A REGIONAL Trial Court in Manila has just rendered a decision that the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New Peoples Army (CPP-NPA) are not terrorist groups.
We have to respect that decision. It is quite understandable really how the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 19 arrived at such a conclusion, given the view posited by Judge Marlo Magdoza-Salazar in her ruling which stated that the group’s (CPP-NPA) Ten Point Program “readily shows that the CPP-NPA is organized or exists, not for the purpose of engaging in terrorism.” (https://www.manilatimes.net/2022/09/23/news/national/cpp-npa-not-terror-groups/1859425)
She has to be correct on that point considering that the CPP-NPA as a communist organization is actually hell bent on continuing with a sputtering revolution in its avowed aim and objective of seizing political power through an armed and legal struggle, and to overthrow the present democratic form of government and replace it with their own communist-party rule.
These are the two primary objectives of the CPP-NPA, and so far in a little more than fifty years of their violent campaign, they have failed time and again to achieve these goals. In fact the CPP-NPA came up with the strategy of a protracted people’s war which is divided into three major stages. The first stage being strategic defense, the second stage is strategic stalement and finally the third stage strategic offensive. (https://1library.net/article/cpp-npa-objectives-strategies-and-tactics.yneg8gxl)
The regional trial court astutely determined that the CPP-NPA are not really terrorists but the actors in an armed rebellion against the duly instituted and recognized democratic government of the Philippines. They are in fact conducting war and not terrorism against the Philippine government and the country. And because of this and in defense of all that is considered democratic in this country the national government has no choice but to reciprocate and conduct its own counter-offensive. In other words the country is in a state of war against the CPP-NPA. That was the situation back then fifty years ago and is still the same situation now in this year 2022.
Previous administrations, with the exception perhaps of the one led by former president Rodrigo Duterte and that of former President Ferdinand Marcos, were not really that sure on how to handle the communist insurgency.
Former President Duterte, who initially wanted to talk peace with the CPP-NPA, grasped the situation clearly realizing that no amount of peace overtures would work for the CPP-NPA to abandon its objective of overthrowing the present democratic government and supplanting it with the communist ideology. This led to the issuance of Executive Order no. 70 series of 2018 which adopted a whole-of-nation approach in combatting the insurgency with the creation of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), as well as the passage of the Anti-Terrorism Law which has already been declared by the Supreme Court as constitutional.
These are other measures that have been adopted by the national government in its war against the CPP-NPA, the failed attempt to declare them as terrorists being one of them. At the moment, the whole-of-nation approach strategy of the government seems to be working. By engaging all local government units down to the barangay level to be partners against insurgency the government has gradually been able to restrict and constrict the movement and operational capability of the CPP-NPA.
The question now seems to be whether the present administration of Ferdinand ‘BongBong’ Marcos will adopt the NTF-ELCAC program initiated by his predecessor or come up with his own strategy on how to finally win the war against the CPP-NPA. With his recent talks with US President Joe Biden at the United Nations, one has to wonder whether the issue of the CPP-NPA was discussed and whether reassurances were made by both of them of the need to end the said insurgency.
Finally, it is well to recall that the United States as a first world country had already designated the CPP-NPA as terrorist groups on August 12, 2002 through Executive Order 13224 issued by former president George Bush on September 23, 2001 as a response to the terror attacks on September 11, 2001. This is renewed every year.
SEVERAL months after the US Department of State and the European Union (EU), affirmed that the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), are “terrorist organizations,” this is surprisingly yet to be reported by the country’s mainstream media.
As far back as September 10, 2019, US Secretary of State (in charge of US foreign affairs) Michael ‘Mike’ Pompeo had issued a statement announcing the “modernization” of EO 13224.
EO 13224 was originally signed by then US president, George W. Bush, on September 23, 2001, two days after a terrorist attack that brought down the famous ‘Twin Tower’ (World Trade Center) in New York City and which killed at least 2,600 US citizens.
Its annexes contain the updated list of groups and individuals the US government deemed as “terrorists.”
“Today, the President (Donal Trump) signed an Executive Order modernizing and expanding sanctions to combat terrorism.
“This Executive Order – the most significant update of terrorism designation authorities since the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks – enhances the United States’ ability to target and deprive terrorists and their enablers of financial, material, and logistical support worldwide,” Pompeo said in his opening statement.
Immediately included in the US ‘terrorist list’ signed by Bush is the ‘Abu Sayyaf Group’ (ASG), based in Mindanao.
The ASG was ranked number three, after the ‘Al Qaida/Islamic Army’ headed by Usama Bin Laden (No. 13 in the list) and, ‘Abou Iyadh’ or ‘Seifallah Ben Hassine,’ a close associate of Bin Laden.
(Bin Laden was killed by US special forces inside Pakistan on May 2, 2011).
In 2012, the US added nine more, one individual and eight terrorist groups, of which three groups were based in the Philippines, namely: Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and, the New People’s Army (NPA). The lone individual included in the list is CPP-NPA founder, Jose Maria Sison.
Both Sison and the CPP-NPA were proscribed by the US Government on August 12, 2002 while the JI on October 23, 2002.
Three more PH-based terrorist groups and one individual were added to the US list, the Rajah Sulayman Movement (RSM) and its top official, Hilarion del Rosario on June 16, 2008 and the Maute Group and ISIS (Islamic State) Philippines on February 27, 2018.
EO 13224 also allowed the US government to “disrupt” the “financial support network” of listed terrorists and terrorist groups by blocking the “assets of foreign individuals and entities that commit, or pose a significant risk of committing, acts of terrorism.”
At the European Union (EU), Council Decision 2020/20 dated January 13, 2020, the CPP-NPA is ranked number 5 in the list of groups and entities identified by the EU as “terrorists,” the only PH-based terrorist group among the 21 groups identified as such, when compared to the US list.
The affirmation by the EU of the CPP-NPA as terrorist organizations came after a “periodic review” of its own list that it first adopted on December 27, 2001, under ‘Common Position 2001/931/CSFP on the “application of specific measures to combat terrorism.”
Although both EO 13224 and EU Council Decision 2020/20 are freely available, no major Philippine media entity has reported them despite their significance.
In the Philippines, former president Duterte last December 5, 2017, issued Proclamation 374, in relation to RA 10168 or the ‘Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012 and which also classified the CPP-NPA terrorist organizations.
The president followed this up one year later with the issuance of EO 70, which created a national task force (NTF-ELCAC) to deal with the terrorism being waged by the CPP-NPA under the ‘Whole-of-Nation’ (WON) approach.
War is an intense armed conflict between states, governments, societies, or paramilitary groups such as mercenaries, insurgents, and militias. It is generally characterized by extreme violence, aggression, destruction, and mortality, using regular or irregular military forces. Warfare refers to the common activities and characteristics of types of war, or of wars in general.
“It is not difficult to see how the CPP-NPA’s resort to ‘armed struggle’ and the violence that necessarily accompanies the same, as the sanctioned means to achieve its purpose(s) may have earned the CPP-NPA the terrorist label,” the judge said.
In determining whether the group committed “terrorist acts,” the court looked at nine incidents of atrocities its members allegedly committed as testified by government witnesses.
– The killings in December 2019, March 2020, July 2020, August 2020 and July 2020
– The October 2020 ambush
– The failed attempt to kill a teacher in October 2020
– The burning of a chapel and residential houses in May 2020
– The abduction of seven civilians in May 2019.
Magdoza-Malagar said the eyewitnesses identified the suspects only through the clothes they wore. It takes more than a certain manner or mode of clothing to establish that a person is a CPP-NPA member, she said.
“In the absence of any evidence that the official uniform of the members of the CPP-NPA consists of an all-black outfit, this court cannot give credence to the witnesses’ identification,” the judge said.
Magdoza-Malagar said none of the nine incidents caused “widespread and extraordinary fear and panic” among the populace.
She also cited the difference between terrorism and rebellion as pointed out in a 2017 Supreme Court ruling, the former being considered as larger in scope.
The Supreme Court stated that if the crime committed is for political purposes, it is rebellion.
If the primary objective is to sow and create widespread and extraordinary fear and panic among populace to coerce the government to give in to an unlawful demand, the crime is terrorism.
Lawyer Lorenzo “Larry” Gadon said on Thursday that the denial of the Manila court to label the CPP-NPA as a terrorist group does not count.
“It does not really matter because it is within the power of the executive branch to declare them as a terrorist group in the exercise of its police powers that is inherent to the State,” Gadon told The Manila Times.
He said the president has the authority to declare the CPP-NPA as a terrorist group in exercising police powers to protect the security and integrity of the state.
“The president has access to all information and data to enable him to exercise such power,” said Gadon, the lone senatorial candidate of the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan which was founded by late president Ferdinand Marcos Sr., the father of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
“I just don’t know why the petition was filed in the first place, which I find unnecessary,” he said.
During a Senate hearing Tuesday, Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa said the government should drop the idea of a negotiated peace as a solution to the communist insurgency problem since the CPP-NPA has been deceiving the government all along.
“These people are only fooling us. We’ve been talking to them for many years and nothing happened out of it. We are sincere, but they’re not. Let’s not allow them to fool us further, especially now that the CPP-NPA are already on their knees because of the NTF-Elcac (National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict),” dela Rosa said.
The former national police chief presided at the hearing of the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security, Peace, Unification, and Reconciliation, joint with the Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, which he leads, as well as the Committee on Finance, to discuss Senate Bill (SB) 200 which seeks to institutionalize the NTF-Elcac by establishing the National Council to End Local Communist Armed Conflict.
The NTF-Elcac was created in December 2018 by Executive Order 70 issued by then president Rodrigo Duterte.
“What are they [CPP-NPA] doing while we are talking peace with them? They are there consolidating their people, regrouping, rearming themselves, and recruitment because they’re free to go around the communities. You know, enough of this for me,” he told government security officials who attended the hearing.
“Let’s finish the problem and we have to be serious about it. As I’ve said, I have retired from the service with all the scars in my body, with all the death that I have seen. Do I have to wait for my son, who just graduated from the academy, to experience the same problem that I faced when I was young, when I was a lieutenant until I retired?… We are not giving a better future for the youth if we do not finish this problem now,” dela Rosa said.