From 649 to 8: DOJ cuts communist terror list
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice (DOJ) has reduced to eight the alleged officers of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) it wants declared as terrorists in an amended petition filed before the Manila regional trial court (RTC).
This is a significant decrease from the 649 alleged communist terrorists in the earlier version filed, which included United Nations special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz and 45 other human rights defenders.
Corpuz has since been dropped from the list after Manila RTC Branch 19 Presiding Judge Marlo Magdoza-Malagar declared her, former Bayan Muna party-list representative Satur Ocampo, former Baguio city councilor and former Asia representative to the UN Expert Mechanism Jose Molintas and National Democratic Front consultant Rafael Baylosis as nonparties due to petitioner’s failure to present evidence they are officers of the CPP-New People’s Army (NPA).
Several others have sought the court’s permission to be dropped from the terror list, including Beverly Longid, Joanna Cariño, Joan Carling and Jeanette Cawiding of the Cordillera People’s Alliance.
In the amended petition, the DOJ prosecutors implicated as communist officers 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,” the amended petition read.
The DOJ filed an amended petition after suffering a blow on the first one when the judge cleared four people of involvement in the communist movement.
The court directed them to serve summons to alleged CPP-NPA officers by publication in a newspaper, “considering the petitioner’s obvious lack of knowledge of the official address of the CPP-NPA.”
The petition was also amended after Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, in a budget hearing at the House of Representatives, admitted that the first terror list, submitted during his predecessor Vitaliano Aguirre’s term, was not properly vetted and was merely based on intelligence reports.