MANILA -- The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday cited numerous attacks made by Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) in various provinces all over the country as basis to legally declare it as a terrorist group.
Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Peter Ong, head of the panel tasked by Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, said that they are close to finalizing the government's resolution to be filed before a Regional Trial Court seeking to declare the CPP-NPA as terrorist organizations.
Ong said the attacks occurred as President Rodrigo Duterte was “extending his hand” and “showing good faith” in the peace talks between the government and the rebels.
“The point is, the President was extending his hand, showing his good faith and sincerity for just and lasting peace. And yet ito pa ang mga offensives ang kapalit ng peace negotiations,” Ong told reporters during the press conference.
The senior prosecutor said their investigation showed how the CPP-NPA did not honor the good faith and sincerity extended by the Duterte administration and continued their offensives during the earlier peace talks.
"They committed terrorist acts that will justify in designating them as terrorist organization," Ong explained.
The petition was expected to be filed with the court within January, Ong said, explaining the DOJ was still waiting for certified copies of incident reports on the attacks.
“Perhaps (it would be filed) within the month, kaya na ito. So many incidents, im still waiting for the reports to come in, certified true copies of the reports,” Ong said.
“We listed about 15 incidents. Baka i-zero in namin ito sa 10 or 12,” he said.
Ong said that among the attacks cited was the ambush of suspected communist rebels against two soldiers in a storm-hit village in Catubig, Northern Samar.
On December 17, two soldiers were reportedly injured when suspected rebels opened fire on a military unit heading towards Barangay Hinagoyonon, Catubig to assist residents affected by flooding.
“These are very recent incidents. The attack on the rescue operations ng military sa Catubig, Samar (during) typhoon Urduja,” he noted.
“We were able to gather incidents, they call it atrocities, tactical offensives, incidents of terrorist acts, but we want to focus in the incidents after the president assumed office,” he said.
Ong clarified that the petition will target the organization and not its individual officials like founding chairman Jose Mari Sison.
"But there are implications once the petition is granted and they are declared a terrorist group. Under the Human Security Act, you can apply for judicial order for wiretapping against members of a terrorist organization. You could also apply surveillance of bank accounts or freeze their assets," he explained.
Section 17 of Republic Act No. 9372 (Human Security Act of 2007) requires the DOJ to first seek clearance from the court before an organization, association or group of persons can be declared as terrorist and outlawed group.
“The petition will also lay down their history. There were incidents in the past that showed a pattern,” he said.
Earlier, Aguirre said he had formed a team of prosecutors to file a formal petition in court to legally declare the groups as “terrorists.”
Ong is head of the team created by Aguirre to draft the petition following President Duterte’s decision to issue a proclamation naming the CPP as a terror group.
“It has excellent chances (of being approved) because of the numerous supporting evidence we have (showing) that they are committing terroristic activities despite numerous initiatives of President Duterte to reach out to them,” Aguirre said in a text message to reporters on December 6.
Aguirre expressed confidence that the lower court would grant the government’s request following President Rodrigo Duterte’s proclamation naming the CPP-NPA as terror organizations.
Earlier, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque announced that the President has signed a proclamation formally designating the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization.
Roque said the President signed the proclamation pursuant to the provisions of Republic Act No. 10168 or the Human Security Act.
Roque said that under the law, affiliate revolutionary groups of the CPP-NPA would now also be considered terrorist groups, and anyone proven to be financing them would be held liable.
Citing the pertinent provisions of RA 10168, Roque said that a designated person is “any person or entity designated or identified as a terrorist, as one who finances terrorism or a terrorist organization or group under the applicable United Nations Security Council resolution or by another jurisdiction or supranational jurisdiction and pursuant to the proclamation which implements the Human Security Act.”
“Take note that the domestic statute and the UN Security Council prohibit the giving of funds to terrorist organizations. This will enable law enforcement agencies to run after individuals who will, in any way, provide financial support to the NPA now that it has been described as a terrorist organization,” Roque said.
In his proclamation, Duterte directed the Department of Foreign Affairs “to publish the foregoing designation of CPP-NPA and other designated persons, organizations, in accordance with Sections 3 and 15 of RA 10168 and its implementing rules and regulations.”
The proclamation was issued after the Philippine government terminated peace talks with the CPP-NPA after a series of violent attacks that the President said is against humanitarian law. (PNA)