Former Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio’s July 15 opinion piece “Are CPP-NPA rebels terrorists?” which came out in the Philippine Daily Inquirer was a very interesting read for members of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its friends and allies. Justice Carpios’ article is a sharp legal instrument that exposes a gaping hole in the Duterte regime’s plan of using the ATA against the CPP and the revolutionary cause.
We take interest in Justice Carpio’s view that the Anti-Terror Law defines “terrorism” as different from “rebellion.” He explained that unlike the now superseded Human Security Act of 2007, the ATA removed “rebellion” as a predicate crime of “terrorism.” He points out that under the ATA “terrorism” is “now a separate and distinct stand-alone crime.” With this insight, the entire assumption and plan of the Duterte government to use the ATA against the CPP is legally challenged.
Of course, we do not expect Justice Carpio’s opinion from stopping the Duterte regime and its military cabal from trying to use the ATA for their tyrannical ends. Defense and security officials have been vigorously pushing the new terror law in line with the plans of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict to use all means of suppressing not only the revolutionary forces, but all other patriotic and democratic forces, as well as opposition groups and critics, which the NTF-ELCAC has invariably labeled as communists or linked to the communists.
Justice Carpio’s opinion, however, places them in a legal quandary. He asserted that “CPP-NPA rebels, whose intent is clearly rebellion, are not terrorists under the ATA, and consequently they, individually or as a group, cannot be proscribed as terrorists under the ATA.” This adds to the fact that the CPP and NPA are not listed as terrorist organizations even by the United Nations Security Council.
We welcome Justice Carpio’s insight as a challenge to the official terrorist denunciations by the NTF-ELCAC and the AFP/PNP against the CPP and NPA. While the Party maintains that it is an entity governed by a completely different legal system under the People’s Democratic Government, it will support individuals and other entities in efforts to legally challenge the ATA in order to defend their civil and political rights, as guaranteed by the 1987 constitution and international instruments.
In this light, we congratulate the various democratic sectors and personalities who have challenged the ATA before the Supreme Court. While using Duterte’s terror law against the CPP and NPA can prove to be legally untenable, it remains a fact that the ATA’s overly broad and vague definitions of what constitutes terrorism make it a weapon that can be used to suppress activism, dissent and opposition. Given the record of the Supreme Court now dominated by Duterte appointees, the democratic forces will, however, have to put up more than a legal challenge. Indeed, it will be a pleasant surprise if any of these challenges will prosper.
The Party wishes to reiterate that it is a revolutionary organization guided by a scientific ideology and set of principles that places primordial importance to the liberation of the people from all forms of oppression and exploitation. In principle and in practice, the Party stands squarely against terrorism, especially state terrorism. The New People’s Army, under the absolute leadership of the Party, is guided by high standards of discipline and respect for the people as expounded in its Three Points of Discipline and Eight Points of Attention, as well as by its adherence to international humanitarian law.
The Party avers that the biggest terrorist in the country is Duterte himself who has openly declared animosity against human rights and ordered his military and police forces to kill with impunity, with promises of reward and legal protection. The list of crimes of state terrorism daily grows longer under his tyranny.