MANILA – A Manila court has dismissed a petition for proscription filed by the government in 2018 to formally outlaw the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) under the old Human Security Act (HSA).

In its 135-decision dated Sept. 21, Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 19 Judge Marlo A. Magdoza-Malagar noted, among other things, that under Sec. 26 of the Anti-Terror Act of 2020 which superseded the HSA, the proscription of terrorist organizations, association or group of persons shall now be made by an application of the Department of Justice (DOJ) before the Court of Appeals (CA).

"The instant petition is hereby dismissed," Malagar said.

Government lawyers said they are evaluating their next move in the development. "We are going to study the decision first," DOJ spokesperson Mico Clavano told newsmen.

Last May, the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) designated as terrorists six high-ranking communist leaders, including National Democratic Front’s Luis G. Jalandoni, and five figureheads of the Abu Sayyaf Group and Daulah Islamiyah after careful verification and validation.

In two separate resolutions signed by ATC vice chairperson Hermogenes Esperon Jr. on May 25, 2022, it said that in accordance with Section 25, Paragraph 3 of RA 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) of 2020, which states the ATC may designate an individual, group of persons, organization, or association, whether domestic or foreign, upon a finding of probable cause who commit, or attempt to commit or conspire in the commission of the acts defined and penalized under Sections 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12.

ATC Resolution No. 31 designated six leaders of the CPP-NPA-NDF as terrorist individuals, namely:

1. Luis Jalandoni a.k.a. Louie/Ka Rosendo/Bernie/Lopez/Bern/Munding/Cinco/ Fernando/Andres, member of the CPP Central Committee, member of the NDF, and founder of the designated terrorist organization Christians for National Liberation;

2. Simon Naugsan, a.k.a. Filiw/Wayat/Bernie/Nasser/Yasser/ Arop, spokesperson of designated terrorist organization Cordillera People’s Democratic Front and member of the CPP-NPA;

3. Afrecia/Apricia Alvares/Alvarez Rosete a.k.a. Bambam/Bambi/Jamjam/Isay/ Tengteng/Lalay/Laly/Ilay/Maymay/Lily/Lali/Danielle/Aurora Cahayon, secretary of the CPP-NPA’s Western Mindanao Regional Party Committee;

4. Maria Luisa Purcray a.k.a. Byul/Nanul/Meriam/Awri/Miriam/Monica/Viol/Rodora Guevarra/Lerma/Maou/Melba, secretary of the Ilocos Cordillera Regional Committee of the CPP-NPA;

5. Maria Gigi Ascaño-Tenebroso a.k.a. Gigi/Jiji, member of the designated terrorist organization Katipunan ng Gurong Makabayan and finance officer of Southern Mindanao Regional Committee of the CPP-NPA; and member of the CPP-NPA; and

6. Walter Alipio de Asis Cerbito a.k.a. Wati, member of the designated terrorist organization Christians for National Liberation.

Verified and validated 

“ATC Resolution No. 31 cites that based on verified and validated information obtained and consolidated by the National Intelligence Committee which was submitted to the ATC, there is a finding of probable cause, warranting the designation of specific persons for violations of Sections 4, 6, 7, 10 and 12 of the ATA, for committing, conspiring, planning, preparing for the commission of terrorism and recruitment to and membership in, and providing material support to terrorist organizations or groups organized for the purpose of engaging in terrorism,” ATC said on the latest designation of additional six communist members,

On the other hand, ATC Resolution No. 32 also designated as terrorists the following five members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and Daulah Islamiyah (DI) as specific terrorist individuals:

1. Basaron Arok/Basarun Aruk a.k.a. Abdulbasser/Abdulkadil/Arkam/Bas/Bossing, sub-leader of the ASG and affiliated with the DI;

2. Ellam Sajirin/Ellam Nasirin/Ellam Nasarin/Illam Nasirin a.k.a. Ellam/Illam, sub-leader of the ASG and affiliated with the DI;

3. Madjid Said/Majid Said a.k.a. Amah Pattit/Padin Padul/Pading/Amah Sah, sub-leader of the ASG and affiliated with the DI;

4. Mura Asgali Kayawan a.k.a. Salip Mura Asgali/Salip Mura/Salip Murah/Maas, sub-leader of the ASG and affiliated with the DI; and

5. Tawakkal Bayali/Tawakal Bayali/Tawakkal Abugaw Bayali/Tawwakal Bayali a.k.a. Abu Tawakkal/Jaber, sub-leader of the ASG and affiliated with the DI.

Owing to this designation, the ATC said financial assets and properties of designated individuals, groups of persons, organizations, or associations are subject to the authority of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to investigate and freeze.

This is pursuant to Section 11 of RA 10168 or the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012 (TFPSA) and Section 25 of the ATA. This authority of the AMLC under RA 10168 has been applied against various CTG organizations, namely, the CPP-NPA by virtue of ATC Resolution No. 12 dated December 9, 2020; the NDF/NDFP (National Democratic Front of the Philippines) by virtue of ATC Resolution 21 dated June 23, 2021; and CPP-NPA-NDF/NDFP Underground Organizations by virtue of ATC Resolution No. 28 dated January 26, 2022.

Aside from ATA and TFPSA, the ATC said the designation is necessary to sustain the legal efforts against the continuing threat of terrorism in the country.

Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said the government will be appealing the Manila court decision.

"We'll file a motion for reconsideration then if we have to we'll go to the Court of Appeals. It's something that the State has to take care of when people are attacking the State. Kailangan natin kumilos (we need to act) and we use the law for this purpose. And we will obey the law whatever the case may be," he said. 

Unfortunate

Meanwhile, the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC) said it is saddened by the court’s decision.

"Siyempre malungkot dahil (Of course we are sad because) there is such a decision being circulated or made by a court, decision that runs counter to the decision of, earlier of the president, and decision of even, stand of the other international community making a strong stand against CPP-NPA as a foreign terrorist group, organization," task force executive director Emmanuel Salamat said in an interview with reporters.

Salamat, a retired Marine lieutenant general, said the decision will not affect their ongoing campaign against the communist movement and its sympathizers.

He added that they also looking into appealing the court’s decision.

Salamat also said he will ask the NTF ELCAC's legal cluster to make a more concrete statement on the issue. (with report from Priam Nepomuceno/PNA)