Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 19 dismissed a petition on Wednesday (September 21) filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) against the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA). DOJ wanted the communist rebellion proscribed as terrorists, which the court disagreed on.
The CPP-NPA has been waging a protracted people’s war in the countryside for the past 53 years. It is the longest running revolution in Asia.
“Be that as it may, 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,’” the Judge Marlo Magdoza-Malagar said in the ruling. “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.
DOJ listed nine incidents, all illegal acts allegedly done by the CPP-NPA, with eyewitness accounts identifying the latter as rebels on the basis of clothing and carrying high-powered firearms. But Judge Magdazo-Malagar pointed out that “it takes more than a certain manner or mode of dressing to establish that one is a member of the CPP-NPA”, especially with the presence of other armed groups.
“In the absence of any evidence that the official uniform of the members of the CPP-NPA consists of an all-black outfit, this Court cannot give credence to the witnesses' identification,” she said.
Some eyewitnesses also claimed to be former CPP-NPA revolutionaries, but the judge also questioned whether or not the acts listed by the DOJ were official directives of the rebellion.
CPP welcomed the decision of the Manila court, even calling it “reasonable and fair.”
“The decision can be considered as a legal pushback by some members of the judiciary against the NTF-ELCAC which has been aggressively putting every state agency under its command in the name of "anti-terrorism," CPP Chief Information Officer (CIO) Marco Valbuena said.
Valbuena added, “I think the NTF-ELCAC is now legally obliged to zip its big mouth and stop its terrorist-branding against the CPP and NPA, and its campaign of suppression against workers unions, peasant associations and the wide range of patriotic and democratic organizations.”
DOJ spokesperson Mico Clavano mentioned that they will no longer file a motion for reconsideration, but will instead file a proscription new case under the Anti-Terrorism Law, which will be handled directly by the Court of Appeals (CA).
Mark Ernest Famatigan is a news writer who focuses on Philippine politics. He is an advocate for press freedom and regularly follows developments in the Philippine economy. The views expressed are his own.
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