The National Council of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines denounced on 21 July the Duterte government for its designation of the NDFP as a ‘terrorist organization’, saying this signals the escalation of state terrorism against the NDFP and its 18 allied organizations. It said the ‘terrorist’ tag will also see an “escalation of attacks against legal social activists, human rights defenders, critics and oppositionists” who will be arbitrarily labeled as NDFP members and associates.

The NDFP asserted, “We are a co-belligerent force in the civil war with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines, and we have the status of belligerency in accordance with international law… It is completely mendacious and malicious to malign the NDFP as a ‘terrorist’ organization.”

NDFP Chief Political Consultant Prof. Jose Maria Sison added, “the designation is at war with basic principles of international humanitarian law on the legitimate status, rights and character of national liberation movements.” He said the ‘terrorist’ tagging is clearly intended “to harass, silence, arrest or even kill NDFP consultants and resource persons involved in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations, and target even the peace advocates, critics and oppositionists.”

Prof. Sison warned that Duterte intends to rig the 2022 elections in order to stay in power and prevent his arrest by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

The Duterte government’s Anti-Terrorism Council signed a resolution on 23 June 2021 declaring the NDFP as a ‘terrorist organization’. The ATC made the resolution public on 19 July. The resolution stated that “the NDF is the core and most consolidated group that provides support to the armed and organizational expansion of the Communist Party of the Philippines / New People’s Army.”

The Anti-Money Laundering Council announced shortly after that it would begin freezing financial accounts related to the NDFP.

Ms. Julieta de Lima, Interim Chairperson of the NDFP Negotiating Panel, called the designation a “needless nail on the coffin of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations”. She called the designation an anti-peace act and said “it is a big waste for Duterte to throw away all that has been achieved in the prolonged and arduous peace negotiations.”  She noted the achievements of both sides on the most important parts of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms.

The NDFP version of CASER, she stressed, “is a clear and shining proof against the allegations of the real terrorists, Duterte and his ilk.”

Despite the ‘terrorist’ tag, the NDFP National Council said that it will keep in place its peace panel, “with the hope that the Duterte regime would eventually be ousted from power and that a post-Duterte administration is willing to resume the peace negotiations for a just and lasting peace.”