Photo by Pia Ranada/Rappler
MANILA, Philippines – Conspiracy to commit terrorism is enough of a basis to tag members of non-armed leftist "legal fronts" as terrorists, said Malacañang on Thursday, November 23.
"Conspiracy is sufficient basis to accuse them of rebellion and acts of terrorism because, in a conspiracy, the act of one is the act of all," said Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque during a Palace press briefing.
"Meaning, even if they did not physically take up arms, if they are part of a conspiracy to commit acts of terror or rebellion, then they can be held liable under the theory of a conspiracy," he added.
Under Republic Act No. 9372 or the Human Security Act of 2007, conspiracy to commit terrorism is a crime for which a person can be imprisoned for 40 years. However, it is not listed as an act of terrorism.
The law defines conspiracy to commit terrorism as follows: "There is conspiracy when two or more persons come to an agreement concerning the commission of the crime of terrorism as defined in Section 3 hereof and decide to commit the same."
On Wednesday, November 22, Duterte told soldiers he would arrest, not only armed communist rebels for terrorism, but also members of non-armed "legal fronts."
Days before then, the President said he would issue a proclamation categorizing the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) as a terrorist group.
Not all legal fronts
Malacañang also clarified that not all members of communist "legal fronts" will be ordered arrested.
Only those deemed by Philippine security agencies as "conspiring" against the government will be arrested upon Duterte's orders, said Roque.
He said not all leftist organizations will be assumed by the government as being involved in a conspiracy to topple the government.
"Not necessarily. Only what the President described as the legal front of the NPA (New People's Army) – CPP-NPA – the legal front, and we leave it at that," he said.
Asked if Duterte would include groups like Piston, Bayan, and other Left-leaning organizations, Roque said the President will consult with security and intelligence agencies.
"He will be advised by security offices on which of the legal fronts should be charged with conspiracy... The Department of Justice prosecutors will act accordingly," said Duterte's spokesman. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.