MANILA (UPDATE) - President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday signed a proclamation declaring the Communist Party of the Philippines - New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) as a terror organization, marking a major shift in the once-vibrant ties between the tough-talking leader and the armed Left.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said Duterte signed the proclamation declaring the CPP-NPA as a terror organization using Republic Act 10168 or the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012 as basis.
Roque said, after the signing of the proclamation, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, in a memorandum, ordered Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre to file a petition at a regional trial court (RTC) seeking to classify the CPP-NPA as a terrorist group, in accordance with the provisions of the Republic Act (RA) 9372 or the Human Security Act, which lays down acts that are defined as terrorism.
The presidential spokesperson added the petition to the court was filed “in view of the violent acts of the CPP-NPA which sow and create a condition of widespread and extraordinary fear and panic among the populace.”
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza explained that after the issuance of the executive proclamation, the next step is for the DOJ to file in court a “proscription” of the CPP-NPA as a terror group under Republic Act 9372 or the Human Security Act for a “judicial affirmation."
Roque explained that the DOJ has to seek court approval in declaring the CPP-NPA as terrorists because the executive action is not enough.
“They (CPP-NPA) have been proclaimed by the President [as terrorists] and that has effect already because, of course, we don’t talk peace with terrorists now,” he said.
“But for the purposes of the Human Security Act, the RTC [Regional Trial Court] must rule that pursuant to the government petition that the CPP-NPA is in fact a terrorist organization.”
The court proceedings will give the CPP-NPA the chance to be heard, Roque added.
The President in November terminated talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) amid continued rebel attacks on State troops.
The President also recently ordered NDFP consultants who were conditionally released so they could participate in the peace talks to “surrender or face punitive actions.”
There had been high hopes when Duterte came to power that peace would finally be achieved between the government and the communists following five decades of insurgency.
But such hopes were dashed after the President decided to scrap negotiations over what he thought was the communist rebels’ lack of sincerity.
NDF panel chair Fidel Agcaoili, in response, said they have yet to read the President's proclamation.
"Actually, mahirap mag-react dahil sa hindi pa namin nababasa yung proclamation o declaration no. Pero kami ay nagugulat kasi bakit kami ang tatawaging, bakit tatawaging terrorist ang CPP-NPA samantalang in the last two days lang, may pinatay na pastor sa Mindoro," Agcaoili told ANC.
He cited the deaths of Pastor Lovelito Quinones and Father Marcelito Paez who were killed on Sunday and Monday, respectively, and were tagged as members of the NPA by cops.
"Si Pastor Quinones, hindi naman yan NPA. Sa Nueva Ecija kahapon, pinatay si Father Marcelito Paez, hindi naman yan NPA," Agcaoili said.
"Tapos kahapon din, may 8 lumad na minasaker sa Lake Sebu. Aba eh, yang mga pinatay na Lumad eh lumalaban lang para sa kanilang karapatan diyan sa ginagawa ng Consunji company. Aba ngayon eh ang NPA pa at CPP ang terrorist," he added.