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Joma, peace advocates: ATC move vs. NDFP ‘diabolical’, to worsen armed conflict

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.

READ: GRP designates NDFP as ‘terrorist organization’

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)

Peace advocates slam red-tagging as a ‘work of evil’; call for peace talks resumption

By Joseph Cuevas

Peace advocates held a media briefing last Wednesday, November 11, to condemn red and terror-tagging activities they say undermine efforts to resume peace negotiations between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).

The group Pilgrims for Peace pointed out that if the GRP still wants to resume negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and New People’s Army (NPA), it should stop calling the underground groups as terrorists.

It also pointed out that the NDFP is not classified as a terrorist organization even in the government’s own official pronouncements.

The advocates are dismayed that “war and terror-mongering are rearing their ugly heads once again, as a dominant trend in the current conduct by the GRP.”

Fr. Christopher Ablon of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente described the red-tagging activities of government agencies such as the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police and some officials of the government as a “work of evil” that directly hurts peace efforts.

Ablon cited that six out of seven victims of extra-judicial killings of church workers and peace advocates red-tagged.

Not terrorist organizations

Atty. Edre Olalia, legal consultant of the NDFP, said that red-tagging and vilification violates the presumption of innocence and human rights of target, especially the right to association.

The practice of red-tagging, especially by the state forces and the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, has no other real purpose but to silence dissent and criticism and repress opposition and counter-narratives against government policies and actions, Olalia explained.

“Red-tagging together with the draconian measures like the newly signed Anti-Terrorism Law turn the state forces and machinery against such unarmed civilians and groups who are exercising their basic rights and fundamental freedoms in a democratic society,” Olalia said.

Olalia pointed-out that the CPP-NPA-NDF possesses a level of legitimacy while their armed resistance abide by standards set by the United Nations resolutions and conventions.

“The CPP and NPA have not been listed as a terrorist organizations by the United Nations and the NDFP has never been [listed as] a terrorist organizations in any country,” Olalia added.

Olalia said that red-tagging conditions the mind of the public to eventually designate legal organizations and individuals as terrorists by the Anti-Terrorism Council.

NDFP peace consultant and long-time activist Rafael Baylosis stressed that CPP-NPA-NDF must not be called terrorist organizations but entities fighting for national liberation and democracy for the people.

Talks resumption

Baylosis said that peace negotiations must be resumed and the Duterte government should rescind its terrorist proclamation of the CPP and the NPA.

He also called on the government to respect previous agreements signed by both parties.

Baylosis recalled the cancelled fifth round of peace talks last 2018 that was set to sign the Interim Peace Agreement that included the common draft on social and economic reforms, the coordinated and unilateral ceasefire, and release of all political prisoners thru general amnesty.

Pilgrims for Peace encouraged the GRP to consider resuming the peace talks anew in order to address the root cause of armed conflict through peace negotiations. #

Groups, churches laud success of Oslo talks

CHURCHES, peace and human rights groups lauded the resumption of formal peace talks between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the incoming Duterte administration of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) in July.

Hundreds gathered at the Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral in Quezon City yesterday for a series of activities that also celebrated the release of two political detainees last Wednesday. Read more