MANILA - A former lawmaker and peace negotiator said tagging the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People's Army (NPA), as a 'terrorist' organization is President Rodrigo Duterte's worst move.
Speaking to ANC Monday, former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo said by branding the rebels as terrorists the President seems to be closing the doors on the peace negotiations with the communists.
"When he simply cancelled the talks, he left an opening. Subsequently, there were back-channel discussions on the resumption of talks. But in this last move, there are indications, there seem to be no more opening for a resumption," he said.
The Department of Justice last Wednesday filed a petition before the Manila Regional Trial Court to formally cite the CPP-NPA as terrorist organizations in compliance with Duterte's order.
Twelve "terror activities" and "atrocities" allegedly perpetrated by the CPP-NPA in Negros Occiental and Oriental, Surigao, Misamis, Bukidnon, Cagayan de Oro City and Davao were cited in the petition.
Ocampo insists that members of communist movement stuck to their end of the deal during the 5-month unilateral ceasefire while the peace talks were ongoing. But he said it was the military who broke the truce.
Among those Duterte wants to be tagged as terrorists are CPP-NPA founder Jose Maria Sison, peace negotiator Luis Jalandoni, and Ocampo. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, appointed in 2014 as UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, was also on the list.
Ocampo, who served as a peace negotiator for the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, believes President Duterte will have a hard time proving in court that the individuals he tagged are indeed terrorists.