MANILA - Left-leaning groups could be held liable under the law if proven that they give logistical support to communist rebels tagged as terrorists by President Rodrigo Duterte, the military warned Wednesday.
Duterte last year freed top rebel leaders from prison and restarted peace negotiations. He scuttled the talks after a string of deadly communist attacks against soldiers and police.
On Tuesday, he signed an order declaring the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its 3,800-member armed wing, the New People's Army (NPA) as "terrorist organisations" that allegedly mount "continued violent acts".
Authorities are verifying information that the CPP-NPA has received help from militant groups like Bayan, Akbayan and Bayan Muna said military spokesman Col. Edgard Arevalo.
"Mayroon po tayong impormasyon na natatanggap hinggil sa mga tulong na kanilang inihahatid... Kung ang sinumang grupo ay mapatutunayan na sila ay nagkakanlong o sila ay nagbibigay ng ayuda o tulong sa mga teroristang grupo then puwede na po silang makasuhan," he told DZMM.
(We have received information on the aid they are providing. Any group proven to be colluding or supporting terrorist groups could face charges.)
Citizens, Arevalo said, can enforce warrants of arrest that would be issued against communists and their sympathizers.
The military, for its part, will respect human rights and observe international humanitarian law in their anti-insurgency drive, he added.
The terrorist classification of CPP-NPA requires court approval to go into effect, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque has said.
The Tuesday order follows a 2002 US classification of the 2 groups as "foreign terrorist organizations".
Chief rebel negotiator Fidel Agcaoili of the National Democratic Front -- a group linked with the communist rebels but not targeted by Duterte -- denied that the NPA was a terrorist group.
Communist rebels have been waging an insurgency in the Philippines since 1968 to overthrow what they call a capitalist system that has created one of Asia's biggest rich-poor divides.
Peace talks to end the conflict -- which the military says has claimed 30,000 lives -- have been held on and off for 3 decades.
The military is not inclined to declare a ceasefire with the CPP-NPA this Christmas, as they did in recent years, said Arevalo. With Agence France-Presse