MANILA (UPDATE)- Sixteen organizations considered by authorities as "underground groups" of the communist movement in the country have been designated by the government's Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) as terrorist entities.
In a press release this month, the ATC named the following organizations, supposedly linked with the Communist Party of the Philippines - New People's Army - National Democratic Front of the Philippines, as terrorists.
- Revolutionary Council of Trade Unions (RCTU)
- Katipunan ng mga Samahang Manggagawa (KASAMA) or Federation of Labor Organizations
- Pambansang Katipunan ng mga Magbubukid (PKM) or National Association of Peasants
- - Malayang Kilusan ng Bagong Kababaihan (MAKIBAKA) or Patriotic Movement of New Women
- Kabataang Makabayan (KM) or Patriotic Youth
- Katipunan ng Gurong Makabayan (KAGUMA) or Association of Patriotic Teachers
- Makabayang Samahang Pangkalusugan (MASAPA) or Patriotic Health Association
- Liga ng Agham Para sa Bayan (LAB) or League of Scientists for the People
- Lupon ng mga Manananggol para sa Bayan (LUMABAN) or Committee of Lawyers for the People;
- Artista at Manunulat ng Sambayanan (ARMAS) or Artists and Writers for the People
- Makabayang Kawaning Pilipino (MKP) or Patriotic Government Employees
- Revolutionary Organization of Overseas Filipinos and their Families (COMPATRIOTS)
- Christians for National Liberation (CNL)
- Cordillera People’s Democratic Front (CPDF)
- Moro Resistance Liberation Organization (MRLO)
- Revolutionary Organization of Lumads (ROL)
Their terrorist designation, which effectively subjects their financial assets and properties to the authority of the Anti-Money Laundering Council, was contained in a resolution by the ATC dated Jan. 26.
"Statements of several former NPA members confirmed said 16 UGOs but clarified that, based on underground experience, the 16 UGOs are more than allied organizations and are actually the core or constituent groups of the NDF a.k.a. NDFP," the ATC statement read.
The council said CPP founder Jose Maria Sison, himself already a designated terrorist under ATC Resolution No. 17 (2021), identified in April last year the 16 groups as allied with NDFP, another designated terrorist organizational (ATC Resolution No. 21 (2021).
"The official NDF a.k.a. NDFP website enumerated the said underground organizations as NDF a.k.a NDFP member organizations," the ATC said.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra previously explained that the principal effect of designation as terrorist is not immediate arrest but "freezing of bank accounts and other financial assets of the designated person/entity."
Under section 25 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, designation of terrorists and terrorist groups could come in three ways:
- The Anti-Terrorism Council can automatically adopt the United Nations Security Council’s consolidated list of designated individuals or groups.
- The ATC may adopt the UNSC’s criteria in processing requests for designation by other jurisdictions or supranational jurisdictions.
- The ATC may make its own designations.
But the Supreme Court, in deciding last year on the 37 petitions against the anti-terror law, said that the second method for designation in Section 25 paragraph 2 of the law, i.e. "Request for designations by other jurisdictions or supranational jurisdictions may be adopted by the ATC after determination that the proposed designee meets the criteria for designation of UNSCR No. 1373", is unconstitutional.
Except for that and the qualifier to the proviso in Section 4 of Republic Act 11479 i.e. "which are not intended to cause death or serious physical harm to a person, to endanger a person's life, or to create a serious risk to public safety", all the other challenged provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 are not unconstitutional, the high court said.
CPP: THESE ARE PATRIOTIC, DEMOCRATIC ORGS
In a statement, the Communist Party of the Philippines condemned the government's pronouncement, and said the 16 organizations are patriotic and democratic organizations.
"[All] the 16 organizations targeted by the NTF-Elcac/ATC’s resolution are patriotic and democratic and have long been fighting for the rights and interests of their represented sectors," the CPP said.
It also noted that some of the groups were among that fought during Martial Law under the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, and the move just aims to silence dissidents.
"[This] is part of the heightening campaign of suppression of the US-Duterte regime against the broad democratic forces, reinforces its reign of state terror," the statement read.
"By aiming to terrorize the people, the declaration is part of preparations to steal the upcoming May presidential elections to ensure the victory of the Marcos-Duterte candidates."
The CPP blasted the council for using the resolution as "blanket authority to clamp down on social activists," which also impedes their rights for due process.
Critics of the anti-terror law have denounced the ATC’s power to designate terrorists as a violation of the right to due process, among others, since it precludes participation of suspected terrorists, leaving them no chance to oppose nor present evidence before their designation.
President Rodrigo Duterte formally announced the end of the government's peace negotiations with communist rebels in March 2019 amid continuing attacks by the NPA on government troops while talks were being held.