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Explainer: Can Duterte declare CPP-NPA terrorists?

President Rodrigo Duterte has designated the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army as a terrorist organization under Republic Act 10168. File

MANILA, Philippines — (First published 6:17 p.m., December 6) President Rodrigo Duterte recently signed a proclamation classifying the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People's Army, as terrorist groups.

The president made the declaration under Republic Act 10168 or the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012.

RA 10168 criminalizes the financing of terrorism and orders the freezing and forfeiture of property or funds of persons or organizations identified as designated persons or organizations.

Under this law, designated persons are defined as "any person or entity designated and/or identified as a terrorist, one who finances terrorism, or a terrorist organization or group under the applicable United Nations Security Council Resolution or by another jurisdiction or supranational jurisdiction."

READ: Duterte declares CPP-NPA as terrorist groups

Duterte's proclamation, however, would need judicial affirmation before taking effect as provided by Republic Act 9372 or the Human Security Act of 2007.

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Following the president's declaration, Presidential Adviser Jesus Dureza said that his office has yet to await the outcome of the petition that would be filed by the Secretary of Justice.

Under Section 17 of RA 9372, the Department of Justice should file an application before a competent Regional Trial Court before officially declaring organizations or group of persons as terrorists.

The court declaration may take years. 

The Abu Sayyaf was the first group to be officially listed as a terrorist organization. This was approved by the Basilan provincial court on Sept. 10, 2015, five years after the DOJ filed a request.

Terrorist organizations are defined as a group of persons organized "for the purpose of engaging in terrorism" and uses acts to "sow and create 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."

Former Interior Secretary Rafael Alunan III, in an article published by BusinessWorld, pointed out the three main points of the Human Security Act: (1) the State recognizes that the fight against terrorism requires comprehensive approach, (2) terrorism is premeditated use of violence to sow danger, panic or fear and (3) arrest and detention.

Under the law, any peace officer or a private person may arrest a person who has committed, is already committing, or attempting to commit an act of terror without an arrest warrant.

Under Duterte's Proclamation 374, the Department of Foreign Affairs would be tasked to publish the designation of CPP-NPA in accordance with the Human Security Act.

Some provisions of the Human Security Act, however, can be prone to abuse by authorities. These include provisions on surveillance of persons and interception of communication, arrest of suspects without warrants, examination of bank deposits, seizure of properties and extraordinary rendition.

On the other hand, the government did not follow the procedure under RA 9372 for classifying ISIS-inspired Maute group as terrorists. If this was applied in liberating Marawi City, members of the military may be imprisoned, according to an editorial published by The Philippine Star.

In Aug. 9, 2002, the United States designated the CPP-NPA as a foreign terrorist organization. The CPP-NPA and the Abu Sayyaf Group are the two organizations from the Philippines designated as FTOs.

The designation subjects them to counter-terrorism sanctions under former US President George Bush's Executive Order 13224, which was issued in response to the Sept. 11, 2011 terrorist attacks.

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