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NDFP listed as terror organization

MANILA, Philippines — The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), the political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), has been added to the list of terrorist organizations by the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC), a move that practically torpedoed any possibility of peace talks between the communist group and the government.

The ATC approved Resolution No. 21, which designated the NDFP as a terror group, on June 23, but was made public only on Monday.

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It was signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, who chairs the ATC, and his vice chair, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr.

The designation of the NDFP, which has represented the communist insurgents in the peace negotiations, came six months after the government declared the CPP and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA) as terrorist organizations.

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Under Republic Act No. 11479, or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) may now freeze the bank deposits and other assets of the NDFP.

In declaring it as a terror group, the ATC claimed that the NDFP has continued to recruit individuals, including minors, to join the NPA, which has been waging the world’s longest-running Maoist rebellion.

It noted that the CPP directed the NDFP in April to “continue to wage campaigns to support its armed operations in the form of material and financial contribution.”

No immediate arrest

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra reiterated that the designation of the NDFP as a terror group would not lead to the arrest of its suspected members.

“The principal effect of designation by the ATC is the freezing of bank accounts and other financial assets of the designated person/entity, not immediate arrest,” Guevarra told the Inquirer.

The government’s anti-insurgency task force maintained on Monday that the terror tag on the NDFP was long overdue.

At an online press briefing of the National Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac) on Monday, Florentino Manalastas Jr., officer in charge of the Anti-Terrorism Council’s program management group, said the ATC passed two resolutions on June 23 designating the NDFP as a terrorist organization and identifying some 20 Abu Sayyaf bandits as terrorists.

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“The consequence of this is the assets of individuals and organizations designated as terrorists would be subject to the authority of the Anti-Money Laundering Council, and could be frozen,” he pointed out.

‘Long overdue’

Alex Monteagudo, director general of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, said it was “long overdue” since the NDFP was an integral part of and one with the CPP.

Monteagudo pointed out that since the CPP and its armed wing, the New People’s Army were already designated as terrorist organizations by the ATC, “It only follows that the NDFP must be designated as well.”

“The NDFP objective is not really peace. Their objective while talking with us is to divert our attention on the talks while the CPP and the NPA continue to extort, attack, launch arson, recruit students, recruit the youth, recruit indigenous peoples (IP) and even kill IP leaders,” he claimed.

For his part, NTF-Elcac vice chair Esperon said, “Let us remember that, by nature, the CPP-NPA-NDFP are as we now know duplicitous.”

“They have above ground, open organizations or what they call legal fronts. But, in truth, they have underground mass organizations and officers that controlled these open organizations,” he explained.

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