MANILA Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Saturday said he would consult first with National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon and Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza before deciding on whether to review or withdraw the petition seeking to declare the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People's Army (NPA), as terrorist groups.
As this involves national security, I'll have to consult first with our National Security Adviser and the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process. This is not an ordinary criminal prosecution, Guevarra said in a text message sent to reporters.
Guevarra made the statement when sought for comment on the statement of Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate urging him to review the petition filed by his predecessor Vitaliano Aguirre II last February.
Zarate said Guevarra should include in his review the list of some 600 names included in the petition, which the party-list lawmaker said may be used as a hit list' against such persons.
Among those included in the list submitted by the DOJ are CPP founder Jose Maria Sison, peace negotiator Luis Jalandoni, former lawmaker and leftist leader Satur Ocampo, and Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples.
Prior to Aguirre's resignation, Justice Undersecretary Erickson Balmes said they will push through with the petition despite President Rodrigo R. Duterte's order to give the peace talks with the communist rebels a last chance.
'We are all for peace. However, the peace talks have not actually resumed. We will comply with any new directive of our President on this matter. For the time being, there being no order to the contrary, we will pursue the petition, as filed, Balmes said.
During the Cabinet meeting, Dureza said the President directed them to work on the resumption of talks with the communist rebels with clear instructions on the importance of forging a ceasefire agreement to stop mutual attacks and fighting while talks are underway.
Duterte initiated formal peace talks with the National Democratic Front (NDF) shortly after winning the presidency in 2016 but canceled them in November last year amid continued attacks of the NPA on government forces and civilians.
The President signed a proclamation in December 2017 declaring the CPP-NPA as a terror organization using Republic Act (RA) No. 10168 or the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012 as basis.
In a 55-page proscription petition, the DOJ asked the Manila Regional Trial Court to issue an order declaring the CPP and NPA, also known as the Bagong Hukbong Bayan, as terrorist and outlawed organizations, associations or group of persons pursuant to Section 17 of RA 9372 or the Human Security Act of 2007.
The petition was basically based on two grounds: that the organization, association or group of persons was organized for the purpose of engaging in terrorism; and that even if the organization, association or group of persons was not organized to engage in terrorism, it still commits acts of terrorism, such as murder and arson and other activities, for the purpose of sowing terror.
The petition also said that the CPP-NPA are just buying time by deceiving the government in entering into peace talks while their main purpose is to mobilize their forces in preparation for a people's war to overthrow the duly-constituted authorities, seize control of the government, and impose a totalitarian regime.
It added that the CPP-NPA also committed acts of terrorism, such as murder, kidnapping, arson and other activities, to sow terror and panic. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency