‘Manila RTC may delist anyone from terror roll’

Only the Manila Regional Trial Court can declare as terrorists the more than 600 personalities alleged to have been connected with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).

This was according to Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on calls to exclude some indigenous peoples listed by the Department of Justice in its petition filed in court.

Guevarra said he leaves to the Manila RTC the final determination of the petition declaring the CPP-NPA and the National Democratic Front (NDF) as a terrorist organization under the Human Security Act.

Yesterday, the Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamayan ng Pilipinas, the Philippine Task Force for Indigenous People’s Rights (TFIP), and the Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) asked the DOJ in a letter to exclude the indigenous peoples from the list.

They told Guevarra the list includes “at least 30 indigenous peoples who are members of indigenous peoples organizations and networks.”

“In light of this, we are submitting to your office a letter of concern on the increasing harassment and intimidation of indigenous peoples’ leaders and human rights defenders in the Philippines that appeals to: Dismiss the petition naming indigenous peoples’ leaders and human rights defenders as alleged terrorists; Ensure the physical safety of indigenous peoples’ leaders and human rights defenders; and Abide by State obligations to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms, including access to justice, freedom of expression and of association,” the group told the DOJ in a letter.

The DOJ filed the petition in March before the Manila RTC seeking to declare the communist leaders and their armed members as terrorists.

At least 600 personalities were included in the petition, including exiled CPP founder Jose Maria Sison, peace negotiator Luis Jalandoni, former lawmaker Satur Ocampo and Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, a United Nations special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples.

Alleged CPP leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, NDF consultant Rafael Baylosis, former peace panel chief Luis Jalandoni, human rights lawyer and former Baguio City councilor Jose Molintas and Cordillerans Joanna Carino, Windel Farag-ey Bolinget, Sherwin De Vera, Beverly Sakongan Longid and Jeannette Ribaya Cawiding are also in the list.

The peace negotiations with the NDF were initiated by President Duterte right after winning the presidential elections in 2016 but terminated last year given the continued NPA attacks against government forces and civilians.

The President would sign a proclamation declaring the CPP-NPA a terror organizatione in December 2017 as provided by Republic Act 10168 or the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012.

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