AN OFFICIAL of the Police Regional Office (PRO)-Northern Mindanao on Thursday, November 23, said if ordered to do so, they will arrest and charge leaders and members of all militant legal organizations whom state security forces earlier branded as "fronts" of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its allied organizations.
PRO-Northern Mindanao spokesperson Superintendent Lemuel Gonda said the police have been monitoring these militant organizations across the region.
Gonda tagged the militant organizations who are staging rallies on the streets as sympathizers of New People’s Army (NPA) whom President Rodrigo Duterte tagged as 'terrorists' and 'criminals'.
Gonda said the police has the list of all leftist groups connected with the armed wing of the CPP and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
The NDFP is a coalition of social and economic justice organizations, agricultural unions, trade unions, indigenous rights groups, leftist political parties, and other related groups in the Philippines.
"Gahulat mi sa directive kay kung gi-declare sila (NPA) nga terrorists unya katong gasuporta pwede sila dakpon ug kasuhan kay mando man nga tanan legal fronts sa NPA (We are waiting for the directive because if they (NPA were declared as terrorist so those supporters and legal fronts should be arrested and charged in court),"Gonda said.
Gonda said they will abide by the implementing guidelines to ensure that “no rights will be violated.”
On the other hand, the PRO-Northern Mindanao spokesman said the police is ready to parry NPA offensives in the region after the collapse of the peace talks.
Gonda said the police and military are strengthening the joint peace and security coordination to fight terrorism, atrocities and economic sabotage perpetrated by the NPA combatants.
"Wala man ta nabalaka sa atake sa mga NPA kay andam man ang PRO-10 in coordination sa military kay mas daghan man ang atong pwersa ug kanang ilang mga atake propaganda ra na kay in reality gamay rana sila (We are not worried with the NPA attacks because they are only few compared with the state forces and their attacks were mere propaganda),"Gonda said.
Gonda said top officials of PRO-Northern Mindanao and the Army's 4th Infantry Division (4ID) is set to meet today to discuss terror activities, threat situation and how to fortify ties between the Army and the PNP to pin down the Maoist guerrillas.
Gonda said they are also putting in place target hardening and security measures across the region to deter more attacks.
Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte has the legal basis to order the arrest of left-leaning organizations and communists' sympathizers, if they are proven to have connived with the rebels in committing acts of rebellion and terrorism punishable under the Human Security Act.
Roque said the communists' legal fronts may not be directly involved in atrocities committed by communist rebels, but their ties mean they are also part of the group's revolt against the government.
"His (Duterte) legal basis (to arrest communists and their legal fronts) would be their conspiracy to commit both rebellion and acts of terrorism under the Human Security Act," Roque told reporters in Malacañang.
"The President is a public prosecutor. He has said that conspiracy is sufficient basis to accuse them of both rebellion and acts of terrorism because in a conspiracy, the act of one is the act of all even if they did not physically take up arms. If they are part of a conspiracy to commit acts of terror or acts of rebellion, they can be held liable under the theory of conspiracy," he added.
Under Section 3 of Human Security Act of 2007 or Republic Act 9372, a person commits a crime of terrorism when he gets involved in piracy, rebellion, coup d'etat, murder, kidnapping, and crimes involving destruction.
Duterte announced Wednesday that he sought the arrest of all individuals showing sympathy to the communist rebels he now labels as "terrorists."
The Commander-in-Chief believed that the communist party and its legal fronts are in collaboration to fight the government.
"Your legal fronts -- I know, do not fool me -- you are helping each other, conspiring to topple or whatever [my administration], or to sow terror," Duterte said in a speech in Nueva Ecija, referring to the communist party.
"We will treat you as a criminal. Period. And we will arrest everybody connected [to you], including legal fronts. File a case, launch a revolution, do what you want, I don't care," he added.
Roque said security and intelligence officials would still brief the President regarding the posssible filing of charges against the communists' sympathizers.
"The lawyers of course will take care of this. In conspiracy, there must be an agreement for a common purpose and a common design and for overt acts also to reach that common purpose. I'm sure, He will be guided by security and intelligence agencies of the government," he said. (With SunStar Philippines)
Published in the SunStar Cagayan de Oro newspaper on November 24, 2017.