Gov’t tags 29 people terrorists; council accused of abuse

THE GOVERNMENT has labeled 19 members of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing terrorists, according to an order published in newspapers on Thursday.

The Anti-Terrorism Council also issued a separate order labeling 10 members of Mindanao-based militant groups terrorists.

The Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) has released on Thursday two separate resolutions wherein a total of 29 central committee members of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army (CPP/NPA) and of local terrorist groups were listed as terrorists.

The council said it had found probable cause based on “verified and validated information” that the 19 Maoist rebels were involved in “planning, preparing, facilitating, conspiring and inciting the commission of terrorism.”

They were also said to have recruited people to their group, which the country’s Anti-Terrorism law prohibits.

These people face criminal charges, apart from existing ones that have been filed in court against many of the suspects, Justice Undersecretary Adrian Ferdinand S. Sugay told reporters on Thursday.

The state may also seize their assets, he added.

Jose Maria “Joma” C. Sison, chief political consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and one of those tagged, said he and his wife were not bothered by the label.

“The list of names in the designation appears to be arbitrary, dubious and even contradictory or inconsistent” with statements made by “evil minions” the council’s task force.

Both resolutions were signed by council Chairman Salvador C. Medialdea and National Security Adviser and council Vice Chairman Hermogenes C. Esperon, Jr.

Some congressmen slammed the terror lists, which they said was “arbitrary and devoid of due process.”

In a statement, Bayan Muna Rep. Ferdinand Gaite said the list showed how the council could “easily abuse its power.”

Gabriela Rep. Arlene D. Brosas compared the label to a “naughty or nice list.” “While extremely ridiculous, it is deadly and dangerous not just to individuals and well meaning critics but also to whatever democratic space we have left.” — Bianca Angelica D. Anago and Gillian M. Cortez

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