Philippine anti-terrorism law

Joma Sison ‘not bothered’ by Esperon’s ‘dubious’ list of designated terrorists

Jairo Bolledo

CPP FOUNDER. File photo of Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison.

Rappler File Photo

Sison says majority of the named personalities are protected by existing safeguards provided by the peace process

Exiled Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison said that he and his wife were not bothered by the Anti-Terror Law Council’s (ATC) designation of the couple as terrorists.

“My wife Julieta and I are not at all bothered by Resolution Number 17 (2021) which designates the two of us as “terrorists,” Sison said in a statement on Thursday, May 13. 

Sison slammed the so-called “inconsistent list” by National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr, vice chairperson of the ATC and its de facto head. The chairperson is President Rodrigo Duterte.

“To start with, the list of names in the designation appears to be arbitrary, dubious and even contradictory or inconsistent with the various public and purportedly personal statements even of its own NTF-ELCAC evil minions,” the CPP founder added.

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On Thursday, the ATC released a list designating as terrorists 19 individuals who are allegedly members of the central committee of the CPP. The list authorizes the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to freeze their assets under the anti-terror law, which is now being questioned at the Supreme Court. 

Aside from Sison and his wife, the list includes top National Democratic Front (NDF) peace consultants who have been involved in the on-again, off-again peace negotiations with Philippine governments. 

Sison said that the majority of the designated personalities are protected by the existing safeguards provided by the government in the course of peace talks with the rebel groups. 

“Moreover, it includes mostly publicly-known political consultants of the NDFP Negotiating Panel in the peace negotiations with the Manila government who are all entitled to the protection of the GRP-NDFP Joint Agreement of Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) and other binding bilateral agreements,” Sison explained. 

The GPH-NDFP (Philippine Government-National Democratic Front of the Philippines) Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) signed on February 4, 1995 provides immunity for individuals or consultants involved in the peace talks. 

This agreement has been used each time a new administration entered into peace talks with the communist rebels. It allows members of the rebels’ negotiating panel to be free from “surveillance, harassment, search, arrest, detention, prosecution, and interrogation or any other similar punitive actions.”

Duterte terminated the JASIG in 2017 after the talks with the NDF bogged down. Yet, he reopened talks again a year after – leading to each side insisting on their version of the validity of the JASIG.

Joma Sison ‘not bothered’ by Esperon’s ‘dubious’ list of designated terrorists
Violation of rights

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) secretary-general Renato Reyes Jr said in a statement that the ATC list is no different from red-tagging because both violate human rights.

Reyes also questioned the inclusion of the so-called terrorists in the list, saying they’re part of the peace talks. The talks are suspended, however.

“How can ‘terrorists’ engage the government in peace talks? Doesn’t that make the designation absurd, a retaliatory act in the aftermath of the scuttled negotiations?” Reyes said. 

Sison called on the Supreme Court to reject the anti-terror law, which is the subject of oral arguments that resume on Monday, May 17. “It will be faithful to its own distinct role in government if the Supreme will invalidate the Anti-Terrorism Law as [an] instrument of fascism and state terrorism,” the CPP founder said. – Rappler.com

Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering the police, crime, military, and security.