DOJ taking ‘terror tag’ bid vs Reds to CA | Inquirer News

DOJ taking ‘terror tag’ bid vs Reds to CA

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla | Boying Remulla’s official facebook page

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice (DOJ) will no longer ask the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) to reconsider its decision junking the petition to declare communist rebel groups terrorists and will instead file a new proscription case directly in the Court of Appeals (CA), Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said on Friday.

“Appealing the case will not serve us any good … because the law covered by the case is a repealed law,” Remulla said in an interview with CNN Philippines.


The repealed law he was referring to was the Human Security Act (HSA) of 2007, which was replaced by the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) of 2020.

Remulla pointed out that the CA had jurisdiction over the proscription of alleged terrorist individuals or organizations provided that they were given due process under the ATA.


DOJ spokesperson Mico Clavano said the justice department would skip the remedies of a motion for reconsideration and petition for certiorari in the RTC and go straight to the appellate court to ask it to declare the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), terrorist organizations.

‘Pocket, sporadic’

On Wednesday, Manila RTC Branch 19 ruled that the nine incidents of alleged atrocities by the communist rebels cited by the DOJ to back its 2018 proscription petition did not meet the requirement for terrorism as defined by the HSA.

The court said the incidents could not have caused “widespread and extraordinary fear and panic” as they occurred only in limited areas in Mindanao.

The incidents were “pocket and sporadic,” only “ripples in a much larger pond,” not enough to force the government into complying with any demand, which would characterize a terrorist act, it said.

“Not having met the stringent requirements of HSA of 2007, the nine (9) acts of atrocities committed by the NPA can only qualify as incidents of ‘rebellion,’” the court ruled.

Remulla criticized RTC Branch 19 Presiding Judge Marlo Magdoza Malagar, saying she “had bias from the beginning.”

“It became a treatise on how to defend the NDF (National Democratic Front of the Philippines) or the so-called progressive groups who want to overthrow the government,” he said of Malagar’s 135-page decision. The NDFP is the political wing of the CPP.


The judge ruled that the CPP and the NPA were rebel groups, not terrorist organizations. She also said the practice of Red-tagging endangered the lives of people associated with progressive or activist groups participating in democratic actions.

“Nothing is better attested by present realities than that terrorism does not flourish in a healthy, vibrant democracy,” she concluded.

In a statement on Friday, National Security Adviser Clarita Carlos said the lower court’s decision was “a minor setback that will not diminish nor undermine the campaign of the government to put an end” to the insurgent groups.

The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac) said in a statement that the judge “unjustly and inexplicably” dismissed the proscription case “despite the overwhelming and undeniable evidence, manifest to the entire Filipino people, of the now five-decade period of atrocities, murders, genocide, killing fields and destruction” committed by the communist rebels.

While it respected the court’s decision, the NTF-Elcac noted that the ruling that the communist movement was established not for the purpose of committing terrorism was “a glaring mistake and blunder.”

“Following this line of reasoning, no organization with a nicely written ‘Constitution,’ may be proscribed even if it splutters with terroristic incitements and/or engages in activities intended to intimidate the general public, among others,” it said.

It insisted that the CPP, NPA and NDFP were “still officially and legally pronounced as terrorist organizations” under different policies passed during the previous administration.

Legal basis still ‘exists’

It cited Presidential Proclamation No. 374 of then President Rodrigo Duterte, which declared the CPP-NPA terrorist organizations under Republic Act No. 10168, or the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012.

Three separate resolutions issued by the Anti-Terrorism Council on Dec. 9, 2020, April 21, 2021 and June 23, 2021, also designated the CPP-NPA-NDFP and their members terrorists under the ATA.

“Hence, the legal pronouncement and designation of the CPP-NPA-NDFP as a terrorist organization still exists—in spite of the RTC’s incomprehensible dismissal of the proscription case under the Human Security Act,” the anticommunist task force said.

The Manila RTC’s decision, however, was applauded by the three lawmakers comprising the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives, particularly the court’s statements against Red-tagging.

“This is a breakthrough decision that should put a stop to Red-tagging and open the doors to the peace negotiations,” the bloc said.

With the ruling, “terrorist-tagging and Red-tagging” by the government, public officials, the military and police, and the NTF-Elcac “should immediately cease and desist.”

The Makabayan bloc said the ruling “rightly points out that rebellion arises from social inequality and must be addressed by government in a comprehensive manner that addresses its root causes.”


DOJ won’t contest Manila court’s dismissal of bid to terror-tag CPP-NPA

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TAGS: Court of Appeals, CPP-NPA, DoJ, proscription
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