“How can the ATC, three years hence, claim to have ‘verified and validated information’ against these peace consultants when it has already been proven in court that there is none? The ATC regurgitating false assertions has been a most dangerous weapon especially in the heat of oral arguments on the terror law.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – The lawyers of seven peace consultants included in the list of designated terrorists said that the recent move by the Anti-Terror Council has strengthened the arguments for the junking of the Anti-Terror Law.
In a statement, the Public Interest Law Center (PILC) said that with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant Rey Claro Casambre “designated and injured by the ATC, the terror law petitions now have a surer footing in court with his established legal standing to file suit.”
PILC said that Casambre, a petitioner in one of the petitions questioning the ATA, is correct in stating that the “he faces credible threat of prosecution under the new terror law.”
PILC asserted that those who were in the list include those who “have already disclaimed to the court and the public ties to terrorist organizations and involvement in any terrorist activities.”
PILC pointed out that the names of Casambre and other NDFP consultants Rafael Baylosis, Vicente Ladlad, and Adelberto Silva were dropped from the proscription petition filed by the Department of Justice as “there was no evidence linking them to terrorist organizations or activities.”
In 2018, the Department of Justice filed a petition with the Manila Regional Trial Court to proscribe the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) as terrorist organizations. Listed as respondents in the petition are more than 600 individuals purportedly officers and members of the communist groups. The list was eventually trimmed down to eight names.
“How can the ATC, three years hence, claim to have ‘verified and validated information’ against these peace consultants when it has already been proven in court that there is none? The ATC regurgitating false assertions has been a most dangerous weapon especially in the heat of oral arguments on the terror law,” PILC said.
In a statement sent to the media, the CPP maintained that the designation was a complete “contempt of judicially recognized due process” and a “slap on face of the Supreme Court justices who have yet to complete hearings over questions of the constitutionality of the ATA.”
Casambre, Ladlad and Silva are in jail for trumped-up charges while Baylosis has been cleared of trumped-up criminal charges filed against him in 2019.
Fides Lim, wife of Ladlad, called the list a “star chamber decision.”
“Google refers to the term star chamber pejoratively as any secret or closed meeting held by a judicial or executive body, or to a court proceeding that seems grossly unfair or that is used to persecute an individual,” Lim explained.
“That is the very essence of the resolution that maliciously jumps the gun on the ongoing Supreme Court deliberations in order to sideswipe the final determination of the patent unconstitutionality of the Anti-Terrorism Act,” Lim added.
She reiterated that her husband is not a terrorist or a criminal.
“His long record of activism, which includes political imprisonment for standing up for country and people, is an open book. I shall use all legal remedies available to defend his innocence, even if they may seem illusory and ineffective under the current dispensation,” Lim said in a statement.
In a separate statement, Baylosis also slammed the ATC Resolution No. 17 as “blatantly arbitrary, without any factual basis triable in any court of law.”
He said that including him as well as other fellow peace consultants in the list is unfair, unfounded and malicious.
“I was freed from detention in early 2019 based on two Quezon City Regional Trial Courts final ruling on false, fabricated non bailable charges of illegal possession of firearm and explosive which were evidently planted on me,” said Baylosis.
Closes possibilities for peace talks
PILC also said the designation of peace consultants as terrorists by the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) will close any possibilities for a peaceful resolution of the root cause of armed conflict.
PILC said the issuance of the Resolution No. 17 by the ATC “is a perturbing development after quiet, insistent efforts to reopen talks.”
PILC asserted that peace consultants were selected and appointed based on their expertise on the topics of the peace talks. They agreed to participate and contribute their knowledge in the peace negotiations, under protection of the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig) afforded for all consultants of both panels, the group added.
“The inclusion of peace consultants in the list, obviously, is a direct consequence of their role in the peace talks and a clear disincentive to participate,” PILC said.
‘Desperate act to vilify peace consultants and revolutionaries’
The CPP said that the designation by the ATC is a “desperate act to vilify revolutionaries and cover-up the crimes of state terrorism committed by the Duterte regime.”
“It shows why ‘anti-terrorism’ itself is an undemocratic concept and how it is being used as a tool against the people’s cause for national liberation and social justice,” the CPP said.