Esperon insists no further evidence needed for designation of Sison, 18 others
This undated file photo shows National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr.
The STAR/Geremy Pintolo, file

Esperon insists no further evidence needed for designation of Sison, 18 others

Xave Gregorio (Philstar.com) - May 15, 2021 - 1:27pm

MANILA, Philippines — National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. insisted Saturday that no further evidence is needed for the designation of Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison and 18 others as terrorists which allows the Anti-Money Laundering Council to freeze their assets.

The Anti-Terrorism Council designated Sison and the others as terrorists on the basis of “verified and validated information” that they are members of the CPP’s central committee.

Speaking to state television, Esperon doubled down on identifying the 19 individuals as members of the CPP’s central committee, despite offering no evidence to prove this.

“Kailangan pa ba natin ng malinaw na ebidensiya kung ‘yong 19 na nakalagay diyan ay mga central committee members ng Communist Party of the Philippines na nagpapatakbo ng insurgency nang 52 years na? Sila ang central committee members,” he said.

(Do we need clear evidence if the 19 listed there are central committee members of the Communist Party of the Philippines which runs the 52-year-old insurgency? They are central committee members.)

He also pointed to the existence of arrest warrants against certain individuals, including Sison, that the ATC designated as terrorists as supposed proof that they run the CPP’s armed wing, the New People’s Army.

It is also on this ground that Esperon claimed that they did not violate the right to due process of the 19 designated as terrorists.

Sison, now chief political consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines which represents communist rebels in peace talks, has said the names included in the resolution "appears to be arbitrary, dubious and even contradictory or inconsistent."

The CPP itself pointed out that the ATC does not cite evidence to back their claims that those designated are central committee members.

Red-tagged anew

In the same interview with state television, Esperon once again red-tagged petitioners against the Anti-Terrorism Act, which is the subject of oral arguments at the Supreme Court.

Asked about the bid of the petitioners to exclude him from the debates before the high court, Esperon insinuated that they must be members of underground communist organizations.

“Siguro nakikita nila na ‘yong iba diyan ay kasama pala sila diyan, ‘yong mga nagpe-petition sila diyan,” he said.

(Maybe they see themselves as part of those organizations, those petitioning against this.)

Esperon had already red-tagged petitioners before the SC when he played videos of Sison supposedly naming organizations allied with the NDFP and alleged front organizations of the communist rebellion.

Petitioners are asking the SC to expunge from the records Esperon’s oral statements, video presentation and annotations during the May 12 debates.

Progressive groups worry that with state forces’ rampant red-tagging of them, they can be exposed to harm and even death, as what has happened with some activists.

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