Philippine Government Loses Bid to Declare Communist Party as Terrorist Organization

Philippine Government Loses Bid to Declare Communist Party as Terrorist Organization
Guerrillas of the New People's Army (NPA) in formation in the Sierra Madre mountain range, located east of Manila on July 30, 2017. (Noel Celis/AFP via Getty Images)

A court in the Philippines has denied the government’s petition to declare the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing terrorists, ruling that the acts committed were more akin to rebellion than terrorism.

The government filed the petition against the CPP and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), in February 2018. If approved, it would have been authorized to assess the bank accounts of party members and leaders.

Marlo Magdoza-Malagar, the presiding judge at the Manila regional trial court, said in the ruling on Wednesday that armed struggle and the use of violence were only the “means” of the CPP-NPA.

“While the armed struggle with the violence that necessarily accompanies it is indubitably the approved means to achieve the CPP-NPA-s purpose, means is not synonymous with purpose,” the court said, Benar News reported.

“Armed struggle is only a means to achieve the CPP’s purpose, it is not the purpose of the creation of the CPP,” it added.

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said Thursday that his office would appeal.

The court said that nine attacks allegedly committed by the CPP-NPA in the Mindanao region were “small-time hit and run attacks and sporadic acts of violence with no specified victims or targets,” which did not cause “widespread and extraordinary fear and panic.”

Among the nine attacks were the abduction of seven civilians in May 2019, the burning of a chapel and residential houses in May 2020, and a failed attempt to kill a teacher in October of that same year, reported The Manila Times.

“Terrorism is larger in scope than rebellion; rebellion is only one of the various means by which terrorism can be committed,” it said.

“Perhaps contributing to the low impact of the foregoing atrocities is the CPP-NPA’s chosen battle strategy which is guerrilla warfare within the context of a protracted people’s war,” it added.

The court raised concerns over the government’s “red-tagging” of individuals—a term used by activists to describe being labeled as communist rebels—saying that membership in mass organizations does not necessarily indicate a person’s affiliation with insurgents.

One of Aisa’s Longest Insurgencies

Emmanuel Salamat, a retired marine general who heads a government task force helping oversee efforts to end the decades-long insurgency, told reporters that he was saddened by the court decision because the rebels have committed acts of terrorism, including killings, for many decades.

“This is like disregarding the sacrifices of our troops, the front-liners in the field, our heroes who gave up their lives,” he said. He cited the United States and other countries which have listed the rebel New People’s Army as a terrorist organization.

The Maoist rebel force was established in 1969 with only about 60 armed fighters in the country’s northern region but it gradually grew and spread across the country.

Battle setbacks, surrenders, and infighting, however, have weakened the guerrilla group, which remains a key national security threat. The rebellion has left about 40,000 combatants and civilians dead and stunted economic development in provincial regions, where the military says a few thousand insurgents are still active.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times