Año pushes for revival of anti-subversion law

Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo

DEPARTMENT of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año reiterated on Wednesday, August 14, the need to revive an anti-subversion law in a bid to end the country’s problem on insurgency.

“If we truly want to end this scourge of society, the Anti-Subversion Act is urgent, critical, and inevitable,” he said.

Año, a former chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), called for the revival of the law amid the ongoing recruitment by communist rebels.

He made the call after parents of several students complained that their children were recruited by groups tagged as legal front of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) while in schools.

Año said 500 to 1,000 youth were being recruited annually by Leftist organizations in schools and universities. Between 50 and 100 of these students become armed members of the NPA.

The Anti-Subversion Act or Republic Act (RA) No. 1700 was passed in June 1957 during the presidency of Carlos P. Garcia.

The law declares the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) illegal as an organized conspiracy to overthrow the government for the purpose of establishing in the Philippines a totalitarian regime.

During the martial law period, RA 1700 was expanded through Presidential Decree (PD) 885 in 1976 and PD 1835 in 1981 which makes it a subversive criminal act to be affiliated with a group and attend a meeting or take part in any activity meant to overthrow the government with the open or covert assistance and support of a foreign power.

The said law was repealed during the presidency of Fidel Ramos in 1992 making subversion no longer a criminal offense but sedition remained a crime.

Ano said the repeal of the Anti-Subversion Law may have been a mistake as it was made when the communist movement gained momentum and grew in matters of logistics, funding, source of cadres and other forms of support.

He said due to the absence of the said law, the communist rebels had continuously rejected the government’s call for genuine peace and have instead sowed terrorisms from various parts of the country.

“The repeal of the Anti-Subversion law was a demand of the CCP-NPA-NPF for the conduct of the peace talks in the 1990s. In good faith, the government acceded to those demands for the sake of peace. But instead of laying down their arms and joining mainstream society, the Communists grew bolder and used the democratic space accorded to them to regroup, organize, and mobilize,” he said.

The DILG secretary noted that his proposal to revive the said law is only intended for the members of the CPP-NPA and the groups supporting and who were actively working to overthrow the administration.

“It can’t be denied by anyone that the continued existence and illegal activities of the CPP-NPA-NDF constitute a clear, present, and grave danger to the security of the Philippine state,” he said.

“If we revive the Anti-Subversion law, we will be able to dismantle the urban mass movement in the cities that fuels the armed struggle in the mountains. We will be able to stifle their so called ‘legal front organizations’ that provides sustenance to the underground mass organizations. It will be the beginning of an inevitable end,” he added.

Meanwhile, in a statement, AFP spokesperson Brigadier General Edgard Arevalo expressed support for the revival of the said law saying that many students have died after being recruited by the NPA rebels and were engaged in a firefight with the government troops.

He said recruitment starts with Left-leaning organizations asking students to join anti-government protest actions.

Arevalo assured the public that the military will not abuse the law, noting that the AFP "are professionals, mature, and an organization that is known to adhere to human rights and international humanitarian law."

Earlier, PNP chief Oscar Albayalde also expressed support for Ano’s call but maintained that it needs vigorous research and studying.

“’Yung anti-subversion law kung talagang it will be more productive or become harmful. Ang sa atin is itong mga nangyari na ito these are just very few in our society,” he said.

“Remember kaya ginagawa nito because they are struggling desperately to show their existence and significance sa ating community where in fact ito po ay mangilan ngilan na lang sa ating society. There was a change actually, there was a paradigm shift, ito yung nakikita dyan. Ito yung nakikita natin kapag nagtulong tulong tayo mawawala ito sa ating bayan at magkakaroon tayo ng true economic development dito sa ating bayan,” he added. (SunStar Philippines)