MANILA (UPDATED) — The Anti-Terrorism Council will publish on Thursday a list of individuals it has designated as terrorists, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. disclosed during Wednesday’s oral arguments on petitions against the anti-terror law at the Supreme Court.
Esperon bared this as he spoke for the first time on the 8th session of the oral arguments on 37 petitions challenging the constitutionality of the Anti-Terrorism Act.
Esperon said the ATC in December had already designated the Communist Party of the Philippines, its armed wing the New People’s Army, and some other organizations as “terrorists.”
When asked by Associate Justice Rosmari Carandang if individuals have also been designated, Esperon confirmed the ATC has already issued new resolutions.
“I do not want to preempt the Anti-Terrorism Council because I have not seen yet the publication today or tomorrow, of the designation of several persons connected with the CPP-NPA, but we will do that,” he told magistrates.
“Are you at liberty to name these people since there have been designations already made?” Carandang asked.
“There is a resolution of the Anti-Terrorism Council but until we have published these in local papers, we will not name them publicly, your Honor. Tomorrow, they will come out in the papers,” Esperon said.
In the same session, Esperon played 2 videos of CPP founder Joma Sison, who he called the “master red-tagger” because the latter supposedly released in one of the videos names of 18 organizations described as “allied organizations” of the communist movement who have allegedly mobilized tens of millions to support the so-called national democratic revolution.
In the second video, taken in 1987, Sison, who has been in exile in the Netherlands for 3 decades, named supposed legal organizations of the national democratic revolution, which allegedly seeks to overthrow the government.
CONCERNS OVER DESIGNATION
Petitioners and even some justices have raised concerns over the lack of participation of suspected terrorists in the process of designation, raising concerns over possible violation of the right to due process.
Designated individuals and organizations may only ask for delisting after they have been designated.
Lawyers from the OSG however allayed fears of arrest, saying designation cannot be used as basis to take individuals into custody.
They said the effect of designation is only to freeze the assets of suspected terrorists.
Asked about Esperon's impending announcement, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan's (BAYAN) Renato Reyes said this would only show the world "who the real terrorists are in the Philippines."
BAYAN was one of the groups implicated in the video shown by Esperon before the SC.
"If they will use this as the basis for the terrorist designation of Bayan or any legal organization or activist, then that would simply be absurd and will expose the terror law as indeed a sham and an instrument to curtain basic rights... This will also tell the world who the real terrorists are in the Philippines," Reyes said.