Reds face arrest; bail recall sought
THE Justice department on Wednesday asked a Manila court to recall the provisional bail granted to key communist leaders and order their immediate rearrest.
The motion filed by state prosecutors before the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 32 came after President Rodrigo Duterte warned the communist consultants that he would order their mass arrest soon, now that peace talks have collapsed.
The 20 National Democratic Front consultants led by Benito and Wilma Tiamson, chairman and secretary general, respectively, of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army, were released on bail last year so they could participate in peace talks with the government.
But a series of attacks by the NPA even as peace talks were continuing led Duterte to call off the negotiations and publicly brand the CPP as a terrorist group.
“In view of the cancellation of the peace talks, there is no more legal ground for the continuous provisional liberty of the accused. Thus, the immediate recommitment and cancellation of bail of all the accused should logically follow,” the Justice Department motion said.
Under conditions set by the Supreme Court, the communist leaders were granted bail so they could join peace talks in Norway last year.
One of the conditions was that once their participation ceases or the peace negotiations are terminated, the bail bonds would be “deemed automatically canceled.”The Justice Department will also ask the court to declare the CPP a terrorist group.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II expressed confidence that the lower court would grant the government’s request following President Duterte’s proclamation naming the CPP as a terror group.
Aguirre said he would immediately issue a department order creating a team from the National Prosecution Service to file a formal court petition to declare the communists terrorists.
“It has excellent chances [of being approved] because of the numerous supporting evidence we have [showing] that they are committing terroristic activities despite numerous initiatives of President Duterte to reach out to them,” Aguirre said.
The Human Security Act of 2007 requires the Justice Department to seek clearance from the court before an organization, association or group can be declared a terrorist group.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said exiled communist leaders may lose their politcal asylum once the CPP-NPA is recognized as a terrorist group.
Communist leaders, however, said President Duterte has killed the prospects of reviving the peace talks when he declared the CPP-NPA as a “terrorist organization.”
Duterte, speaking before newly promoted military officials, said the communist consultants who are out on bail must be rearrested.
In a separate speech, Duterte insisted that communist rebels were “insatiable” and said that he won’t give in to the demands of communists to form a coalition government.
The Palace on Wednesday accused leftist organizations of being accessories to the CPP-NPA acts of terror.
“There really is a conspiracy. The CPP-NPA, under the Human Security Act, is being penalized for ...terrorist activities and all those acting in conspiracy with them will be charged,” Palace spokesman Harry Roque said in Filipino.
The military on Wednesday said the NPA is expected to recruit more cadres to offset the intensified anti-terror operations that have so far killed dozens of rebels in two weeks of clashes across the country.
Col. Edgard Arevalo, the AFP’s public affairs head, described the NPA recruitment effort as a desperate move due to defeats suffered during military operations.
Days after peace talks were canceled, the NPA suffered 25 dead and dozens wounded in clashes with government troops. Two soldiers were also killed during the skirmishes.
On Tuesday night, President Duterte issued a proclamation declaring the CPP-NPA a terrorist organization and ordered the military to shoot dead armed rebels.
With the collapse of the peace talks, Arevalo said the military will be conducting a relentless hunt against members of the terror group.
CPP founder Jose Maria Sison chided the military for believing they could rush the NPA.
“He is entitled to his own opinion. But based on the ongoing military operations, we can see who is on the winning side,” Arevalo said.
He cited the recent encounter with the NPAs in Nasugbu, Batangas that resulted in the death of 15 rebels, including five amazons and a communication arts student from the University of the Philippines and the recovery of 12 high-powered firearms, describing it major tactical defeat.
To strengthen the military’s offensive against the terror group, particularly in parts of Mindanao, two companies Civilian Army Auxiliary composed of lumad were enlisted.
Col. Ernesto Torres, commander of the 1003rd Brigade based in Davao province, said the integration of lumad into the Army’s regular force aims to combat the encroachment of ancestral domains by the CPP-NPA.
In Davao, the President’s son, Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte supported his father’s move to declare the NPA a terrorist group.
“Let us now stop addressing the NPA as a rebel group, let us start referring them as who they really are—terrorists,” the younger Duterte said.
He said that due to their unlawful acts, there was no difference between the NPA, the Maute group and the Abu Sayyaf.
Also on Wednesday, the Movement Against Tyranny said it would hold a rally upholding human rights and rejecting dictatorship on Sunday to mark Human Rights Day. The rally will be held from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Bonifacio Shrine next to Manila City Hall.
“We will mark International Human Rights Day on Dec. 10 with a heightened sense of urgency given the killing of known human rights activists Catholic priest Fr. Marcelito Paez in Nueva Ecija last Monday and Elisa Badayos in Negros Oriental last Nov. 28. Also killed was born again pastor Lovelito Quiñones in Mindoro Occidental last Dec. 3,” the movement said.
MAT added that with Duterte’s declaration of the CPP-NPA as terrorists, and his order to intensify military operations, plus the return of the Philippine National Police to the forefront of the anti-drug campaign, would mean more killings and human rights violations.
“Today, Duterte is back to his tyrannical ways and is paving the way for one-man rule through his convoluted idea of a ‘revolutionary government.’ In this light, it has become necessary again to publicly show our unity against the looming threat of a violent, fascist dictatorship,” the group said. With F. Pearl A. Gajunera and Bill Casas
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