was used in President Rodrigo Duterte’s amnesty announcement.
During the joint hearing of the House justice and national defense panels, ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro questioned why the term CTG was used in Duterte’s Proclamation No. 1090 to 1093, considering the government does not have peace negotiations with such group.
In Proclamations No. 1090 to 1093 signed Feb. 5, Duterte granted amnesty to members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa–Pilipinas/Revolutionary Proletarian Army/Alex Boncayao Brigade Tabara Paduano Group (RPMP-RPA-ABB) and former rebels of the “CTG.”
“Kasi parang sinasabi nyo lang ito yung general name pero including NDFP (National Democratic Front of the Philippines… including CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines), NPA (New People’s Army). So gusto ko lang pong malinawan yung paggamit noong CTG na ito kasi wala naman tayong peace process before sa mga CTG,” she said.
(It’s as if you’re saying you’re using a broad word that includes the NDFP, CPP, and NPA. So I also want to understand why the CTG was used in the first place, given that there is no peace process with the CTG.)
OPAPP Assistant Secretary Agripino Javier later told Castro that such groups have changed names over time.
“And what I can only say is when we drafted the proclamation that was the term being used…communist terrorist group,” he said.
Castro was still not satisfied, asking: “So kung pinangalanan niyo ng communist terrorist group ito so what’s the point na meron tayong proclamation 1093? So wala po tayong peace process with the CTG. Sino po ba itong mga CTG na ito?”
(If you declared them to be a communist terrorist organization, what would be the point of Proclamation No. 1093? We have no peace talks with these CTGs, who are these CTG?)
“Kung gagamitin niyo itong as a general term na CTG, that includes NDFP, CPP, NPA and other front organizations. Binabago ninyo yung ginawa ng ibang administration, yung mga nanghihingi ng political reforms, economic reforms, social reforms,” she added.
(If you use the CTG as a catch-all acronym, it includes the NDFP, CPP, NPA, and other front organizations. You are changing what previous administrations have done, those that have called for political, economic, and social changes.)
Gen. Edgardo de Leon, the AFP Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, told Castro that the CPP and the NPA were already designated terrorist organizations under Proclamation No. 374 in December 2017 Duterte signed.
“That is the main basis for adopting the term communist terrorist group,” he said.
According to De Leon, the “national-level” peace process with the NDFP has already been terminated per the President’s orders, but localized peace talks continue across the country.
Still, Castro was not fully convinced by the answer.
“Sa dinami-dami ng sinabi ni major general, di pa rin nasasagaot yung tanong natin wherein sa peace process before kasi alam natin ang amnesty binibigay ito doon sa mga taong gustong mag-avail particular yung mga may political belief na kaiba dun sa ating gobyerno, na sinasabning magbabalik loob,” she said.
(The major still has not given me a response on the peace process because we know that someone who wishes to opt out of the process may believe in different political ideologies.)
“Simple lang naman tanong ko eh, ang tanong ko po san nanggaling CTG? Kasi kung gagamitin natin sa Proclamation 1093, bogus itong 1093. Sino mga beneficiaries nito?” she added.
(My question is straightforward: where did the term “CTG” come from? If we’re going to use this in Proclamation No. 1093, it’s bogus. Who would benefit in this situation?)
“Ito lang ba mga sumuko, napasuko nila na sinasabi nilang mga dating rebelde na tuluyang nagbaba ng armas?”
(Are these the rebels who surrendered? Those who totally surrendered their firearms?)
In Duterte’s Proclamation No. 1090 to1093, those who may be granted amnesty are those who committed crimes punishable under the Revised Penal Code and Special Penal Laws, including rebellion or insurrection, conspiracy to commit sedition, illegal possession of firearms, ammunition, or explosives, among others.
Any member of the aforementioned groups who have committed any of the crimes above may file for an application for amnesty.
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