MANILA - Activist and former party-list congressman Satur Ocampo has asked a Manila court to junk a government petition seeking to label him as a terrorist, saying it was a clear case of "political persecution."
Ocampo, 78, warned that the "arbitrary labeling" could lead to "punitive consequences" against him such as surveillance, wiretapping, and freezing of bank deposits as spelled out in the country’s stiff anti-terror law.
"I am Saturnino Ocampo. Journalist. I am not a terrorist," he told the court in his dismissal motion filed Tuesday.
Ocampo, a former business editor, said he would "not allow the state’s overly powerful finger to continue violating (my) rights, security and liberty.”
He also "vehemently" denied being an "officer, a member, or even representative" of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army.
"Nothing in the petition" showed he was "indeed currently" affiliated with the CPP-NPA, said Ocampo, who served as chief peace negotiator for the rebels during the Corazon Aquino administration.
ACTS OF TERROR
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier issued a proclamation declaring the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization following attacks against government forces.
Duterte insisted on a bilateral ceasefire agreement with the rebels before formal peace talks could resume.
A subsequent government petition sought to formalize the terror label as required by the Human Security Act, citing 12 "acts of terror" committed by the rebels last year.
Ocampo argued that the petition "fails to sufficiently show" that he had "knowledge, conspired with the alleged perpetrators of, or in any way participated" in the supposed acts of terrorism.
He said the government also failed to show other elements of terrorism such as "to sow and create a condition of widespread and extraordinary fear and panic among the populace."
This condition, he said, should also be meant "to coerce the government to give in to an unlawful demand."
More than 600 people, including an United Nations special rapporteur, were included in the proscription petition.
The "arbitrary labelling," Ocampo said, "carries with it sinister denials of protection of basic human rights, including potential threats to their freedoms, rights, and security."
"They will most likely be treated as extraordinary kind of criminals, who cannot be granted human rights that even common criminals are entitled to," he said.
Ocampo urged the President to return to the negotiating table.
"If President Duterte can still consider an advice of an old friend, pwede i-withdraw nya yung kanyang proclamation, at consequently i-withdraw itong petition na ito para bumalik na lang sa peace negotiations,” Ocampo told ABS-CBN News.
(If President Duterte can still consider an advice of an old friend, he can withdraw his proclamation, and consequently, withdraw this petition so that we can return to peace negotiations.)
Formal peace talks began in earnest under Duterte, largely because of the rapport he built with communist rebels during his long years as Davao City mayor.
But negotiations bogged down over clashes between state troops and the NPA.