The Department of Justice will continue to pursue its terrorism cases against former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo and other alleged leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People’s Army despite being delisted from government’s petition seeking to declare them terrorists.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the decision to drop the names of Ocampo, National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace consultant Rafael Baylosis, United National special rapporteur on rights of indigenous peoples Victoria Lucia Tauli-Corpus and former Asia representative to the UN Expert Mechanism Jose Melencio Molintas in the government's proscription case before the Manila regional trial court did not mean that they will no longer be linked to the terrorism cases.
According to Guevarra, while the DOJ recently amended its petition to declare the CPP and NPA as terrorists before Manila RTC Branch 19, all officials and members of the communist groups are still included in the case.
"The amended petition has reduced the names of individuals from 649 to just eight names who are firmly identified with the CPP-NPA, and the rest are lumped, without mentioning their names, under a general allegation," Guevarra said, in an interview.
Guevarra said while the list submitted by the DOJ was significantly cut, "the respondents in the petition for proscription have remained the same – the CPP and the NPA."
The DOF chief recalled that the 649 names were stated in the original petition "only for the purpose of serving summons as the CPP and NPA have no find addresses and the named individuals were identified by intelligence authorities as members of said organizations."
He said that the objective of the petition is merely to declare the communist groups as terrorist organizations.
"Once declared as such, any individual who may later be identified as a member of supporter of, or associated in any manner with, such organizations will face the consequences under the Human Security Act," he explained.
Guevarra hinted that Ocampo, Baylosis, Corpus, and Molintas, as well as the over 600 names included in the original list of DOJ, could still possibly be charged for terrorism – once their links to CPP and NPA are established.
The cases against the four were dropped after Manila RTC Branch 19 Presiding Judge Marlo declared them as non-parties in the case in a ruling last year and ordered the DOJ to just serve the summons through publication in a newspaper.
In the amended petition recently filed, the DOJ listed only eight CPP and NPA officers – CPP founding chairman Jose Maria Sison, Jorge Madlos of the NPA National Operations Command; Jaime Padilla, a supposed leader of the Melito Glor Command; Francisco Fernandez, an alleged secretary of the Negros Region Committee; Cleofe Lagtapon, a Southeast Front head of the same committee; Antonio Cabanatan, secretary of the Mindanao Commission; Leonido Nabong, head of the Western Mindanao Regional Party Military Commission; and Myrna Sularte, secretary of the Northeastern Mindanao Regional Committee.
The names and addresses of the other alleged CPP-NPA officers, however, are “unknown” but “are also operating in different parts of the Philippine territory,” the amended petition read.
The petition identified a significantly fewer number of alleged officials, unlike its first petition where it identified 18 alleged top communist leaders, 46 human rights defenders, four Catholic priests, a former party-list lawmaker, and several others.
The amended petition still enumerated the alleged crimes of the CPP-NPA on the people such as murder, bombings, and extortion, in convincing the court that the CPP-NPA should be declared as terrorists and that the communists are only deceiving the Philippine government in entering into peace talks.
“The CPP and NPA are merely buying time by deceiving the Philippine government in entering into peace talks, while their main purpose is to mobilize all their forces in preparation for the ‘people’s war’ aimed at overthrowing the duly constituted authorities, seizing control of the Philippine government and imposing a totalitarian regime. Thus, there is no other time to put an end to their deception… but through the filing of this petition,” stated amended petition.