DOJ trims terror tag list of Reds from over 656 to 8

Lian Buan

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DOJ trims terror tag list of Reds from over 656 to 8
'Present petition remains to be without legal and factual basis and repackaged the old one in order to railroad the legal process,' says NDF legal consultant Edre Olalia

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) has trimmed down to only 8 people its list of Leftist leaders who the agency wants officially declared as terrorists, according to an amended petition filed on January 3, but obtained by Rappler only on Friday, January 18.

The DOJ initially wanted to declare 656 people as terrorists, including United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, but the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 19 has since taken out Corpuz, Satur Ocampo, Rafael Baylosis, and Jose Melencio Molintas from the list.

This time, the DOJ itself pared down the list to only 8 people, led by Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)  founding chairman Jose Maria Sison, and the following individuals it alleged to be officers of the CPP and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA):

  1. Jorge Madlos
  2. Jaime Padilla
  3. Francisco Fernandez
  4. Cleofe Lagtapon
  5. Antonio Cabanatan
  6. Leonido Nabong
  7. Myrna Sularte

The National Democratic Front (NDF) negotiating panel said that the alleged link of the 8 people to the CPP and NPA “does not exist.”

“Such legal hocus-focus completely disregards accepted international principles and practices on due process, double jeopardy, bill of attainder, freedom of thought, and the like,” NDF panel chairperson Fidel Agcaoili said in a statement on Friday.

CPP, NPA as terror groups

The justice department still seeks to declare CPP as a terrorist organization, a bitter end to the once promising peace negotiations between the Duterte government and  communist rebels.

“From the foregoing, respondents CPP and NPA are merely buying the time by deceiving the Philippine Government in entering into peace talks, while their main purpose is to mobilize all their forces in preparation for the ‘people’s war’ aimed at overthrowing the duly constituted authorities, seizing control of the Philippine government, and imposing a totalitarian regime,” the DOJ said in its petition signed by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Peter Ong.

Malacañang had also disputed recent reports that President Rodrigo Duterte tasked Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) member Avelino “Billy” Andal to hold backchannel tales with communist rebels.

Lawyer Edre Olalia, National Democratic Front (NDF) legal consultant, said the amended DOJ petition “is proof that the original one was sloppy, shotgun, and arbitrary against hundreds of individuals, and was designed to harass and threaten them.”

“Present petition remains to be without legal and factual basis and repackaged the old one in order to railroad the legal process,” said Olalia.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra has since admitted that the original petition involving 649 people was crafted without “any personal verification” by the DOJ.

Agcaoili said the amended petition still left 8 people vulnerable to “arbitrary measures” as it exposes them to any government action using Republic Act No. 9372 or the Human Security Act as legal basis.

“For the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) to attempt to proscribe the CPP and NPA makes returning to the negotiating table to address the roots of the armed conflict even more complicated if not altogether impossible,” said Agcaoili. – 

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan is a senior investigative reporter, and minder of Rappler's justice, human rights and crime cluster.