When asked by Bayan Muna party-list Representative Carlos Zarate whether the DOJ validated the names of more than 600 individuals alleged to be members of the CPP and NPA, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the DOJ did not verify them and the names were only based on information given by intelligence agencies.
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA — Human rights advocates called on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to junk its bid to declare the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) as terrorists following a Manila court’s order removing four individuals from the “terror list” and the DOJ’s recent admission that the names in the list were not verified.
Judge Marlo Magdoza-Malagar of the Manila Regional Trial Court’s Branch 19 , in a July 27 resolution, categorically proclaimed former Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo, National Democratic Front of the Philippines Consultant Rafael Baylosis, UN Special Rapporteur Victoria Tauli-Corpuz and former Baguio City Councilor Jose Melencio Molintas as non-parties in the proscription case filed by the DOJ in February.
The DOJ’s petition seeks to declare the CPP and NPA “terrorist” organizations, following President Duterte’s cancellation of formal talks with the ommunists. The petition listed more than 600 names, including dead and disappeared.
The court said that the government’s evidence against Ocampo and Baylosis showed “no clear allegation” that the two were “members” or “officers” of the CPP-NPA.” The affidavits simply alleged that they occupied positions in the “Central Committee” or the “Political Bureau” or the “Executive Committee” of the CPP, the court said.
The court also said there was “nothing” in the DOJ’s petition that pointed to Molintas and Corpuz as officers or representatives of the CPP and NPA apart from an enumeration of their names.
In a statement sent to Bulatlat, Rachel Pastores, managing counsel of the Public Interest Law Center (PILC), maintained that the court’s decision is “a vindication of our position that they are not terrorists nor involved in any terrorist act.”
The court order, Pastores said, “is proof that the case, where allegations have been recycled countless times, reeks with ill motive and red-tagging.”
Pastores also cited Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra’s recent admission that the names included in the terrorist list were not verified and merely fed by the military, police and intelligence operatives.
Guevarra made the admission during the budget briefing for the DOJ with the House Committee on Appropriations, August. 6. When asked by Bayan Muna party-list Representative Carlos Zarate whether the DOJ validated the names of more than 600 individuals alleged to be members of the CPP and NPA, Guevarra said the DOJ did not verify them and the names were only based on information given by intelligence agencies.
Pastores said the “DOJ should have been prudent not to just swallow hook, line and sinker all information supplied by these intelligence agencies.”
“In the absence of any evidence against them, the DOJ should just withdraw the petition for proscription,” Pastores said.
In a separate statement, the Movement Against Tyranny (MAT) likewise called on the DOJ to withdraw the petition and the court to throw it out wholesale.
“It disrespects our legal system by saddling the courts with a clear fishing expedition meant to harass critics of the government,” MAT said in a statement. “It is a perfect example of the Duterte regime’s irresponsible, vindictive and punitive use of raw data and unverified information for dubious ends.”
Pastores said the policy of linking activists, and critics of the government to the CPP/NPA and tagging them as “terrorists” must stop. The inclusion of their clients’ name in the DOJ petition has already put their lives and security at risk, she added.
For his part, Edre Olalia, president of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), said DOJ officials involved in the filing and approval of the “wild petition must be made accountable for the irreparable damage done to those improperly implicated.”