“ATC’s terrorist designation is just another nefarious device concocted by those who reckon they can and must go around or against the Constitution and the rules of law, fair play and common decency to silence those who speak and clamor for change.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – Detained peace consultant Vicente Ladlad said the Anti-Terror Council’s list “itself is proof why the Anti-Terrorism Act should be struck down as unconstitutional.”
In a statement, Ladlad said it is the Anti-Terrorism Act, with its vague definition of terrorism and its expanded list of terroristic acts, that enabled the authorities to easily brand his political activism as terrorism.
Another peace consultant Rey Claro Casambre branded the ATC’s terrorist designation as “just another nefarious device concocted by those who reckon they can and must go around or against the Constitution and the rules of law, fair play and common decency to silence those who speak and clamor for change.”
Ladlad and Casambre condemned the inclusion of their names in ATC’s terror list last week, saying that it grossly violates their right to due process.
“I was never informed by the ATC that I had been charged as a ‘terrorist’ and was never given the opportunity to refute the charges. I firmly state that I am not a terrorist,” said Ladlad.
“Nobody but nobody, my accusers included, believes I am a terrorist,” said Casambre in a statement.
Both Ladlad and Camsambre have been long-time peace consultants and have been participating in the peace process between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Philippine government. They were supposed to be protected by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG). However, peace advocates lamented that those who participated in the peace process are being attacked by the state agents.
Not the first listing
Casambre said the first time he was accused of being a terrorist was during President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in 2006. He and 50 others, including members of the Makabayan bloc known as “Batasan 6” were charged with “continuing rebellion.”
In 2007, the Supreme Court eventually ruled that the case is without merit and ordered the dismissal of the case.
In 2018, Casambre was once again listed in the Department of Justice’s petition before the Manila Regional Trial court seeking to proscribe the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army as terrorist groups under the Human Security Act. He, among many others, was later removed from the said list.
On Sept. 21, 2018, then Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Gen. Carlito Galvez and Deputy for Operations Gen. Antonio Parlade singled him out as well as former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo for orchestrating, on behalf of the CPP, what he called as a “totally fictitious Oplan Red October” to oust President Duterte.
“It was so ludicrous I actually laughed it off and jested to the media that it was an ‘undeserved honor,’ not even being a member of any of the allegedly conspiring organizations or coalitions,” Casambre said.
Casambre also said that he had not imagined that he would be the first victim of Parlade’s red-tagging and terrorist tagging as a few days after the Executive Order No. 70 was signed by Duterte. He and his wife were arrested on Dec. 7, 2018.
Casambre and six others were charged with murder. They were also charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
“This is indeed military intelligence at its best! Why would I join an ambush 1,500 kilometers from Manila a week before a crucial mammoth destabilizing rally I was supposedly coordinating? Did the state investigators miss the photos posted by the OPAPP (Office of the President Assistance for the Peace Process) on their FB page showing me with the House of Representatives Peace Committee along with the OPAPP Secretary and GRP Peace Panel on September 12?” Casambre said.
“Can an elderly civilian stranger casually walk in or gatecrash into a combat operation before the break of dawn the next day without at least a getting-to-know-you and this-is-the-way-to-hold-and-” he added.
‘EO 70 bankruptcy’
Meanwhile, Casambre said that the “relentless and remorseless deception and lies, bloody repression and coercion have only served to expose the bankruptcy of EO 70 and the Anti-Terror Act.”