The 12 May publication by the Duterte government’s Anti-Terrorism Council of a resolution designating 19 alleged Central Committee members of the Communist Party of the Philippines as terrorists was met by fierce condemnation. CPP Founding Chairman Prof. Jose Maria Sison described it as “a violation of international legal standards and the Manila government’s own Hernandez political offense doctrine.”
The ‘terrorist list’, signed by National Security Adviser Gen. Hermogenes C. Esperon, Jr. on 21 April but released only on 12 May, included members and consultants of the negotiating panel of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines engaged in peace talks with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines.
“It is utterly wrong to misrepresent acts of a revolutionary movement as a case of common crime,” Prof. Sison said. International legal standards and the Hernandez doctrine “recognize the social roots of rebellion, the nobility of its motives and purpose, and keep open the possibility of the peaceful resolution of the armed conflict,” he added.
CPP spokesperson Marco Valbuena said, “The arbitrary naming of known peace consultants and revolutionaries… is an act of treachery against the NDFP and the peace process.” He stressed that those in the list are “all honorable revolutionaries who have courageously stood side by side with the people and struggled against dictators and tyrants.”
The Public Interest Law Center (PILC), which has been providing legal assistance to the NDFP, also condemned the Duterte government for flagrant violation of the rights of its clients, those in unjust detention and those being unjustly hunted by the regime. Atty. Rachel Pastores, PILC Managing Counsel, said that most of those listed are covered by the 1995 NDFP-GRP Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees.
The JASIG provides immunity from surveillance, harassment, search, arrest, detention, prosecution, interrogation or any similar punitive actions to those involved in the peace negotiations. Atty. Pastores affirmed that the arrest and illegal detention of NDFP consultants Vicente Ladlad, Rey Claro Casambre and Adelberto Silva violate the JASIG. She asserted that others on the list, including Prof. Sison, Julieta de Lima, Rafael Baylosis, Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria Tiamzon, are also covered by the JASIG guarantees.
In 2018, a Manila trial court had already dropped the names of Baylosis, Casambre, Ladlad and Silva from a proscription petition submitted by the Duterte government, because the court found no evidence linking them to terrorist organizations or activities.
Prof. Sison added that they are “not at all bothered” by the ‘terrorist listing’. “Our main concern is for those who are in the Philippines and are designated by the aforesaid resolution and many more who are red-tagged and vulnerable to the criminal violence of the regime.”