MANILA - Interior Secretary Eduardo Año on Tuesday said communism should be outlawed in the Philippines, as he doubled down on his rhetoric against leftist groups.
Año said declaring the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its “front organizations” as subversive groups would fulfill President Rodrigo Duterte’s goal of ending the communist insurgency within his term.
“Specific naman ang mga organizations na gusto nating ma-list na subversive organization, particularly the Communist Party of the Philippines,” Año told reporters after a Senate hearing on the proposed amendments to the Human Security Act.
(We are targeting specific organizations to be declared as subversives, particularly the Communist Party of the Philippines.)
“Ang kinatatakot ng iba diyan eh baka 'yung opposition at saka 'yung mga ibang political parties eh malista. Wala, hindi kami doon, doon tayo sa CPP.”
(Some fear that the opposition and other political parties might be included. No, we are only after the CPP.)
Año, a former military chief who had a key role in various anti-communist operations, is proposing the revival of Republic Act 1700 or the Anti-Subversion Law.
This law was repealed in 1992 during the time of then President Fidel V. Ramos, who was seeking to forge a peace pact with communist rebels at the time.
“What’s happening now is only the New People’s Army is deemed illegal. But who’s directing the NPA? The Communist Party of the Philippines. Who’s providing the leadership to the NPA (New People's Army)? The CPP,” he said, referring to the party's armed wing.
President Rodrigo Duterte in 2017 tasked the justice department to file a court petition seeking to classify the CPP-NPA as a terrorist group, in accordance with the provisions of Republic Act 9372 or the Human Security Act.
SENATORS OPPOSE ANTI-SUBVERSION ACT
Several senators, meanwhile, said they would oppose any effort to revive the Anti-Subversion Law.
Minority Floor Leader Franklin Drilon, meanwhile, said reviving the Anti-Subversion Law would violate basic Constitutional rights.
"First, they want Congress to revive the death penalty. Now, they want us to resurrect the anti-subversion law. Is this how we want this Congress to be remembered?" Drilon said in a statement.
"We do not want this Congress to be remembered for resurrecting more 'dead' laws instead of formulating sound policies that will address the country's present problems.”
Drilon, a former justice secretary, said the Anti-Subversion Law violates the Constitutional right of a person to freedom of assembly and association, noting that the repealed measure outlawed mere affiliation with a group, attending a meeting or taking part in any activity meant to overthrow the government.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, a former police chief, also said reviving the law would encroach on the "fundamental right to a peaceful assembly, to protest."
"I don’t think I will support that," he said.
Sen. Grace Poe said she would also not support the proposal, saying the law should not be used as a weapon to suppress certain freedoms.
"Kailangan nating protektahan ang ating demokrasya at hindi puwedeng gamitin ang batas para mapigilan ang malayang pananalita ng ating kababayan at pagkilos," she said.
(We need to protect our democracy and the law should not be used to curtail free speech.)
National Union of People’s Lawyers president Edre Olalia, meanwhile, said Año’s proposal was “draconian” and “essentially anti-democratic.”
“The trial balloon idea to revive again the Anti-Subversion law should be seen as part of the worn out mailed fist approach to dissent and divergence of beliefs,” Olalia said in a statement.
“It is an excavation of a jurassic idea which has the effect of curtailing freedom of association and political beliefs which are in fact crucial ingredients for democracy to flourish.”