Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles (File photo)

MANILA – The Philippine government will appeal a Manila court’s move to dismiss the petition to declare the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), as a terror organization, Malacañang said Friday (Manila time).

In a press briefing in New York City, Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said the government still has available remedies to overturn the decision of Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 19 to junk the bid to classify the CPP-NPA as a terror group.

“Actually, since the decision is not yet final and this is an RTC decision, marami pang available remedies ang ating gobyerno (the government still has available remedies),” Cruz-Angeles said.

Cruz-Angeles said it would be “improper” to comment further, stressing that she wants to identify the parameters since “details are still not available to us.”

She, nevertheless, ensured that the legal battle is not yet over.

“I understand this might have been filed under the Human Security Act rather than the (Anti-)Terrorism Act,” Cruz-Angeles said.

Malayo pa ‘to, malayo pa (It will take time). And you know, we don’t even know what parameters are here. By then, we’ll understand what remedies will be available if remedies are even necessary,” she added.

The court dismissed the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) petition for proscription filed in 2018 to label the CPP-NPA as a terror organization.

The DOJ’s petition was filed based on Section 17 of Republic Act (RA) 9372 or the repealed Human Security Act of 2007 which mandates the RTC’s ruling before an organization can be formally declared as a terrorist.

In its ruling, the court noted that “none” of the alleged terrorist acts of the CPP-NPA cited by the DOJ caused “widespread and extraordinary fear and panic among the Philippine populace.”

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla on Thursday said the DOJ would file a motion for reconsideration.

ATA mandates terror tag

Meanwhile, the Armed of the Philippines (AFP) said the terrorist designation of the CPP-NPA remains under Republic Act 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) of 2020.

"The DOJ (Department of Justice) will file an MR (motion for reconsideration). The decision, therefore, is not final. Our lawyers clarified that the designation of the CPP-NPA and NDF (National Democratic Front) as terrorist organizations under ATA 2020 remains in effect to significantly reduce the capability of these designated terrorist organizations to recruit new members and mount hostile actions or acts of terror," AFP acting spokesperson Col. Medel Aguilar said in a message to reporters.

He added that their operations against these threat groups, which continue to gain grounds, will not be affected by the court’s decision. 

Meanwhile, the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC) said while the court's decision is a "minor setback", it will not undermine the government's campaign against insurgency. 

"Ang NTF-ELCAC ay hindi susuko sa pagsugpo ng terrorismo at ilalaban ang kapakanan ng mga Pilipino para makamtan ang ganap na kapayapaan at pagkakaisa (The NTF ELCAC will not waver in its resolve to suppress terrorism and will continue to fight for the people's right to peace and unity). The NTF ELCAC will continue to be vigilant in its Whole of Nation’s campaign until the local communist armed conflict in the Philippines will come to its end," National Security Adviser and NTF ELCAC vice chairperson Clarita Carlos said in a statement. (with Priam Nepomuceno/PNA)