PNP denies claims it targets critics of Duterte admin in war vs terrorism
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Thursday assured that its operations against National Democratic Front (NDF) consultants and individuals linked to the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), are legitimate and have legal basis.
This came after the government’s anti-terrorism body, Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC), revealed on Monday that it designated the NDF as a “terrorist group.”
The NDF then condemned the designation of the organization, warning that it will only lead to legal activists, human rights defenders, critics and oppositionists being targeted by the government’s security force after “arbitrarily tagging” them as NDF members and associates.
PNP chief General Guillermo Eleazar, however, dismissed these warnings and reiterated that they do not target critics of the President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.
“I would like to point out that our operations are not against activists or critics of the administration, but against persons who have committed crimes and those responsible for atrocities as part of the CPP-NPA-NDF,” Eleazar said in a statement.
“Laging may basehan ang aming operasyon at hindi kailanman dahil lang sa pagbatikos sa administrasyon. Mataas ang respeto natin sa mga karapatan sa malayang pananalita at pagpapahayag,” he added.
(Our operations always have a basis and never just because they’re critics of the administration. We have high respect for the rights to free speech and expression.)
Furthermore, Eleazar said that the police force only targets personalities suspected to have committed criminal acts based on validated information and collected evidence based on warrants issued by courts.
He then dismissed allegations by the NDF that previous arrests of its consultants and other personalities linked to the CPP-NPA were made on fabricated charges.
“The previous arrests made against a number of NDF consultants were legitimate because of the charges filed against them in various courts. They were released from detention for the peace talks but once negotiations failed, the NDF consultants went into hiding and refused to face the charges filed against them,” he said.
“Takot silang harapin ang mga kaso dahil alam nilang matibay ang ebidensiya laban sa kanila at tiyak ang kanilang mahabang panahon na pagkakakulong,” he added.
(They are afraid to face charges because they know the evidence against them is strong and their long-term imprisonment is certain.)
In Resolution No. 21 made public Monday, the ATC said it “found probable cause” to name NDF as a “terrorist group of persons, organization, or association for having committed, or attempting to commit, or conspire in the commission of the acts defined and penalized under Sections, 7, 10, and 12 of the ATA (Anti-Terrorism Act).”
Sections 7, 10, and 12 of the ATA refer to the conspiracy to commit terrorism, recruitment to and membership in a terrorist organization, and providing material support to terrorists.
According to ATC, NDF is an essential part of the CPP-NPA.
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