Proclamation brands communists as terrorists

(UPDATED) - President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a proclamation declaring the communist insurgents as "terrorists," Malacañang said on Tuesday, December 5.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said Duterte signed the proclamation following Duterte's command conference with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police held in Malacañang.

Roque, however, clarified that the classification of terrorist applies only to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People's Army (NPA).

The CPP's political wing, the National Democratic Front (NDF), is exempt from being labeled as a terrorist organization.

"It's a proclamation (signed by Duterte) declaring the Communisty Party of the Philippines, New People's Army as a designated, identified terrorist organization," Roque said.

"So as the President has stated before, he has finally classified the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization within the purview of the Human Security Act," he added.




A copy of the Chief Executive's latest proclamation has yet to be released to the media.

Duterte signed last month Proclamation 360, which declared the termination of peace negotiations with the communist leaders.

The government peace panel was supposed to meet with the NDF consultants for the fifth round of talks on May 27 to June 1, but the meetings were cancelled because of "serious challenges" faced by both parties.

The talks were rescheduled to August, with backchannel talks supposed to take place a couple of weeks ahead of the formal meeting, but Duterte again cancelled the meetings following the series of attacks by the NPA on government forces.

The President had lamented that despite his efforts to come up with a peace pact with the communist rebels, the latter continue to launch offensives against policemen and soldiers.

Under Section 3 of Human Security Act of 2007, a person commits a crime of terrorism when he engages in in piracy, rebellion, coup d'etat, murder, kidnapping, and crimes involving destruction.

Section 17 of the said law also provides that any organization that sows and creates condition of "widespread and extraordinary fear and panic among the populace in order to coerce the government to give in to an unlawful demand" can be declared as a terrorist group.

Duterte had said that he would now consider the communists as "terrorists and criminals."

"Before, we recognized them as rebels. But with their continued predations and killing innocent people and even an infant, a four months old, I will be issuing a proclamation, I will remove them from the category of a legal entity or at least a semi-movement, which would merit our attention, placing them as terrorists, which is same with America," Duterte earlier said.

"Beginning from now, there is no rebellion because rebellion is a life offense. It can be bailable except for the leaders. We would consider them criminals already," he added.

The United States has categorized the CPP and NPA as foreign terrorist organizations since August 9, 2002.

Following Duterte's issuance of proclamation, Roque said the Department of Justice (DOJ) was ordered to file a petition before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Manila to formally classify the CPP and NPA as a terrorist group.

Roque noted that even after the executive branch declared the communists as terrorists, the Justice department still has to file a petition before the RTC for the formal re-classification of the communist groups.

"It is not automatic that just because the executive has classified the group as a terrorist organization, it will be considered as a terrorist organization under the domestic law and under relevant security council resolutions," Roque said.

"This is not just in relation to Philippine domestic law but also in relation to a UN security council resolution intended to curtail financing of terrorist organizations. The proper petition must be filed by the DOJ in court, in RTC Manila -- a petition to classify the CPP-NPA as a terrorist group under the Human Security Act," he added. (SunStar Philippines)
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