National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison described their group’s designation as “terrorist” by the Rodrigo Duterte government as “diabolical”, aimed at not just further closing every possibility of resuming peace negotiations but to kill more of their consultants and resource persons.
Reacting to the Anti-Terrorism Council’s (ATC) June 23 resolution designating the NDFP as a terrorist organization, Sison said the government clearly intends to:
- Close further every possibility of resuming the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations at least for the duration that Duterte is in power,
- Harass, silence, arrest or even kill the NDFP consultants and resource persons and others involved in the peace negotiations and target even the broad range of peace advocates, critics and oppositionists,
- Allow Duterte to control and rig the 2022 elections, stay in power together with (Davao City Mayor) Sara and prevent his (Duterte’s) arrest for crimes against humanity on the prospective warrant that may be issued by the International Criminal Court, and
- Pave a wider path for the Duterte regime to declare martial law and impose a fascist dictatorship on the people either before the anticipated 2022 elections or after this is rigged in order to preempt the 1986 type of people’s uprising.
“The diabolical purpose of the Duterte regime in designating the NDFP as terrorist cannot be understated because this has been preceded by the murder of NDFP consultants committed so flagrantly by Duterte death squads,” Sison said.
In its Resolution No. 21 (2021) issued last June 23, the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) 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).”
Sison cited the murder of Randy Malayao, Randall Echanis, couple Agaton Topacio and Eugenia Magpantay, couple Antonio Cabanatan and Florenda Yap, Reynaldo Bocala and Rustico Tan as proof the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) is into killing NDFP consultants.
The victims were killed after Duterte ordered the GRP Negotiating Panel to walk away from the peace negotiations in mid-2017.
Sison also cited the arrest of NDFP consultants Adelberto Silva, Rey Casambre, Vicente Ladlad, Renante Gamara, Ferdinand Castillo and others who have been arrested and imprisoned on so-called trumped up charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
He added that the designation is “at war” with basic principles of international humanitarian law on the legitimate status, rights and character of national liberation movements such as those by the NDFP.
‘War hawks to blame’
A group of peace advocates blames so-called war hawks in the ATC for NDFP’s designation as terrorist.
The group Pilgrims for Peace (PfP) said GRP’s move bodes ill for human rights, democracy and the quest for peace under the Duterte administration.
“The war hawks are hell-bent on killing peace negotiations and instead pursuing all-out war in the government counterinsurgency program as well as casting a wide net of suppression against all opposition and dissent through state terror as embodied in the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020,” the group in a statement said.
PfP said the designation can only intensify the “nefarious red-baiting/ terrorist-tagging by the National Task Force-End Local Communist Armed Conflict, with dire implications on and further deterioration of the human rights situation and constriction of democratic space in the country.”
The group added the designation directly contravenes a basic tenet of peace advocacy: addressing the roots of the armed conflict through earnest peace negotiations.
“[B]y designating those who have stepped forward to engage in peace negotiations as ‘terrorist,’ the Duterte administration is blatantly acting against the principle and practice of peace building,” PfP said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)