By Jennifer P. Rendon
Whatever goals or ideologies the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) have, their acts of violence don’t justify their existence.
This, Prosecutor 2 Flosemer Chris Gonzales, spokesperson of the Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC 6), said relative to the Department of Justice’s petition to the courts to declare the CPP-NPA-NDF a terrorist organization.
Gonzales, who also stands as spokesperson for the Legal Cooperation Cluster of the NTF-ELCAC, said that what’s clear is the CPP-NPA-NDF’s alleged continuous commission of terroristic acts.
Earlier, the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 19 dismissed a petition of the Department of Justice (DoJ) on Feb. 21, 2018, to declare the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization.
The DoJ filed the petition under Section 17 of the Human Security Act (HSA) of 2007, which requires a ruling by a regional trial court before an organization can be officially labeled as a terrorist group.
In her ruling, Judge Marlo Magdoza-Malagar said that the group’s Ten Point Program “readily shows that the CPP-NPA is organized or exists, not for the purpose of engaging in terrorism.”
Magdoza-Malagar noted that the Human Security Act defines terrorism as the commission of piracy and mutiny on the high seas; rebellion or insurrection; coup d’etat; murder; kidnapping and serious illegal detention; crimes involving destruction of property “thereby sowing and creating a condition of widespread and extraordinary fear and panic among the populace, in order to coerce the government to give in to an unlawful demand.”
“It is not difficult to see how the CPP-NPA’s resort to ‘armed struggle’ and the violence that necessarily accompanies the same, as the sanctioned means to achieve its purpose(s) may have earned the CPP-NPA the terrorist label,” the ruling said.
In its petition, the Justice department cited nine incidents of alleged atrocities committed by the NPA, but the Manila Regional Trial Court rejected these, saying:
“None of the evidence presented by the petitioner gives any impression that these incidents fall within the category of acts officially sanctioned by the respondent organizations.”
Gonzales cited several instances of these violence to include the killing of the baby of Wanida Ali; the brutal murder of the Absalon cousins; the gruesome massacre of 39 churchgoers, most of whom are children in Sitio Rano in Digos; the executions of thousands of NPA members during the infamous internal purges of the CPP-NPA; and the deaths of thousands of Filipinos, soldiers, policemen, and civilians who were killed in pursuit of a higher goal by the CPP-NPA-NDF in what was referred to by a court in a decision that dismissed the proscription petition filed by the DOJ way back in 2018.
“The CPP-NPA-NDF has adopted a policy of violence, destruction of property, and extortion as the means to achieve their ultimate purpose of overthrowing the government,” Gonzales said in a statement.
As such, the NPA’s means do not and will not justify their ends.
“Their higher purpose can never be an exempting or justifying circumstance that would exonerate them from criminal liability,” Gonzales said.
He added that CPP-NPA-NDF’s acts of terrorism necessarily makes them a terrorist organization.
After all, he added that “the CPP-NPA-NDF has already been designated already by the Anti-Terrorism Council as a terrorist organization [ATC Resolution No. 21] as well as by Proclamation No. 374, series of 2017 issued by PRRD.”
“The US, EU, Canada, New Zealand, has also declared the CPP-NPA-NDF as a terrorist organization,” Gonzales said.
But the so-called declaration of other states assigning the rebels as a terrorist group needs context.
According to a fact-check report by Vera files, some countries such as the United States, New Zealand and Australia have labeled the CPP-NPA, singly or together, as a terrorist group. The United Kingdom and the European Union have also declared the CPP-NPA as a terrorist entity. However, other countries’ declaration of an entity as “terrorist” is not part of the Philippines’ requirements to designate groups as “terrorists” under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) of 2020. (https://verafiles.org/articles/vera-files-fact-check-ntf-elcac-officials-claim-that-international-community-made-a-strong-statement-and-position-on-cpp-npa-needs-context)
“In fact, the Supreme Court itself struck down that particular part of the (ATA) where it said that the Philippine government can adopt [the request for designation] of other national entities, international entities, even supranational entities,” said lawyer Edre Olalia, interim president of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers and president of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, in a phone interview with VERA Files Fact Check.
Gonzales pointed out that any person who fails to see the evil in the acts of the CPP-NPA-NDF, much more, justify the same, is doing an injustice to the Filipino people and all those who clamor for justice and accountability.
“The same goes for all those who cannot find it in their conscience to condemn the atrocities of the CPP-NPA-NDF, and despite all these atrocities, they are still of the opinion that the CPP-NPA-NDF are activists and revolutionaries aspiring for a noble revolutionary goal, then, they must be really sick in the head and bereft of any trace of humanity and decency in them,” he said.
Gonzales also assured that NTF-ELCAC is very much at the front, center, and at the core of this fight to put an end to the local communist armed conflict.
He said that dismissal of the petition filed under the repealed Human Security Act does not diminish the gains of the NTF-ELCAC since its inception in 2018.
“This temporary setback will not dampen our spirits nor will it lower our morale,” he said.
Instead, he stressed that it will only strengthen their resolve and will heighten their vigilance.
“It has, in fact, exposed the weaknesses of the CPP-NPA-NDF white area operations,” he said.
Gonzales also believed that CPP-NPA-NDF is on its way towards its twilight months.
They have no hope of ever getting near their higher goal of taking over the reins of power in this country, he added.