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Manila court junk govt case seeking to declare CPP-NPA as terror orgs

September 22, 2022 - Thursday 5:09 PM by Antonio Hernandez

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The government suffered a setback in its drive against communist rebels as a Manila court dismissed its petition seeking to declare the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People's Army as terrorist organizations. 

In dismissing the petition, which the Department of Justice filed in 2018, Manila RTC Branch 19 Judge Marlo Magdoza-Malgar said the CPP-NPA was not organized to engage or commit terrorism. 

"Armed struggle' is only a 'means' to achieve the CPP's purpose; it is not the 'purpose' of the creation of the CPP," part of the court's 135-page ruling said. 

"While 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. Stated otherwise, armed struggle is only a means to achieve the CPP's purpose  it is not the purpose of the creation of the CPP," the court added. 

As to the alleged "terror incidents" cited by the DOJ in its petition, the court stressed that while it can be considered terrorism under the 2007 Human Security Act, their authorship could not be traced to the communist movement. Furthermore, the court added that even the witnesses presented by the government could not say with certainty that the perpetrators are indeed NPA members. 

The court said the witnesses only pointed to the clothing worn by the attackers and that they carry high-powered forearms, which it added, is an "identification that leaves much to be desired." 

The court said even those presented by the government as former NPA members to bolster its case failed to adduce evidence that there was an official party directive to its units to commit terroristic attacks. 

The court also explained that none of the incidents cited by the DOJ as evidence of CPP-NPA's terror attacks caused "widespread and extraordinary fear and panic" among the population. 

It added that these incidents are only "pocket and sporadic occurrences" in limited and scattered areas in the country. 

"The nine incidents of atrocities fall within the category of small-time "hit and run" attacks and sporadic acts of violence with no specified victims or targets,' the court furthered. 

The court also said the "purging incidents" cited by the DOJ in its petition or the liquidation of members of the NPA who turned their backs on the movement could not be considered terrorist acts. 

"Equally important, the petitioner failed to establish that these purging incidents were committed in order to coerce the government to give in to demand, much less, an unlawful demand," it added. 

The incidents attributed to the CPP-NPA should be considered "political crimes" treated with leniency, the court further stressed, adding that "an NPA member engages in violence and employs force, not for violence's sake but in pursuit of the higher ideals contained in the Constitution of the CPP." 

Lastly, the court said that while the CPP’-NPAs ideology "calls for absolutes," it can "only gain adherents for as long as the government remains insensitive to and incompetent in addressing the social realities of poverty and material inequality.

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