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DOJ: CPP-NPA launched terrorist acts

Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Peter Ong, head of the panel tasked to move for the declaration of CPP-NPA as a terrorist group, said the government has gathered documents and evidence showing offensives committed by the communist group that could be classified as terrorist acts under Republic Act No. 9372 (Human Security Act). AFP, File

MANILA, Philippines — The Communist Party of the Philippines (CCP) and its armed wing the New People’s Army (NPA) have engaged in terrorist activities in various provinces all over the country, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said yesterday. 

Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Peter Ong, head of the panel tasked to move for the declaration of CPP-NPA as a terrorist group, said the government has gathered documents and evidence showing offensives committed by the communist group that could be classified as terrorist acts under Republic Act No. 9372 (Human Security Act).

Ong cited military and police reports on various incidents, including the recent attack on rescue operations in Northern Samar during Tropical Storm Urduja and other attacks in Surigao del Norte, Negros, Ozamiz and Bukidnon.

Ong said the reports as well as affidavits of witnesses would be included in the petition to be filed by the DOJ this month before a regional trial court seeking to declare CPP-NPA as a terrorist group.

“They committed terrorist acts that will justify designating them as a terrorist organization,” Ong said in a press conference at the  DOJ.

Ong said the petition would also explain the history of the communist organization that would explain their tactical offensives, but said the petition would cover only incidents during the Duterte administration. 

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“There are incidents in the past showing a pattern of tactical offensives. I had to do some research and also look at affidavit of witnesses,” he revealed.

Ong said their investigation showed how the CPP-NPA did not honor the good faith and sincerity extended by the Duterte administration and continued their offensives earlier during the peace talks.

Ong clarified the petition will target the organization and not its individual officials like founding chairman Jose Maria Sison.

“But there are implications once the petition is granted and they are declared a terrorist group. Under the Human Security Act, you can apply for judicial order for wiretapping against members of a terrorist organization. You could also apply surveillance of bank accounts or freeze their assets,” he explained.

The Human Security Act requires the DOJ to first seek clearance from the court before an organization, association or group of persons can be declared as terrorist and outlawed.  

The communists have scuttled peace talks in the past after accusing the Philippine government of helping the United Nations and the United States designate them as terrorists.

The rebellion they have waged mostly in the countryside has left more than 40,000 combatants and civilians dead and hampered development in some of the country’s poorest regions.

Duterte protested the continuing rebel assaults on government forces, repeatedly snagging the peace talks.

Duterte formally halted talks with the National Democratic Front (NDF) representing the CPP-NPA in November due to continuing rebel attacks and declared them as terrorists in the first step of a legal process to proscribe their group.

Duterte earlier declared a Christmas truce with communists even as he scrapped the peace talks with the insurgents and branded them terrorists.

The CPP-NPA-NDF reciprocated the gesture but remained wary of government attacks.

Despite the expiration of the unilateral holiday ceasefire, the military recorded no clashes with the NPA so far, according to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero said the military has been tasked to resume the offensive against the NPA.

Guerrero added that insofar as the AFP is concerned, it has complied with the unilateral ceasefire while the rebels violated their own declared truce. – Cecille Suerte Felipe, Michael Punongbayan, John Unson, Jaime Laude

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