The Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) has added the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) to its list of terrorist organizations, dashing what remains of hopes for the resumption of formal peace negotiations between the parties.
In its Resolution No. 21 (2021) issued last June 23, the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) has designated the NDFP as a terrorist organization/association, saying the group is “an integral and inseparable part of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA).”
The designation was signed by ATC chairperson and executive secretary Salvador Medialdea and council vice-chairperson and national security adviser Hermogenes Esperon.
“[The] NDFP is organized, controlled, acting on behalf of or at the direction of, and operated by the (CPP), a designated terrorist organization, association and/or group of persons under ATC Resolution No. 12 (2020),” the ATC said.
The Council said the NDFP is the last of three major components, along with the CPP and the NPA, that provides support to the armed and organizational expansion of the Communist movement in the country.
Founded in April 1973, the NDFP describes itself as “[A] revolutionary united front organization of the Filipino people fighting for national freedom and for the democratic rights of the people.
“The NDFP seeks to develop and coordinate all progressive classes, sectors and forces in the Filipino people’s struggle to end the rule of US imperialism and its local allies of big landlords and compradors, and attain national and social liberation,” its website says.
Aside from the CPP and the NPA, the NDFP has at least 15 other “revolutionary allied organizations” and is present in 70 out of the country’s 81 provinces.
Since 1992, the NDFP has been holding peace talks with the GRP to “address the roots of the armed conflict.”
After two years of fruitful negotiations across four formal rounds in three countries in Europe from 2016 to 2017, President Duterte walked away from the process and has since designated the CPP and NPA as so-called terrorists.
Observers said NDFP’s exclusion from GRP’s list of terrorist organizations provides hope that it is still open to resuming negotiations with the underground group.
NDFP officials have yet to respond to requests for comment on this development. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)