MANILA - Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Sunday he supports the call of Interior Secretary Eduardo Año to revive the expanded version of the Anti-Subversion Act and ban organizations with links to rebel groups.
Año, who is also a former Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, earlier said banning communism and 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.
“If a legal front is fronting for an illegal organization, they should be illegal, di ba? Simple lang naman 'yan eh (It's that simple),” said Lorenzana.
The defense chief said he agreed that the revival of the Anti-Subversion Act would end the communist insurgency.
Lorenzana clarified that he has no issue with communism as an ideology but is against armed struggle.
“Communism, per se, is not illegal sa akin (not illegal for me),” Lorenzana said.
“They can make their own communist party there, na basta lang they will denounce, renounce. But when these people who believe in communism also believe in an armed struggle to overthrow a duly constituted government, masama na 'yan, iba na 'yan (that's crossing the line).”
The Anti-Subversion Act was first implemented in 1957 during the administration of President Carlos P. Garcia. It criminalized membership in the communist party as well as its armed wing, Hukbong Magpapalaya sa Bayan.
During the time of President Ferdinand Marcos, the law was further expanded to criminalize organizations associated to the CPP as well.
All versions of the anti-subversion law were repealed in 1991, when President Fidel Ramos attempted to broker a peace deal with the CPP-NPA-NDF.
Malacañang has said that proposals to revive the law "require study" as there is nothing wrong with the youth joining organizations to "express legitimate grievance against government."
The Department of Justice has also said that mere membership in the Communist Party of the Philippines is "not a crime," unless overt criminal acts are committed.